Eleven years ago, the NYU Innovation Venture Fund made its very first investment in a student startup: SpotOn (later to be known as Fondu), that was co-founded by CEO Gauri Manglik (CAS ’10) and Tech Lead Orion Burt (CAS ’12). Within a few years, Fondu was acquired by AirBnB which was then a private company. The Fund received shares in AirBnB as a result of the acquisition. Those shares went on to increase in value nearly 30x by the time AirBnB went public in 2020!
After Fondu, the Fund went on to make numerous other investments in successful NYU startups including numberFire (acquired by FanDuel), Clarifai, Brooklinen, Kinvolved (acquired by PowerSchool), OpenTrons, Pepper, Wrapbook, MyWellbeing, Revelio Labs and many others. The Fund's portfolio companies were founded by a mix of students, faculty and researchers drawn from 12 different NYU schools and colleges, with more than half having at least one female founder and one out of three having a female CEO. Collectively these companies currently employ over 1,200 people, generate more than $500 million in annual revenue and have raised almost as much in venture capital funding from some of the top startup investors in the world.
In this calendar year alone, the Innovation Venture Fund’s investment team has made five new investments, the last of which was our 30th investment to date! All of these investments went to startups founded by alumni of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute’s Startup Sprint and Summer Launchpad accelerator programs:
GigFinesse: Co-founded by CEO Mir Hwang (CAS '19), GigFinesse’s online platform streamlines and optimizes talent booking, scheduling, and payout for music venues and artists across the country. GigFinesse puts the right acts in the right rooms at the right times—saving time, driving more foot-traffic, increasing revenue, and cutting overhead. The company recently closed on a $3.6m seed round with participation by the NYU Innovation Venture Fund and other investors. (Startup Sprint ’19 & Summer Launchpad ‘19)
She Matters: Co-founded by CEO Jade Kearney (Steinhardt '20), She Matters trains healthcare professionals in culturally competent care for Black women, and supports Black mothers experiencing postpartum comorbidities with community and culturally relevant resources. SheMatters recently completed Techstars Seattle and raised a $1.5m seed round with participation by the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, Chingona Ventures, The Fund, and other investors. (Startup Sprint ’20, Summer Launchpad ‘20 & Female Founders Fellow)
Baton: Founded by CEO Gabe Warshaw (Tisch/ITP '23), Baton is a blockchain-enabled collaboration protocol that ensures creatives are properly credited and compensated for their work. They recently launched their beta, which has been getting recognition from Grammy award winning artists and music executives alike. Baton raised a pre-seed round from the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, Dark Arts, Franklin Templeton's Digital Assets Fund, Dorm Room Fund, and industry-leading angels. (Startup Sprint ’22 & Summer Launchpad ‘22)
Sabai Design: Co-founded by CEO Phantila Phataraprasit (Law '20), Sabai makes sustainable living accessible with a circular model for creating, repairing, revamping, and reselling furniture products. The company's products are made with sustainable materials to provide comfort with limited environmental impact, enabling users to enjoy luxury furniture at pocket friendly prices. Sabai recently raised their seed round with participation by the NYU Innovation Venture Fund and other investors. (Startup Sprint ’18, Summer Launchpad ‘20 & Female Founders Fellow)
Rilla: Co-founded by CEO Sebastian Jimenez (Stern ‘18), Rilla provides AI-based conversation intelligence software as a service for outside sales and service, enabling sales managers to monitor their teams' performance remotely in industries such as roofing, solar, interior design, banking, and telecommunications. Rilla participated in the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) in 2020, and recently closed a seed round with participation by the NYU Innovation Venture Fund and other investors. (Startup Sprint ’18 & Summer Launchpad ‘18)
About the NYU Innovation Venture Fund
The NYU Innovation Venture Fund provides seed capital to help especially promising NYU founders scale their startups. Together with co-investors, the philanthropic evergreen fund provides needed capital, contacts with the entrepreneurial and venture communities, and practical management and marketing coaching to help NYU students, faculty and researchers transform ideas and inventions into startups.
NYU's pre/seed-stage venture capital fund invests exclusively in startups founded by, and/or commercializing technologies, innovations and intellectual property developed by, current NYU students, faculty, and researchers. Learn more about our criteria, our portfolio companies and how to apply on our website at https://entrepreneur.nyu.edu/resource/innovation-venture-fund/