YEI launches new adviser program

The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute is weeks away from launching a new advising system that will benefit students involved in its Venture Creation program.

The VC program gives student teams of entrepreneurs a grant of up to $2,500, while also pairing each team with a mentor who has top-level experience at well known companies such as PepsiCo. According to the YEI website, the institute is hiring between four and six new advisers, all of whom will be Yale graduate or professional students. The adviser program will significantly lessen the burden on the YEI staff to monitor student ventures, especially as the program continues to expand.

“[The VC adviser program will] let the SOM students act as venture capitalists themselves … helping the YEI review, select and advance the various student ventures,” said Wes Bray ’74, lead venture mentor at YEI. “Once the application is accepted, [the adviser] acts as a portfolio manager for the VC ventures.”

Bray said the YEI decided to create the adviser program in order to help student teams manage their finances more effectively and make smart business decisions. Although the YEI originally intended for each adviser to oversee about seven student teams, Bray said the growing student demand may cause the number of teams to increase to about 10 to 15 per adviser.

Last year, the YEI funded 30 out of 50 VC applications for projects ranging from lab equipment designed specifically for girls to yogurt-based natural snack foods. This year, demand is expected to increase significantly, perhaps even doubling the number of funded ventures, Bray said. Eventually, he said, he hopes to engage “as many Yale students as are interested in entrepreneurship” with the VC program.

“We’re getting a lot of excitement on campus,” said Simran Dua, who has been spearheading the VC Program for the last year.

Dua said she hopes students will come to see their advisers as informal peer contacts. The students’ mentors — business professionals who hail from large companies — will serve as more formal advisory contacts, she said.

With the adviser application deadline just a week away, Dua said the YEI has already received a strong pool of applications and looks forward to more as the Sept. 15 deadline approaches. Dua said she hopes some of the advisers will stay involved through December 2014 to maintain continuity in the program from year to year.

Several students interviewed, who are not involved with the VC program, said they think the advisers will be strong assets to the program.

Sunny Park ’14 said she thinks advisers will most benefit the student groups by providing financial guidance.

The Institute will hold an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the YEI offices at 55 Whitney Ave.

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