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Meet Cole — the ex-lawyer creating the most impactful way for creators to give back to NYC


Hey! Welcome to the Creator Economy NYC newsletter — the premier place for all things creator economy in the Big Apple.

I’m arriving in your inbox a wee bit delayed this week, but we’re here. I’m still riding the high of our first-ever Day of Community, Connection, and Impact that happened on MLK Day.

The community came out in numbers, and together, we packed 200 boxes with over $50,000 worth of premium groceries for families in need. These boxes are now set to be distributed in East Harlem this Saturday! 👏

Encouraged by the success of this event, we’re gonna aim to do another in the summer — stay tuned for deets…

Thank you to everyone who could join us!

This week, I’m spotlighting Cole Riley, founder and CEO of Wellfare, the NYC-based nonprofit we partnered with for the community service event. We’ll dive into his inspiring story and why the creator economy plays an important role in achieving his organization’s mission. I hope you enjoy it!

Other stops along the way:

  • Upcoming events

  • Cool stuff from the community

  • News bits

  • Job openings

  • Personal picks

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P.S. shoutout to Vendo for sponsoring our event on Monday. We’re grateful for their participation 🙏


Meet Cole — transforming food deserts into oases of nutrition in NYC

Cole Riley's journey from a law graduate to the founder and CEO of "Wellfare" is a testament to his adaptability, innovative spirit, and deep commitment to social good.

After completing law school in 2016, Cole practiced for a mere 3 years before venturing into the food industry, launching Lahsi, a yogurt brand. Although it achieved initial success, reaching 300 accounts, sustainability issues led Cole to pivot towards launching Founders Market in 2019.

This e-commerce marketplace, distinct for its focus on natural food brands and founder-centric content, marked another step in Cole's entrepreneurial journey.

However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought unforeseen challenges, especially in NYC. Hospitals, in an effort to contain the virus, closed cafeterias, leaving healthcare workers without convenient access to food.

Sensing an opportunity to make a difference, Cole paused Founders Market operations and initiated the "Founders Give" campaign. This initiative harnessed the goodwill of food brands and founders who were eager to help but didn’t know where to start, transforming it into a massive relief effort.

Over ten weeks, Founders Give emerged as NYC’s largest private relief effort, delivering 2.2 million products from over 300 brands to more than 100,000 individuals across 51 hospitals.

Charting a new path in hunger relief

As the immediate crisis waned, Cole shifted his focus to a broader, more enduring issue: food insecurity.

Recognizing that traditional solutions were insufficient to address this growing problem, Cole founded "Wellfare" to offer a new, sustainable approach.

Wellfare targets the persistent problem of nutritious food access, particularly in low-income communities. It aims to break down barriers that have long perpetuated poverty and health issues.

Wellfare's innovative strategy centers around the "better box," a package filled with donated, high-quality food items like plant-based milk, protein bars, and low-sugar beverages, provided free to families in need (this is what we packed 200 of on Monday).

Unlike other nonprofits that focus mainly on produce and dairy, Wellfare aims to replace everyday foods with healthier alternatives. This approach not only provides immediate nourishment but also combats the long-term health effects of processed foods prevalent in low-income areas.

Cole's vision through Wellfare is to make healthier food options more accessible to those in underserved communities. This initiative is about more than just feeding the hungry; it's about changing dietary habits and breaking the cycle of poor nutrition that has affected these communities for generations.

Creators as catalysts in Wellfare's mission for change

Cole recognizes the immense potential of the creator economy in advancing Wellfare’s mission. In a world increasingly influenced by online content creators, he sees these individuals as pivotal allies. Cole notes:

Creators today have the loudest voices in the room and are capable of inspiring quick and dramatic change. It’s imperative for Wellfare to collaborate with mission-aligned voices to amplify our work today and long term aim of making nutritious food more affordable and accessible for all.

He envisions a movement where creators, communities, customers, and brands unite in a laser-focused effort to support Wellfare’s mission. This strategic alliance, as envisioned by Cole, leverages the reach and influence of creators to foster a widespread, sustainable impact on food insecurity.

NYC’s influence in fueling Wellfare's vision

For Cole, NYC is more than just Wellfare’s home base; it’s a source of continuous inspiration and motivation. He explains:

NYC is special to me for two reasons: the people and the competition.

The city's unique blend of diverse creators, leaders, and thinkers, all working collaboratively yet competitively, provides an entrepreneurial environment unmatched anywhere else in the world. It’s the perfect incubator for his mission to conquer the challenges of food insecurity.

For those looking to get involved, Wellfare offers various opportunities. Whether it's through donations, volunteering, or spreading the word, each contribution helps in bringing healthier food options to families in need, ultimately paving the way for a healthier, more equitable future.


We’re joining forces with Passionfroot and Notion (!!!) to bring together our city's leading creators, influencer marketers and founders to discuss how to craft successful creator<>brand partnerships.

Space is limited, so registration will be subject to approval!

We’re planning an event with Captions in February focused on 2024 trends and predictions in the creator economy, and we wanna hear from you about timing! Please click one of the timing options below to help create the best experience for you 👇

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Thanks so much for reading! Let me know what you thought by replying back to this email.

See you next week,


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