NYC Plays Matchmaker Between Startups and Pros

crib escape NYC Plays Matchmaker Between Startups and ProsA slew of private and city-funded incubators for tech entrepreneurs have debuted in New York City recently, but you’ll notice something strange about the list of “fellows” in the the NYC Economic Development Corporation Venture Fellows program, launched today.

A sampling:

  • Rob Kalin (Etsy)
  • Caterina Fake (Hunch)
  • Alexis Maybank (Gilt Groupe)
  • Barry Silbert (SecondMarket)

And of course, New York’s favorite celebrity geeks:

  • Naveen Selvadurai (Foursquare)
  • Dennis Crowley (Foursquare)

These are some of the highest-regarded companies in the city. Why would Caterina Fake, who co-founded Flickr and is an angel investor herself, need mentoring? Etsy is not independently profitable yet, but has Series E funding and bought an ad platform last year — far too mature for a city-funded incubator.

Turns out this program is less of an incubator and more of an effort to get New York to “scale up,” writes Eric Hippeau, CEO of The Huffington Post and one of the mentors with the program.

The program matches entrepreneurs with well-connected people like Nielsen president Dave Thomas, Bertelsmann co-chairman Richard Sarnoff, and Peter Madonia, Chief Operating Officer at the Rockefeller Foundation.

“The simple idea behind the program: to fuel New York City’s entrepreneurial community by increasing collaboration among start-ups and established companies, and to encourage national and international start-ups to locate and grow their businesses in New York,” Hippeau said.

Another way of looking at it? These young techno-turks are stealing the limelight from established players, and this arrangment ensures everyone gets a seat at the 21st century table.

ajeffries [at] | @adrjeffries