Fellow Spotlight: Jake L’Ecuyer, Benzinga

vm0MFK9t81NZXXPw3579jqMARUZLQUO891xrYlhW9MQName: Jake L’Ecuyer

Hometown: Troy, Michigan

University: Michigan State University ‘11

City: DetroitBenzingaLogo1

Senior Analyst, Benzinga

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

It was a “safer” way to get involved with a startup. Every startup I had worked with always offered me about 10 bucks an hour, and thats not a living. VFA guaranteed a wage and benefits while offering training, but allowed me to work at a startup like I wanted. Giving me a strong network of peers and a brand add to my resume was pretty important too, as the startup I joined may not succeed (as many do not). So it was almost like a 2 year insurance policy for working at a startup.

 What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

Having the startup job, but a national brand backing me. It’s essentially the best of both worlds. The network is awesome too.

What does Benzinga do? 

Our goal is to level the playing field between the institutional and retail (every day) investor. We do this with the 3 pillars of our company:

1. Benzinga- Our front facing media brand, where we have full length articles about the markets.

2. BenzingaPro- Our real-time news feed that covers financial markets and provides data on their movements and fundamentals.

3. Marketfy- A marketplace for financial products ranging from books, to training courses, to traders that you can subscribe to and learn to trade their strategies from. The key to marketfy is tracking software that validates every trade made by our mavens (the expert traders), which proves their entries and exits in the market are actually possible, and gives more transparency to their methods for the users.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

I work primarily on the Benzinga news desk as a market analyst. So I arrive at 7am and start analyzing market news, write a few stories for Benzinga.com, help our upper level clients understand why certain stocks, commodities, and futures are moving, and cover things like press conferences and conference calls. I also go on Tide Traders, a stock market internet radio show every day at 11:30am to give a news update. Finally, I go on Stocks and Jocks, a Chicago AM radio show to talk stocks and sports every Tuesday morning with CNBC’s Jon Najarian and ‘The Chief’.  Starting in the near future, we will also have a bi-weekly spot on Chinese national TV to cover the US stock market, which I will appear on once a week. That covers my duties on the desk, but I also run our internship recruitment and full time recruitment, and act as a contributing editor for Benzinga.com.

What’s your favorite thing about Detroit? 

Probably the huge opportunity here. Detroit was at one time such a powerhouse, but is a husk of what it used to be. What many see as a dangerous and failed city, I see as a fantastic opportunity. There is no one saying “you can’t do that” here, if you’re doing something productive or providing value, you get encouragement and support. It’s a city of doers, and I love that. Creative ideas quickly gain support in Detroit as our city scrambles for a solution to its economic woes.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

I want to feel like I have enough knowledge to build a company. So I want the relationships needed, some solid experience, and an understanding of how to build up a customer base and business model. Hopefully by the time the Fellowship is over I will feel comfortable enough to launch something on my own, as my dream is to be completely self sufficient and not have a need for a job or be tied to one location.

 

Fellow Spotlight: Mehves Tangun, Brown University

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Name:  Mehves Ofelya Tangun

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey

University: Brown University ’13

Major: Engineering & Economics

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

After taking my first entrepreneurship class at Brown University I realized that I really enjoyed drafting business plans and pitching to investors. My entrepreneurship professor Danny Warshay introduced me to VFA. With his advice I decided to apply.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

It was during my spring break when I was in Istanbul, Turkey, suffering from a horrible jetlag. So I was up at 3 am checking my emails in my bed when I received the email from Andrew Yang. At that moment, all it said was: “Let the celebrations begin”. It was a memorable week!

Now that you’re a Fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I am very excited to be thrown out of my element and out of my comfort zone so that I could push myself in every project I undertake. As Andrew Yang said: “People spend money and time educating the market for consulting and finance. The theory is you must become a baller before you come back and change the world”. Even though we laugh to this statement, which is said with a touch of sarcasm by Yang; I would like to be trained for the startup sector and I believe Venture for America is the right place for it. So far this is all I want to accomplish- gaining knowledge and experience after a “baller” training.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose? Barcelona (minus the crisis)

Best thing about Brown:  You are the master of your time!

Favorite Book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera

Favorite childhood TV show: Rocko’s Modern Life and The Smurffs

Favorite meal: Dinner

Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving- even though I was introduced to it very recently, I cannot get over the food!

Best class you’ve ever taken: Entrepreneurship and Innovation by Danny Warshay

Favorite movie quote: “Do not be afraid to let go or forget… Because in reality, all that matters never leaves us…” –Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons)

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Sunday BRUNCH!

Favorite entrepreneur: Wolfgang Puck or Mario Batali (Going back and forth between the two)

Favorite cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Most worn article of clothing: Beige Scarf

Favorite sports team: The Celtics

Best trip you’ve ever been on: To the region of Cotes du Provence for wine tasting.

Favorite historical figure: Ataturk- The Great Turkish Leader who brought Democracy to Turkey

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Opening a bakery from scratch in a small town called Chepkanga in Kenya.

Fellow Spotlight: Brian Bosché, Bizdom

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Name: Brian Bosché

Hometown: Newport Beach, California and Bozeman, Montana

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University: Dartmouth College ‘12

City: Detroit

Recruitment & Development,  Bizdom

 

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

I was creating a proposal for a Center of Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College for one of my Public Policy classes, and was interested in what opportunities were available for students in startups after graduation.  After seeing dozens of flyers on campus, I went to the Venture for America info session with Andrew Yang, and was hooked by his vision.

 What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

Access. Being a VFA Fellow means I have direct access to leaders in my community, successful entrepreneurs in the VFA mentorship network, and a strong peer community of Fellows around the country.

What does Bizdom do? 

Bizdom is a startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs launch, fund and grow innovative, web and tech-based startups. As a community organization, we also organize and support entrepreneurship events and trainings in Detroit.  Bizdom is a nonprofit that was founded by Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and general partner of Detroit Venture Partners.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

Recruitment and Development.  I recruit startups into Bizdom and then vet the candidate pools for each program session (3 per year).  I work with the companies individually on anything they have a need for, including pitch practice, social media, customer service, sales, business development, and mentor outreach.  I also help plan community and entrepreneurship events in Detroit.

What’s your favorite thing about Detroit? 

The potential.  Detroit has had some rough years, and still needs a lot of work, but there are so many people excited to help rebuild the city.  It is amazing being a part of the transformation.  That, combined with Detroit’s rich cultural past, a few successful sports teams, and the label of “Most Miserable City in America”, makes this city a very interesting  and cool place to be.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

Personally, I want to build a broad skill set that will allow me to build a successful company.  For Detroit, I want to build the entrepreneurship community and attract amazing startups and teams to the city.  As a part of VFA, I want to build Startup Effect into a sustainable organization that helps students build entrepreneurship skills and empowers them to be successful.

 

Fellow Spotlight: Astrid Schanz-Garbassi, Middlebury College

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Name:  Astrid Schanz-Garbassi

Hometown: Larchmont, NY

University: Middlebury College ’13

Major: Physics

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

In January 2012 I invited myself to VFA’s New York offices. The (then much smaller) team graciously accommodated the intrusion and enthusiastically shared what they were working on. Their passion for the program was totally contagious and I knew I had to get in on it. Also, they were offering a continued education, a chance to make an impact on a cool young company and an off the beaten path city, a new friend group, and to pay me for all of this. Yes, please!

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was alone in my office at my last job. To this day I wonder how many people saw (and judged) my solo celebration dance through the windows…

Now that you’re a Fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

Every single person I’ve met through VFA, whether a Fellow, founder, or year-round staffer, is incredible. I’m excited to continue to meet mind-blowing individuals and to be able to call them mentors and friends. I hope to learn voraciously and love every day at work … and to become a diehard fan of all teams in whichever city I land in. Sorry NY.

Best thing about Middlebury College:  Everything. But specifically being surrounded by mountains, eating unrestricted quantities of (local!) ice cream in the dining halls, and the fact that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, when the song “Like a Prayer” comes on you have to take your shirt off (a true Middlebury tradition).

Favorite Book: Pillars of the Earth. Stop reading this and go read that!

Favorite childhood TV show: Wild Thornberrys. Apparently they made a movie!? If you have any interest in (or can be bribed into) seeing it with me, please call ASAP.

Favorite meal: Anything you can eat with chopsticks.

Favorite holiday: Pi day!

Best class you’ve ever taken: “Education in America.” Professor Affolter, you are an amazing and inspiring human being. Your final project prompt, “design your own school,” was the best assignment I’ve ever had the pleasure to pour time into!

Favorite movie quote:  Every line in “Airplane!” Is that a cop out? Okay, for real: “People call those imperfections, but no, that’s the good stuff.” –Goodwill Hunting

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Round up some good friends and take off for an extraordinarily long and arduous hike. Then retreat, with the same good friends, to extraordinarily comfortable chairs to nurse our aching legs (and some delicious hot drinks).

Favorite entrepreneur: Andrew Yang.

Favorite cereal: Honey Bunches of Oats with “real” bananas and vanilla almond milk, eaten from a grimy camping bowl before a long bike ride.

Most worn article of clothing: My running shoes.

Favorite sports team: Purple Haze—the recreational basketball team I played on in High School with all of my (rather short) best friends. Undefeated four years in a row! Take that, Pink Ladies.

Best trip you’ve ever been on: The bike tour I led around the coast of Nova Scotia with Stephen Coles, the best “co” I could ever ask for (hey Scoles, miss you!). 1,000 miles, 20 amazing high schoolers, very heavy panniers and countless jars of Nutella added up to six of the best weeks of my life.

Favorite historical figure: Gertrude Stein

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Relationships I’ve made (and kept) along “the way.”

Fellow Spotlight: Melanie Friedrichs, Andera

b9yxr5JwlFbRkLhN-4HCwOcDsPlW_7l57TJplXFUCzsName: Melanie Friedrichs

Hometown: Bethesda, MD

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University: Brown University ’12

City: Providence, RI

Anaylst, Andera

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

I was doing research on “social enterprise ecosystem builders,” organizations that help small companies with social missions succeed, for the social enterprise non-profit that I interned for the summer before my senior year. VFA didn’t know it yet, but they fit right in. Combine an interest in social enterprise with an interest in cities, and a slightly anti-establishment approach to business, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

The network, hands down. All the Providence Fellows live together, and my roommates are great guys. Love hearing about the startups other Fellows are working for and the fun things they’re doing in their cities. Plus VFA has helped us plug into the local entrepreneurship scene, which in a city Providence’s size, is small enough to be a community.

What does Andera do?

We make account opening and lending solutions for banks and credit unions. Translation: if you decided to apply for a checking account online at all but the 5 largest US banks, there is a roughly 25% chance that you would be using our system.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

I’m the webinar-whitepaper-blogger-tweeter-mass-emailer-salesforce-report-and-dashboard-builder girl. Essentially I’m the public voice of Andera (although I often speak under pseudonyms) and I generate about 50 financial institution leads a month. When I was brought on, my mission was to establish Andera as a thought leader in the financial technology space, easier said than done, especially when you’re a 22 year old with no experience in finance or technology.

What’s your favorite thing about Providence?

The history. (Founded in the 1636 by Roger Williams, go religious exile!) The character. (Was very poor in the 1970s, we simply couldn’t afford the fashionable concrete architecture!) The size. (Big enough to host a party, but small enough to know the guests!)

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

I want to help Providence grow through entrepeneurship, even if my only contribution is as a warm body at networking events. (Every interaction counts!) Mainly I want to learn; about startups, about financial technology (it’s a fascinating space), and about fragile urban entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Fellow Spotlight: Adam Joseph, University of Virginia

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Name:  Adam Joseph

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

University: University of Virginia ’13

Major: Global Development Studies

 

What led you to apply for Venture for America?

Coming out of school, I wanted to pursue a unique opportunity that would give me solid skills in the business world while surrounding myself with bright, motivated individuals. Venture for America fit that model perfectly, and also seemed like a great opportunity to become involved in the startup world while mitigating a lot of the risk.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was actually on my way to a football game, surrounded by 30 fraternity brothers, when Andrew called.  We lost the football game, but it was a great night.

Now that you’re a Fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I’m most excited to start working and having an impact in whichever city I end up in.  I’m also really looking forward to Training Camp this summer, so I can get to know the other Fellows and explore Providence.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Somewhere that has baseball, so probably San Francisco.

Best thing about University of Virginia:  Being surrounded by my friends all the time.

Favorite Book: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Favorite childhood TV show: Keenan and Kel.

Favorite meal: My mom’s pasta Bolognese.

Favorite holiday: Halloween.

Best class you’ve ever taken: Design Themes of Great Cities

Favorite movie quote: “An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.”

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Eat and sleep.

Favorite entrepreneur: Muhammad Yunus.

Favorite cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Most worn article of clothing: Black ‘Electric’ tee-shirt

Favorite sports team: San Francisco Giants

Best trip you’ve ever been on: Cozamel, Mexico with my family for Christmas last year.

Favorite historical figure: Has to be Thomas Jefferson.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Winning money the first time I gambled at a casino.

Fellow Spotlight: Alison Schmitt, EMH Strategy

jVupWGn0LUIu3WNpjW-mSlfWNPYmnQKMavhkCqoF8y8Name: Alison Schmitt

Hometown: Rutherford, NJ

University: University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business ’12

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City: New Orleans, LA

Associate, EMH Strategy

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

There were quite a few factors that got me interested in the program—the combination of working at a small company, attending a 5-week training institute, being part of a cohort of motivated people, and moving to an emerging city all were very appealing.

What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

Definitely having a network of other Fellows to live, work, and explore the city with. New Orleans is a city that should be enjoyed with people, and I feel lucky to be part of a group that is eager to meet local entrepreneurs, try new restaurants, and get engaged. I must say it’s a pretty fun bunch.

What does EMH Strategy do?

We work with a variety of clients in the public, private, and non-profit sectors and provide a mix of services including business design, financial services, project management, and expansion planning. We take a hands-on, collaborative, analytical, methodical approach to creative problem solving; and we make sure our solutions are actually implemented. Our goal is to help companies in the Gulf South grow and help the region live up to its full potential. Some example clients include the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the Louisiana Department of Education, and a local chocolatier called Sucre.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

Because our company is comprised of just 6 people, I do a little of everything. I work on internal tasks such as business development, & marketing, and also client-specific work like crunching numbers in Excel to create financial models, research, writing, playing around with InDesign, meeting with clients, getting free chocolate toothpaste, talking with restaurant entrepreneurs, etc. So to be cliché I suppose there is no typical day for me. Which is pretty sweet.

What’s your favorite thing about New Orleans?

New Orleans is…amazing.

The city has an overwhelming sense of pride, yet is unpretentious and welcoming. The optimism among new and old residents alike is contagious and a lot of progress has been made around crafting local solutions to address pressing challenges like education, food access, and job training. Plus, the food can’t be beat, live music can be found every night of the week, and there is never a dull moment. And the weather is great. And and and…I love New Orleans.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

Ultimately, I want to learn but also execute. I hope to add value to EMH and help the company grow, while also meeting with various New Orleans entrepreneurs to learn about their experiences successfully starting their own initiatives. I plan to start volunteering next month with Liberty’s Kitchen,  a non-profit restaurant that employs 16-24 year olds and provides job training so that they can transition into the workforce. So I’m trying to learn as much as I can about socially-focused business models that incorporate job training.

Fellow Spotlight: Alison Schmitt, EMH Strategy

jVupWGn0LUIu3WNpjW-mSlfWNPYmnQKMavhkCqoF8y8Name: Alison Schmitt

Hometown: Rutherford, NJ

University: University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business ’12

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City: New Orleans, LA

Associate, EMH Strategy

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

There were quite a few factors that got me interested in the program—the combination of working at a small company, attending a 5-week training institute, being part of a cohort of motivated people, and moving to an emerging city all were very appealing.

What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

Definitely having a network of other Fellows to live, work, and explore the city with. New Orleans is a city that should be enjoyed with people, and I feel lucky to be part of a group that is eager to meet local entrepreneurs, try new restaurants, and get engaged. I must say it’s a pretty fun bunch.

What does EMH Strategy do?

We work with a variety of clients in the public, private, and non-profit sectors and provide a mix of services including business design, financial services, project management, and expansion planning. We take a hands-on, collaborative, analytical, methodical approach to creative problem solving; and we make sure our solutions are actually implemented. Our goal is to help companies in the Gulf South grow and help the region live up to its full potential. Some example clients include the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, the Louisiana Department of Education, and a local chocolatier called Sucre.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

Because our company is comprised of just 6 people, I do a little of everything. I work on internal tasks such as business development, & marketing, and also client-specific work like crunching numbers in Excel to create financial models, research, writing, playing around with InDesign, meeting with clients, getting free chocolate toothpaste, talking with restaurant entrepreneurs, etc. So to be cliché I suppose there is no typical day for me. Which is pretty sweet.

What’s your favorite thing about New Orleans?

New Orleans is…amazing.

The city has an overwhelming sense of pride, yet is unpretentious and welcoming. The optimism among new and old residents alike is contagious and a lot of progress has been made around crafting local solutions to address pressing challenges like education, food access, and job training. Plus, the food can’t be beat, live music can be found every night of the week, and there is never a dull moment. And the weather is great. And and and…I love New Orleans.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

Ultimately, I want to learn but also execute. I hope to add value to EMH and help the company grow, while also meeting with various New Orleans entrepreneurs to learn about their experiences successfully starting their own initiatives. I plan to start volunteering next month with Liberty’s Kitchen,  a non-profit restaurant that employs 16-24 year olds and provides job training so that they can transition into the workforce. So I’m trying to learn as much as I can about socially-focused business models that incorporate job training.

Fellow Spotlight: Dan Bloom, BlackbookHR


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Name: Daniel Bloom

Hometown: Sharon, MA

University: Wesleyan University ‘10logo

City: Cincinnati, OH

Operations and Implementation, BlackbookHR

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

Passion. I heard Andrew speak at an info session at Wesleyan and I knew that I wanted to work in an environment where passion was at the heart of why each person was in the office. I didn’t know I was interested in entrepreneurship until I saw the VFA team in action and experienced the day to day at my company in Cincinnati. I realized how different the work environment can be in a small startup, compared to larger organizations. There is something exhilarating in the uncertainty of a startup that I never felt in previous jobs.

What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

There is this misconception that young people have to “pay their dues” before they can be trusted to handle anything important. VFA challenges that status quo. We might not be the decision makers at our individual companies, but we certainly are role players. My favorite thing about being a VFA Fellow is that I’m a part of the first class of Fellows. We have an opportunity to define what this experience is like. To pave a new path. Expectations have been set very high, and I like to think that this group of incredibly talented, smart, passionate individuals will rise to meet the challenge and empower more young people coming out of college to go into small businesses instead of getting funneled into banks, law firms, and consulting agencies.

What does BlackbookHR do?

Blackbook diagnoses and treats employee turnover. We utilize our proprietary predictive analytics tool to clearly identify organizational pain points, create a sightline to “flight risk” employees, and increase retention of high value employees. Blackbook also provides connectivity tools that increase productivity, engagement, and embeddedness. Our solutions are based on two decades of research out of Georgetown University and the theory of Job Embeddedness.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

There really isn’t a typical day at work. I spend a lot of time of bouncing between working with current customers on ensuring they have a great experience with our products, assisting our developer in testing our next product, and doing research to generate sales leads. I’ve spent time setting up our CRM system for the team and in the coming months I will be working with regional representatives as we implement our products in new cities across the country. Mix in some ping pong, building a social media strategy, and creating a more formalized way of sharing internal documents, and you’ll have a sense of what I’m doing… at least today.

What’s your favorite thing about Cincinnati?

Cincinnati flies way below the radar. In fact I’m not sure if I had ever even said “Cincinnati” before coming here for my interview with Blackbook. I’ve been blown away by the vibrancy of the city. The people here are warm and friendly (even though I didn’t go to a local high school), and the entrepreneurial community has been so welcoming and engaged with our presence here. I think that my favorite thing about the city is that it has all of the great urban infrastructure of a major city, but it doesn’t have all the congestion. No offense NYC and Boston, but I like walking on a sidewalk without getting jostled and bumped. I will also say that Cincinnati is evolving in front of us. Each week there is a new restaurant or bar that pops up as part of a major urban revitalization effort underway by the city. There is an excitement about what is coming, and I’m proud to be a part of creating that brighter future.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

Business and entrepreneurship were not really on my radar as possible career paths a few years ago. I’m really trying to learn all that I can. Between the more theoretical readings and assignments that VFA gives us each month, and the actual hands on entrepreneurial grind I’m a part of each day, I think I will have a great base on which to build come the end of the Fellowship. I also happen to love my job and city so I would love to help my company be successful and grow, hire locally, create jobs, and be the next must have enterprise technology. On top of all that, I want to foster deep and meaningful connections with the other Fellows in the program. I know that each person is special and talented and is going to do something great, and our relationships are just as important, if not more so, than the actual tangible accomplishments we will each have as individuals.

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Fellow Spotlight: Roanne Lee, Cintrifuse

Name: Roanne Lee

Hometown: North Hollywood, CA

University: Georgetown University ’12

Analyst, Cintrifuse
Cincinnati, OH

 

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

VFA made promises that went against everything I heard before.

I was told I couldn’t do startups because of the risk. VFA minimized the risk. I was told it was smarter to hate my job and earn more than to earn less. VFA offered half the salary and a job I’m passionate about.

VFA challenges the status quo and by extension, I do too.

What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

While completely absorbed in the local start-up scene, VFA is great at keeping my ears open to entrepreneurial activity happening across the national landscape and helping me tap into the larger network of knowledge and experiences. We’re largely aware of the other activity happening outside of our city and able to plug into people, resources, and events everywhere.

What does Cintrifuse do?

Cintrifuse has three elements: the fund, the space, and the access.

Our fund will invest in early-stage venture capital funds across the nation and develop a network of venture capital firms and other high-potential investment sources.

We’re building out a 40,000 square foot coworking space in Cincinnati’s up-and-coming historic district, Over-the-Rhine, as a center for entrepreneurship and innovation.

We’re also providing startups with access to our leading edge partners including Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Children’s Hospital, and Macy’s, among others. Cintrifuse believes this partnership will provide the expertise and connections to accelerate startup growth.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

There is no typical day. I walk in, go to my standing desk, unpack and catch up with my co-workers. Prep for meetings on website development, fundraising, potential investments, tenant applications, architectural renderings, class production, etc. I might meet with a couple entrepreneurs and see if they can mentor, teach a class, want to work in our space, connect with our network, etc. I’ll also work on hosting classes for entrepreneurs, holding discussions to fold community players into what we’re doing, look at potential hires, and more.

What’s your favorite thing about Cincinnati?:

The connections I’ve made in Cincinnati are completely unprecedented, the level of engagement and genuine interest people made me feel instantly welcomed me into the city. I honestly feel like I could grab a cup of coffee with anyone without blackmailing anyone.

In reality, Cincinnati’s the first place I’ve had a full-time job (and identity) of creating value and it has a special place. While going to school or visiting my friends, there isn’t the same sense of fitting in and rooting yourself in the city. It’s a completely different dynamic and I’m glad to be experiencing a culture and community independent from my previous experiences.

Cincinnati also has the great perks of its proximity to nature, Nashville, and Chicago while supporting its own culture and style of innovation. The best breweries are popping up here, I can get anything from Vietnamese to vegan food for lunch. I’ve attended tons of shows from ballets to musicals to comedy shows. Come and you’ll love it too!

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

Become Cincinnati’s one-stop source for start-up information and connections, learn a programming language, lure my startup idols to be my mentor, be on reality TV, start a company.