Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program

There continues to be a massive gap in the amount of venture capital invested in startups led by women, BIPOC and other underrepresented founders, relative to their peers. While the majority of ventures supported at NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute are led by Women and BIPOC founders, far fewer receive venture funding. 

This Fall, the Institute launched the Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program to help NYU founders committed to diversity, equity and inclusion learn the fundamentals of fundraising. Accepted participants partake in five invite-only workshops with venture capital investors and seasoned founders to help them assess whether venture funding is a fit for their startup and if so, to equip them with the knowledge and tools to navigate the fundraising process successfully.

  • What You Can Expect From the Program

    The Max Stenbeck Venture Equity program will help founders understand the different types of funding, fundraising best practices, and spell out the mechanics of receiving investment capital. Workshops and panels will be led by venture-backed entrepreneurs, investors, and startup lawyers. Both during and after the program, participants will have the opportunity to meet investors and other advisors through office hours and coaching. 

    When/where will it take place? 

    The program is held virtually (via Zoom) from approximately 3 or 4-6pm ET on Tuesdays Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Nov. 29, & Dec. 13. Participants (CEO or founder in charge of fundraising on the venture) are expected to attend ALL sessions. 

    Schedule and topics (subject to change): 

    • Oct 25 - Investor Landscape: From Accelerator programs offering money, Friends & Family, Angels, Venture Capital firms, and non-equity funding alternatives
    • Nov 1 - Fundraising Process: Investor fit, raise amount and terms, materials to create, putting a funnel together, soft-circling and closing
    • Nov 15 - Storytelling: Storytelling frameworks, fireside chat with founders on investor pitching
    • Nov 29 - Soft Skills & Biases: Outreach & networking, investor meeting expectations, investor updates, unconscious & conscious biases
    • Dec 13 - Investor Diligence Process: Workshop w/ startup lawyers from Brown Rudnick, covering diligence materials, deal terms, and negotiations

    Other benefits: 

    Participants are invited to participate in coaching sessions with members of NYU’s Innovation Venture Fund team, as well as office hours with external investors and VC-backed entrepreneurs to get feedback on their pitches and the investment process.

    Who leads the workshops/lectures? 

    The workshops/panels are led by the NYU’s Innovation Venture Fund team, startup lawyers, VCs, and venture-backed founders. Confirmed speakers include founders of Ephemeral Tattoo, MyWellbeing, HealthBoxed, Funnel Leasing, Statespace (Aimlab), Mighty, She Matters and GigFinesse, investors from 500 StartupsTechstars, 2048 Ventures, HearstLab, Alumni Ventures and Flat World Partners, and legal guidance from Brown Rudnick.


  • Who It’s For

    The program is designed for founders building scalable ventures who are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in entrepreneurship and who have never raised from institutional investors. The program is built for venture founders that have early indications of product/market fit and will be ready to raise funding in the next 6 months. If you have raised an angel or friends & family round and want to get ready to pitch to institutional venture capitalists, this program is also for you.

    In addition, ventures are evaluated based on the following criteria:

    • NYU status: Open to ventures with at least one founder who is an NYU student, faculty, staff member and/or recent alumni (within 2 years of graduating NYU)
    • Scalability of venture: For highly scalable, differentiated, for-profit ventures. The program is NOT open to those working on lifestyle ventures, such as agencies, consulting practices, brick and mortar retail, real estate, etc. 
    • Sector of venture: The program is for ventures across varied sectors including software, hardware, biotech, social ventures (for profit/scalable), consumer products and more. 
    • Stage of venture: The program is for those who may be in a position to fundraise within 6 months of the program’s conclusion. Thus, ventures should have a working product (in beta is acceptable), have demonstrated proof of demand (or ideally first paying customers), a validated initial revenue model, and have a vision for a path to scalability.
    • Prerequisites: Venture founders should have conducted rigorous customer discovery to validate problem-solution fit, and be able to provide evidence of demand through early sales/traction. As a highly recommended prerequisite to the program, founders should have completed NYU's Summer Launchpad accelerator, Startup Sprint, Female Founders Fellowship, and/or NSF’s I-Corps program. Ventures who have not participated in these programs may also be considered, if they are able to demonstrate traction and otherwise meet the rest of the criteria.

    All ventures meeting these criteria are eligible to apply to the program. Those ventures run by women, non-binary, Black, LatinX and LGBTQ+ founders are encouraged to apply.

    Ventures at an earlier stage are highly encouraged to apply for a Startup Bootcamp (for students) or Tech Venture Workshop (for full time faculty/PhD/researchers) to take the first steps toward validating the needs of their future customers and designing the right solution to fit their needs.

  • FAQ

    Do I have to identify as an underrepresented founder in entrepreneurship to apply, or to be selected for the program?

    No. We seek to build a diverse, inclusive cohort of founders, and we welcome applications from those who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in entrepreneurship regardless of individual background or identity.  Among other factors related to the venture itself, every application will be assessed on the strength of the applicant’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which will be evaluated based on the responses to application questions about whether the venture helps foster DE&I initiatives, or whether the founders have personally demonstrated a commitment to DE&I through their actions and goals.

    Will the Max Stenbeck Venture Equity program be held next semester or next year?

    As Fall ‘22 is the first year for the program, we have not yet determined the frequency and regularity of the program, but our intention is to offer this program once a year for the next several years. 

    Do I need to complete a Startup Sprint, Summer Launchpad, I-Corps or Female Founders Fellowship prior to applying for the Program?

    No, but we only reserve a few spots for ventures that have not completed one or more of these programs, so your chances of being accepted are greatly increased if you have completed them.

    I graduated over a year ago from NYU. Can I still apply for the program?

    Yes. Alumni who graduated within two years of the application deadline (October 7, 2022) and/or who successfully demonstrate that they started their venture while studying at NYU are welcome to apply. 


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

    Yes! But discussions will focus on the funding ecosystem within the United States only.

    How many ventures will be selected to participate in the program?

    We anticipate selecting between 10-15 ventures for the first year of the program. 

    If we’re selected, who from our team should attend the workshops?

    At a minimum, the founder responsible for fundraising (typically the CEO) should attend ALL sessions.

    Will we have to complete any work/assignments during the program?

    No - no official “homework” will be due during the workshops, other than some suggested readings. However, we would highly recommend you start to put some of the learnings into action (building your investor funnel list, intro emails, pitch decks etc.) and leverage coaching and office hours during the program to go over your materials.

  • Honoring Max Stenbeck's Legacy

    The Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program honors the life and legacy of entrepreneur and philanthropist Max Stenbeck. Max Stenbeck was a passionate believer in technology for good, as well as an advocate for equal opportunities and the rights of vulnerable children. The Max Stenbeck Charitable Trust continues to give back in his legacy, including through the generous support of the Max Stenbeck Venture Equity Program at NYU.