The YEI Innovation Fund, which offers pre-seed funding to promising Yale ventures, has partnered with Webster Bank in support of the Fund. Webster is joining existing partners Yale University and Connecticut Innovations to provide early-stage investment capital to ventures coming from Yale that have demonstrated potential for high growth and the ability to achieve subsequent milestones. Elm Street Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture fund based in New Haven, Connecticut, is managing the Fund.
“Webster Bank is excited to be involved in supporting early-stage ventures from Connecticut via the YEI Innovation Fund,” says Peter Hicks, Senior Vice President at Webster Bank. “And we’re impressed by the success demonstrated by the ventures that have been funded to date.”
Launched in 2013, the Fund has proven to be extraordinarily successful, having supported 12 ventures across a range of industries—tech, biotech, medical device, restaurant and consumer goods—that have gone on to attract more than $30 million in additional funding. All of the portfolio ventures have participated in one or more YEI programs, and have included both student ventures as well as a handful of ventures inspired by cutting edge faculty research.
“Receiving up to $100,000 from the YEI Innovation Fund has bridged the gap at a critical juncture for many of the teams leaving the YEI Fellowship [a competitive summer bootcamp for ventures] who need to further develop their product or service and attract additional capital,” says Jim Boyle, Cofounder and Managing Director of YEI. “They’ve been able to leverage that support to get their ventures off the ground.”
Current YEI Fund portfolio companies featuring faculty technologies include Saphlux which is developing the next-generation of high-power, low-cost LED chips and has raised $1.35M in funding; Isoplexis, a biotech company producing a highly sensitive, multiplexed single-cell analysis tool that has gone on to raise $9.75M; and GestVision, a company developing a simple test for preeclampsia that has raised an additional $7M in funding. Yale students have created innovative businesses as well, including Junzi Kitchen, a restaurant chain featuring a new healthy twist on Chinese food; Rally Bus, which provides crowd-sourced, on-demand bus travel; and Health Exchange Technologies (formerly PatientBank), a healthcare IT company allowing consumers to better manage their healthcare records.
“We see an eclectic mix of startups coming through YEI,” says Robert Bettigole, Managing Director of Elm Street Ventures and member of the YEI Innovation Fund Investment Board, “but those that receive funding from the YEI Innovation Fund have key elements in common—a great vision, and a highly motivated and coachable team who are determined to make their vision a reality”.