A message from our Founder, Andrew Yang:
I started Venture for America in 2011 with a pretty straightforward idea – to channel talented young people to early-stage companies in Detroit, New Orleans, Providence and other U.S. cities to train as entrepreneurs. This would help the companies succeed and create jobs in these communities. It would also prepare our young people to go on to become the builders and entrepreneurs our country needs.
I was driven to do this because of my own experience. I was not what one would call a ‘natural’ entrepreneur. I started my first company when I was 25. It didn’t work out.
That failure hit me hard. Entrepreneurship was much harder than college or law school had been.
I tried to get better and learn. I apprenticed myself to more experienced entrepreneurs for five years, eventually becoming the head of a test prep company, Manhattan GMAT, that was acquired by the Washington Post/Kaplan in 2009.
I learned by working with people who were stronger than I was.
I realized that if we could give more of our young people a chance to learn the way I did and become entrepreneurs, we’d solve many of our other problems.
Entrepreneurship is like many other things – you tend to get better at it over time. You can learn by working with people who have more experience than you. And if you see someone else do it, you start saying to yourself, “Okay, if he/she can do it, maybe I can do it too.”
Imagine thousands of smart, talented and high-character people working on solving problems in different areas across the country from big (education technology, renewable energy) to small. That’s what they want to do. And they’ll grow as well through the process. We just have to give them a genuine chance to do so.
Since 2011, Venture for America has become a vital and thriving community of passionate people doing outstanding work in 12 cities around the country with more to come. The Fellows are great examples and role models – they’ve typically turned down short-term gains because of their desire to have a positive impact and build something. They’re helping companies and communities flourish and creating new opportunities for themselves and others. They cheer each other when things go well and pick each other up when they don’t.
If that sounds good to you, please join us in giving them every chance to succeed and become the people and builders we need them to be. The more time you spend with them, the more optimistic you’ll become.
- To revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship.
- To enable our best and brightest to create new opportunities for themselves and others.
- To restore the culture of achievement to include value-creation, risk and reward, and the common good.
What We Do
We are a fellowship program for recent college graduates to launch their careers as entrepreneurs. Our Fellows spend two years in the trenches of a startup in an emerging city, where they learn how to build a business while making an impact. VFA trains Fellows to become highly productive startup employees who can help their companies grow, then provides the mentorship, network, and resources they need to become successful entrepreneurs.
Our goal is to fuel job growth in cities that need it while empowering our best and brightest to help startups grow and create value in their communities. We aim to produce effective and high-character leaders who view community impact and value creation as fundamental to personal success throughout their careers.
Already, we’ve helped over 200 of the most motivated and enterprising recent grads we’ve ever met kick off their careers in a meaningful way– and some have already started businesses of their own. After launching in Detroit, Providence, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and New Orleans in 2012, we’re now in 12 cities with more knocking at our door every day. We want to help businesses grow, create a path for recent grads to become successful leaders and entrepreneurs, and ultimately, help create 100,000 jobs by 2025.
It’s time to get our best and brightest building again.
When VFA launched, our Founder Andrew Yang was named a White House Champion of Change and got the chance to tell President Obama all about our work. One of our proudest moments!
Want to truly understand what makes us tick? Here are some links to articles and talks that give some more insight into the ideas that are core to what we do. If you’re interested in the work we’re doing, chances are you’ll love these, too.
- Andrew Yang TEDx Talk: Fixing the flow of human capital
- Business Insider: On entrepreneurs and embracing failure by Andrew Yang
- Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz
- Andrew Yang on the six typical paths of college grads and why they need to change
- Fast Company: Skip the Hedge Fund: We Need Young People To Take Risks and Build Inspiring Things
In February 2014, Andrew Yang published his first book, which talks about the ideas Venture for America is founded on, including solutions for how to restore our culture of achievement, build a path for entrepreneurs, and create new jobs in America. You can read some excerpts here or get your copy today!
Our Impact to Date
212 Fellows trained and placed
1000+ jobs created by company partners and Fellow companies
20% of 2012 Alumni started their own company after graduating
5 Fellow-founded businesses from Class of 2012
Over 90% of Fellows rated by their companies in the top 10% of startup hires
Venture for America is a certified 501(c)3 organization.