Defy Ventures is a New York City-based nonprofit that equips former drug dealers and gang leaders to leverage their natural talent, street smarts, charisma and drive to launch legal and profitable start-up businesses.

About the speaker

Defy Ventures is a New York City-based nonprofit that equips former drug dealers and gang leaders to leverage their natural talent, street smarts, charisma and drive to launch legal and profitable start-up businesses. Defy achieves its mission by partnering with senior business executives, entrepreneurs, investors, and other influential leaders to provide life transforming opportunities for America’s biggest underdogs. Defy puts its student entrepreneurs to the test with 12 months of hands-on, no-bull, MBA-like training, mentoring, character development, business incubation and financing. Defy’s signature program engages volunteer business executives as judges in a series of business plan competitions that award $150,000 in seed capital to winning ventures.

Catherine Rohr started Defy two years ago after founding and leading the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a nonprofit organization that serves men throughout the Texas prison system. Since its founding, Defy has raised $2 million and attracted more than 500 executives who contributed 5,000+ volunteer hours and equipped student entrepreneurs to launch 21 start-ups.

In her six-year career in private equity and venture capital, Catherine sourced $32 million in investments and worked with thousands of entrepreneurs. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration from University of California, Berkeley. A three-time marathon runner, former rugby player, and California State Wrestling Champion, Catherine resides in New York City and still enjoys training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling in her spare time.

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