Investments in innovation can often have unforeseen positive ripple effects. Back at the end of 2008, when the economy was in the tank, and funding was tough to come by, NYC Seed, a small local fund with some government and local academic backing supported my startup, Path 101. Owen Davis, the fund manager, didn’t get the return we were hoping for when we pitched and we had eventually closed up shop. His decision to support us, on the other hand, paid NYC’s technical community back in a way that will be felt years to come.
That additional financing enabled Hilary Mason, our Chief Scientist at the time, to fully commit to moving to NYC. She had been straddling NYC and Providence after we convinced her to take some time away from academia to work on our startup.
Fast forward two years and now I’m happy to say that First Round Capital is a proud supporter of hackNY, the technical fellowship program that Hilary started with NYU’s Evan Korth and Chris Wiggins from Columbia. As a small seed fund, we generally don’t have a lot of extra cash to fund all of these great programs, leaving sponsorships to our larger, more well funded venture brethren. However, hackNY is working on perhaps the single biggest challenge facing NY startups – and we felt it important to participate. (It was also great to personally have a hand in saying “thank you” to Hilary for sticking with Path 101 as long as she did, despite pay cuts and job offers) I was glad that the whole First Round team was enthusiastic about finding the resources to be supportive.