Introducing a New Pathway into NYC Startups

The Factor Fellowship will give New York’s top talent a fast track to venture-scale opportunity. Here’s the program top startups and venture firms are coming together to announce today.

Introducing a New Pathway into NYC StartupsIntroducing a New Pathway into NYC Startups

I’ve dedicated much of my career to leading digital learning and workforce skills companies, most recently as CEO of General Assembly⸺the global tech training provider that got its start teaching digital skills to young professionals looking to join New York's booming entrepreneurial tech community. I've come to see first-hand that ambitious, diverse talent is New York's richest and most abundant resource. But that talent still encounters too many roadblocks to accessing careers in the city's venture-backed startup ecosystem. This is not just a loss for those individuals, but a loss for the economy and a drag on innovation.

So today, I am thrilled to announce the launch of Factor, a groundbreaking fellowship that connects exceptional talent from underrepresented backgrounds with the city's most dynamic and rapidly growing VC-backed startups. We are fortunate to have the support and guidance of renowned leaders and firms such as AlleyCorp, Benchstrength, Harlem Capital, Zeal, and others, who will be working alongside us to make this vision a reality. Moreover, we are proud to welcome an inaugural cohort of innovative startups—Alloy, Cake, Electric, Helaina, HLTH, Inspiren, J2 Health, K Health, Lantern, Lili, Lunchbox, Lyric, Ply, Relay Commerce, Retirable, Slice, Spark, Spring Health, and Zenlytic who have enthusiastically signed on to collaborate with this new wave of diverse and talented individuals.

And I am delighted to officially introduce Tom Ogletree as the Executive Director of this transformative new nonprofit initiative. With his extensive experience and unwavering commitment to fostering inclusive growth, Tom will be instrumental in guiding Factor towards its mission of empowering underrepresented talent and driving meaningful change within the city's thriving startup ecosystem.

What is the Factor Fellowship?

The inaugural cohort of 15-20 exceptional Fellows will embark on an engaging part-time journey from September 2024 through January 2025. Through this carefully crafted program, we aim to demystify the often opaque and insular world of venture-backed startups, empowering our fellows to navigate and thrive within this dynamic ecosystem. The program is designed to immerse fellows in the mechanics, ways of working, and culture of startups, and to facilitate the seamless transfer of their existing skills and experience. In addition, one-on-one mentorship sessions will provide personalized guidance and support, while an array of industry events and networking opportunities will connect our fellows with founders and investors, opening doors to job prospects at Factor member companies.

The first cohort will focus on placing Fellows into sales, client success, strategy, operations, and other commercial and generalist roles. Future cohorts of the program are likely to expand further into technical roles including product, engineering, data, and design.

Who are Factor Fellows?

Factor Fellows will reflect the vibrant diversity that defines New York City. In our rigorous review process, we will seek out professionals who have honed their skills for a few years in traditional corporate environments and other non-startup contexts, such as professional services, government, academia, NGOs and beyond. These individuals, driven by a deep fascination with the dynamic world of technology and innovation, will form the foundation of the program.

How Do I Apply?

The application process opens in May. You can join the mailing list to stay updated here. For companies or venture firms that would like to support the initiative and work with fellows, please write to

Our Purpose—Empowering Diverse Talent Across the Startup Landscape

Ben Sun, Primary cofounder and general partner, and Factor's inaugural board chair, often says that finding exceptional and diverse talent was a pivotal unlock for propelling his own startup, Community Connect, nearly 30 years ago. His company was something of a rarity: a venture-backed startup that truly reflected the vibrant diversity of the city.

Yet, when one walks through the physical or virtual hallways of most VC-backed startups today, the city's rich diversity remains underrepresented. This is because much of this superstar talent sits outside the usual venture-backed startup social and professional circles, waiting to be tapped.

It is this untapped potential that fuels the Factor Fellowship's vision. By activating these networks and creating pathways for diverse talent to thrive, we hope Factor will usher in a new era of innovation and inclusive growth.

We hope you’ll join us.