The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute has announced the first eight winners of this year’s YEI Fellowship, a 10-week summer program for accelerating ventures at Yale which provides $15,000, mentors, access to corporate partners and the support of a network of like-minded peers and experts. The chosen ventures represent diverse industries—including an infant respirator, food products that make use of unused produce, backyard ice rinks, an “Instagram for music,” an ancestral fashion line, a job search matchmaking tool and a bail funding startup aimed at low-risk defendants.
“We were inspired by the breadth of the ventures that applied to the YEI Fellowship this year and the compelling problems that they tackle,” says Jim Boyle, YEI Managing Director.
Of the teams accepted thus far, five have female cofounders, a significant leap from last year, when just two of eleven teams accepted included women. “We’ve seen a tremendous growth in entrepreneurship interest from women on campus,” says YEI Deputy Director Erika Smith. “We think there are many contributing factors, including increased visibility of Yale women who have taken this path and coordination on the part of YEI and partner organizations like the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY), InnovateHealth Yale and School of Management, which are working together to provide greater guidance and support for new ventures, including rising numbers of social ventures.”
As part of this increased collaboration, the major entrepreneurship prizes at Yale—including the $25,000 Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education (from InnovateHealth) and the $25,000 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize (from CBEY)—will guarantee automatic acceptance into the YEI Fellowship for winners. YEI has its own $25,000 entrepreneurship prize this year called the Miller Prize for a venture in Big Data, Internet of Things or Materials Science and that winner, too, will receive a slot in the Fellowship.
“The YEI Fellowship has been recognized across campus as the best place for ventures to get the concentrated resources they need—from expert mentors and one-on-one pitch guidance to education and peer support—to get off the ground,” Boyle says. Launched in 2007, YEI has supported the formation and growth of more than 100 student-founded ventures which together have raised over $150 million in outside investment capital.
2016 YEI Fellowship Teams:
Amor Rosa (Laura Melendrez SOM ’16; Vanessa Ocando SOM/MAM ’16; Debra Broberg SOM/MAM ’16) Colorful embroidered clothing using ancestral techniques from Latin America.
Charityvest (Stephen Kump SOM ’17; Jon Koon) A mobile and web technology platform that enables the average US donor to make easier, more meaningful, and more impactful charitable donations while drastically lowering administration costs for nonprofits.
Connecticut Bail Fund (Brett Davidson YC ’16; Simone Seiver YC ’17; Patrick Sullivan YC ’18; Scott Greenberg YSM) A nonprofit organization that will post bail for individuals who are charged with low-level offenses and lack the financial resources to afford their bond payments.
EZ Ice (Dylan Gastel YC ’18; Joe Bedford YC ’18; Angus Fong YC ’19; Mike Li YC ’19) Customized backyard ice rinks that can be installed in under an hour on any surface without tools.
PremieBreathe (Katy Chan YC ’15; Shirin Ahmed YC ’12; Charles Stone YC ’14; Jordan Sabin YC ’16; David Wang YC ’18) A portable, cost-effective infant respirator that addresses the widespread global health problem of neonatal mortality due to respiratory insufficiency.
Re-Harvest Foods (Cat Wu SOM ’17) Portable, healthy snacks—beginning with “UglyFruit” applesauce— made from surplus produce.
Soundrop Music (Xiuqi Cao YC ’17; Tony Jiang YC ’18; Vladyslav Vykhodets YC ’19; Gavin Mai; Kuriakose Sony Theakanath) An interactive experience built around music expression that offers a novel way to discover new music.
Zeally (Lexsa Campbell SOM ’17; Krystyna Taheri SOM ’17) A web-based platform that provides a personalized list of job postings for college students and recent college grads.