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Venture for America

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Contents

Overview

Venture for America was founded in 2011 by Andrew Yang to train and place talented college graduates at start-up companies located in struggling cities. Modeled after Teach for America, Venture for America seeks to revitalize America through entrepreneurship, while enabling opportunity and restoring an American culture of achievement.
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Since its inception, the organization has trained almost 100 fellows (today applications exceed availability), given fellows access to upwards of $100k in yearly seed funding and facilitated their placement in cities including Detroit, Cincinatti and New Orleans. 

Purpose

Graduating from Columbia Law School, Andrew Yang was conflicted with what to do for his career.  As with many other young professionals, Yang knew the options outside of working on Wall Street were slim and likely career-diverting.  After working with, and starting several companies (rising to the rank of CEO in Manhattan GMAT), Yang founded Venture for America, to increase the accessibility to the start-up process for college graduates.

The problem today is that qualified college graduates crave hands-on business experience to learn how to start a business.  Meanwhile, start-up companies struggle to hire due to lack of resources since they have yet to establish their brand.  Venture for America bridges this gap; the organization gives companies access to high quality, motivated young workers.

Overall, the goal is to funnel top young people into American startups, socialize them and provide future structures and role models for others.  Venture fo America wishes to rebrand entrepreneurship as the most prestigious professional aspiration, as evident in one of their mottos: "Smart people should build things." 

Distinct Differences From Other Offerings

Venture for America Fellowship

After acceptance into the program, fellows commit to training and a two year commitment of work.

Through training, fellows are given the skills to hit the ground running.  Training sessions include lectures, visits from investors, website design challenges and practice with business creation.  By the end of training, fellows are well versed in finance modeling, sales, public relations, branding, marketing and basic business/office etiquette.

Fellows are then matched with the company of best fit to them through an intense match-making process including preferences and phone/in person interviews.  Companies must be able to show high growth potential (energy, biotech, health, information, technology, consumer markets) and are required to commit to $32-38k in salary (plus benefits), pay $2,500 to fund the fellow's training, and agree to actively growing the candidate (e.g. monthly sit-downs with the CEO).

Fun Fact: Venture for America will still try and connect applicants with potential start-ups if they are not accepted into the fellowship. 

Appeal

Venture for America appeals to young professionals in a few ways:

  • Prestige: looks good on a resume and has the reputation of attracting ivy league talent
  • Progress: brings young professionals to the next level in their careers
  • Opportunity: keeps doors open
  • Money: workers are compensated for their work
  • Skills: fellows gain skills and training for anything and everything they will face
  • Community: fellows build a sense of community with other inspired individuals
  • Public Service: Fellows are doing a public good, both for local communities and America

Impact Achieved For Students and Campus

  • Impact for Students - bottom line: Venture for America is a strong training program for graduating students who want to get into business creation and also helps revitalize our economy. Todays VFA partnerships are over 50% non-technical, so it does not limit any candidates from applying (in some ways, the fellowship seeks to open doors particularly for these students).  Therefore, Venture for America's resources would be best used on a campus looking to:

(a) give benevolent entrepreneurial students a new outlet for post-graduation plans

(b) create a role-model/success story

(c) build support for this lifestyle as a career path.

  • Impact on Campus - by advertising Venture for America as a prestigious scholarship/fellows program, a campus ambassador could build a long-term vision in students from varying degree paths and eventually place high achieving students in the program. 
  • Impact on Community - start ups in areas of need will receive talented recent graduates, renewal of economy and culture, and creation of jobs by the growth of these start ups and the graduates becoming job creators themselves

Steps Required To Bring Resource to Campus

Here are the options for getting Venture for America involved on your campus: 

  1. Schedule an event.  Venture for America is currently touring the country and visiting top schools and looking to expand.  If your school is not scheduled for a visit (see calendar: http://ventureforamerica.org/events/), contact events@ventureforamerica.org for more information (VFA attracts a lot of attention at career fairs).
  2. Become a VFA campus ambassador.  Send resume and cover letter to jobs@ventureforamerica.org, titled "Application for Campus Ambassador - [your name]."  For more information see: http://ventureforamerica.org/jobs/.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Venture for America
c/o Eileen Lee
40 West 29th St., Suite 301
New York, NY 10001

info@ventureforamerica.org    |    (646) 736-6460

Resources

[1] http://ventureforamerica.org 

[2] http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=7537948&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=DpBX&locale=en_US&srchid=2371142341380851232981&srchindex=7&srchtotal=687&trk=vsrp_people_res_photo&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A2371142341380851232981%2CVSRPtargetId%3A7537948%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary


Also see:

https://twitter.com/venture4america

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t383l_7-o4o&feature=youtu.be (Andrew Yang @ Georgetown TEDx)