Venture for America to team graduates up with start-ups

20 Jul 2011

Launched this week, Venture for America is a new, non-profit that will be recruiting enterprising college graduates in the US to work for two years at emerging start-ups in cities that are in need of new talent such as Detroit, New Orleans and Providence.

The programme is being modelled on Teach for America, which places recent college graduates as teachers in economic areas that most need them. It will be a way for college graduates to spend two years working in a start-up so they can learn how to build a company and create jobs.

According to the Venture for America, its purpose is job creation, with the aim of creating 100,000 jobs in the US by 2025. It hopes that most of the graduates who participate in the Venture America programme will subsequently become entrepreneurs themselves, preferably staying in the cities where they have been assigned to help grow the local economy.

Industry areas

Industries that the programme is currently focusing on include energy, particularly renewable or sustainable energy development, including green manufacturing; biotech and healthcare innovation; materials sciences, including nanotechnology; IT; internet applications, including consumer markets; and education innovation.

Applying for Venture for America

The first cohort of graduates to the programme will be recruited in spring 2012 and the first Venture Fellow Summer Institute will be held at Brown University in June 2012. Participants will have regular assignments, readings and meetings, including a US$100k prize for the highest-performing fellow at the end of the two-year programme, which they can use to fund the company they are currently working in or to start their own venture.

Fellows will live in group housing in each city and will receive a salary from their host company that Venture for America estimates will be in the US$32,000-$38,000 range.

Already participating investors in the non-profit include some top names in the start-up space, such as Chip Hazard of Flybridge Capital Partners; David Lee of SV Angel; Lawrence Lenihan of FirstMark Capital; Andrew Parker of Spark Capital; Josh Linkner of Detroit Venture Partners; Andy Sack, the executive director of Techstars Seattle and managing partner of Founder’s Co-Op; Medha Vedaprakash of Rho Ventures; and Andrew Weissman of Betaworks.

Photo: Venture for America logo, courtesy of its Facebook page

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic