What we do
Urban Us invests in startups that make cities better. No startups are easy, but founders face unique challenges when they want to work on city problems.
Founders might work with local governments or sell to customers in sectors like real estate, energy, or logistics. They might also sneak city benefits into consumer products.
We help founders speed their connections to talent, customers, expertise and other investors. The goal is always to increase a startup’s chances of improving city life.
Urban Us Network organizes over 1,500 investors, founders, and people from local governments, universities, and companies.
URBAN-X is our startup accelerator to help founders get from concept to seed stage partnership with BMW Group’s MINI.
Urban Us Ventures works with startups to use venture capital to get from seed stage to growth stage (often signaled by their series A funding).
Urban Us Capital works with startups to accelerate growth outside of traditional growth equity models.
Who we are
Shaun Abrahamson, Managing Partner
Shaun is a member of the investment committee, and he leads investment selection and communications with portfolio companies, members of the Network, and limited partners in Fund II.
Before founding Fund I, Shaun was an active angel investor, investing in more than 20 firms between 2007 and 2013 in his personal capacity. Early-stage investing and advising is informed by his experiences building MediaSentry (acquired by SafeNet in 2005), Starmedia Network (acquired by France Telecom) and Oculus Technologies (MIT CADLab spin-out).
In 1999, he was an early employee at govWorks, one of the earliest startups focused on serving local government. govWorks was ahead of the market and failed during the dot com bust, becoming the subject of the documentary Startup.com in 2001.
Shaun has written for organizations such as The Economist Intelligence Unit, The Huffington Post, and CNNMoney. Crowdstorm, published by Wiley, was his first book and is a guide to working with large online crowds to find and evaluate ideas. The book is a based on Shaun’s experience working with Starbucks, Omnicom Group, $300 House, and Life Edited.
Shaun has an MSc from MIT; an MBA from the Berlin School of Creative Leadership; and a BSc from the University of Cape Town. He is papai to his children, Max and Oli, and the number-one fan of his partner, artist Andrea Nhuch. When he is not at work or with his family, you will most likely find him swimming, Onewheeling, or voiding a warranty.
Stonly Baptiste, Partner
Stonly leads investment research, community management and technology platform development.
Stonly has worked with the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to help create an MBA class on how Entrepreneurship is being used to solve urban challenges. He was recently recognized as one of CNN Money’s 2015 Upstart 30: a list of game-changing companies, entrepreneurs and investors under the age of 40.
Stonly previously founded Veddio Cloud Solutions, an enterprise software company, which was acquired after a year of self-funded growth. He has spent the last 10 years as a serial entrepreneur, building five ventures spanning different sectors from technology to real estate and international markets, including Brazil and Canada.
Anthony Millin, Venture Partner
Anthony serves on the investment committee and leads legal affairs.
Anthony is an experienced serial entrepreneur who has co-founded multiple institutionally funded companies. Anthony also has a corporate and securities law practice, focusing on start-up and emerging growth companies. Anthony co-founded Cortiva Institute (acquired by Steiner Leisure), a for-profit Title IV funded education company which grew from a concept to 10 schools, and 13 campuses in 7 states. Anthony oversaw the integration of the campuses into a single system, and as President ran day-to-day operations. Anthony also co-founded China Horizon, an investment and business development company focused on retail/distribution in China.
Anthony is a member of Pedley & Millin, PLLC; a Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of BioDatomics, LLC, the first Hadoop-based big data analytics company in the life sciences vertical; has partnered with Poalim Asia Direct, a China-based investment bank bringing direct foreign investment from Chinese VC and PE firms and strategic investors to US companies; is a current Board Member and former Board Chair of Bethesda Green, a green technology incubator located in Bethesda, MD; a Member of the Board of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and a Member of the Advisory Board of the Maryland Clean Energy Center.
Anthony is originally from South Africa, and he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, swimming and playing tennis.
Mark Paris, Managing Partner Urban Us Capital & Managing Director URBAN-X
Before Urban.Us, Mark Paris was a Managing Director at Citi’s Municipal Markets Division and led Citi’s Urban Innovation Initiative. The Initiative focused on strategic investments and partnerships with emerging growth companies and organizations that address urban pain points. Investments included Revolution Foods, View Glass, SentinelOne, WaterSmart Software and Lunera Lighting.
Mark has led several other businesses within municipal markets, including the higher education practice and the derivative products origination business. During his career, he has worked with over 300 cities, hospitals and universities throughout the US and abroad.
Mark serves on several not-for-profit boards, including Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Muhlenberg College, Gill St. Bernard’s School, Solaris Health System and the United Methodist Church in New Jersey. Mark received his Master in Public Policy from Harvard University and has undergraduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Muhlenberg College.
Liz Sisson, Associate
Liz is the newest team member at Urban Us. Before joining the team, Liz was Managing Director of the network at the Roosevelt Institute, an economic think tank. In that role, she managed programs that deployed public policy campaigns in local communities across the country. The policy programs and campaigns spanned across a variety of subjects including economic development, transportation, human rights, environmental impact and housing.
Liz has also done consulting work on state government programs related to transportation and the environment. She primarily worked on reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions in New York State through an alternative transportation and carpooling initiative, 511NY.
Liz graduated from Bentley University in 2012.
How we work
Urban Us was organized as a public benefit corporation. As we’ve grown, we’ve had to add other entities–for example, to work with partners in our venture fund. But we’ve always been very clear that we don’t just work for our investors; we work for citizens, too.
Online, we’ve organized Urban Us to work across multiple cities. This way, a startup in Denver can easily benefit from fundraising experience in the Bay Area, or a startup in Berlin can work with Miami real estate firms.
Every day, we’re available via messaging, voice, or video. We’ve also organized a directory of our members to make it easy for people to connect directly, though we spend a lot of time making introductions, too.
Every two weeks, we send out an update to the Urban Us Network. These updates include introductions to new startup candidates, as well as relevant research, news, opportunities, and portfolio company updates.
In real life, you’re most likely to find our team in the Bay Area, NYC, DC or Miami, but we also organize trips and meetups in other cities.
Default to public is how we work. Wherever possible, we try to share what we’re learning. Why? We want more founders to work on city problems, and we want more investors, city governments, and companies to get excited about working with urbantech startups.