By Avery Faller
Only three weeks have passed since the end of the YEI program, yet time seems to have slowed down. The Summer Fellowship was a fast-paced, immersive startup boot camp: every day a new speaker to listen to, YEI alum to meet, investor to pitch, event to attend, giving structure to the hot New Haven summer days. Trying to summarize it all into one highlight article would be like trying to watch the Godfather Parts I and II in the span of five minutes, but that’s what I’m about to attempt.
If you dig down under the mad rush of activity of the Fellowship, you’ll find the heart of it—the eleven student ventures. And somehow, between all of the speakers, and panelists, mentor meetings, and free lunches, those ventures found the time to grow and develop. But they didn’t merely grow; they exploded upwards and outwards. For some of the ventures, the accomplishments have been physical: Scaled Liquid Systems has built a prototype liquid cooling system, while Chairigami has developed a product line and moved into a storefront; for others, milestones have been recorded in 1s and 0s: BookSavr, Roammeo and Unicq have all added features and additional functionality to their pre-existing sites, and two more ventures are on the verge of launching Beta sites. Some of the ventures are closing rounds of financing, while others have already raised capital. The next few months will be very exciting for our fellows as they continue to work on their ventures. We will be keeping tabs on all of the YEI alumni and will let you know either through this blog or our twitter account (@yeitweets) of any new developments that we hear about.
It has been an honor to get to know the founders behind these ventures, a diverse group of 19 truly entrepreneurial entrepreneurs. They are inspiring examples of what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. I know that I personally feel vindicated every time one of their ventures raises funding, or launches a new product because I know how hard they have been working and understand how much effort has gone into their success. But, lest we forget, the fellows were not developing their ventures in a vacuum; they had the YEI Incubator space to work and learn in, with all its assets just a few steps away.
I only knew a small amount about YEI’s programming at the beginning of the summer; now I consider myself somewhat of an expert. Here is just a bit of what YEI contributed to the Summer Fellowship this past summer: The YEI Staff, Jim Boyle, Wes Bray, Alena Gribskov and Kim Babbitt, provided the Fellows with encouragement, advice and contacts based on their years of experience working with startups. Throughout the summer I was impressed by how knowledgeable the staff was about the entrepreneurial community, both locally, in New Haven, and in New York and Boston. Week after week, I was repeatedly excited by the quantity and quality of the entrepreneurs that YEI brought into the office including Chris Michaud of Continuum and David Rose of Angelsoft. The talks these speakers gave were relevant and varied ranged from advice on raising capital to how to effectively brand your corporation. YEI organized visits to the offices of Google in New York City, which was awesome, and, a little closer to home, to Higher One in Science Park at Yale, which was inspiring. YEI alumni from successful companies such as YouRenew and Hadapt came to YEI and spoke openly with the Fellows about their companies and the path they took since finishing the YEI Fellowship. And finally, YEI arranged for a team of mentors to serve as advisors to every venture in the Fellowship. This army of mentors stunned me because I hadn’t realized how large the entrepreneurial community around New Haven actually was and the amount of time and effort these business leaders were willing to commit to coach and provide connections to Yale students.
In my conversations with the fellows, they dripped enthusiasm. “I think it brings together the best of resources,” said Arjun Ganesan of Ancera on what he thought of the YEI Summer Fellowship.
“YEI has been awesome,” Mike Mossoba of Pixtapes agreed. “The staff, mentors, guest speakers and corporate partners have been extraordinarily generous with their time. And I love the energy I get from all the other exciting ventures in the incubator.”
If all this talk about YEI and its resources has you hungering for entrepreneurial speakers, startup advice, and innovative friends, you don’t have to wait until next summer’s YEI Fellowship to have your fill. The freshman arrived on Old Campus on Friday, and to welcome the new year, YEI will be holding a kickoff event in the new space at 55 Whitney on September 7th at 6pm. Come check out our new incubator and learn how you can get involved. See you there!Read More