NYU Female Founders Circle Welcomes 12 Members This Fall

In 2020, the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute launched a new Female Founders Fellowship to further its commitment to supporting gender equity in entrepreneurship. The Female Founders Fellowship program supports entrepreneurs by plugging them into NYU’s ecosystem of resources through acceleration, mentorship and peer support. Upon graduation, Fellows are invited to apply for grants of up to $50,000 each to help alleviate their student loan debt. The grants are made possible through the generous support of the program’s lead donor, entrepreneur, NYU alumnus Mark Leslie (WSC ‘66, Trustee), and his wife, Debra.

This fall, we launched a new program for founders whose ventures are at an earlier stage than those of the Fellows: the Female Founders Circle. The Female Founders Circle comes with several benefits, including:

  • Invite-only monthly peer group events with other members of the Female Founders Circle, working on ventures at a similar stage
  • Invite to special social and networking events
  • Dedicated monthly office hours with coaches at the Entrepreneurial Institute
  • Invite to office hours with external mentors - investors and entrepreneurs
  • Priority consideration for the next Female Founders Fellowship application
  • Automatic interview for the next Startup Sprint


This year's Female Founder Circle members include:


Ahana Kaura (CAS ‘23)

Founder of GenHaat

GenHaat is a size-inclusive and environmentally-friendly (minimal-waste, carbon-neutral) thrift store for upper middle-class Indian women in their 20s living in tier 1 and tier 2 cities, which gives them access to curated vintage and one-off styles of plus sizes unavailable in the current market.

Ahana is currently studying Economics at CAS. She is passionate about cleantech and sustainability.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Duygu Ataman (Courant Faculty)

Founder of Nomad

Nomad is a new approach to language learning targeting intermediate to advanced-level professionals in the U.S. who are interested in improving their pronunciation and English speaking skills. It is powered by AI to provide the most efficient personalized learning experience.

Duygu holds a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Engineering. She is an expert in computational linguistics and is devoted to building language technology to transform the future of virtual media and education.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Estella Struck (Gallatin ‘24)

Founder of Viviene New York

Viviene New York is a full service agency that helps the marketing and growth teams of disruptive sustainable brands to increase their social media engagement, conversion funnel and overall social campaign reach through utilization of the aspirational influences of social media content creators.

Estella is currently studying Marketing, Entrepreneurship & Consumer Behavior at NYU Gallatin. She is a climate driven thought leader & changemaker ahead of her time leading Gen Z into a future where the dollar is being utilized to fight climate change.

Participated in: First Gen Founders FellowshipStartup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Jumoke Opeyemi (School of Global Public Health Researcher)

Founder of Aflingo

Aflingo is a software application that serves as a language learning resource for organizations doing volunteer or development work in Ghana to learn Twi and the local aspects of a language to accurately communicate with local native speakers and provide a mobile tutor experience.

Jumoke is currently a public health researcher. She is a public health professional with over eight years of global and community health work experience. Her interests lie in global health research and biostatistics to implement evidence-based interventions to ensure efforts in sustainability of an equitable, successful healthcare system.

Participated in:  Startup CoachingCustomer Discovery Bootcamp and Startup Sprint


Kyra Williams (Tisch '20, Steinhardt '22, Steinhardt Staff)

Founder of Stories In My Backyard (SIMBY)

Stories In My Backyard (SIMBY) will provide a hybrid photo club to Black girls who attend Philadelphia area middle schools and are seeking affordable photography education for creative expression, documentation, social change, professional development, and a sense of belonging.

Kyra is a multimedia artist, social entrepreneur, and instructional designer of creative, compelling, and culturally relevant learning experiences. Her storytelling background spans various creative mediums, including videography, photography, journalism, podcasting, and DJing. She’s a Gates Millennium Scholar who received her bachelor’s in Recorded Music from NYU Tisch’s Clive Davis Institute in 2020, and her master’s in Digital Media Design for Learning from NYU Steinhardt in 2022. As the founder and president of Stories In My Backyard (SIMBY), she’s merging her creative experiences with her degrees to establish an organization that provides arts education to Black womxn and girls –starting in her hometown.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Laura Ding (Stern ‘22)

Founder of PEI LAN

For the 25-34 year old cosmopolitan woman of Chinese descent with an annual income of $100k+ who finds current Asian-inspired designs on the market stereotypical, PEI LAN is a designer womenswear brand inspired by the poetic essence of Chinese art. PEI LAN changes the reference point of what it looks like to be Chinese and provides a new channel for self-expression and validation, thereby uplifting Asian communities currently stereotyped by mainstream fashion brands.

Laura has 5+ years of experience launching consumer marketing campaigns across the U.S and China, from influencer marketing, user acquisition, to large-scale offline events. She was educated in marketing and product management at NYU Stern and Peking University.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Liat Lisha (Stern ‘24)

Founder of Sustanalytics

Sustainalytics is an analytics tool that forecasts demand based on consumer insights to help E-commerce merchandising and planning teams manage inventory more accurately and efficiently to reduce dead stock. 

Liat is a current Tech MBA student at New York University. She is a Product Management professional with ten years of experience in the cybersecurity field. In her latest role as a security product manager at Microsoft, she got the opportunity to get exposed to a myriad of emerging cybersecurity products.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Lauren Blandin (Meyers ‘22, NYU Langone Health Registered Nurse)

Founder of Fertility Yoga

Fertility Yoga uses yoga, breathwork and meditation to support the physical, mental and emotional stress of fertility planning. Fertility Yoga utilizes an online learning platform with its signature Fertility Yoga course and a la carte workshops which are accessible to all levels and abilities at their own convenience and in the privacy of their own home. 

Lauren Blandin has been a student of yoga and meditation since 2002. Fertility Yoga was born from the fusion of her yoga education and pre-medical background to create a method that supported her physical, mental and emotional well-being as she went through fertility treatments. Lauren is a Registered Nurse and holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from NYU and Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from DePaul University.

Participated in:  Startup CoachingCustomer Discovery Bootcamp and Startup Sprint


Luca Alejandrina Castro Figari (Tisch ‘22)

Founder of Bash

Bash collects and organizes key relationships to grant artists agency over their journey within the live performance ecosystem in New York; while creating data-driven fan profiles that can be leveraged by artists, venues, and those interested in catering to them.

Luca holds an MFA from NYU Tisch. They are an entrepreneur, artist, and researcher who implements theories of structural kindness, playing with cutting-edge neuroscientific and subject formation research, healing practices, and political theory in their creations. They perform their internationally lauded work across disciplinary and continental boundaries. He has received awards for poetry, public artwork, academic research excellence, taught protest safety on the streets and venture creation at NYU, had their artistic social work praised in the New York Times, their entrepreneurial work on Forbes, been National Tae-Kwon-Do Champion for Peru, and danced for their favorite punk band! She has trained in comparative literature, theater, politics, creative writing, acting, disability justice, singing, performance, movement, and healing across Paris, New York, Buenos Aires, Peru, Abu Dhabi, and Egypt.

Participated in:  Startup CoachingCustomer Discovery Bootcamp and Startup Sprint


Megan Fricke (Tandon ‘23)

Founder of Peeramid

Academic support offices lack resources to adequately support students with mental health issues. Peeramid is an educational platform which provides tools needed for self-help through peer support + science-backed interventions while acting as a force multiplier to provide time-back to supports for underlying obstacles being experienced.

Megan is pursuing a Masters degree in biomedical engineering at New York University Tandon School of Engineering. She holds a Bachelor degree in Clinical Neuroscience from Virginia Tech. Between her studies, she loves taking advantage of the endless sight-seeing and food that New York City has to offer.

Participated in:  Startup Coaching


Raihana Sultana (Tandon ‘23)

Founder of Iris

Iris is a universal IV-pump alarm that helps frontline medical nurses monitor IV alarms for patients through a remote Wi-Fi monitoring system, and prevent missed alarms to create a quiet and comfortable hospital environment for both patients and nurses.

Raihana is a rising senior studying Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon, with a passion for problem solving and tech startups. She hopes to one day inspire other South Asain girls like her to take part in entrepreneurship and believe in themselves.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Sophie Dornevil (Wagner ‘24)

Founder of UpFront

Upfront automates key administrative tasks, making it easy for private health practices to offload their billing and admin work, so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

Sophie is a second-year dual Master's student pursuing an MPA and MPH with a focus on global health and development. She holds a  Bachelor's degree in Global & Public Health Sciences from Cornell University. Her previous work experience in clean energy allowed her to examine how innovative strategies can be implemented to benefit community health and well-being. This, coupled with her academic background, enhances her ability to effectively drive Upfront's social impact and business development goals

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Yaroslava Bondar (GSAS ‘23)

Founder of  SHAME Magazine

SHAME is an online “magazine” for men between 18-35yo, active on Twitch who struggle to form genuine romantic and vulnerable relationships. SHAME meets this need by creating content (live streams, discord community, articles) that teaches relationship/dating skills by unpacking misconceptions around sex and dating with the help of sex workers and sex educators.

Yaroslava Bondar is a Dutch/Russian writer and journalist currently pursuing her MA in Journalism at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism.

Participated in: Startup Coaching and Customer Discovery Bootcamp


Working on a startup and interested in applying to the Winter/Spring ‘23 Female Founders Fellows or Circle Cohort? Attend an info session on November 18th or November 29th to learn more. Applications will be due on December 12th at 6pm. For more information or to apply to the Fellowship, visit the The Female Founders Fellowship web page here.