DreamIt Ventures Taps Startup Founders as It Expands Into New York

DreamIt Ventures, the Philadelphia start-up accelerator program, announced last month that it was launching a class in New York for the first time this summer. Today, it shared a list of CEOs and founders who will sit on its first Entrepreneur Advisory Board, helping mentor the upcoming class. The board make-up is interesting because it relies a lot on new start-up founders and recent DreamIt alumni instead of seasoned veterans. The list of CEOs includes:

  • Nikhil Sethi, CEO/Founder, Adaptly
  • Katia Beauchamp, Co-CEO/Founder, BirchBox
  • Rachael Chong, CEO/Founder, CatchAFire
  • Ted Sullivan, CEO/Founder, GameChanger Media
  • Aniq Rahman, CEO, Instinctiv
  • Dan Kurani, CEO/Founder, Opinionaided
  • Greg Alvo, CEO/Founder, OrderGroove
  • Sachin Kamdar, CEO/Founder, Parse.ly
  • David Lifson, CEO/Founder, Postling
  • Seth Priebatsch, Chief Ninja/Founder, SCVNGR
  • Jack Groetzinger, Co-CEO/Founder, SeatGeek
  • Russ D’Souza, Co-CEO/Founder, SeatGeek
  • Bartek Ringwelski, CEO/Founder, SkillSlate
  • Jordy Leiser, CEO/Founder, STELLA Service
  • John Ernsberger, Co-Founder, STELLA Service
  • Jonathan Mendez, CEO/Founder, Yieldbot

Kerry Rupp, managing partner for DreamIt Ventures, said the program will still tap more experienced entrepreneurs and investors for 1:1 mentorships, which DreamIt will arrange later. But she said creating an advisory board of more freshly-minted founders is helpful for start-ups looking to learn from peers. The group includes DreamIt alumni Priebatsch, D’Souza and Groetzinger, whose companies SCVNGR and SeatGeek I recently wrote about.

“We realized there’s a lot of value of bringing in peers who are just a couple steps ahead of the game,” Rupp said. “I think (class members) can relate to them and the perspective is different than if you’re far along in your career.  And it might be easier to ask questions to someone who is your peer.”

DreamIt Ventures previously announced that entrepreneur and investor Mark Wachen will lead the New York program, which is taking applications on a rolling basis. The class will run from May to August and will include up to 15 start-ups, who will receive up to $25,000. Rupp said DreamIt made the decision to expand to New York upon the urging of a number of New York-based alumni, who felt the city could benefit from the accelerator program. Rupp said the value of DreamIt isn’t just in mentoring start-ups. The program has individual tracks for hackers and strategists, which DreamIt uses to mate start-ups with promising workers. That’s an increasingly important need as the hunt for talent gets tougher with more start-ups emerging.

DreamIt is just the latest addition for a city that is becoming a hotbed of start-up activity: Accelerator program TechStars announced last year that it was expanding to New York, while Accel Partners and First Round Capital have also bulked up their presence in New York with new offices. Union Square Ventures last month also started a new $165 million fund. This is still another sign that the New York startup scene is expanding.

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Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user hyunlab