The Yale Entrepreneurial Society has New Haven on its mind.
As entrepreneurship becomes more prevalent in the Elm City, YES, a not-for-profit student group that provides business-related opportunities to the Yale and New Haven communities, has maintained a relationship with city officials in efforts to develop programs. Through this partnership, YES has developed an increased entrepreneurial environment in New Haven.
“YES has done great work with trying to promote a level of awareness and create an atmosphere for people to come together and learn,” said Nathan Taft ’95, program director for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs. “It’s a catalyst for people to get involved.”
Over 1,000 undergraduates and graduate students participate in the numerous YES activities, which include educational events, the YES Community Counseling program and the recruitment of business speakers.
“YES is an umbrella organization for many other projects,” YES President Julian Revie ’02 said. “We can bring together all the right people and offer students all the resources, and anyone can take that and run with it.”
The group impacts New Haven directly in its annual Y50K competition, held for the second time this year. The city is a partner in the $100,000 prize competition which gives students and community members the opportunity to create new businesses. Forty-one teams entered this year’s competition.
“The city wants to be involved in our activities so that it can see these companies evolve and help nurture them,” said former YES president David Pozen ’02.
Each year, the program results in six new businesses, three for-profit firms and three not-for-profit ventures. Revie said the headquarters for three of the six ventures from the inaugural Y50K competition have remained in New Haven.
YES leaders hope the Y50K competition will become a permanent engine for New Haven’s economy by initiating several successful businesses.
“Even if there [are] just one or two ventures each year that are really feasible in the long term, and if they grow to become permanent New Haven businesses, then the program will be a huge success,” Revie said.
YES leaders plan to continue expanding their relationship with New Haven. In the fall, Yale will become the first university to host Youth Venture, a community-consulting program to teach city high school students about entrepreneurship. Youth Venture already has initiated over 100 social service endeavors in New York, Boston and Washington D.C.
Revie said YES aims to establish 10-12 social service ventures in each high school involved. Plans call for the number of high schools to increase from two in the fall to five by spring.
Despite YES’ initial successes, Revie admitted that YES has trouble keeping pace with its rapid growth. A staff of 50 people is currently in place to lead YES next year, which YES leaders feel may be inadequate. Revie hopes members of the class of 2005 will fill the void.
The success of the expanding YES-New Haven partnership demonstrates the city’s revitalization.
“All of a sudden, New Haven doesn’t seem boring,” said Hugh Eastwood ’00, a financial analyst for University Properties. “The quality of life here is pretty amazing.”
As YES guides entrepreneurs into New Haven’s embrace, YES thinks even more Yale graduates will remain in the city.
“As New Haven makes it more of a priority to support entrepreneurship, that will be even more of an attraction to keep students around after graduation,” Pozen said.