When Sean Glass ’02 co-founded the Yale Entrepreneurial Society in 1999 with Miles Lasater ’01, he probably never conceived that two years later the organization would be the largest on campus and a steadily growing force in New Haven economic development.
The mission of YES is to provide networking opportunities and facilitate the creation of new businesses in the Yale and New Haven communities, members said. The group has kept this mission in mind with the events they have planned for the year.
“We have about 800 members on campus and a similar number of alumni members, many who are not in New Haven,” YES president Julian Revie ’02 said.
The organization annually sponsors the Y50K Social Entrepreneurship Program, a contest awarding $50,000 in seed funding to the winners. The competition allows Yale-led teams to develop a business plan and present it to a panel of judges from the city’s business community.
Preceding the Y50K is the Y2K, a smaller scale competition where students are judged on a two- or three-page proposal rather than the extensive business outline the Y50K requires. The deadline for submissions to the Y2K is Nov. 2.
Revie said 92 teams entered last year’s Y50K competition, up from 41 entries the previous year. This growth has necessitated the opening of YES Center, located above the Yankee Doodle. The facility will serve as a resource center for social entrepreneurship.
Amy Jain ’04, the vice president of YES public relations, attributed the group’s quick growth to the people attracted to YES membership.
“The people in YES are extremely hard-working, very ambitious and have good ideas for how to get where they want to go,” Jain said.
Throughout the year, YES will have speakers coming this academic year to address entrepreneurship. The speakers scheduled include RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser, Red Herring founder and Editor-in-Chief Anthony Perkins, and Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang.
But the organization’s most ambitious venture is the YES Innovation Summit to be held on campus April 18-20. The three-day conference will bring venture capitalists, academic researchers, and leading innovators to Yale for interaction with student entrepreneurs.
The event will focus on information technology, biotechnology, the globally networked economy, social entrepreneurship, and opportunities and challenges in the developing world.
In conjunction with the summit, YES and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta will host “Ideas to Implementation,” the first worldwide entrepreneurship competition. The North and South American semi-finals of the contest will end the weekend.
Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand said YES benefits and reflects New Haven’s recent revitalization.
“It helps generate interest among alumni and investors which is an interest driven by the city, Yale’s commitment to growth, and the growing biotech sector,” Morand said. “It reflects a realization among students that New Haven is not just a place to go to school but a place to consider in terms of future careers and living.”
Two years after co-founding YES, Glass said that business startups from Yale present a win-win situation for New Haven.
“If a business comes out of Yale, it creates jobs in New Haven, tax revenues and the wealth from the company brings new capital into the community,” Glass said. “Each new business that comes out of the university can add a lot of economic development to the city.”