Funding / Startups

Meet the 28 Venture for America fellows working at Philly startups for the next two years

These recent graduates will join 14 local tech companies to gain hands-on entrepreneurship experience.

A mega-sized Zoom of the VFA 2021 fellows. (Courtesy image)
Philly is a great place to grow a startup.

We hear it often enough from founders who set up shop here looking for quality talent, affordable cost of living and great work-life balance. And each year, the city also attracts bright young people hungry for an entrepreneurial experience.

Venture for America matches recent college graduates with startups and growing tech companies to get them exposure to building a company from the ground up, minus the risk that comes from trying to do that alone. The goal is to showcase the hands-on startup environment and encourage fellows to stick around and build their own enterprises in one of the 14 cities they may be matched with.

Last year, Alison Garber, senior director of community partnerships, told that Philly has grown become the largest VfA hub. Here, we’ve seen the growth of successful startups such as Stix and LeagueSide that were founded by former fellows.

And recently, Venture for America launched an accelerator program for companies founded by program alumni. The four-month virtual cohort aims to guide fellow-founded companies in their market validation to early traction. This year’s cohort includes 2018 alumni and self-described technologist and farmer Mike Lee in his startup Oasis, which aims to decentralize the agricultural industry. The company does so by equipping cultivators with accessible tools to power a more sustainable future of food, medicine and materials production.

Lee was formerly a production and data science associate at mental health startup NeuroFlow and before that, was a senior analyst with Red & Blue Ventures through VfA. Oasis-grow, the company’s control software is open source.

And 28 fellows are headed to 14 companies across Philadelphia, where they’ll work with these companies for the next two years. Some are working remotely, and some are heading into an office a few times a week, but all 28 fellows will live here for the next few years:

3BL Media

  • Carson Bolding, Trinity University


  • Brianne Alvarez,  University of California-Irvine
  • Jobi John,  Temple University
  • Kiana Holden, Pace University


  • Omkar Borse, Rochester Institute of Technology


  • Allison Zhang, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Naabia Romain, Wayne State University


  • Abu Kamara, University of Delaware


  • Max Goodman, University of Arizona


  • Nadav Kempinski, University of California-Santa Barbara

Pennsy Digital

  • Tyler Quehl, University of South Carolina (Columbia)


  • Emma Spaulding, University of Colorado Boulder
  • JT Tarantino, Saint Joseph’s University
  • Olivia Hodel, Vassar College


  • Emily Lin,  Cornell University
  • Jack Antico, Boston College
  • Jessica Lee, University of California-Berkeley
  • Taz Alam, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Shift Capital

  • James Chaplin, Colgate University
  • Olivia Ryan, University of Pennsylvania


  • Sabrina Sacco, Drexel University


  • Aracely Cano-Gramajo, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Becca Jacobs, Washington University in St Louis
  • Carina Lewandowski, Princeton University
  • Julian Razo, Xavier University
  • Liz Ko, Michigan State University
  • Steven Crouch, Union College (Schenectady)


  • Brianna Bannach, University of Delaware
Companies: Wodify / Perpay / Yellowdig / Venture for America / ChargeItSpot

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