Weekend Briefing No. 13

Coding to close the income gap. A Queens nonprofit, Coalition for Queens launched Access Code, a unique training program that teaches people from the Queens community to code iOS apps, while receiving mentorship from notable figures from the New York startup scene. Six months after the first Access Code class of 21 students completed the 18-week course, the 15 graduates who accepted job offers have seen their income rise from under $15,000 to an average of $72,190. Check out a short video of the program here.
Steve Case is bullish on social enterprise and impact investing. In a recent interview with Inc. Magazine, Steve Case, founder of AOL, said, “I’m a fan of B Corps. I think a growing generation of entrepreneurs and investors want to think out of the box and rather than just be focused on profit [or purpose]… Just as we saw startups and venture capital develop over the past fifty years, we think we’ll see social enterprises and impact investing develop over the next fifty years.”
A new 300,000-square foot tech hub coming to DUMBO. The Empire Stores, a historic side-by-side collection of massive, dark red brick buildings along the East River, built in 1869, abandoned since the 1950s is being refurbished. It’s being billed as New York’s next big tech and business epicenter will open in 2015. Check out this Fast Company article for pictures. With over 500 tech and creative firms including Etsy and Howaboutwe, DUMBO already has the highest concentration of tech companies of any neighborhood in New York City. With this huge addition of square footage, will the epicenter of NY’s tech scene shift across the East River to Brooklyn?
What if our foreign aid used mobile money? The U.S. government alone disbursed more than $37.7 billion in overseas development assistance in 2012. The potential impact of these funds, however, has been limited by cash-based payment systems, which are vulnerable to leakages (development speak for corruption) and other inefficiencies. Digital payments, on the other hand, have been shown to benefit both development practitioners and beneficiaries, according to a recent report, leading to reduced costs, improved transparency, convenience, and enhanced security, as well as incentivizing financial inclusion.

VC’s invest in less than 1% of companies they see. According to Sean Jacobsohn a venture partner at Emergence Capital Partners, the typical VC pipeline for a mid-sized firm is as follows. Every year they receive 1,200 inbound requests, approximately 500 lead to face-to-face meetings. Of these 500 meetings, they perform due diligence on approximately 50 companies and eventually end up investing in 10 companies. Read more in this VentureBeat article.