Recess Labs

Play around with ideas at the cutting edge of tech, design, and product.

What is Recess Labs?

Recess labs is a curated community of people exploring early-stage ideas.

You can think of us like a pre-idea incubator or a group EIR program. We bring a bunch of talented people together for an extended period to explore ideas and play around at the cutting edge of tech, design, and product.

We host regular meetups in NYC, and several times a year we run a 12-week program for people who are working full-time on their own projects. We take no equity, and you don't have to work on something venture-backable.

Are you an awesome engineer, designer, entrepreneur, or product person who is working on early-stage personal projects? You should join us.

Why join Recess Labs?

We've found that certain best practices can help people be more effective as they're working full-time on new ideas. We support Recess Fellows with:


Fellows come from a wide range of backgrounds, so regardless of what you're working on, you'll likely find someone with a complementary skillset or relevant past experience.
(see past fellows)


We have regular lunches and biweekly show & tell nights to give you something to work toward. We also have regular events where you can get support for your projects from the group and find potential cofounders.


We work hard to create a culture that values play, curiosity, support, experimentation, and above all else, shipping. We believe the right environment can help us all move faster and get in touch with the intrinsic joy of building things.


At the end of your time at Recess, we're there to help you navigate your next steps, whether that is raising money, bootstrapping, continuing to explore personal projects, or finding a job.

Our Philosophy

We encourage Recess Fellows to adopt a set of guiding principles that we have found to be useful when working on early stage creative projects. Here are a few of them:

  • Build things you personally want.
  • Work on things you can personally build.
  • Put out a "first draft" as soon as possible.
  • Be prolific -- do lots of work.

We're heavily inspired by the ideas of Paul Graham, Richard Feynman, Fred Wilson, David Heinemeier Hansson, Recurse Center, Entrepreneurs First, and the MIT Media Lab.

Who are we looking for?

Fellows come from a wide range of backgrounds, and in the past have included exited founders, ex-VCs, software / product / design consultants, and former employees of top tech companies.

Overall, we're looking for people who:

  • Are on the cutting edge of their field.
  • Want to work full-time on their own ideas.
  • Have a track record of making things people want.

What do we mean by a track record of making things people want? It could mean a startup, a side project, an open source project, a blog, or even an art project. Basically, anything you created from scratch that found real-world users.

Program Details


For 3 months, we ask that you work full-time on your own creative projects, letting your interest and curiosity guide you. Past fellows have worked on everything from novels to VC-backable companies to Burning Man-related art.

Our next batch will start in the summer of 2018 in NYC (details to come), and will run for 3 months. The formal Recess program runs Monday - Friday, 10am-6pm, and during those hours, you're encouraged to be at our HQ working on your projects or collaborating with others. We've found that having a set schedule is quite helpful when working full-time on your own projects.

We also have weekly lunches and bi-weekly "show and tell" nights. At the end of each batch, we have a demo day that is open to the general public.

If interested, please apply here! If we think you're a good fit, we'll follow up in May.

Past Fellows

Blake Embrey

Blake is a Javascript engineer from Australia. He writes a lot of open source software, which you can find on Github.

Steph Weiner

Steph spent the last few years working for Bain Ventures. She is now working on LuxLab, an experiential jewelry brand.

Dan Shipper

Dan founded a company called Firefly, which was acquired by Pegasystems in 2014. He's currently exploring new creative projects.

Ali Afridi

Ali worked as an analyst and EIR at Lightbank, an early stage VC and startup studio. He's currently taking time off to explore new ideas.

Ashoat Tevosyan

Ashoat is a former Facebook engineer who spends his time building things in React and playing with LEDs. He also handles bookkeeping for HelioHost, a non-profit free web hosting service.

Danny Crichton

Danny is a former VC at CRV and General Catalyst, and is currently a columnist at TechCrunch. At Recess, he explored new models for business growth, media, and infrastructure finance.

Jessica Lee

Jessica has a background in engineering and formerly worked at Stripe. She is exploring open source software, writing, and photography, teaching coding at The Coding Space, and contributing to a political platform startup.

Lane Rettig

Lane worked as a software developer before studying at Wharton and co-founding Seratis, acquired in 2016. After a yearlong sabbatical, he’s now working on CryptoNYC.

Eric Peckham

Eric worked at edtech startup 2U Inc, private equity firm, and a venture firm called Arena Ventures. He now invests through his own company and is working on a media-related project.

Hursh Agarwal

Hursh was the co-founder and CTO of Branch, acquired by Facebook in 2014, and worked as a tech lead at Facebook. He’s now exploring side projects and next steps.

Sibjeet Mahapatra

Sib worked on the New Ventures team at Redfin, a Greylock-backed startup. He is currently working on new ideas, including Recess Labs.

Casey Rosengren

Casey is the founder of Hacker Paradise and once ran a meditation / coworking space in Soho. He's currently working on new ideas, including Recess Labs.


How do I apply?
We will be announcing details for our summer batch in May. In the meantime, if you'er interested, you can apply here! If we think you're a good fit, we'll invite you to one of our events and/or schedule a time for an interview.

Where is Recess Labs?
Recess Labs is based in New York City.

Do I need to be in NYC to participate?
For this batch, yes. Fellows are responsible for their own housing, and we'll do our best to help the group coordinate. If you're interested in bringing Recess to your city, please let us know.

When is Recess Labs?
Our upcoming batch will start in June / July 2018 and run for 3 months.

I have a full-time job. Can I still join?
We may eventually launch a nights & weekends program, but for now, we're looking for people who can work on their own ideas full-time. If you'd be interested in a nights & weekends program, please let us know.

How does Recess Labs make money?
Right now, we don't. We will be experimenting with various ways to make Recess sustainable in 2018.

How long can I participate in the program?
We ask people to join Recess for a 3 month batch, and it is possible to extend for an additional 3-6 months at the discretion of the Recess team. We will sometimes make exceptions for people who are unable to attend the full 3-month batch.

How big is the group?
Our last batch had 15 core fellows. This batch may be a bit bigger. Additionally, we'll hold a number of events with people from the broader tech scene.

How can I contact you?
Shoot us an e-mail and we're happy to answer any other questions you might have.

How can I stay in the loop?
You can sign up for our semi-regular newsletter right here:

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