Announcing 11 New Members of the NYU Female Founders Circle

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Please join us in welcoming the newest members of the NYU Female Founders Circle community!

The NYU Female Founders Fellowship provides community support, training, mentorship, networking, and grant opportunities to entrepreneurs at NYU building scalable, differentiated ventures who are committed to advancing gender equity in entrepreneurship. Fellows get fully plugged into NYU’s ecosystem of resources, and upon graduation from NYU, are invited to apply for student loan alleviation grants of up to $30,000 each. These loan alleviation grants help to reduce financial burdens, which can be significant barriers to starting a startup. The grants are made possible through the generous support of the program’s lead donor: Entrepreneur and NYU alumnus Mark Leslie (WSC ‘66, Trustee), and his wife, Debra.

In addition to the Fellowship, we've launched a new program for founders whose ventures are at an earlier stage than those of the Fellows: The Female Founders Circle. The Circle comes with several benefits, including:

  • Invite-only monthly peer group events with other members of the Female Founders Circle
  • Invites to special social and networking events
  • 1:1 mentorship with external mentors and priority office hours with Entrepreneurial Institute coaches
  • Automatic interviews for the next Summer Launchpad Accelerator or Tech Venture Accelerator
  • Automatic interviews for the Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program
  • The opportunity to apply for up to $30,000 in grants to help pay down their student loans after graduation from NYU

This fall, we welcome 11 new NYU Female Founders Circle members. They are:

Anja Westhues (Gallatin ‘24)

Founder & CEO of Endure Sport Nutrition

Endure Sport Nutrition is a whole food nutrition system for endurance athletes including fuel for before, during, and after training sessions. We use ingredients that could be found in a pantry but are formulated for optimal performance.

Anja is pursuing her bachelor's degree at NYU Gallatin with a focus on Food Systems and Food & Beverage Marketing. She is an avid runner, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) fanatic, and writer.

Participated In: Startup CoachingCustomer Discovery Bootcamp

Elyana Javaheri (Tisch ITP ‘24)

Founder of MyLa

MyLa is a research-based digital healing garden aiming to leverage digital innovation and technology to bring the benefits of healing gardens to children with anxiety.

Elyana, founder of MyLa, is currently a master's candidate in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch. An immigrant from Iran, her focus in her work has been on creating sense of belonging and empathy to the human narrative. With a background in landscape architecture, community engagement, and digital art, Elyana is exploring the intersection of technology, landscape architecture, and interactive art.

Kachina Miller (Tandon ‘23)

Founder of Watermelon Pie

Watermelon Pie is a digital cooking platform that allows home cooks to easily store their recipes in a unified format, making it easy and efficient to organize, evolve, and share their recipe collections with family and friends.

Following more than a decade working in healthcare IT and customer service technology, Kachina recently earned a master's in Management of Technology and Innovation from NYU Tandon. While studying at NYU, Kachina began working on Watermelon Pie, a digital recipe platform that combines her passion for cooking with her love of technology innovation. Kachina has extensive experience building and leading teams, and developing and implementing technology solutions within large organizations. When she is not working on Watermelon Pie, Kachina loves to work in her flower garden, cook for family and friends, ride her bike, and spend time outdoors with her husband and two children.

Participated In: Startup CoachingStartup Accelerator Program

Veronica Vega (Silver ‘25)

Founder of The Mama Hub

The Mama Hub is a one-stop-shop mobile app and website created for postpartum, Black + LatinX, first-time birthing parents seeking access to health, wellness, or holistic resources.

Veronica is a doctoral candidate and entrepreneur who has a passion for the perinatal community. Her academic and professional goals align with her mission to help support historically marginalized communities to thrive within healthcare settings utilizing a patient and family-centered approach. Veronica aims to provide sustainable and impactful change for her community, which is the core of her business venture.

Participated In: Startup CoachingStartup Accelerator Program

Christiana Nguyen (Stern '23)

Founder of Legato Notes

Legato Notes is the Kindle for sheet music. Musicians can search, discover, and practice music instantly from the world's largest digital sheet music library.

Christiana has extensive experience growing and founding startups, in the US and internationally. As a previous business co-founder, she spearheaded the go-to-market, revenue, and growth strategy for an enterprise blockchain SaaS, securing a $10 million valuation in the first year. Christina is a 2023 graduate of the Stern Tech MBA program. When she’s not busy coding or building a company, she's an avid world traveler — she's visited 52 countries and counting!

Participated In: Startup Coaching

Laiba Rahman (SPS '24)

Founder of Awaaz Foundation

Awaaz Foundation is a youth-led organization that seeks to further the pre-existing and ongoing struggle against all categorical forms of inequalities our society remains plagued by.

Laiba Rahman is currently pursuing a master’s degree from NYU. She is a profound enthusiast when it comes to giving back to one’s own society. She has an endless history of asserting concise and continuative efforts towards the things she particularly believes in, and unarguably her strongest beliefs remain reserved for adequate social change in terms of equality, justice, and quality of life.

Participated In: Startup Coaching

Melissa Best (SPS ‘24)

Co-Founder of OneSPäRK

OneSPäRK is a SaaS platform for Fortune 500 cybersecurity sales professionals seeking to maximize commission earnings. We help them overcome quota attainment challenges, strategize account penetration, and prioritize tasks effectively using our AI-driven goal setting and accountability system.

Melissa is a creative entrepreneur, wife, mother, lifelong lover of learning, and strategist. Efficiency and productivity are hallmarks of being able to juggle these roles effectively without compromising on rest or being prone to burnout. It is this mindset that led her to co-found OneSpärk.

Participated In: Startup CoachingStartup Accelerator Program

Ariel Zhao (Silver '23)

Founder and CEO of ENGAGE You(th)

ENGAGE You(th) is constantly striving to make a positive impact on the mental health of Asian American youth. Utilizing social media and other online platforms, we provide psycho-educational workshops based on evidence-based research that are interactive, informational, and empowering.

Ariel is a recent alum from NYU, as well as a graduate student at Harvard University majoring in Global Health and Populations.

Participated In: Startup CoachingStartup Accelerator Program

Ravesa Bajo (Wagner ‘24)

Founder of The Dreams Incubator

The Dreams Incubator is a social enterprise that empowers and uplifts marginalized refugee women to launch their small businesses and achieve long-term economic stability by providing specialized and culturally-competent business preparedness curriculums and directional mentorship programs.

Ravesa is a civil war survivor and a political refugee who spent the majority of her youth in Paris. She has held senior positions in New York City government including Senior Policy Advisor for Operations and Executive Director for Immigrant Affairs before recently transitioning to tech. She currently manages public affairs issues and global strategic projects for Meta.

Participated In: Startup Accelerator Program

Tiffany Lee (CAS '23)

CEO of 021

021 is a gamified habit-building app that helps college students mitigate burnout and promotes healthier routines through a reward system within a supportive environment.

Participated In: Startup CoachingStartup Accelerator Program

Tolulope Ojo (Tandon '23)

Co-Founder of Reneé Lamar Optics

Reneé Lamar Optics is a community vision care brand for Black, full-time prescription eyewear users who face difficulty finding frames that fit their facial features and have settled for generic, ill-fitting eyewear. Our solution empowers these users with vision health knowledge and bold eyewear with extended sizes for maximum comfort and style.

Tolulope holds a master's in Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship from NYU Tandon.

Participated In: Startup Accelerator Program

Working on a startup and interested in applying to the Spring ‘24 Female Founders Fellowship/Female Founders Circle Cohorts? Attend an info session on 11/14, 12/4, or 12/7 to learn more! Applications are due on Monday, Dec. 11 at 6PM.