Venture For America hosted a huge party last night at the IAC headquarters in New York City. It was filled with tech entrepreneurs, including Warby Parker’s Dave Gilboa and Rent The Runway’s Jen Hyman, among other fashionable guests; but the biggest names in attendance were the keynote speakers, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Arianna Huffington.
A crowd of a few hundred was there to support a VFA, which has made itself one of the most important nonprofit organisations in America since Andrew Yang founded it two years ago.
Huffington told Yang on stage: “You were one year old when I met you, and my god, how you’ve grown. You are now a phenomenal toddler. When you’re a teenager, truly watch out.”
VFA recruits and trains high-achieving college grads to work for two years at early-stage companies in lower-cost cities, including Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Cincinnati. Its inaugural class of 40 is now joined by this year’s 65 fellows.
So far, the organisation has received some big pledges, including $1 million from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and $1.5 million from Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert, both of whom are working to revitalize Las Vegas and Detroit, respectively.
Huffington’s keynote was about redefining success, which is the essence of what VFA is doing. “For me, spending so much time with a dysfunctional corporate system, it’s refreshing to watch what’s happening with VFA,” she said. “On one side, it’s depressing conversations about what’s going on in this country, about its deficits. And on the other side, it’s about creativity, prioritizing the common good — that’s VFA.”
Tables were themed for the VFA cities, including Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and more.
The evening started out with a few special messages, including one from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, last year's keynote speaker.
The 2012 fellows shared what their lives are like in their respective cities; here, the Vegas fellows enjoy competitive ping pong.
New Orleans Fellow Mike Mayer shared how he co-launched Startup Effect, which develops entrepreneurship curriculums for middle school students.
Weiner previously bought the URL venturecorps.org with the intention of building something similar to what VFA is today.
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