Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer
This semester, the Yale College Council is spearheading a new program dedicated to serving the needs of undergraduate entrepreneurs.
The program, called the YCC Incubator, was created to “cultivate a vibrant and ever-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at Yale and beyond, preparing the next generation of leaders,” according to its website. According to Founder and Director of the YCC Incubator Liam Muldoon ’22, it is one of the first student government-backed incubators dedicated to supporting undergraduate entrepreneurs and aims to provide the students in the program with the funds, resources and guidance to turn their ideas into reality.
“The YCC Incubator was thus created to address this need: to institutionalize and foment a stronger, more accessible entrepreneurial ecosystem at Yale,” Muldoon wrote to the News in an email. “The Incubator is a ten week long program that is organized thematically — covering subjects from identifying a consumer base to handling finances — to help entrepreneurs manage their projects efficiently.”
Last year, Muldoon was the business director for the YCC, where he started an informal service with the YCC business team that helped support student ventures. From this experience, Muldoon realized that there was a growing need for resources to be devoted to students innovation more broadly, which led him to create the YCC Incubator.
The inaugural cohort of the YCC Incubator includes five teams of undergraduate students who were selected from a pool of written applications and interviews. The five projects range from a business creating reusable menstrual products to a student venture dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint in e-commerce. The cohort plans to meet biweekly to exchange feedback, help each other solve problems and share their progress on their projects.
Additionally, the program will feature a speaker series which will largely include Yale alumni in entrepreneurship and investing spaces. These speakers will join the YCC Incubator network and serve as a resource for the cohort, providing feedback as it pertains to their projects and offering career advice to the participants. Furthermore, there will be a variety of workshops for the cohort that will provide students with the opportunity to understand the entrepreneurial process — from managing finances to marketing, like the one offered by companies such as Marketing Letter.
The amount of funding that will be allocated to each project has not yet been finalized, but Muldoon said it will cover “any and all necessary expenses.”
Lastly, at the end of the semester, the YCC Incubator will contain “pitch days” which will be dedicated to ensuring that the students in the cohort are prepared to present their projects to potential investors as their startups continue to grow.
“I am excited that there is a streamlined visible process for student entrepreneurs to gain support from the YCC,” YCC President Aliesa Bahri ’22 wrote to the News. “I am also thrilled that this incubator is intended to back projects that specifically benefit our community, as I believe innovation is critical to surmounting the challenges my peers face.”
Bahri explained that while the YCC has in the past supported some student entrepreneurial ventures, there was never an accessible program such as the YCC Incubator made available to the student body.
One member of the inaugural spring 2021 cohort, Erik Boesen ’24, spoke to the News about his plans for the semester. For his work with the YCC Incubator, Erik plans to continue working on Yale Menus, a mobile app to help students easily access information about Yale Dining, including menus, hours of operation and crowding statistics.
In the past, Boesen has created other apps for the Yale community, such as ComeThru and Yalies.io. Boesen told the News that he worked with the YCC last year to launch ComeThru and is excited to see the YCC Incubator provide more opportunities for student creators to bring their ideas to life.
“I applied because I was interested in accessing resources I could use to create a new platform to help the Yale community,” Boesen told the News. “I had previously considered running for YCC to create a similar incubator program, and was excited to learn of YCC Incubator when planning began — I think this program will fill a niche that will allow for many types of innovation in the Yale community.”
The Yale Office of Career Strategy has a web page with resources available to Yale students interested in “creating innovative solutions to challenges.”
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