New York City is taking a giant step forward in strengthening and diversifying its economic base for decades to come. By providing seasoned mentors to growing companies and start-ups, the NYC Economic Development Corporation Venture Fellows program, launched today, gives innovative entrepreneurs a pivotal leg up as they take their companies to the next level.
I'm honored to be part of this exciting program offering an impressive group of businessmen and women the leverage they need to access all the city has to offer them.
The year-long program matches entrepreneurs, "Fellows," with "Mentors" who can help them develop their companies, professional networks and connections. The simple idea behind the program: to fuel New York City's entrepreneurial community by increasing collaboration among start-ups and established companies, and to encourage national and international start-ups to locate and grow their businesses in New York.
Mentors include Nielsen president Dave Thomas, Pepper Financial CEO John Tognino, and Bertelsmann co-chairman Richard Sarnoff. Fellows include Foursquare founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai, GKIDS founder Eric Beckman, and Gilt Groupe founder Alexandra Wilson. In all, there are 23 Fellows from nine countries representing a wide cross-section of new enterprises -- from e-commerce to health care.
As a mentor, I look forward to sharing my experience and insights as a publisher, venture capitalist, and digital entrepreneur -- and to giving back to an industry and city that have given so much to me.
This is a tremendous period of opportunity for New York. It's a decisive time for all industries, given the changes that are happening at blistering speed. Now more than ever, young companies need the right resources to grow and take flight.
No one knows this better than Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has now started six incubator programs -- with plans for even more in 2011. As the Mayor recognizes, start-ups require ideas, passion and energy, but scaling them takes real management expertise; even the most skilled practitioners run up against sharp challenges that can seem insurmountable.
So entrepreneurs need people who've been there before. And that's where NYC Venture Fellows comes in, because there's no substitute for mentoring.
I speak from experience. At key points in my career I was fortunate enough to have Patrick McGovern and Bill Ziff, giants in the publishing industry, take me under been their wings. And it's working closely with HuffPost co-founders Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer that enables me to continue to help grow the Huffington Post. Arianna and Kenny are strategic as well as creative, savvy as well as inspiring. As editor-in-chief of the site, Arianna's daily mentorship and collaboration are invaluable. As a mentor, my goal is to provide others with a wider worldview and to provide an additional foothold in an extremely competitive environment.
Human capital is the infrastructure of the New York of tomorrow. It takes an enlightened government to recognize the transformation that's possible when smart capital is invested in people.
As a New Yorker, I want to see the city continue to flourish. As a VC and entrepreneur, I'm committed to helping grow new, vibrant companies. Together, we can give new meaning to New York's status as "Capital of the World."
Who's with me?