Primary’s NYC Founders Fellowship: Learning, Growing, and Building Essential Connections

Fellows from Primary’s NYC Founders Fellowship reflect on their time in the program and share their biggest takeaways.

Primary’s NYC Founders Fellowship: Learning, Growing, and Building Essential ConnectionsPrimary’s NYC Founders Fellowship: Learning, Growing, and Building Essential Connections

One year into Primary’s NYC Founders Fellowship, we sat down with three alumni—Greg Kallman, Jessica Cohen, and Mahir Kalra—to discuss their time in Primary’s free, part-time, no-equity fellowship program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

While the three fellows started the fellowship at different points in their entrepreneurial journey, it’s safe to say they each made substantial progress in iterating, validating and in some scenarios, scrapping their ideas. Primary’s NYC Founders Fellowship provides the space to take a risk while being supported by a group of peers doing the same.

Are you an early-stage startup founder based in NYC, looking for a community? We’re currently accepting applications for our fifth cohort of the NYC Founders Fellowship and we’d love to hear from you! Read on to hear reflections and words of wisdom from past fellows.

The fellowship is a space to learn and ideate

“I had a good base level understanding of entrepreneurship, but coming through this program was the icing on the cake in the sense that you now get direct contact with an actual venture capital firm to develop and test your company thesis. It feels like two friends at the same side of a table rather than an interview. Like when Emma and I went walking around the blocks of New York for an hour talking about my company. It's just a different level.

I finished with organized thoughts and a refined vision to keep my focus on building the product.”

-Greg Kallman, Founder and CEO, FanAmp

“I pitched an idea in the political-legal world and have, in a good way, looked at and rejected a lot of things since then. Now I'm at a point where I've done 50-plus user interviews on my current idea, a survey, and deep competitive research, and am now starting to do wireframes and building a landing page.

I’ve made a lot of progress in the sense that I have gone through many different hypotheses and rejected them, which is really important to do sooner rather than later.”

-Jessica Cohen

A founder-first way to tap into the NYC startup community

“There was zero pressure throughout the program to go full-time on your startup in any way. And I think if you looked at my cohort, some people did and some didn't. Primary does not pressure you in any way, and this program is extremely unique for that reason.

The fact that they don't take equity or cash, you have an opportunity to get to know a top VC in New York, and make relationships with not only your  cohort but also people in the next cohorts, it's a fabulous way to tap into the New York tech community.”

-Jessica Cohen

“The network is amazing. I got an angel check from an intro that another founder from my cohort made. He made the intro to someone that he just knew, that was a CTO and a cofounder at a different company. We met, it was a warm intro, and two meetings later, he wrote an angel check for us. And that was through Primary.

The best part about all of this is that it's a large  pool of founders that are all super motivated to learn from each other and build together.”

-Mahir Kalra, Cofounder and CEO, Habitual Money

“The network of the Founders Fellowship is invaluable whether you are where we are now,  one year in, or 10 years into your founder journey. One thing to keep in mind is that you're making friends with people who are in the same boat and who have those same, really low lows and high highs every day. That support network is essential.”

-Greg Kallman, Founder and CEO, FanAmp

Tactical ways the Founders Fellowship helped our fellows along their entrepreneurial journey

“Just going through the fellowship, it's basically like a startup Bootcamp. You're learning about all the different challenges that you might face and it's helpful, no matter what stage of your company you're at.

We start with product ideas, exploration, finding part of market fit, talking to customers, then you end with fundraising through the 10 weeks of the program.”

-Mahir Kalra, Cofounder and CEO, Habitual Money

“The other thing I appreciated about this program is one of the first questions that Primary has you think about is, ‘Do you want to build a venture-backed business or not?’

I was grateful that they framed up that question from the start and gave us ways to think about it. This is one of the most important and irreversible decisions you make early on.”

-Jessica Cohen

Tags: Success