Blog: Lippman Prize

By Tiffany Pang

More than 200 students, alumni, and entrepreneurs pooled into the Yale Law School Levinson Auditorium on September 21 for the second annual Yale Entrepreneurs Conference to learn about the latest trends, news, and ventures from Yale entrepreneurs and watch five student ventures compete for the first-ever Lippman Prize awards. 

Following opening remarks from Bruce Alexander, Yale’s Vice President for New Haven & State Affairs & Campus Development, James Boyle, Director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, introduced three panels on commercializing technology, data economy, and Internet everywhere. 

“It was interesting to get the researcher and entrepreneur – the new entrepreneurs and the veteran entrepreneurs – and venture capitalists sitting next to each other, talking about their perspectives,” Claire Henly (YC ’12), a panelist on commercializing technology who participated in the YEI summer fellowship in 2012, said in an interview. 

One of the highlights of the conference was the Lippman Pitch Prize Competition. Five pre-selected finalists gave five-minute pitches of their ventures for a chance to win one of two prizes: the $25,000 Lippman Prize award and the $5,000 people’s choice award. These student founders pitched their hearts out to a panel of investors and entrepreneurs:

  • Arjun Ganesan (SOM ’12) for medical diagnostics company, Ancera (YEI ’11)
  • Paul Christensen (SOM ’13) for 3D sketching application, Mental Canvas (YEI ’12)
  • Claire Henly for electrochemical desalination cell company, RedOx (YEI ’12)
  • Jessica Cole (YC ’12) for local event calendar app, Roammeo (YEI ’11)
  • Max Uhlenhuth (YC ’12) for forest inventory surveyor, SilviaTerra (YEI ’10)

The final panel included Bob Adelson (’82, ’85 JD), Sean Glass (YC ’02), Miles Lasater (YC ’01), and Harley Lippman. More information about the finalists can be found here.

"The Yale Entrepreneurs Conference was an exciting opportunity to learn from alumni and students,” Hilary Barr (YC ’12), who participated in the YEI summer fellowship in 2012, said of the conference. “The highlight of the conference for me was hearing pitches from past YEI fellows. It was inspirational to see how much recent graduates have achieved. 

As the attendees disbanded for break, they cast their votes for their favorite student ventures and mingled with student entrepreneurs over lunch. After the judges’ deliberations and counting the attendees’ votes, Ancera and Mental Canvas both walked away with awards. Ancera was awarded the $25,000 Lippman Prize. Mental Canvas was voted for the people’s choice award, winning $5,000.

After lunch, keynote speaker Kevin Ryan ’85 of Gilt Groupe gave a stirring speech on his experience as an entrepreneur and the trials and tribulations during his journey.

Student entrepreneurs found Ryan’s talk inspiring and honest. “I loved the insights from Kevin Ryan,” said Daniel Wolchonok (SOM ’13), a participant of the 2012 YEI summer fellowship. “He talked about how Business Insider didn't do any advertising.  Make sure the quality of your content is so great that it speaks for itself.”

Last year marked the first Yale Entrepreneurs Conference with 125 attendees at the Yale West Campus.

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YEI is pleased to announce the finalist teams that will be competing for the Lippman Prize at tomorrow’s second annual Yale Entrepreneurs Conference. Out of a pool of 24 applicants, five student ventures were selected to compete for the first-ever Lippman Prize: Ancera, Mental Canvas, RedOx, Roammeo, and Silvia Terra. 

These five promising student ventures were handpicked among a competitive pool of 24 ventures to give five-minute pitches for two prizes at tomorrow’s conference: a $25,000 prize awarded by a panel of expert judges, investors, and entrepreneurs and a $5,000 people’s choice prize.

For the $25,000 prize, the companies will be evaluated on their product and/or services, market opportunity, customer validation, team, and future plans. The preliminary panel of judges includes Rob Bettigole (YC ’76, SOM ’83,) Konstantine Drakonakis (MA ’06), Joe Lane (YC ’75), and Charlie Moret. The final panel consists of Bob Adelson (’82, ’85 JD), Sean Glass (YC ’02), Miles Lasater (YC ’01), and Harley Lippman.  

Meet the Finalists

Arjun Ganesan (SOM ‘12)

Ancera offers a rapid, portable, label and labor free, low-cost manipulation technology platform capable of separation as well as quantitative detection and identification of minute concentrations of various pathogens from whole blood and other bodily fluids in less than 10 minutes. In addition to detection and quantification, Ancera offers the ability to capture and characterize the pathogen for further processing without amplification.

Mental Canvas
Paul Christensen (SOM '13)

Mental Canvas is a design platform for the tablet computer. It revolutionizes the exploration of ideas in 3D. Rather than the current "topdown" approach of defining large masses in 3D and then adding details, Mental Canvas enables designers to explore unfinished ideas built from sketches and photographs arranged in a coherent, lightweight environment in real and virtual contexts.

Claire Henly (YC ’12)

Red Ox develops innovative products to turn waste into value. Our first product, the Electrochemical Desalination Cell (EDC), desalinates wastewater while generating electricity and valuable inorganic chemicals. We believe the EDC can transform wastewater management in the oil and gas, desalination and power generation industries.

Jessica Cole (YC ’12) 

Roammeo is an event discovery engine that solves the moments of knowing that something good is going on in a city, but having no way of finding out what that "something" is. We automatically aggregate events from relevant calendars, rank them to match your interests using proprietary algorithms, and deliver you custom event results on our website and apps. Check us out at or search for "Roammeo" in the app store!

Max Uhlenhuth (YC ’12), Zack Parisa (FES '09)

SilviaTerra has developed a patent-pending technology that uses satellites to determine the sizes and species of trees in a forest.  SilviaTerra has earned the trust of 7 paying clients - including Plum Creek, the largest timber company in the US - and recently completed the largest, most comprehensive forest inventory in history.  We are currently building sophisticated analytics that use our superior information to help our customers make better decisions about the tens of billions of dollars of forest assets they own.


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