Announcing the 2023 Mark & Debra Leslie Female Founders Fellows

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The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute is thrilled to announce the addition of four more founders as Mark & Debra Leslie Fellows grant awardees, in culmination of their participation in the NYU Female Founders Fellowship. The four latest Fellows were selected after successfully completing the three-part Startup Accelerator Program. Equally as important, they were each selected based on the progress made on their venture, and a demonstrated passion for supporting women and gender equity in entrepreneurship. 

About the Fellowship:

The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is an opportunity for NYU student, faculty, and staff entrepreneurs to build community, establish mentorship relationships with renowned founders and investors, hone their leadership skills, secure financial support for their ventures, and alleviate their student loan debt – all while contributing to closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship. The Fellowship provides tailored venture coaching and extensive training via priority access to the NYU Startup Accelerator Program, a set of sequenced skills-development programs for NYU entrepreneurs to advance their startups from idea to market.

At the end of the Fellowship and upon graduation, Female Founders Fellows may apply for student loan alleviation grants of up to $30,000, thanks to the generous support of Mark & Debra Leslie.

Meet the Fellows:

Please join us in congratulating the 2023 Mark and Debra Leslie Fellows on their awards:

Caroline Fitzgerald (SPS ‘22)

Founder & CEO of GOALS

Participated In: Startup Bootcamp, Startup Sprint, Female Founders Circle, Female Founders Fellowship, and Startup Coaching

Before GOALS, Caroline worked for 10+ years as a marketing and sales professional across a variety of industries. Most recently, Caroline was the Senior Vice President of Partnerships at P3R and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. In her role at P3R, Caroline was responsible for selling and activating partnerships with brands that include DICK’S Sporting Goods, FedEx, Brooks Running, Dunkin’, PNC Bank, Barefoot, Panera, Nuun Hydration, Bank of America, and more. Caroline graduated from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University with dual degrees in Marketing and Women/Gender Studies, and is currently working on a M.S. in Global Sport at NYU. She lives in Pittsburgh.

GOALS is a marketing agency that helps professional women’s sports teams earn more revenue through brand sponsorships. At GOALS, we are solving a problem that many women’s sports properties face: they are stuck with little resources because they do not have the capital needed to hire sales staff. We help these teams sign sponsorship deals with brands so they have more revenue to support their business operations.

“The Female Founders Fellowship provided me with the tools, resources, mentorship, and community to take my startup GOALS to new heights. As a founder whose business is centered in creating more gender equity in professional sports, I’m beyond grateful for leaders like Debra and Mark Leslie who recognize the social and economic value of investing in women, and are committed to accelerating gender equity in entrepreneurship and beyond.”

- Caroline Fitzgerald (SPS ‘22)

Dana Bevilacqua (GSAS '17, GSAS Staff) 

Co-Founder & CEO of ViBiller

Participated In: Tech Venture Workshop, NSF I-Corps, Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program, Startup Coaching, Female Founders Fellowship

Dana serves as the co-founder and CEO of ViBILLER while working in psychology research and education. Previously, Dana’s research explored how group dynamics of engagement modulate learning by assessing brain-to-brain synchrony in real-life environments. She has worked internationally with interactive installations at the interface of science and art.

ViBiller: Our wearable armband tracks physiological markers of emotion in real time. These signals trigger sound and light effects for a more immersive live music event. Venue managers need to meet at least 50% capacity every night and will use this tool to increase ticket/bar sales, audience engagement, and loyalty.

"The Fellowship has been exponentially influential in my start as an entrepreneur and created a hugely impactful community that goes beyond being just a group, but more so a source of support, inspiration, and growth. It has opened so many opportunities — such as the loan alleviation grant — that have been essential in moving forward in my business and allowed me to focus on the path ahead, clearly and with excitement!"

- Dana Bevilacqua (GSAS '17, GSAS Staff)

Erica Ramos (Stern ‘23)

Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Trousso

Participated In: Startup Bootcamp, Startup Sprint, Summer LaunchPad, Female Founders Circle, Startup Coaching, Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program

Prior to Trousso, Erica worked in Product, Operations, & People for a small healthtech startup in NYC. She graduated from NYU Stern with an MBA this year.

Trousso’s marketplace is making it easier for women to buy and sell upscale formal wear they only wear once, so they can diversify their event wardrobe at a fraction of the cost.

“NYU's Female Founders Fellowship has given me the resources, tools, and community to grow into the female founder I am today, and the loan alleviation grant has lifted such a massive financial burden that prevents many women from starting businesses. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to contribute towards and benefit from this incredible program that is creating a more inclusive and equitable entrepreneurial landscape, so more women can start companies.”

- Erica Ramos (Stern ‘23)

Lauren Blandin (Meyers ‘22, NYU Langone Health Staff)

Founder of Fertility Yoga

Participated In: Startup CoachingCustomer Discovery Bootcamp, Startup Sprint, Female Founders Circle, Female Founders Fellowship.

Lauren 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 wellbeing 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.

Fertility Yoga utilizes mind/body techniques to support the chronic stress and changes that occur throughout the body while going through fertility treatments.

"No words can describe how grateful I am to receive your gift. Your support and generosity will enable me to continue to improve the lives of women struggling with (in)fertility and support gender equity by reducing any barriers in place that may have prevented Fertility Yoga to grow and expand its reach."

- Lauren Blandin (Meyers ‘22, NYU Langone Health Staff)

Apply for the Female Founders Fellowship:

Do you have a venture idea and have demonstrated passion for supporting women and gender equity in entrepreneurship? Applications for the next Female Founders Fellowship Cohort will open in early November. Sign up for our newsletters to stay updated on dates and deadlines.