Mark and Debra Leslie give major gift to encourage and support entrepreneurship across NYU

Rendering: Street view of Leslie eLab
Street view rendering of the Leslie eLab

Today, NYU announced that trustee Mark Leslie and his wife Debra have made a major gift to support the design, construction, and initial staffing of a new collaborative space to encourage and support entrepreneurship at New York University.

The Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab will be a 5,900-square-foot facility in the heart of the Washington Square campus where aspiring NYU entrepreneurs from all of the University’s schools and colleges—be they students, faculty, or researchers—can meet to connect, collaborate, and tap into a vast array of resources to help develop their ideas and inventions into startup companies.

The Leslie eLab will be located on street level at 16 Washington Place at the corner of Greene Street. It will feature flexibly configured co-working spaces, meeting rooms, an event space, and a fabrication lab to encourage interaction, prototyping, and the collaboration so essential in the development of entrepreneurial ventures. The Leslie eLab will be staffed by a full-time lab manager, a startup concierge, and an entrepreneur-in-residence to train, coach, and support startup teams in their development. The Leslie eLab will also serve as the headquarters for the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, which leads the development of many of the University’s entrepreneurial programs, resources and events.

“It is a pleasure for Debra and me to contribute to the growing entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem at NYU,” said Mark Leslie, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and mathematics from NYU in 1966 and was the founding chairman and CEO of VERITAS Software. “NYU has one of the most comprehensive programs to encourage and support entrepreneurs. Located prominently in the central Washington Square area, the Leslie eLab will serve as a home for students and faculty to come together to create the companies of tomorrow.”

The Leslie eLab will strengthen the sense of community among NYU’s budding entrepreneurs in its many schools and colleges. Its central storefront location sends a clear signal about the University’s commitment to teaching and cultivating entrepreneurship and its recognition of the critical role universities play in helping bring new technologies and businesses to market.

“The Leslie eLab will answer the question: Where do I go to learn more about entrepreneurship at NYU?” said Frank Rimalovski, executive director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute. “The Leslie eLab provides a critical, central collaborative space supported by new programs and resources delivered by the Entrepreneurial Institute team and a set of entrepreneur mentors and partners drawn from NYU’s alumni and the larger NYC startup ecosystem. The Leslie eLab is a game changer in our efforts to support entrepreneurs, strengthen ties with the local startup community, and promote a culture that collectively creates a strong breeding ground for entrepreneurship at NYU.”

The Leslie eLab was announced today at the third annual NYU Entrepreneurs Festival, where NYU students, faculty, and alumni entrepreneurs connect to share their experiences, exchange insights, and provide advice on starting new companies.

Creation of the Leslie eLab marks the continued growth in NYU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem led by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, which includes the NYU Entrepreneurs Festival; the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, a seed stage venture capital fund that invests in startups founded by NYU students, faculty, and researchers; the NYU Summer Launchpad, an intensive 10-week startup accelerator program that will kick off its second cohort this June; the NYU Entrepreneurs Network, a collaborative of 22 graduate and undergraduate student groups; and the Startup Bootcamps for NYU Scientists & Engineers, among many others programs.

To oversee the Leslie eLab, NYU has hired Adam Cragg, who joins the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he served as Program Coordinator and Chief of Staff at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

In addition to offering an open, collaborative meeting space, the Leslie eLab will also serve as the hub for numerous programs, events, and resources for NYU entrepreneurs. Regular networking events, meet-ups, and guest speakers will be hosted at the lab to encourage community building and cross-pollination between NYU students and faculty, local entrepreneurs, and startup advisors. Experienced entrepreneurs will be on hand for office hours and coaching sessions with students and faculty who are grappling with the challenges of starting a business. Workshops, bootcamps, and other accelerator programs to support emerging NYU startups will also be run out of the Leslie eLab, giving startup teams the training and support they need to launch their ventures.

The Leslie eLab will also give the NYU community access to cutting-edge technology and tools to support product development, including 3-D printers and other best-in-class prototyping tools. The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute team will host these events and programs, but the space will also be available to other NYU entrepreneurship centers and student entrepreneurship clubs for their events and activities.

The Leslie eLab was designed by the international design firm Gensler, which worked with the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute to design and program the new space.

Construction of the Leslie eLab will commence in March, 2014. The new space is expected to be ready for occupancy during the summer of 2014.


About Mark Leslie

Mark Leslie is a successful entrepreneur with deep roots in the startup community. He is the managing director of Leslie Ventures, a private investment company, and a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He also serves on the boards of numerous public and private companies and nonprofits, including the NYU Board of Trustees.

He was the founding chairman and CEO of VERITAS Software, growing the company over eleven years to a global firm with 6,000 employees and $1.5 billion of annual revenue. Previously, he served as president and CEO of two Silicon Valley high-tech start-up companies.

About the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute

The NYU Entrepreneurial Institute leads a campus-wide initiative to inspire, educate, connect, accelerate and fund aspiring NYU entrepreneurs and help the university community translate great ideas and inventions into successful commercial ventures. The Institute offers a series of programs, events and resources, including the NYU Innovation Venture Fund, a $20 million investment fund that provides seed capital to help launch startups founded by and/or commercializing technologies and intellectual property developed by NYU students, faculty and researchers.


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