Guest author Rosalie Reuss is a product manager at Go Smart Solar. She moved to San Antonio after graduating from the University of Virginia in 2018 as a Venture for America fellow. She is passionate about energy, the environment, and building a thriving entrepreneurial community.
Venture For America (VFA) is a fellowship program for recent college graduates who want to become startup leaders and entrepreneurs.
A nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City, it was founded in 2011 by Andrew Yang (yes, that Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur and philanthropist running for president).
VFA’s mission is to grow entrepreneurial ecosystems by placing recent graduates and young professionals at startups in cities across the U.S. — cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, and San Antonio.
Thanks to the vision and support from Graham Weston, Lorenzo Gomez, and the 80/20 Foundation, San Antonio stood up its local chapter in 2014. Since then, VFA fellows have been making a difference in the entrepreneurial fabric of our city in so many ways.
Emily Bowe, one of the San Antonio VFA chapter founding fellows, helped build Tech Bloc, an advocacy group for the tech community. Every time you take a rideshare home, consider how Tech Bloc and Emily fought for your Uber.
If you ever eat lunch at the fabulous Southeast Asian restaurant Pinch Boil House, consider how it came into being when co-founder Sean Wen went from Goldman Sachs investment banker to VFA fellow and local entrepreneur.
Fellows have also embraced the software as a service (SaaS) community.
FloatMe‘s financial SaaS chief operating officer is Ryan Cleary, while Conor Chamness is in charge of corporate development for Dura Software. Sendspark, an innovative new tool for customized video sales, was co-founded by fellow Bethany Stachenfeld.
VFA supporters now include companies from across San Antonio’s tech community, such as the 80/20 Foundation, the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, and Bexar County Innovation Fund, to name a few.
Looking back at what I wrote in my application essay two years ago, one line stands out to me: VFA offers the chance to build something from the ground up. Startups truly enable you to be a builder.
In my product manager role at Go Smart Solar, I have learned the importance of building a business case for any problem, creating live data dashboards, and introducing solutions that scale to the renewable energy industry. Even more importantly, I’ve learned experiences require activation, building a community starts with listening to others, and line dancing is a lot harder than it looks.
Join VFA and Help Build Your Community
If you ask a fellow to reflect on the best part of the VFA experience, nine times out of ten, their response is “the people.” The VFA community is an incredible mix of filmmakers and engineers, builders and artists, dancers and dreamers. It is composed of good people — people who are crazy enough to think they can make a change in the world, starting with Houston Street.
Cities like Birmingham, Detroit, and Baltimore have flourished under the leadership of a great VFA community director.The time has come for Venture for America to recruit its first VFA community director in San Antonio. Click To Tweet
A community director is not just a VFA team member, but a leader in the city who can engage within the community to create opportunities for VFA fellows and support our startup ecosystem in the process. We need a community director who can help us build more together.
Does this sound like you?
If so, apply for the Venture for America San Antonio community director position here. Brownie points if you can help me with my line dancing.
To learn more about hiring a VFA fellow for your startup in the Spring 2020 recruiting season, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image is of Venture for America fellows posing for a photo at Geekdom. Standing: Andre Gomes, Conor Chamness, Matt Caponigro, Dimitri Antoniou, Abreham Dadi, Sarah Jones, Parker Ball, Jarui Desai, Josh Wild, Javier Melendez, Helen Laurie, Amy Nelson. Sitting on the couch: Rosalie Reuss, Anna Kirkwood, Sarah Cantu, Laura Lopez. Sitting on the floor: Lorenzo Martinez, Anastacia Valdespino, Sarah Mellor, Kyle Bartholomew, Adriana Rios. Courtesy photo.