Dreams that ranged from creating a thriving biotechnology corporation in New Haven to reinventing the World Wide Web circulated through a room packed with ambitious Yalies who shared their business spirit and traded skills at the Yale Entrepreneurial Society launch event Wednesday afternoon.
YES members began preparations yesterday for a year that will feature two major business competitions. In late November, YES will hold a contest that will evaluate executive summaries for business ideas, which will feature a top prize of $2,000. Next semester, YES will sponsor a larger 50K contest in which teams will present their business model before a panel of judges in one of three categories — For-Profit, Social Entrepreneurship or Biotechnology. The winners of the 50K contest will be awarded $50,000 to go toward the execution of their plan.
“We just hope to raise awareness so that more people enter and more people have a chance to win, and to raise the level of competition so that we can get the best businesses out of the contest,” YES Director of Public Relations Eden Hammond ’07 said. “It gives anyone with a business idea the chance to pull together and start their own.”
Some students who attended the launch, like Nik Kumar SOM ’07, who plans to submit health care and information technology concepts, said they were looking forward to submitting their ideas for evaluation.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own company,” Kumar said. “This will be a good way to find people to help. I’m in it to win.”
Others attended with no set business plans. Crystal Chen ’09 said she went to the event because her father is a venture capitalist in the biotechnology industry and she wants to better understand his profession.
YES Co-president Christian Jensen ’06 said he hopes YES will leave a positive economic impact on New Haven. One recent 50K contest winner, Off the Map Press, has grown to become the thriving publisher of “The Menu,” a popular restaurant guide for New Haven and other small cities.
“Part of our mission is to get businesses created that will stay in New Haven because we’re looking for economic development here and for Yalies to stick around,” Jensen said. “We also put a ton of time and money into social entrepreneurship because we aim to have businesses that are self-sustainable, but contribute meaningfully to the community.”
At the event, Sean Glass ’03 discussed the importance of building effective business teams and urged students and faculty to harness their creativity by pursuing business goals while at Yale.
“What’s one of the greatest things about Yale?,” Glass said, looking to demonstrate by a show of hands that the crowd of more than 50 students epitomized Yale’s geographical and intellectual diversity. “It’s that everybody here is different. And heterogeneity in teams is best.”