Beyond the Pitch

VFA Is Seeking Columbus Startups that Need Talented Employees…at Well Below Market Rates

VFA logo FINALVenture for America (VFA) is out to help create 100,000 new US jobs by 2025.

And now Columbus has been approved as one of four new VFA cities and will be the home for some of those jobs.

If you are an entrepreneur or an investor in startup companies, this is an opportunity for you.

VFA, created in 2011, provides U.S.-based startups the talent they need to thrive and create a new generation of business builders and job creators.

Here’s How VFA works.

In concept, VFA is similar to the successful Teach for America program, only instead of teaching, VFA fellows spend two years in the trenches as full time startup employees working for a promising startup in a “non-destination” city.

VFA fellows are graduates who might otherwise be on Wall Street; performing engagements in consulting practices; working in the finance, marketing, or engineer departments of leading corporations, or going the entrepreneurial route in Silicon Valley, New York City, or Boston.

Instead, for salaries of $35,000 to $38,000 plus benefits and the opportunity to work 14-hour days, fellows are applying by the hundreds to go to places like Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, and now Columbus to spend two years working in startup companies creating opportunities for themselves and others.

TechColumbus has been involved with VFA since last fall. We will be working with VFA to help identify companies and to help VFA fellows get settled into the community.

Here’s Why VFA works.

Venture for America’s Fellows are recent college graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs chosen through a rigorous, multi-stage application and selection process. The program reports more than 1,000 applicants from more than 100 schools for 2014 and a 10 percent acceptance rate.

Between now and through the summer, Fellows look for and accept jobs at startups in VFA’s network. Between late June and July, the fellows spend five intense weeks at a training camp hosted at Brown University. Organizations such as IDEO as well as entrepreneurs put the fellows through challenges to help get them ready for life at a startup.

Fellows go to work at their companies at the beginning of August, ready to contribute immediately.

The national program, which is entirely privately funded, is supported by a huge list of A-list technology names—organizations, investors, and individuals. Entrepreneurs like Dan Gilbert, founder and chair of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans and major owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, has pledged $1.5 million to VFA.

Here Are the Benefits.

Promising early stage companies, always short on finance and long on creativity and hard work, can hire young, ambitious startup employees who want to make an impact and learn how to build a business.

Fellows have the opportunity to accelerate their career as business builders, learning hands-on how to start a business and create value.

The region has the opportunity to encourage these fellows to put down roots, connect to the community, and become a permanent part of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in places that have growth potential, a great quality of life, a more affordable cost of living, and  aren’t East or West Coast.

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