Today’s guest speaker is one of the top 50 New York City tech influencers of 2019. He has helped over 1000 startups raise over $1 billion in funding. He serves on the innovation council of Fwd.us with Mark Zuckerberg and he brings more global startups to New York City than any organization in the world. Listen as Brian Frumberg and I discuss how we can solve the immigration reform in the USA, why Amazon failed at bringing HQ to New York City and what female founders are doing in New York to change that gender gap.
Welcome to HumAIn. My name is David Yakobovitch and I will be your host throughout this series. Together, we will explore AI through fireside conversations with industry experts, from business executives and AI researchers, to leaders who advance AI for all. HumAIn is the channel to release new AI products, to learn about industry trends and to bridge the gap between humans and machines in the fourth industrial revolution. If you liked this episode, remember to subscribe and leave a review.
Brian, Thanks so much for being with us on the HumAIn Podcast. For our audience, Brian and I met a few months back at the Czech Republic accelerator, which Brian runs out of VentureOut. What’s new with the ventures since we last met, what is going on right now with the Czech Republic accelerator?
Well, thanks again for coming to that event. That was the demo night for the fourth cohort of the Czech accelerator in New York city that we run in partnership with CzechInvest, which is part of the government of the Czech Republic. Which gives a look into our area of focus as an innovation platform and an accelerator. So from the earliest days, VentureOut has been focused on trying to create more efficiency in the global venture ecosystem, by providing opportunities for the most promising innovators and startup founders around the world to gain access to all the opportunities available for them here in New York city and the broader US ecosystem.
So we started doing that in 2012, as you said, at the time I was working at Gotham Ventures, which is one of the OG Venture Capital funds in New York city, and had an opportunity to work with some really promising startup founders that were also immigrants and founded their companies abroad, and had gotten them here and learned about the challenges they faced. But also, in sort of digging into that a little bit more through the research from the Kaufman Institute and Steve Case and others, learned about how important immigrant founders were to the US economy to innovation here.
So I started hosting events featuring really promising startups that I was helping to fly in from abroad and pitching them in front of a pitch in front of US investors, sort of trying to create an environment for these promising innovators to connect with the investors. They otherwise had a hard time getting in touch with, and very quickly learned that they needed a whole lot more help than that.
The venture ecosystem, both here in New York and really around the U S, needed a bit of education on how they should be considering foreign startups in the same way they consider startups that maybe don’t today meet their criteria, but they will know in 6 or 12 months from now. And so to look at it as a sort of pipeline approach. So I started by organizing, not just pitch night events, but what we call hyper accelerators. Really short form programs that were essentially private conferences for CEOs of startups, from one country or another, and bringing them here to educate them on how the right way to expand to the US was, so they can avoid the mistakes others were making.
We focused on companies that were a little more mature than your typical accelerator, because you’re not ready to launch into a new market until you actually have product market fit in your home market and maybe some traction. So our education focused, not on sort of like sales or marketing, one on one, but very much scale strategy. How to scale from a seed company to a growth stage company, and what are the tools and processes as a team you need to do that across sales and marketing, your fundraising strategy and the rest.
Then, basically, exposing them to as wide a swath of the New York ecosystem that is relevant to them as possible. From corporate innovation offices to successful startup founders that can talk about their stories and they can learn from the mistakes that they had, success that they had, as well as a large number of investors that they meet. And a lot of this is in closed door sessions and then also a number of bigger events that we would host.
That’s sort of how we started with those short form programs, but fast forward to today we’ve accelerated over 900, almost a 1000 companies through programs like that. We’ve run about 150 cohorts through that program. Then, a few years ago, we had a lot of companies that came back to us and said: “ Hey Brian, the program was great. We learned a lot. We went back home, we did all the work and took all the steps you have to take, and now we’re ready to launch”
They would just come and knock on my door and say: “Hey, I’m in New York Now, what can you do for me?” And I always knew that the next phase for us would not be just running this one week program that was introducing them and exposing them to the New York and US ecosystem, but actually helping them to launch into it. To start scaling and selling to their first clients and driving traction, and then eventually to actually raise capital.
So we started running a long-form accelerator program. The first one we did in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, supporting companies from Italy coming into New York in January of 2017. Was very much a beta test of us, taking our short program and seeing how it works, trying to accelerate companies over a much longer period of time. Really serving as less of a liaison and more as a partner advisor, sort of, hand to hand combat with the founders as they try to break into the US market. Now we’re running those and it’s really the fastest growing part of the business. We have more and more startups coming through that all the time. So we are in the midst of our fifth cohort for the Czech accelerator.
We are about to kick off our first cohort for the Skolkovo NYC accelerator. Skolkovo is a nonprofit that is the main innovation player in Moscow. So it’s going to be all Russian startups coming through that program. We have a number of others that we’re about to launch, but we’re waiting on the press release and approval from our government partners, which as you can imagine, takes longer than it does maybe with some other kinds of organizations, which is interesting for us because we’re always sitting in the middle of very slow moving process, driven bureaucratic government, and very nimble, unbelievably fast moving startups.
So it’s always like I’m in a twilight zone, trying to figure out the difference between the two. But anyway, the Czech accelerator, that was the event you were at and we’ve had some really great successes with that, even though we only started bringing companies through in January last year. With this cohort, we’re at about 12, but they’ve had a tremendous amount of success. Just across that cohort of companies, many of whom only finished our program within the last six months, they’ve already done an aggregate of over a million dollars in sales in the US market. So just a lot of traction really fast, which is exactly what we want to see. Like our success is the success that those companies have as it’s true of any accelerator or venture fund. So that was a long answer to a short question, but that’s sort of my style sometimes. So apologies, David.
No, that’s great, in particular for the United States and New York city as a community. Why is cross border innovation so important for fostering development of new ventures?
So, when I first started digging into this, it was very much the answer to your question as a macro question, and the research was just so astoundingly powerful that this became immigration reform. At first for me was an issue of passion to a lot of people that were influencers in the tech community that otherwise didn’t care who I was, I have not even launched VentureOut yet. So why would they get involved? So I tied our launch event to the idea of immigration reform, and immigration reform obviously is important. If there’s not a pathway for entrepreneurs to be able to get here.
And there still isn’t an entrepreneurs Visa, as there are in many other countries, that have prioritized what is called really the competition for talent and innovators, and the statistics are a lot of this research. I probably can update a lot of it’s a little bit old, but 50% of a fortune’s 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. The instance of entrepreneurship among immigrants is two to three times that of native born Americans. So they’re the ones going out and creating small companies and jobs at a much higher frequency that we are, whether it’s an innovative startup, whether it’s mom and pop coffee shop or grocery store, or whatever it is, or Yahoo or Google. And then if you look at where job creation in the US, which is what every politician really cares about, is the jobs they’re creating for their constituents and the economic activity, opportunity that those people have.
There was this really compelling piece of research that was done by the Kauffman Institute that attributed the 100% net job growth between 1982 and 1997. A 100% of all net jobs were created by companies that were less than 5 years old. So that’s to say, companies that were more than five years old hired as many people as they fired over that period of time, and all job growth came from those smaller companies. So when you think about that and you think about how much more entrepreneurship is happening amongst immigrants than is happening with native Americans, that is part one. Part two is the idea of foreign direct investment, which other countries or smaller States around the US care a lot about. It’s the idea of bringing a company from one location into your jurisdiction. And then, they are investing by building an office, building a manufacturing plant, and then creating tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of jobs. That is essentially what we’re doing.
Our work is economic development work. We’re trying to find the most promising innovators around the world who want to come here, because venture capital markets are completely inefficient. Almost all the capital lives here and it doesn’t invest outside the US. So if those companies want to be able to scale in a way that a typical San Francisco startup really scales and grows with funding, they have to be here, and so they want to get here. So we’re trying to create pathways for those companies to get here, because then they invest, opening an office, and then they’re hiring talented people in the ecosystem here and creating jobs in America. And should their company really grow?
That’s just economic activity, it is. We’re providing access to opportunity for these companies, and then they’re creating opportunities and growth for New York city in the broader United States. So very, very mission-driven the work we do. People will often ask me the thing that I like the most about my job. It’s a long list. I love the work that we do. Talk to anyone that’s in a mission driven job, and there’s just a lot of satisfaction you get, to have when the work is done well. For me as I worked in finance before this, not my venture days, I was an equity researcher working at a startup that was acquired by S & P and then, very quickly, found myself like an institutional salesperson selling research to hedge fund analysts and PMs.
In that world, it is a zero sum game. Every time there is a winner, what that winner wins, someone else has lost. In the world I operate in today, that’s not the same. I am in a role now where I really feel like we’re helping the pie to just get bigger, as opposed to figuring out who owns which slice of it.
You have a foreign ecosystem, like the Czech Republic that wants to grow. We and you have startup founders from those ecosystems that want to become global successes. We create an opportunity for that company to get access to the biggest consumer and enterprise marketplace and the biggest venture funding ecosystem on the planet, bringing them here. They then often in turn will grow and become one of our success stories.
When they raise that money and they drive revenue they’re able to use that to reinvest in their company. When they first are hiring new employees and they’re thinking about hiring a developer. Are they going to hire them for 150 K in New York city or are they going to hire them for 40 K in Prague? So they’re growing job creation. They’re growing their office and operations at home, because it’s easier for them to do that, because it’ll have a larger footprint there and just a few people on the ground here. But as they continue to succeed, they would grow more of a footprint here.
So they have more of an impact on the ecosystem here, and so you have the ecosystem at home wins. The ecosystem in the US wins. The company wins because they grow and have access to more opportunity. And then as VentureOut, we win by being able to be the facilitator of all of that. So that’s what it means that the pie grows as opposed to figuring out how to cut it up. And that is probably the thing I love the most about the work that we do here at VentureOut.
I love how mission driven you are and your mission continues beyond what you do at VentureOut to other organizations that you’re a member at. So we previously discussed before being on the podcast about FWD.us and their Innovation Council.
How a lot of work is done with dreamers and helping with immigration, as myself being someone who is first generation and who lives in Long Island city in New York, I see around me all the time immigrants, a lot of them are part of the EB-5 program and other programs. I want to hear about the work you’re doing with FWD.us and perhaps how that’s helping bridge the gap with immigration as well.
I didn’t really know it, but immigration access to people from different cultures has been something that I’ve been drawn to since I was in college. I grew up in Long Island, a town where there are too many guys, when we’re in pastel colored polos with their college bops. And I went all the way down to Virginia, you had to go to the University of Richmond thinking that seven and a half hours by car was far enough from Long Island to get exposed to something different. I found myself in a version of my high school on the campus of university of Richmond, obviously a little more diverse, but very much the same sort of demographic. I countered that by spending most of my time hanging out with, and making friends with all of the exchange students that were there. And Richmond had sort of like a higher proportion of immigrant students, exchange students and foreign students than did most other universities in the US.
So I had a lot of opportunities to do that. When it came to FWD.us I had already run a number of immigration reform focused events in New York. By the time they actually made it, they were founded in San Francisco by Mark Zuckerberg. He very quickly created a board of advisors that includes every science and tech venture from Fred Wilson to Steve Case, and the rest. So by the time they admitted it to New York and their team here with searching for organizations that also were focused on immigration reform and innovation, We were on the short list. So we very quickly hosted a number of events together, where I had them coming in and speaking at the pitch nights. We were organizing with foreign founders pitching to tell the story about how people could get involved in trying to drive immigration reform forward.
And then, when they decided to organize an innovation council, essentially bringing in leaders in the ecosystem that could help to spread the gospel to a further audience. To use their influencer platform to get the word out to their audience, to bring in other influencers. And really it’s, this is a passing legislation as a grassroots effort. It’s about getting out to as many voters as possible, to tell them why this really matters to the future of their economy. I’m very focused on business immigration reform because it’s just so critical to what I do. I’ve become passionate about comprehensive immigration reform because of everything I’ve learned through my work with FWD.us.
I work closely with a number of dreamers, some of whom are some of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. One was the first female VC at Samsung’s Venture Invest, here in New York at like the age of 25. Dealing with all the trials and tribulations of being an undocumented immigrant law growing up. Which, I can only imagine as someone that grew up in an upper middle class town as a white man. So, my sort of purview has grown beyond that, but my focus of where it is that I can have in the back that’s telling the business integration story most impactfully. And I’ve been lucky enough to have an opportunity to go down to DC with them to speak to different members of Congress, both of those that I’m a constituent of here in New York city, but also beyond that.
So that’s been very rewarding work, obviously we’re at a time today where it’s really hard to make progress in any area like that. So, hoping that changes in the near future, but again, definitely a passion of mine. And if you haven’t checked out forward or the work that they do, it’s FWD.us.
Take a look at the people that are sort of on the board and leadership. You’ll be very, very impressed with the leaders and the people that are pushing this forward. The arguments that they have for it are very common sense. What’s frustrating about immigration reform is that when it comes to business immigration it has a hundred percent support. Is on the left and is on the right.
Everyone believes, even Trump talks about his version of it is the “right people”. Which is definitely not the kind of black and white line is appropriate to be drawing. But the idea there is we should be focused on this competition for talent, on creating pathways for innovators and doctors and people that have higher degrees in STEM fields to be able to come here. Because guess what? We are underemployed in those jobs. Here in the US we do not have enough people graduating from schools or enough people in the workforce today to fill those jobs. There are millions of jobs unfilled in those spaces at universities, at corporates, at startups and the rest. And it’s really hard for them to get here.
It’s hard when they graduate from our universities for them to stay here. Everyone agrees with that, because it’s so obvious, but it gets tied to the border and it gets tied to illegal immigrants. There are people in Congress that have not allowed bills to be even taken to the floor to be voted on this is immigration, which everyone agrees with, because they’ve handcuffed it to illegal immigration, to border security and arrest.
And so it has been very frustrating. I have been fighting this fight since 2012 and while we had a number of wins along the way, there’s definitely been some steps in the wrong direction over the last couple of years. So not going to give up on a fight cause it’s so important to the work I do and so important to the nation and to our economy. But that’s the other one a long-winded answer to the work that I do at FWD.us and how it marries with the work I do at VentureOut.
It’s super important, when we’re looking at competition for tech. In fact, four episodes ago in the HumAIn podcast I interviewed Tara Chklovski, who runs Iridescent and runs the AI Family Challenge and also the Technovation Challenge. Which is one that invites girls from all over the world to learn to be entrepreneurs and start getting involved in tech. Traditionally, even in New York, being a woman in tech, whether you’re in an organization like Women in Quants, Women 2.0, Girls Who Code and all these organizations, it’s often only less than 20, less than 30%.
That might be overly optimistic, as a percentage of the tech workforce are women, and there’s a lot of opportunity to improve there and to improve that, under-representation for founders. I wanted to hear your thoughts on the New York tech ecosystem and what organizations, like Female Founders Fund and others are doing to help bridge that gap as well.
Definitely another issue that I’m very passionate about. We’ve run a women in tech program here, focused on all female founders. So not having a sector or country focused, but actually it did have country focus also in Canada, as all Canadian women founded businesses and something we’ll want to do more. We have worked with Noel Reshma Saujani from Girls Who Code and the team over at she work. And I’ve known Cynthia from Female Founders Fund for a long time. Since her time at FirstMark, before she went over mechanical founder of Female Founders Fund. That is an issue. Before looking at sort of the prevalence of women in tech or women in tech in New York city, I see it as something that starts actually much earlier than that.
There is this amazing. So my favorite journalist is Fareed Zakaria, you can watch him on CNN on Sundays, and he has a column in the Washington Post that he puts out every week. He talks about this amazing study that was done, that had to do with the economic impact of the workforce in the US and the economy in the US of not having more favorable family leave policy, to fast-forward through the minutiae of it. Should the US have policies more similar to what you see in Europe? It would enable so many more women to be active in the workforce and it would add over 10 years over a trillion dollars to the US economy. So this is both, people that leave the workforce because the cost of daycare is something close to the cost of the amount of money they make after taxes in their job, and so they’re going to stay home and spend time with their kids.
So getting back into the workforce after doing that is unbelievably hard. A number of these people have completed successfully higher education or working in very powerful jobs. These are exactly the kinds of people that companies want to hire. They’re exactly the kinds of people that drive our economy. And so there’s this massive, massive pool of talent that is basically forced to the sidelines because of family leave policy and not having a national policy in the US. And that often is very much at the root of the issue in my mind, because the thing that we talk about VentureOut is the best way to have an impact on a farm ecosystem is to create success stories.
Because if you take those success stories and you showcase them to the community, it’s easier for the next generation to feel like it’s possible for them. There’s no lack of female success stories when it comes to any aspect, any sector, any role. But when you look at the actual statistics of the percentage of boards of Fortune’s 1000 companies, the percentage of CEOs of those companies, the percentage of founders that are female in funded companies at any stage in tech, it is completely misrepresentative of the base population. So while there are a lot of stories because of these policies, there are so many less than there otherwise would be. So that issue is something that starts really there and creates more of an opportunity for the amazing women in our country to be able to stay in their careers.
If that’s something that they would like to choose to do because so many don’t really get that option and get pulled away. So it starts there, there are a lot… New York is lucky. We have a higher percentage of female founders, higher percentage of funded female founders than any other ecosystem in the US. We are two to three X that of San Francisco, but that’s just the nature of our city. New York City has more women than it does men, and it by population if you look at interest from a diversity perspective, one of the most diverse cities in the country.
We have… Close to half of the population of New York city are immigrants, they’re not from here. Which also is why New York city is such a great home for foreign founders that are trying to find their sort of first landing spot. But we have it lucky here, there are a lot of amazing initiatives, like the ones that I mentioned and you mentioned, they’re really important. That the issue is broader on beyond that, but every little thing that can be done has an impact and it’s something that definitely needs to change. Unfortunately, these things generally don’t change quickly. We’re all of us that are passionate about doing the work that we can, day by day, to make an impact. Then definitely a lot of people look up to when this ecosystem here in New York.
Absolutely. I know the other organization that you’re passionate about is this NYC Innovation Collective, where a lot of accelerators and innovators have branded together to partner and establish opportunities for all in New York city. Whether you’re immigrants, whether you’re women founders, or whether you’re just getting started in tech, that opportunities should exist. I know we’ve had the opportunity to chat about what NYCEDC (New York City Economic Development Corporation) has been building for the city, and even beyond that. Why do you think something like NYCEDC and also the NYC Innovation Collective, both these organizations are so vital to collaboration and innovation in New York.
So, I’m a huge fan of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and have been partnering with them, co-hosting events since the earliest days of VentureOut in 2013. We ran a program together, bringing companies from Central and Eastern Europe over to New York. But the EDC is technically a nonprofit, for those of you not familiar with it, it was founded by Bloomberg when he was mayor here in New York city. And he created to manage both, the real estate portfolio of New York city, which is 80% of the work of the EDC, as well as the economic development work. So any initiatives related to tech or innovation, related to workforce education, related to grants for companies building smart manufacturing plants.
The development of Civic Hall in Union Square, like the first incubator in New York city on Varick street, which was then the NYU poly incubator. Now it’s called the Varick Incubator, run by a partnership with the EDC and NYU, was founded by Bloomberg and was one of the early initiatives of the EDC post financial crisis to try to diversify the economy of New York away from its real reliance on financial services and Wall Street into other industries that they viewed as the industries of the future, like tech and innovation.
I was lucky enough to start working there shortly after it was launched, and I still partner with the team that originally ran it, including Steve, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. You should definitely be somebody that should be on his podcast if he hasn’t already. But also runs the Future Labs at NYU, which is an AI machine learning focused incubator. And Micah Kotch, who now runs Urban X, which is the smart cities urban mobility accelerator.
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The work that they do is transformative, It is outside of just tech. But some of the tech initiatives that they’re working on are some of the most exciting. They launched a cyber initiative, so they created a massive cyber center, that’s being run by our partners Sosa. Which is the leader in corporate innovation and cybersecurity from Tel-Aviv, that now is opening up the entire building, much of which will be dedicated to cybersecurity. They also brought in JVP, which is the oldest and largest fund from Israel to be running a cyber accelerator. We’re working in partnership with both of them and we’ll be launching our first cyber program before the end of the year, this year, which we’re very excited about.
They have similar initiatives across biotech and in a number of different areas. They’ve funded a ton of incubators, and my focus is on the tech and innovation aspect of it, but they do work well beyond that into sort of other core industries, non-tech industries, whether it’s advertising or fashion or others.
So, as I said, a lot of workforce education. Before we kicked off the podcast, we talked a little bit about Amazon HQ 2. That was one of the things I had signed on to a letter of support as the president of the New York City Innovation Collective. Representing our board on our community and supportive in the education initiative that the EDC was working on, which was millions of dollars in grants for educational institutions like Galvanize. For example, that you are very involved with creating educational programming for New Yorkers in outer boroughs, on underserved ecosystems, underserved communities to get educated, to be able to take the jobs that were being created by Amazon here in New York city.
We can wax poetic about the Amazon HQ 2 fiasco. I’m sure for a long time, to keep it short and sweet. The challenge with that was really around PR. The news that New York 1 was leaked, and what that meant was that the EDC and the team that had won the opportunity for the HQ 2 to be built here in New York city had found out within days of when the rest of the world found out.
And so they didn’t have the opportunity to announce the plans they have, to answer a lot of the questions and solve a lot of the problems that people were really worried about, from infrastructure challenges to how these jobs would be funneled to as many existing New Yorkers as possible. As opposed to creating this magnet of yuppies from other cities coming into New York city and then stressing the already strained infrastructure of New York. So, a lot of that was a timing issue and a PR issue. And definitely, in my opinion, a big loss for the community.
The thing that was really frustrating is that you had these arguments about how to use the 3 billion in tax credits that they would get, would be better reinvested in something like education or health care. That money doesn’t exist to be given to someone, that was, otherwise, tax revenue the city would earn from the taxes that Amazon would owe, because of the infrastructure, the buildings, and the people they hired and the work that they did here in New York city. And once those incentives were gone the city had this massive boon of tax revenue and jobs, they had committed to 25.000.
But inevitably would have been well more than that. So, it is very frustrating the misunderstanding of some of the political leaders in New York city that led to the unfortunate pull back from New York city by Amazon. Anyway, that’s a lot on the EDC and The Innovation Collective. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to come together with a handful of other leaders in the tech and accelerator ecosystem in New York city three years ago.
And really it happened organically, where a couple of people that were running accelerators were commiserating about the shared challenges that we had, if you weren’t running a business like that, you just didn’t really understand. And had so much value in learning from each other and sharing with each other, just over beers at some other event that we decided to meet up a few weeks later and invited some of our friends that were in similar roles. Then that just snowballed into something that was happening every other month and we had more and more people showing up every time. So it was clearly something that the community was asking for. And we ended up formalizing the organization as a nonprofit here in New York city, branded the New York City Innovation Collective, decided upon sort of like the values and mission that we would have.
But the real thesis is there are thousands of organizations in New York and around the world that serve tech startups, but there’s no one that really serves them. There was no one that was creating community for the people that were running accelerators and incubators. So that we could speak to each other about the challenges that we faced, what best practices were, tactics that we used that worked, other things we did that failed and to allow us to all be better. Because when those organizations are better, then we’re helping startups to be more effective.
When those companies are more effective, they grow and raise more money and create more jobs and that benefits the ecosystem. And so we created the organization to serve the people that were serving startups and the broader innovation ecosystem in New York city. Today, we are 115 organizations that are corporate and university innovation offices, and the people that run those offices,incubators and accelerators. Whether it’s based out of a university or it’s a funded accelerator, or it’s an incubator, like we work labs and really creating a community of all of those people. We have now about a 1000 members, all in New York city, represented by those 115 organizations, and we’re hosting events monthly. We’re creating shared resources for those groups.
But the real idea is that if we can help that aspect of the ecosystem to operate more effectively, every single accelerator we help has an impact on 10, 15, 2050. VentureOut accelerates over 150 companies a year. And so we helped 10 of them, We helped 20 of them.
You can do the math on the sort of magnified impact we can have on the ecosystem. And this is very much on the first phase of the innovation collective. This kind of community and best practice share resource share doesn’t exist in other critical parts of the ecosystem, whether it’s training community for family offices, for angel investors, or venture capital funds. We are very interested in really growing beyond the base of accelerators, corporate innovation. We have today over the next few years until those other aspects and trying to create sort of one umbrella hub where we have these different chapters representing all of the organizations that drive tech in New York city.
So then, the leaders of all those organizations and chapters can speak to each other. We work very closely with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office on those initiatives. So, very exciting work. We are looking to grow the team of advisors and ambassadors that we have, so if anyone’s interested, reach out to me or just go to nycinnovationcollective.com and check it out.
It’s amazing all the different cohorts you’ve had through VentureOut in all these programs over the years, from software and sales and business and different tech stacks. This wouldn’t be the HumAIn podcast without talking about AI. So are there any AI programs that you’re looking to launch with VentureOut as well?
For sure. So, when I was talking about VentureOut earlier, I touched on, really, the international aspect of the business, which is very much our core focus, but we have two practices. We have an international practice, which is built to serve foreign partners, mostly governments, creating a bridge from their ecosystem to ours, where we’re running workshops on the ground. In those ecosystems, recruiting the best companies to come to New York bringing them for a one week exploration of the market.
Then, from the ones that are already bringing them here, to actually launch their business in our startup practice. We’re serving companies directly, not with or for a partner. So we build one week programs where we’re going directly to startup founders to come and participate, and all of those programs that are sector focused.
Because sector focused programs are so much more impactful than a sort of generalist program for a group of companies from a specific geography, for example. Because every investor, every corporate and every startup founder, every topic we talk about is related much more relevant to each one of the founders in the program, and the founders of the program and more relevant to the people we connect them with as well.
And so that’s our one week programs in our startup practice. And then we also run the three-month programs directly for startups. The way we run our three month accelerator is very different from other organizations. It’s all built for international startups and the idea of launching into a new market is very different from what most accelerators are built to do, which is to help companies raise their first real seed round.
Trying to raise capital, the fundamentals of that, the network developed to do that is very much similar regardless of where the companies are coming from. There, obviously, is a difference for every company. But you can run that kind of program as a cohort approach, figuring out what your immigration strategy is, how to refigure our product market fit for the US, what your footprint is going to look like here, your fundraising strategy. On top of all of that, that’s not a cohort experience. So even today, we’re running a Czech accelerator for four companies that we’re accelerating at once, they each have their own individualized siloed program. That is almost a hundred percent one-to-one programming just for them.
So we build custom accelerators per company. So we have cohorts of companies coming through, but we also have individual companies that come to us. So those are sort of the two practices. Within the startup practice of sector programs we’ve been running AI programs with the NYU Future Labs for the last couple of years.
We do a global poll of startups. Those are the programs that we actually have US companies come through as well. There’s a big benefit to the international founders that we have to be able to network and learn from American founders as well, and just creates a more diversified cohort experience.
So, we do a global poll. We probably reach out to 3 or 4,000 startups in the AI space in usually 15 or 20 geographies around the world and invite them to apply, run them through sort of a typical selection process. Then they have on average a cohort of 10 founders, usually it’s a 50/50 split on US founders and international founders, coming through an intensive one week program that is essentially a private conference for CEOs of AI companies.
All of the education is focused on scale strategy because we focus on post seed, pre growth startups. All of the investors, they need our AI focused investors. All of the companies we meet with that’s the Alexa team at Amazon. It is the Watson team at IBM. It is Dennis Mortensen from x.ai. It is a very AI machine learning driven program, really trying to help these companies blow up their network of real thought meters, and advisors and corporates and investors in the AI ecosystem in New York city, as well as to educate them on the right ways to be able to scale from there, sort of post seed stage to growth stage.
We run that program twice a year. We ran our last cohort, I’m looking at my calendar here now, the week of April 15. Had a really impressive group of companies coming through. And our next one is going to be likely in the middle late of October of this year. So, for any of you AI founders that love David and the HumAin Podcast, please reach out to him or I if you’re interested in that program, we’ve got coming up. We are probably going to start recruiting for that in the next couple of months here. So anyway, that is most of our overlap with AI. We have a number of… AI is so prevalent today and so core to a lot of sort of new innovation and technology that in any of our programs we have AI companies, our French programs, our Czech programs.
Our AI program actually had two of our Czech companies in it, because they were innovating in machine learning as a critical part of their software platforms. So all of those programs really today have AI, because it’s really a layer across of all aspects of technology. Almost like the internet, isn’t a sector. It cuts across all tech as a sector. You look at what’s happening in New York, it’s publishing tech and advertising tech and FinTech and education tech or ad tech. Tech innovating on top of an existing business and industry and AI is very much the same thing. So we’re definitely seeing a lot of it.
It’s been great to work with Steve Coonan and the team because we are very much generalists and we always run our sector programs in partnership with a very deep sector expert organization team. So that we can customize that program to really answer the questions that those founders will have.
What is trending today is very different from what’s going to be trending in three months and I don’t know what that is in all sectors. So it’s just really critical to be able to work with partners like that and we’ve learned so much from the opportunity to do that. Not only in that program, but our ed tech programs with Ash from StartEd that runs innovation programs in bargain with NYU, with the team over at XRC Labs, that is a new retail and brand accelerator that we partner with on our retail and e-commerce programs and the rest.
Awesome. Thanks so much for dropping all those knowledge bombs and for being with us today, Brian. Love everything happening and I am excited to check out that new program in October this year.
Maybe we’ll bring you in to speak about it, speak at it.
Let’s do it.
What you’ll become, you’ll become a mentor of VentureOut.
All right. Fantastic. Love it. Thanks for being on HumAIn.
Virtual high five, David. Thanks so much for the opportunity. I really appreciate it. It’s been a pleasure and I look forward to doing it again sometime soon.
Perfect. We’ll catch up soon. Thanks Brian.
Have a great day, sir. Bye.
Hey humans, thanks for listening to this episode of HumAIn. My name is David Yakobovitch, and if you’d like HumAIn, remember to click and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Luminary. Thanks for tuning in and join us for our next episode. New releases are every Tuesday.