Blog: yes

By Tiffany Pang

Picture courtesy of Yale Entrepreneurial Society.

At the end of April, the Yale Entrepreneurial Society hosted its annual Yale Venture Challenge Innovation Summit at The Bourse, celebrating innovation by bringing together Yale student entrepreneurs, alumni, and industry professionals. 

Five Yale student ventures were selected among a competitive application pool as finalists to pitch to a panel of judges, including entrepreneurs, investors, and members in the investment community. The five ventures chosen to pitch were:

  • Blacktop Bloom (VCP ’12-13) – Rewon Child (YC ’13)
  • Dextro (YEI ’13/VCP ’12-13) – David Luan (YC ’13)
  • Electric Currency (VCP ’12-13) – Jeff Woodward (SOM ’14)
  • Panorama Education (YEI ’12) – Aaron Feuer (YC ’13)
  • SolGen – Mitchell Bauer (FES ’13)

At the end of the evening, the panel of judges awarded the first place prize of $12,000 to Panorama Education, a 2012 YEI Fellowship team that helps K-12 schools and districts to easily collect student feedback and offer teachers clear reports with actionable insights.

“I was just really excited. Panorama has had a really busy couple of weeks,” said Panorama Education cofounder Xan Tanner (YC ’13).

The skyrocketing venture has indeed had a busy few weeks indeed. Along with their Yale Venture Challenge win, Panorama Education was also recently accepted to the YCombinator’s Summer ’13 class. With their winnings from the competition, Tanner hopes to “add team members on the tech side.  The YVC money will be used, along with our profits from this past year, to help build out our team.”

The second-place $7,000 prize went to Dextro, a software company for computerized object detection and recognition in images that is participating in this summer’s YEI Fellowship.

“I was definitely happy. Because Dextro has been bootstrapped so far, we have basically never pitched it in an investment/competition setting,” said Dextro founder David Luan (YC ’13), who was impressed by the line-up of pitches and entrepreneurs at the Summit. “Yale entrepreneurship has really taken off in the past two years, as compared to when I was an underclassman. Interest here is at great levels.”

Electric Currency, a Texas-based retail energy reseller in YEI’s 2012-2013 Venture Creation Program, placed third and won the $1,000 prize. And along with the other winners, Electric Currency cofounder Jeff Woodward (FES ’14) echoed the positivity about Yale’s entrepreneurship spirit.

“I think that a lot of Yale’s entrepreneurial community is driven by a desire to good for the world.  Four of the five finalists for YVC were social ventures,” said Woodward. “It’s a wonderful group of people to be part of.”

“I think that the entrepreneurial spirit at Yale has never been better,” said Tanner, who was impressed by the teams and competition at the Yale Venture Challenge. “It’s just an exciting time for entrepreneurship at Yale.”

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By Jason Dzilinski


In April, the Yale Entrepreneurial Society hosted the 2012 Yale Venture Challenge, which judges Yale ventures on their business models and implementation in the real world.

Industry professionals and business leaders reviewed the 22 applications this year and “the top 6 plans, determined by score, advanced to the final round,” said YES’s co-president Tony Wu (YC '13).  These six finalists pitched at YES’s Innovation Summit, competing to win a total of $25,000 in prizes to expand their startups.

Kevin Ryan, CEO and founder of Gilt Groupe, an online high-end flash sale site, was the keynote speaker of the Innovation Summit. “Ryan encouraged students to go out and try new ventures and not to be afraid,” said Avery Faller (YEI ’11, YC ’11), a co-founder of Roammeo, one of the finalists.

Ultimately, the panel of five judges awarded the first-place, $15,000-prize to Roammeo (YEI ’11), a series of web and mobile apps that help students find events going on around them in real time.  Roammeo’s CEO (Chief Exploration Officer) Jessica Cole (YC ’12) said of the win, “I was thrilled and realized that any number of us could have been in the top three due to everyone’s hard work and dedication to their companies.” Roammeo plans to use the prize to expand their web site, add new features, capabilities, and expand to the New York City and Washington D.C. markets this summer.

Second place and $7,000 went to 2012 YEI Summer Fellowship team, Red Ox Technologies, which is commercializing an electrochemical fuel cell based on Yale University technology.   “When the winners were announced, I was very excited,” said co-founder Claire Henly (YC ’12). “There were many great teams in the running and the pitches were impressive so to be there in the top three was a good feeling.” Red Ox plans to use the money to grow their scientific team to further their proof of concept.  

Little Salad Shop, a quick service restaurant focusing on healthy and customizable salads, wraps, and smoothies, won the $2,000 third place prize.  The process, co-founder Etkin Tekin (YEI ’11, YC ’12) said, “kick-started a lot of work that will go toward opening 2 more locations this summer.”

“The other teams were very impressive and put up stiff competition,” said Faller. “I’m happy to see that there is so much entrepreneurial spirit at Yale.”

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