Vision Voice

Vision Voice helps companies & startups, who are seeking to diversify their engineering teams, hire and retain female Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) software engineers, who are seeking access to sustainable careers in tech.

Founder(s)

  • Dessa Shepherd (Steinhardt '19) |

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Visura

Visura is a curated market-network for publishers to discover and hire the world’s top freelance visual journalists.

Founder(s)

  • Adriana Teresa Letorney (GSAS '21) |
  • Graham Letorney |

Website

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edgi

Where students go to learn about the issues that matter most to our future through open and informed dialogue.

Founder(s)

  • Tinsley Maier (Gallatin '20) |
  • Aashay Mody (Stern '10) |
  • Josh Shapiro (Steinhardt faculty) |

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NYU Female Founders Fellowship

The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is an award-winning initiative that provides access to a robust community of entrepreneurs at NYU who are committed to advancing gender equity in entrepreneurship, as well as extensive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Upon their graduation, student/alumni Fellows are also invited to apply for student loan alleviation grants of up to $50,000.

Applications for the NYU Female Founders Fellowship open twice a year: once in the fall semester and again in the spring. The next Female Founders Fellowship application is due on April 24th at 6pm ET for the Fall '23 cohort.

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  • Info Sessions & Deadlines

    Keep an eye on this section for any upcoming info sessions.

    Fri, Mar 24
    02:30pm ‐ 03:30pm

    VIRTUAL Female Founders Fellowship Info Sess...

    The NYU Female Founders Fellowship info sessions will provide detailed information about this innovative fellowship opportunity.The NYU Female F...

    Details & RSVP

    Wed, Apr 12
    04:00pm ‐ 05:00pm

    VIRTUAL Female Founders Fellowship Info Sess...

    The NYU Female Founders Fellowship info sessions will provide detailed information about this innovative fellowship opportunity.The NYU Female F...

    Details & RSVP

    Mon, Apr 24
    06:00pm ‐ 06:00pm

    DEADLINE: Female Founders Fellowship

    The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is on the search for an extraordinary group of NYU entrepreneurs for its fourth cohort for the Spring 2023 ter...

    Details & RSVP

  • Who It’s For

    The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is open to all NYU undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs, as well as NYU faculty and staff, who are actively working on a startup venture. Recent alumni entrepreneurs who have graduated within the last year (at the time of application) and who started their venture while studying at NYU are also welcome to apply.

    We seek to build a diverse, inclusive cohort of fellows. We welcome applications from any student, faculty, or staff member regardless of gender, and including but not limited to those who identify as trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary, or genderqueer.

    All applicants must personally demonstrate:

    • Commitment to their venture: Applicants must be passionate and knowledgeable about the problem they hope to solve for their customer, and demonstrate continued progress on the venture, with the expectation that they’ll continue to work on their startup after graduation
    • Demonstrated hustle including completion of a Startup Bootcamp: Applicants must be able to learn from, and take advantage of available resources. A key way for applicants to show initiative and progress is by meeting with the Entrepreneurial Institute for coaching and completing a Startup Bootcamp (most often) in advance of applying.
    • Commitment to supporting gender equity in entrepreneurship: Applicants must demonstrate that they and/or their venture are advancing causes important to gender equity and/or are supporting gender equity in entrepreneurship.
    • Community mindedness: Applicants must value being part of a community in order to contribute to the growth and success of the Female Founders Fellowship community. Fellows are expected to offer support to their peers, receive group support, and generally show great respect for one another.

     

    Applicant's Venture Considerations:

    Students pursuing ventures in any sector may apply (social impact, healthcare, biotech, deep tech, consumer products, enterprise technology, etc.). Independent of sector, the program has a strong preference for entrepreneurs tackling meaningful problems, building novel/differentiated solutions, and for businesses capable of radically scaling (including non-profits).

    Applications will be reviewed with the following questions in mind:

    • Problem Identification: Does the venture solve a meaningful problem and how well does the team understand the problem they hope to solve and the customer segment/market they plan to address?
    • Idea & Competition: Is the venture idea novel and/or a radical improvement over existing solutions?
    • Milestones: What progress on the venture has been made so far - what has the team done/created? Is the venture generating revenue? How do you plan to acquire customers?
    • Scalability: Does the venture have the ability to scale radically? What might be the potential impact and/or market opportunity of the venture at scale?

    Loan Alleviation Grant Selection Criteria:

    After participating in the Fellowship (and upon graduation), Fellows may apply for the Female Founders Fellowship’s Mark & Debra Leslie Student Loan Alleviation Grants, to help pay down their student loans. To be considered for grants, applicants must:

    • Have met the criteria for becoming a Female Founders Fellow (found on this website page) and been selected as an NYU Female Founders Fellow (“Fellowship” group, not “Circle” group)
    • Have actively participated in the Fellowship (“Fellowship” group, not “Circle” group), by attending all monthly meetings for at least one semester/cohort cycle (with limited exceptions as approved by Fellowship program leads), 
    • Have graduated from NYU in good academic standing,
    • Be a recent alumni of NYU (graduated within 2.5 academic years of submitting this application),
    • Must still actively be working on the same venture for which they participated in the Fellowship,
    • Have actively participated in at least six months of coaching through the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute,
    • Have participated in the NYU Startup Accelerator Series, including participating in the:
      • NYU Startup Bootcamp, 
      • NYU Startup Sprint, and the (exceptions apply with prior approval from NYU Entrepreneurial Institute Senior Leadership - Rebecca & Frank),
      • NYU Summer Launchpad (exceptions apply with prior approval from NYU Entrepreneurial Institute Senior Leadership - Rebecca & Frank),

    Those applicants who meet the above criteria may apply for grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 in grant funding, paid directly to the founder (not to the founder’s venture) for the express purpose of helping to alleviate their student loan debt. 

    Additional criteria will affect the amount of funding granted to each applicant including:

    • The total amount of funding available to be distributed by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute in the academic year (subject to NYU Budgetary/Financial rules and guidelines),
    • The applicant’s total student loan debt amount (from NYU or another institution),
    • Other personal economic factors which could affect the applicant’s student loan liability and payback schedule,
    • The number of hours per week the applicant is working on the venture (is the applicant working on the venture full time or part time? If it's part time, how many hours per week?),
    • The perceived progress the applicant has made on the venture while participating in the Fellowship (as determined by through participation in the Fellowship, through coaching, and/or otherwise at the discretion of Institute senior leadership),
    • Preference for radically scalable ventures (preference for venture-scale businesses - e.g. those businesses which could generate $100M in revenue annually at scale; For non profits we consider how broad/deep the impact you hope to generate may be),
    • Preference for highly differentiated ventures (how unique/novel is the venture's solution/business model) compared to competitors

    If funding is awarded, it will be given post-graduation in the form of a grant (with proof of graduation required to receive the funds). Grants are intended to go toward the repayment of the applicant’s student loan debt.

  • What You Can Expect from the Fellowship

    Female Founders Fellowship

    The Fellowship is structured into cohorts, segmented by stage of venture development and how much time the founder is spending working on the venture (e.g. part time vs. full time). The "Circle" cohort is for ventures who are relatively earlier than the "Fellows" cohort with some key differences being:

    • Circle cohort: Those ventures still building the foundation of their business model who have not yet received problem-solution fit, and will likely be pre product launch, likely pre-revenue, likely with founder still in school or working on venture only part time. Circle members will need to reapply to participate in each subsequent semester of the program, and will receive a guaranteed interview to move to the Fellowship cohort when their venture meets the criteria.
    • Fellowship cohort: For founders who have built foundation of business model and have reached initial problem solution fit, post-product launch (except for deep/hard-tech ventures), generating revenue (or have pilots for deep/hard-tech ventures), and committed to working on venture full time (or close to full time) after graduation. Fellows will not need to reapply to continue to participate in the program, so long as they're working on same venture as they originally applied with. However, they will need to demonstrate continued commitment and progress on their ventures to qualify for the grant, and otherwise meet the other grant criteria (see this website in "who it's for" for details).

    Each member of the Circle and Fellowship will receive access to community, mentorship, training, and resources to support their venture and themselves, including:

    Female Founders Community and Network Access: Fellows and Circle members will be invited to participate in monthly community events, and an annual full-day Female Founders Forum, alongside the broader NYU community.Fellows and Circle members will also be offered exclusive community building and networking opportunities, via:

    • Female Founders Fellowship & Circle Cohort Meetings: Fellows and Circle members will participate in monthly gatherings where fellows will get to share progress, work through venture challenges.
    • Networking & Social Events: Fellows and Circle members will be invited to social & networking events with each other, as well as with other members of the Female Founders Fellowship Advisory Committee as well as with special guests from the startup community.

    Training: Fellows and Circle members will have access to comprehensive startup training, and will be invited to participate in the:

    • Startup Sprint Interview: Fellows & Circle members will automatically be guaranteed an interview for the two week long intensive program to help startup ventures find problem-solution fit or product-market fit (taking place in January and in May/June).
    • Summer Launchpad Accelerator Interview: Fellows (not Circle members) will automatically be guaranteed an interview for the highly competitive NYU Summer Launchpad Accelerator, where if selected they will receive intensive mentorship from investors and successful entrepreneurs, and a $10,000 grant to accelerate their venture.
    • Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program: Once Fellows (not Circle members) are approaching the stage where they are able to raise venture capital, they will be asked to apply for the Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program (takes place in the fall)
    • Other programs: Fellows and Circle members may also be invited to participate in/apply to other select program opportunities, as they arise.

    Coaching: Fellows and Circle members will have priority access to regular (monthly or more frequent) coaching sessions with members of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute Coaching Team and Founders in Residence.

    Mentoring: Fellows (not Circle members) will be paired with seasoned entrepreneurial and investor mentors from the greater NYC and US startup communities. Further, fellows will have access to a network of 120+ external mentors and funders through the broader network of mentors at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute.

    Invitation to apply for a Mark & Debra Leslie Female Founders Fellowship Grant: The NYU Female Founders Fellowship aims to enable more founders to pursue their ventures after graduation by removing some of the financial burden of student loan debt. NYU Female Founders Fellows (not Circle members) are invited to apply for Loan Alleviation Grants as they prepare to graduate. Grants will be awarded to 3-15 Fellows per year and the awards will range from $5K to $50K per fellow. Fellows who receive this financial award will become Mark and Debra Leslie Female Founders Fellows, to honor the generosity of the donors whose gift makes these grants possible.

     

  • Meet the NYU Female Founders Fellows

    We’re pleased to introduce the NYU Female Founders Fellows!

    Photo of Caitlin Ellen
    Caitlin Ellen

    (Stern Langone '21)
    Co-Founder & CEO of Sabai Design

    Jade Kearney

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (Steinhardt ‘20)
    Co-Founder & CEO of She Matters

    Laura Rocha

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (Wagner ‘20)
    Co-Founder & CEO of Dathic

    Phantila Phataraprasit

    (Law '20)
    Co-Founder & COO of Sabai Design

    Rina Patel

    (Gallatin '20)
    Founder & CEO of She

    Sutton King

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (School of Global Public Health ‘20)
    Co-Founder & COO of ShockTalk

    Paige Anderson

    (Steinhardt ‘22)
    Founder of HealthBoxed

    Ann Andrews

    (Stern ‘22)
    Founder & CEO of Techfunic

    Photo of Thanisha Pariage
    Thanisha Pariage

    (Wagner '20)
    Founder & CEO of KinNect Careers

    Nikki Powers

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (Stern ‘21)
    Founder of Nourish & Refine

    Ashley Xie

    (Steinhardt ‘20)
    Co-Founder & CEO of Rooted Fare

    Adriana Teresa Letorney

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (GSAS '21)
    Founder & CEO of Visura

    Aleksandra Medina

    (Abu Dhabi '21)
    Co-founder & CPO of Frich

    Photo of Ayman Mukerji
    Ayman Mukerji

    (Silver '21)
    Founder of Jivika

    Caylin Waller

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (Steinhardt '22)
    CEO & Co-Founder of Theatre Advocacy Project (TAP)

    Dessa Shepherd

    Mark & Debra Leslie Fellow
    (Steinhardt '19)
    CEO & Founder of VisionVoiceInc.

    Tinsley Maier

    (Gallatin '20)
    Co-founder & CPO of Edgi Learning

    Caroline Catherine Fitzgerald

    (SPS '22)
    Founder & CEO of GOALS

    Caroline Vasquez Huber

    (Stern '23)
    Co-Founder of Cozier

    Drew Lederman

    (Tisch '20)
    Founder & CEO of Resist Nutrition

    Lindsay Perper

    (Stern '23)
    Founder & CEO of Shop Rodeo

    Mikaila Roncevich

    (Gallatin '21)
    Founder & CEO of Kaila Katherine

  • Frequently Asked Questions
    Do I have to identify as female to apply or be selected for the fellowship?
    No. We seek to build a diverse, inclusive cohort of fellows, and we welcome applications from any student with a demonstrated commitment to women’s issues in the entrepreneurial space, regardless of sex and including but not limited to students who identify as trans*, gender non-conforming, non-binary, or genderqueer.

     

    When do you accept applicants to the Fellowship?
    We hold two cycles of the Fellowship annually - one running in the Fall: September-January, and the other running in Spring: February-July. For the Fall cohort, please apply in the previous Spring (April/May). For the Spring cohort, applications are due in early December. Applications will be open in late October/Early November for the Winter/Spring '23 cohort.

    Do I need to complete a Startup Bootcamp prior to applying for the Female Founders Fellowship?
    Yes. Completing a Startup Bootcamp is a prerequisite for becoming a Female Founders Fellow. A majority of applicants complete the Startup Bootcamp prior to applying for the Female Founders Fellowship, though some do complete the Startup Bootcamp after their fellowship application is submitted. If scheduling is prohibitive, on rare occasions this prerequisite may be waived by the Fellowship program leads. To request that this prerequisite be waived, reach out to entrepreneur@nyu.edu.

    I’m interested in becoming a Female Founders Fellow, but I don’t hold any student loans. Can I still apply?
    Yes! All Female Founders Fellows receive the full benefits of mentorship and programmatic support. Only a subset of the Female Founders Fellows apply for the Student Loan Alleviation Grants each year.

    I graduated over a year ago from NYU. Can I still apply for the fellowship and the student loan alleviation grant?
    No. Only students who graduated from NYU less than a year prior to their application deadline, and who started their ventures while at NYU are eligible to apply for the Female Founders Fellowship.

    I don’t have student loans for my NYU education, however I do have student loans from prior education. Am I eligible to apply for the loan alleviation grant?
    Yes! If you have student loan debt (regardless of which educational institution you attended when you incurred the debt) and meet the other criteria for the program you are eligible to apply for the Student Loan Alleviation Grant.

    I’m a student from an international NYU campus. Am I eligible to apply for the fellowship?
    Yes!

    Are the Student Loan Alleviation Grants taxable?
    The Student Loan Alleviation Grants may be taxable. Please consult with an accountant prior to filing your taxes to fully understand tax consequences.

    How and when will the Grants be disbursed?
    The Student Loan Alleviation Grants are paid directly to the founder (not to the founder’s venture). If funding is awarded, it will be given post-graduation in the form of a grant, after proof of graduation is submitted. Further details for the Student Loan Alleviation Grant disbursement are still being finalized and will be updated prior to disbursement.

    How many student loan alleviation grants will be awarded each year?
    Though the number is not finite, we anticipate awarding between 3-10 student loan alleviation grants to fellows each year.