109, Clara Brenner, Urban Innovation Fund and Tumml | Creating an Ecosystem

Clara Brenner is creating a startup ecosystem for urban innovation.

Clara Brenner, Urban Innovation Fund

Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund and Tumml

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. Globally, 512 cities have at least 1 million inhabitants. With urbanization comes unique challenges, from transportation to public health.

To meet these challenges, entrepreneurs need a unique blend of business and political savvy. Clara Brenner and her co-founder Julie Lein are dedicated to solving core urban problems. Together, they co-founded the Urban Innovation Fund and also Tumml.

Tumml is an accelerator whose mission is to empower entrepreneurs to solve urban problems. Their 33 portfolio companies have raised over $35 million in investments. They have created more than 300 jobs and touched more than 2.2 million lives with their services.

The Urban Innovation Fund provides seed capital and regulatory expertise for entrepreneurs solving tough urban challenges.

Urban Innovation Quotes from Clara Brenner

“Julie and I are really committed to helping entrepreneurs that are solving core urban problems.”

“Once you’ve proven out your business model, once you’ve proven out that there’s a real there, there, where do you go next for money?”

“Julie and I were just wondering why all of our awesome, engage and thoughtful peers were electing to start the 5,000th photo sharing app instead of the next Revolution Foods.”

“This was around the same time that Lyft was just getting off the ground and Airbnb. And we felt like all these companies had something in common.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”We developed the moniker ‘urban innovation startup.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘The challenges come down to two things. The first is access to early stage capital.’ @clara_brenner, @UrbanInnoFund“]

“Institutional investors really want to see that these companies have a lot traction before they’re going to take a risk on them.”

“Challenge number two is that these entrepreneurs oftentimes face pretty significant regulatory or political challenges.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We have supported 33 companies through Tumml.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘They’ve leveraged our capital, 53x.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml“]

“They’ve built products and services that have touched the lives of 2.2 million people.”

“Seventy-six percent of the companies that we’ve supported have a woman or person of color on the founding team.”

“These are companies that are solving core urban problems and that are facing those challenges that I talked about earlier like trouble raising money at the early stage, maybe a complicated regulatory or political landscape to deal with. We want to be there to be helpful.”

“We really like to work with companies when they’re really new. At Tumml, we’re looking for entrepreneurs with ideas, who want to turn it into a business.”

“We try to look far and wide to find the best ideas and from our perspective, we don’t care where a company is based.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We just want to see that that idea is scalable.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml“]

“We want to see the kind of business that could’ve address the challenges that really are plaguing communities across the United States.”

“We have a mentorship board of founders, community leaders and all types of technical professionals to help our entrepreneurs succeed.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘At Tumml, we like to see really early stage entrepreneurs.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml“]

“We want to see industrious entrepreneurs who are making the best out of the resources that they have at hand.”

“We look for entrepreneurs that are solving problems that have maybe been identified by mayors’

“We try to be in tune with the larger national conversation about real challenges.”

“Many of these entrepreneurs will want to go on and raise investment capital. And we would like to play a role in that.”

“The Urban Innovation Fund is really structured to do two things. It’s a venture capital firm that identifies early stage innovators solving critical challenges in cities, and we provide them with both capital, but also regulatory expertise to scale and hopefully become tomorrow’s most valued company.”

“We’re looking for the best most scalable ideas wherever they come from, and we want to be there to provide them with the capital and regulatory expertise to succeed.”

“We like to be the ones who find those diamonds in the rough and hopefully connect them to the right cities where we know there are particular pain points.”

“We have a less than 5%. I want to say almost 4% acceptance rate.”

“We have worked with 33 companies over the last three years and our cohorts range in size anywhere between 5 and 10.”

“We’ll probably pick four or five out of a batch of 150 or so.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Find a great co-founder.’ @clara_brenner, @Tumml, @UrbanInnoFund“]

“We want to know that you’ve spent a lot of time together and can weather the ups and down that are inevitable when you start a company.”

“I think there is something to be said for making sure the whole team is balanced, and the idea has legs as well.”

“We want to see more folks starting companies in the urban space.”

“We think there’s real opportunity particularly to solve those unsexy problems that everybody experiences on a day-to-day basis.”

“We want people to start thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs and capable of addressing these problems themselves. “

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

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