Americas YLG Presents - Vision to Venture: Thriving As An Entrepreneur in The Built Environment


2024-05-02T14:00:00 - 2024-05-02T15:30:00

Choose Your Calendar




    Pricing Members Non-Members
    Private $40.00 $55.00
    Public/Academic/Nonprofit $40.00 $55.00
    Retired $40.00 N/A
    Student $15.00 $25.00
    Under Age 35 $25.00 $35.00
    Striking out on your own as an entrepreneur in the built environment can be intimidating, overwhelming -- and thrilling. Whether you're a seasoned professional looking to start your own venture or a newcomer eager to make your mark, your mind is undoubtedly swarming with questions:
    • How do I start?
    • How do I find clients?
    • How can I stand out?
    • What if I fail?
    Join Americas YLG Program Committee as we hear from three accomplished founders in urbanism, real estate development, and Proptech who have navigated the complexities of entrepreneurship in the built environment and are ready to share what they've learned. You'll hear how they identified opportunities, overcame challenges, and built thriving businesses in our dynamic industry.


    Karen Zabarsky Blashek

    Founder + Principal, Ground Up

    Karen Zabarsky Blashek is the founder of Ground Up, a multi-disciplinary creative studio for the built environment, and the Editor in Chief of Austin Home. Prior to founding Ground Up, Blashek spent seven years as the Head of Design and Branding for Kushner, one of the largest real estate development and management firms in the country. Blashek is on the steering committee for ULI Americas Young Leaders Group, serves on the ULI Austin Housing Innovations Council, and spearheads the growth of Brick & Wonder Austin. In 2015, Blashek co-founded the Tanks at Bushwick Inlet Park, a global network of projects transforming decommissioned oil infrastructure into vibrant public spaces. Blashek started her career on the business development teams for SHoP Architects and STUDIO V Architecture after receiving her BA in Architecture and Urban Design from NYU. She was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Dallas, Texas.

    Cara Eckholm

    Public Realm, Delve by Sidewalk Labs

    I am a Fellow at the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech, where I research how cities pilot, procure, and evolve policy to accelerate the adoption of new technology. In 2022, I was on the New York Governor and Mayor’s “New” New York expert panel, tasked with reviving the region’s economy coming out of COVID-19. Outside of Cornell, I run Eckholm Studio, a data-driven urban strategy consultancy. In my prior life, I was an executive, investor, and advisor to urban technology startups. I was the Chief Revenue Officer at Nabr, a sustainable housing company, an investor at Zigg Capital, and on the team at Sidewalk Labs, Google’s urban technology incubator. Through Sidewalk, I worked to popularize timber as a modern building material, including leading the first major research study of how to design a tall timber building. If you are an urban tech entrepreneur, please reach out–I learn by osmosis, and want to hear your ideas! While I am a proud fourth generation New Yorker, I grew up in Beijing, I spent my post-college years in Copenhagen, and I later worked in the Bay Area. I love drawing on my lived experience of cities in my work and writing. In the past year, I have published op-eds in the New York Times, Bloomberg, and the Los Angeles Times, and I have spoken at SXSW, WRLDCTY, MIPIM, and more. In 2014, I was a National Geographic Explorer, covering the geopolitics of cities in Eastern Europe. I graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton's School of Public & International Affairs, with a focus on urban policy and planning. I also attended Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the Doerr School of Sustainability. I am a LEED Green Associate and completed Coro Leadership New York, a leadership development program for mid-career civic leaders.

    John Njoku

    Founder & CEO, RentHub

    John is the founder of, a real-time rental housing price guide. At RentHub, John and his team help stakeholders to the rental housing industry understand markets better with data. Outside of RentHub, John is a partner in a California-based single-family investment platform. John did his undergraduate work at Duke University and received a JD from Stanford Law School immediately afterwards. After a brief stint at a large law firm in NYC, John began his real estate career at Columbia University, where he received a Master of Science in Real Estate Development.

    Teresa Bowyer

    Owner/Principal, Citrine Development

    My educational background and passion is in urban development. I attended Trinity University in San Antonio, where I graduated cum laude with majors in Urban Studies and Political Science. In summer 2019 I attended an Urban Studies summer course (Planning & Living in Cities) at the University of Amsterdam. My professional experience encompasses the conceptualization and development management of multifamily projects throughout Texas. These projects have included fourplex, two- and three-story walk-up, and interior-corridor/elevator-served buildings in apartment communities ranging from 40 to 250+ units. In total, I have been directly responsible for leading the development of 497 units across five mixed-income properties statewide, as well as establishing a future pipeline of 400+ units and $80 million worth of projects in San Antonio and Austin. My expertise is in competitive affordable housing financing programs. To date I have secured more than $82 million+ of funding through IRS Section 42 Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME loans, and CDBG-DR grants. Additionally, I excel at utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in market and site analysis, and am skilled at establishing relationships with project partners and local stakeholders. Specialties: market/site identification; due diligence; underwriting; site planning and design coordination; contract negotiation; municipal relationships; and establishing project scope, budget, and timeline.