In high school I developed a strong passion for educational advocacy. So I was very excited to bring my nonprofit promoting children’s literacy and education to NYU. And, since NYU is a start-up incubator (NYU alumni have founded successful companies like Pinterest, Etsy, and Pfizer!), I was excited to meet and learn from fellow female founders. When I arrived on campus, I researched which university clubs promote children’s academic success. And I quickly discovered that women entrepreneurs in the United States receive less than 2 percent of funding. That’s when it became clear to me that I needed to do something to help make the entrepreneurial community more inclusive. For that reason, my friends and I established Women Founders.

A female-presenting high schooler reads with a male-presenting elementary school child.

What Is Women Founders?

Women Founders is an organization that aims to end gender inequality in the business sphere. As a collective of women dedicated to promoting fairness and inclusivity, we create on campus opportunities for female-identifying and nonbinary students interested in business to meet and exchange stories. We set up lectures series and establish mentorship programs to connect students with professionals from different business areas. Our presenters and mentors, who are NYU graduates and women entrepreneurs in New York City, also help us arrange local networking events. In addition, we focus on service and fundraising to give back to the city and organizations we love. We strive to empower women across campus by ensuring they have equal access to resources and strong entrepreneurial networks, enabling them to attain more equity in their ventures.

Women Founders’ cohort standing in the Washington Mews.

What Fields of Innovation Does Women Founders Represent?

All of them! Our club president, Sabrina Hsu, focuses on educational nonprofits. Some of our executive board members are interested in the arts and fashion. For example, our vice president of marketing runs her own handmade jewelry business. Similarly, our finance and public relations cochairs work in second-hand fashion and even conduct outreach for international beauty brands. Many of our recruits are interested in venture capital, sustainable business, and the fine arts. At Women Founders we ensure we have programming set in place to represent our members’ unique interests, no matter what they are passionate about. 


Women Founders’ first event presentation.

What Resources Does NYU Have for All Budding Entrepreneurs?

I highly recommend NYU’s Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab (eLab). Many Women Founders events take place there because it is a great resource for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

The eLab offers collaborative workspaces, meeting rooms, a large event area, and a dedicated team of eight start-up experts to assist you. Furthermore, it provides extracurricular accelerator programs, one-on-one coaching, workshops, and funding for all NYU aspiring entrepreneurs. And there’s a production lab in the basement with visual and audio equipment. So you can affordably film a commercial or start a podcast with the help of professionals. Overall, this space is designed to foster any entrepreneurial ideas and support students throughout the process. 

Exterior of NYU’s Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab.

How About NYU Resources for Female Entrepreneurs, Specifically?

At NYU, women who are passionate about entrepreneurship are encouraged to apply to the Female Founders Fellowship! This program has many benefits. For example, it offers community engagement with like-minded innovators and start-up training. What’s more, the training guarantees interviews for the acclaimed NYU Startup Sprint and NYU Summer Launchpad programs. Alumni of NYU’s Summer Launchpad alone generate more than $200 million in annual revenue. What’s more, they’ve raised over $310 million in venture capital! 

Through the Female Founders Fellowship, members receive coaching from entrepreneurs-in-residence. Also, fellows are invited to apply for the Mark & Debra Leslie Female Founders Fellowship, which provides a grant of up to $50,000 each year.

Women Founders’ executive board laughing and smiling in the Washington Mews.

Elena Garcia is a senior studying English literature on the prelaw track with minors in Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology and Social and Cultural Analysis. She is the president of NYU’s Literacy Advocacy Coalition and the founder of Barraz Genesis, a nonprofit organization with branches in Arizona, Texas, and NYC dedicated to increasing literacy rates in underrepresented school districts. Elena works extensively in immigration law, researching migratory patterns and the cultural structures present within the Latino community. When she is not giving tours with her fellow admissions ambassadors, she loves exploring New York City’s vibrant cultural scene, including Broadway shows, The Metropolitan Opera, art museums, and new dining spots.