University Entrepreneur Program Spotlight: New York University

New York University

New York University has two centuries of guiding and educating countless generations of up and coming professionals in the United States. From its first semester with an enrollment of 158 students, NYU’s student body has grown to more than 50,000 students spread over three campuses: New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai.

New York University

Located in Greenwich Village in New York City, NYU was founded in 1831. As it nears two full centuries of guiding and educating countless generations of up and coming professionals, it is known as one of the largest private universities in the United States. From its first semester with an enrollment of 158 students, NYU’s student body has grown to more than 50,000 students spread over three campuses: New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. NYU embraces a diverse campus with students from the US and 133 foreign countries.

Out of more than 3,000 established higher education institutions, NYU is one of only 60 members of the Association of American Universities.

“Thriving beyond borders and across academic disciplines, NYU has emerged as one of the most networked and extensive worldwide platform for learning, teaching, researching, building knowledge, and inventing new ways to meet humanity’s challenges. Its students, faculty and alumni feed off the stimulating power of swirling intellectual and cultural experiences by mastering academic disciplines, expressing themselves in the arts, and excelling in demanding professions.” Association of American Universities

NYU fosters a University-wide startup ecosystem that encourages multi-disciplinary collaboration, accelerates innovation, and cultivates the next generation of startup leaders. The University’s team of startup experts offer educational programming and events, industry-specific resources, and funding support to help inspire, educate, connect, and accelerate entrepreneurs from across NYU.

The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute leads University-wide initiatives to launch successful startups and commercialize technology created by NYU’s 60,000 students, faculty and researchers. NYU produces strong teams of startup experts and offers educational programming and events while identifying funding opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Courses & Costs

The acceptance rate of New York University is considered to be highly selective at 28%. Costs to attend the university are an estimated ,000. The University offers over 100 majors of study, including Entrepreneurship & Innovation through the Entrepreneurship Institute.

The first set of courses (after students complete their general education requirements) required for this major are:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Foundations of Entrepreneurship
  • Foundations of Social Entrepreneurship
  • Foundations of Technology Entrepreneurship

Once this first step is completed, the variety of courses broadens into courses such as:

  • Accounting, Tax & Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs
  • Venture Capital Financing
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • New Venture Funding

This program is designed to prepare budding entrepreneurs for whatever challenges they may face in the process of creating their own business venture.

Faculty, Resources, Programs

Frank Rimalovski, the Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at NYU, manages the NYU Innovation Venture Fund. The IVF invests in NYU startups that are in their early stages. Rimalovski is also a member of the national teaching team for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, and the Adjunct Facility at the NYU School of Engineering. Rimalovski has been a venture capitalist for over 15 years, and invests much of his time and resources into the Institute.

Leslie eLab

The Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab is a 6,800 sq-ft space where entrepreneurs from across the NYU campus have the opportunity to connect, collaborate, and explore how to turn their ideas and inventions into legitimate business startups. The Leslie eLab also offers their resources to the local community.

Ignite Fellowship

The Ignite Fellowship is a selective program for startups founded by current New York University students, researchers, and faculty across all disciplines. Together, they commit to a venture concept, form a team and begin developing their business.

Ignite Fellows have access to multiple resources through this fellowship, including:

  • Personal coaching through Blackstone Launch Pad and office hours with seasoned entrepreneurs, startup experts, executives, and investors,
  • Workshops focused on startup skills, expert lunch and learns, and various social events,
  • A close knit support system consisting of NYU founders and other Ignite Fellows,
  • Funding for projects, various discounts, and much more.

Ignite fellows receive monthly coaching sessions to set goals, identify challenges, and work toward solutions with additional support from an extensive network of experienced founders, investors, executives, and experts in:

  • Finance – managing cash flow, invoicing, taxes
  • Legal – incorporation, founder’s agreements, IP
  • Operations – benefits, compliance, payroll
  • Technology – tools, architecture, best methods of practice
  • Fundraising – venture capital

4 Initial Steps in Targeting Venture Capital Investment

Founders will attend exclusive weekly talks, lunch and learns, and skill workshops led by seasoned entrepreneurs, startup experts, and angel & venture capital investors that are focused on educating the fellows on:

  • Developing a Repeatable & Measurable Business Model
  • Identifying your Initial Target Market/Customers
  • Differentiating from Competitors
  • Testing Minimum Viable Products
  • Validating your Go-to-Market Strategy
  • Tracking Metrics that Matter
  • Securing Capital to Grow your Business

The Ignite Fellowship will have three cohorts in an academic year:

Ignite Alpha provides early-stage ventures access to weekly lunch & learn panels, peer-to-peer learning, monthly coaching through the LaunchPad. You also have access to a network of seasoned coaches in diverse industries that can not only help build connections but also provide vast learning opportunities.

Ignite Health is a new cohort of NYU students, faculty and postdocs solving dynamic challenges in the digital health and life sciences field. Teams affiliated with this cohort not only have access to professionals within the business industry but also healthcare.

Ignite Pre-Seed  Is another new cohort that consists of NYU students that have shown significant progress towards prototyping, business development, fundraising, and team building. Each venture will be provided with advanced peer-to-peer learning opportunities, extensive coaching through the Blackstone LaunchPad at NYU, and will give members access to benefits exclusively offered to the cohort.

Andy Moss, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Entrepreneurial Institute, is also the Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at NYU. He founded Lean Launch Ventures, a tech accelerator. He has invested, advised and trained other entrepreneurs, has founded and sold a technology startup, and devotes his time to NYU students and their success. Previously, he spent 17 years at Microsoft where he launched/managed several businesses. Moss is available to students as a guide and an invaluable resource of knowledge and aadvises as to what an up and coming entrepreneur should expect to encounter once they find their start.


The 0K Entrepreneurs Challenge, hosted annually by the W. R. Berkley Innovation Labs, is known as one of the largest and most innovative accelerator programs and startup competitions in the world. This challenge is an 8-month program involving more than 750 students, alumni, faculty and researchers from 16 schools across NYU’s global campuses to compete for a total of $300,000 in cash prizes and pro bono startup services. Contestants will attend how-to workshops, hands-on boot camps and one-on-one coaching sessions—all designed to guide them through the startup process, from idea to launch. The $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge comprises three individual competitions:

New Venture Competition
The NYU Stern New Venture Competition is the premier platform for identifying, cultivating and sharing entrepreneurial talent at NYU. The competition challenges aspiring business owners and those excited by the new venture startup process to take their ideas and bring them to life. The NYU Stern New Venture Competition winners share the $100,000 Ira Rennert Prize.

Social Venture Competition
The NYU Stern Social Venture Competition is a competition that recognizes and supports the growing number of students and alumni interested in using their entrepreneurial skills to create innovative approaches to tackling social problems worldwide. Winners of this competition share a $75,000 prize to help launch their own ventures.

Technology Venture Competition
The NYU Technology Venture Competition, sponsored by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, serves as a catalyst for the formation of new and the acceleration of existing early-stage startups based on these exciting innovations. This competition encourages students and faculty to put their budding ideals to the test. Winners of the competition share a generous $100,000 prize.

Successful Alumni

An example of a successful alumni startup would be that of Matt Zeiler and his company Clarifai. Zeiler, a Canadian native that grew up in a farming community, developed a company that offers developers the ability to tag metadata photos with the capability of the company to use algorithms in order to identify objects in photos. Much like Pinterest or Google, Clarifai intends to extend this technological access to third party developers.

While Google, Pinterest and other companies build visual search technology, Clarifai is looking to do the same but focus on giving third-party applications and developers access to that kind of technology. Zeiler says Clarifai only needs a few images’ worth of data to start building out a model for determining what kinds of objects are in an image. Developers can teach algorithms with their own kinds of tagging to build new classes of “objects” within those images and videos.

“Our number one entry point into our customer is a developer,” Zeiler remarks. “Think of Twilio, they were very much developer first and API platform company for communications. We are the same thing for AI, we like to going to meet-ups and hosting events at our office, going to hackathons. We want to get every developer talking about and using Clarifai, building their next app on Clarifai, so one day someone is building the next Snapchat in their garage and we want to grow wit their growth.” –Matt Zeiler, founder of Clarifai

Zeiler used the resources available to him through the Entrepreneurship Institute at NYU to turn his ideas into a legitimate business venture that is consistently gaining momentum.

This is only one example of the innovative ambition that is produced at New York University. This is an institute that was founded on the belief that there will always be a way to take things to the next level of innovation.

Header Photo  ©NYU Photo Bureau All Rights Reserved.

Dave Clark