Tag Archive: Business News

  1. TYCO prepares for shift in business in coming years

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    About five years ago, Michael Iannuzzi, owner and president of TYCO Copying and Printing on Elm Street, began to notice a shift in his business.

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    Ten percent of Iannuzzi’s business comes from printing the course packets many Yale professors use to distribute readings for their classes. But Iannuzzi said he increasingly sees these packets as a dying medium as professors move more of their course materials online.

    “We’re the horse and buggy, and there are cars driving in the street,” Iannuzzi said. “If all we did was course packets, we’d be out of business in five years.”

    Indeed, professors said they are increasingly putting PDFs of their course materials online on the Classes*v2 server, where students can access them for free and print them out either on their own or at seven cents per page on Yale’s printers. Professionally printed course packets cost significantly more per page than PDFs printed out on personal or school printers. While some professors said they are putting the material online at students’ request, others said they want students to maintain print copies of readings for convenience.

    The 272-page packet for history Professor Carlos Eire’s class “Catholicism: The First Millenium,” at $44.50, costs more than twice as much on a per-page basis as the same material would cost printed out in Bass Library. Eire said he puts all the material in his course packets online as well — the one for convenience, the other for cost-effectiveness.

    “My own personal preference is paper,” Eire said. “I can read 10 pages online, but after that it gets annoying.”

    History Professor John Warner said he put the materials in his course packet online because of popular demand.

    “I’m persuaded that this is the sensible way to go,” he said. “It seems to me that placing the course materials online is a favor for everybody.”

    But Ryan Wepler, who teaches an English 114 seminar on American humor, said he requires students to purchase course packets because he is skeptical whether they would actually print out PDF files posted online.

    “I don’t want my students bringing their laptops to class,” he said. “They just check their e-mail.”

    Iannuzzi said the price-per-page rate of course packets varies with TYCO’s preparation cost, the class size, and occasionally, copyright fees. Wepler’s packet, for example, comes out to 20.8 cents per page — for a total of $25.

    None of the four professors interviewed knew how much their packets cost. Wepler pointed out one reason for this: Each professor gets a copy of his or her course packet for free.

    Even professors who have started offering their material online said they want students to print out the course materials if they choose not to buy a course packet. Given that hard copies of materials are required or strongly encouraged, the only benefit of having TYCO print and bound them, Warner said, is “convenience.”

    Three students interviewed said they like having the option of printing documents on their own, but they are not yet willing to forgo hard copies altogether.

    Given the choice, Will Bartlett ’14 said he would prefer to save money printing his course materials himself, rather than buying course packets. He added, though, that he currently uses a personal printer and might consider TYCO if he had to use the library printers, which he said are difficult for him to use.

    Miriam Rock ’14 said she does not mind doing light readings online but prefers hard copies for longer readings, so she can take notes on them.

    “It depends how close of a reading I’d have to do,” she said. “If it’s just skimming, then I wouldn’t [print], but otherwise I would.”

    In contrast to some professors’ insistence on keeping hard-copies of readings, Iannuzzi, who founded TYCO 40 years ago, said he has been preparing for digitization for a decade, from the time he first heard rumblings about a “paperless society,” though he said it has been a “slow process.”

    Still, Iannuzzi is not concerned about the future viability of his business.

    “We’re diversified, thankfully,” he said.

    Though the rise of personal computers has led to a decline in demand for course packets for Yalies, Iannuzzi said it has also brought a huge jump in digital documents needing to be printed in general. In the future, he said, he expects his business will depend even more on the greater volume of these kinds of documents, such as digital art. And as technology improves, reading course materials on laptops and other devices, which would be free, could become a more viable way of learning.

    “We certainly can’t compete with free,” Iannuzzi said. “To do that, we’d need to offer a complimentary cup of coffee or something like that.”

  2. For Yalie entrepreneurs, a landlord and partner

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    When student start-ups with little credit, a short track record and uncertain prospects need to expand, they turn to Carter Winstanley.

    In addition to overseeing the renovation and rebuilding of dilapidated properties in Science Park, Winstanley, co-owner of Winstanley Enterprises, a Massachusetts real estate development company, works closely with the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute to help young entrepreneurs obtain flexible leases and affordable space in his buildings in Science Park.

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    Because Winstanley was an entrepreneur himself, he is uniquely suited to understanding the needs of entrepreneurs, said Shana Schneider, deputy director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.

    “Landlords are not known historically for their great flexibility, and yet young companies are frequently faced with great adversity and variability in their businesses,” Winstanley said. “A landlord that can act more as a strategic partner than an inflexible institution will prove important [to a start-up].”

    Most landlords try to avoid tenants who do not lease a lot of space and have little credit, Winstanley said. But he seeks out these tenants because they drive economies, create jobs and sometimes expand and succeed. Of course, they also frequently fail, he said.

    “Carter understands that [young entrpreneurs] can’t really take out a five year lease,” she said. “You don’t know if you’ll be there next year or if you’ll need 10 times the amount of space next year. For those [start-ups] that work, he’ll be able to grow with them.”

    Growing up, Winstanley said he watched his father start a real estate development business in Massachusetts. During the “last recession” in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Winstanley said he and his brother started their own company buying and developing vacant buildings. Eventually, the brothers joined their company with their father’s.

    “Between watching my father and starting our business immediately following school, real estate has really been all I’ve ever done,” Winstanley said. “I studied philosophy in school and am still looking for ways to put that skill set to work.”

    Winstanley said he often will talk with the owners of fledgling start-ups to discuss their plans, even before they can afford to lease space for their businesses.

    Bob Casey ’11, co-founder of YouRenew, a student start-up that recycles and resells used electronics, said he and his partner, Rich Littlehale ’10, worked closely with Winstanley to develop their lease and design and build their new office in Science Park, which they moved into in January.

    “[Winstanley] is owed a great deal of credit for helping young businesses establish themselves in New Haven,” he said.

    YouRenew is one of a number of New Haven start-ups moving to Science Park. Within the year, the YEI-based company Infinitronics may move to Science Park, Schneider said. The student-founded company is working on developing a new broadband internet device, and Schneider said she expects them to stay in New Haven as they grow the business.

    If they move to Science Park, the founders of Infinitronics will join a community of young entrepreneurs that has set up roots there, including the founders of student financial services company HigherOne, technology start-up incubator CTECH and YouRenew.

    “We’re extremely happy to be in a building with so many startups,” said Casey. “The new space has allowed us to better optimize our operations and continue to grow.”

    Winstanley said he hopes New Haven will continue to provide an environment that will buck the larger trend in Connecticut of losing talented young graduates to neighboring states.

    “Innovation today occurs in and around the strongest education centers and we are fortunate enough to be located in the heart of one of those centers,” Winstanley said. “If Yale and New Haven can provide the brainpower, I’ll try to provide the buildings.”

    Pepsi Life Sciences and Helix Therapeutics also currently lease space from Winstanley in Science Park.

  3. Downpour dampens local oyster industry

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    Nearly year round, workers from Connecticut-based Norm Bloom and Son catch young oysters in the Long Island Sound by dropping a large collecting basket called a dredge off their boat, piling its deck full of the shellfish and taking them to Norwalk, where they will grow and eventually be sold. But this year, because of heavy rains that drenched New Haven last month, Norman Bloom, the company’s owner, had to lay off about half his crew.

    “There’s work we can do, but no income,” he said.

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    Oyster harvesting is a year-round operation, one that has faced a number of obstacles in New Haven over the last two centuries and has become a difficult industry to stay in. And the job recently got harder: The torrential rains in March, which led President Barack Obama to declare Friday that Connecticut is in a state in emergency, meant nearly a month of work lost. Because oysters and other shellfish are filter feeders that can absorb contaminants from the rain, the state’s Bureau of Aquaculture and Laboratory Services, located in Milford, ordered a stop to shellfish harvesting in the state.

    “It’s been a devastating year for the oyster and clam industry,” said Leslie Miklovich, Bloom’s cousin and the vice president of Norwalk-based Hillard Bloom Shellfish Inc.

    New Haven is one of the best places for oyster larvae to settle, said Norman’s brother Steven, who is the owner of his own seafood company, Norwalk-based K.B. Shellfish Inc. New Haven’s shallow waters are ideal for young oysters, said Gaboury Benoit ’76, professor of environmental engineering and faculty director of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

    They sell bluepoints, which are native to the Long Island Sound and are in high demand, Norman said, because they live in colder waters than Southern oysters do, and will therefore last longer under refrigeration.

    Still, local restaurants recently have looked elsewhere. Dave McCoart, owner of Sage American Grill and Oyster Bar, which is located in New Haven by the Long Island Sound, said he often gets oysters from the same waters his restaurant overlooks but that he also gets oysters from New York and Boston. On Sunday, Sage, which has large windows that look onto boats in the harbor and the Long Island Sound’s calm waters, was serving oysters that were displayed nestled in a small glass container. Above its liquor bar, which is adjacent to the oyster bar, hangs a sign that reads Oyster Point, the name the neighborhood used to go by (it is now officially called the Hill).

    New Haven and the oyster have a long, tumultuous history dating back to the 19th century. In the 1800s, there were a large number of oyster companies in the city. Most of the houses on South Water Street, where McCoart’s restaurant is located, have large basement doors because the oysters would be sorted there, McCoart said.

    As the 20th century rolled around, the water became polluted (some oysters were even turning out green), and businesses had to move out of Connecticut, said David Carey, director of the state’s Bureau of Aquaculture and Laboratory Services. And starfish became a problem in the late ’60s because they would eat the oysters, leading to “devastating” drops in oyster population, Carey said. And in 1998, two diseases struck the population, which did not recover until 2004.

    Despite the problems the oyster population has faced, including last month’s torrential rain, oyster business owners said they keep working. Miklovich added that even though buyers had to look elsewhere for shellfish in recent months, “they’ll come back.” Come July, when the water hits 70 degrees, the grown oysters will spawn, larvae will float and attach to shells that the harvesters have planted, Miklovich said.

    “We’re underwater farmers,” Miklovich said. “It’s hard work.”

  4. Elm City’s restaurants prepare to dish it out

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    More than two dozen restaurants across New Haven are gearing up for one of their busiest weeks of the year.

    For Restaurant Week this spring, 27 restaurants — the most in the semi-annual event’s four-year history — are offering discounted, fixed-price menus. Restaurant Week, which is held each year in the fall and spring, kicked off Sunday and will run until Friday, and six local restaurant owners and managers said they are almost fully booked for the week.

    “We have grown and grown every year,” said Stacy Royal of the public relations firm Lou Hammond & Associates, who is promoting Restaurant Week. “The event continues to exceed our expectations.”

    Participating restaurants are offering special fixed-price, three-course menus, which cost $29.00 for dinner and $16.38 (in honor of the year New Haven was founded) for lunch.

    “Reservations are almost a necessity,” said David Foster, chef at Foster’s Restaurant on Orange Street. “We’re already almost filled up.”

    At the same time that Restaurant Week diners are being adventurous with their taste buds, chefs too are taking advantage of the opportunity to try out new dishes.

    “A lot of us try to introduce new things since you’re getting a new crowd, “ said Dave Allen, supervisor at Bentara Spicy Malaysian Cuisine on Orange Street. “Our business has been doubling every time we do it,” he added.

    Some restaurants are offering special menus that include only a few of the dishes on their normal menus. Consiglio’s on Wooster Street, for example, is offering a limited menu with its most popular dishes so that customers can get a feel for the restaurant’s specialties.

    But other restaurants pride themselves on the fact that their menus and recipes are not altered for Restaurant Week, allowing them to promote old-time favorites.

    “What’s important to us is that we show people what we’re about all the time — nothing special,” said Stephen Majoros, a supervisor at Central Steakhouse on Orange Street. “We don’t cheapen the menu or shrink the portions.”

    During last spring’s Restaurant Week, participating restaurants reported 35 to 100 percent increases in the number of reservations from the previous Restaurant Week, Royal said, adding that Restaurant Week brings in an average of 35,000 diners and shoppers to Downtown New Haven.

    The first Restaurant Week in New Haven had 18 participants.

  5. New banking laws may hurt Yalie startup

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    Higher One, a Yalie-founded, New Haven-based financial-services company for universities and college students, is poised to go public. But if new federal banking regulations are passed, the company may reconsider.

    Higher One — which processes universities’ financial aid payments to students and provides banking services for colleges and students — announced its plans to hold a $100 million initial public offering in late March. But in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company, which did not specify when it intends to go public, indicated the shift may not occur at all if new federal banking regulations restrict the operations of financial intermediaries.

    According to the company’s SEC filing, submitted March 24, Higher One plans to list its stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The filing does not specify when the IPO will occur or what the expected price of Higher One’s shares is. But according to a note the company submitted with the SEC filing, company insiders will likely own most of Higher One’s stock. Mark Volchek ’00 GRD ’00, Higher One’s chairman and chief financial officer, declined to comment on the IPO filing because it is still under review.

    Among other things, Higher One helps universities distribute refund disbursements to students, helps them automate campus payment services and provides students with money management tools, such as budget calculators and bank text message alerts.

    But consumer protection measures under discussion as part of Congress’ financial reform efforts could put Higher One’s future revenue stream in jeopardy, according to the company’s Initial public offering filing. According to its 2009 SEC filing, in 2009 Higher One had $75.5 million total revenue, 88 percent of which was generated by ATM and other banking service fees. Because convenience fees on ATM machines generated the majority of Higher One’s revenue, any legislation Congress passes to regulate what fees ATMs can charge would likely diminish the viability of Higher One’s business model.

    The company’s IPO filing also lists the federal legislation passed in March that will restructure student loan business as another factor threatening the possibility that the company will successfully go public. If the legislation reduces or eliminates student loan service providers’ role in the financial services industry, Higher One’s future prospects could be adversely impacted, according to the company’s SEC filing.

    Higher One has customers at universities in 46 states. But not all higher education institutions use intermediaries like Higher One to distribute financial aid payments or loans to students. At Yale, private banks like Higher One have no role in distributing student aid, said Caesar Storlazzi, director of student financial services. Storlazzi said he was unable to comment specifically on Higher One because he was not familiar with the company.

    Volchek, Miles Lasater ’01 and Sean Glass ’03 founded Higher One in early 2000 after raising more than $620,000 from investors, and Volchek and Lasater, Higher One’s chief operations officer, are still actively involved in the company’s management. The company has grown steadily since 2000 and currently has 325 employees.

    According to Higher One’s SEC filing, the company plans to use proceeds from the IPO to expand its client base, increase the number of account users, introduce new financial service products and pursue partnerships and acquisitions. It will also use some of the proceeds to pay off debt due at the end of 2010.

    Goldman Sachs, UBS Investment Bank, Piper Jaffray, and Raymond James and William Blair and Company are underwriting Higher One’s IPO.

  6. Kettle corn sweetens up Elm City, Yale

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    Every weekday from noon to 5 p.m. for the past six years, “except for when it rains,” Newton Carroll has sold bags of kettle corn on the sidewalk directly in front of Yale-New Haven Hospital. Carroll works alone from a small cart, popping his crunchy snack outside 20 York St., a spot frequented by hospital employees and commuters.

    Carroll’s company, Elm City Kettle Corn, is the only business with permission to sell on the sidewalk directly in front of Yale-New Haven Hospital. The one-man operation also supplies Yale’s Thain Family Cafe in Bass Library and Uncommon market with organic kettle corn, a relationship both parties said will continue indefinitely. Now, though Carroll said he is pleased with Elm City Kettle Corn’s business, he has tentative plans to expand in the future, including getting another cart and, in the longer term, franchising the company.

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    But Carroll said that while making a profit is nice, what he really enjoys is meeting and talking to people who congregate at the wall behind his cart to eat his popcorn, just chat or both.

    “I’ve met all the head people in the hospital,” Carroll said. “They all come down to my wall, and we all come down and talk.”

    On one Friday earlier this month, a woman drove up to the cart and asked for a $5 bag of kettle corn, which Carroll brought to her car window.

    “You know I’m hooked,” she said, before driving away. “If I can’t come here to get it, I get my daughter to come for me. I don’t even get popcorn from the store.”

    A KERNEL OF AN IDEA

    After retiring six years ago, Carroll, 58, a former pharmacy technician, founded Elm City Kettle Corn because he needed a new way to occupy his time, he said. He said he got the idea for the business just by doing research and thinking about it, though his wife, Patricia, said he also received some encouragement from her.

    “He had retired and was just bored sitting around the house all day,” Patricia Carroll said. “At his previous job, he popped popcorn and brought it into the office and everyone loved it, so I said he should start his own business.”

    When Newton Carroll found an advertisement online for popcorn cart equipment at a reasonable price, he said he jumped at the chance.

    “A gentleman was selling the whole kit and caboodle, so I got a hitch put on my car and drove to Claxton, Ala., to pick it up,” he said.

    Carroll got vending and health permits from the city to be able to sell on the street, and his wife built him a trailer with wheels to hold and move the equipment. The business took off quickly from there, Carroll said.

    Since then, Patricia Carroll, 55, said, she has not been very involved with her husband’s work, though she said she is more than happy to lend an extra hand during large events.

    “I let that be a full-time job for him, and I have my job,” said the former engineer and current manager at the aeronautics company Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

    Every morning Newton Carroll attaches the trailer, which is filled with containers of popcorn, oil and sugar, to his truck and drives to the hospital from his home in West Haven. Carroll said his kettle corn recipe is simple: popcorn, vegetable oil, Domino sugar and Morton salt. Carroll pops the kernels in oil inside of a large metal kettle fueled by propane and, after stirring in the other ingredients, transfers the steaming kettle corn to a smaller bin where it is ready to be bagged.

    Each day between March and November, he sells more than 100 bags — about 70 small bags and 30 large bags, he said. But in January and February, he sells about 25, he said. A large bag costs $5.00 and a small $3.00.

    “One of my lines, when people say they’re fat and can’t buy popcorn, is, ‘All the calories have been popped away,’ ” Carroll said.

    A POPULAR PRODUCT

    Yale is the only customer Carroll supplies in bulk. Every week he personally delivers a couple of hundred bags of organic kettle corn to the Thain Family Cafe, which he has been doing since 2006, and to Uncommon, which opened this past fall.

    Gerry Remer, assistant manager of sustainability and supply management for Yale Dining, said Carroll’s relationship with Yale dates back to when the private management company Aramark managed Yale Dining Services. When that contract ended in 2007, Yale Dining became self-manageed, and it has been attempting to work with local businesses as part of its Sustainable Food Project, Remer said.

    “Very often, we try to work with local vendors when we can and there’s a product that fits,” she said.

    Since he began supplying to Yale, Carroll’s output has increased, but he said the only major difference between what he sells to Yale and what he sells on the street is that Yale’s kettle corn is made with organic popcorn, though the bags he sells to Yale are also much smaller than the ones he sells individually.

    Lauren Croda ’13, a student worker at the Thain Family Cafe, said student customers regularly buy the kettle corn, and that she sells a few bags every day.

    “It sells pretty well. No more or less than other items,” she said.

    Faten Sayed ’13 said she bought a bag of kettle corn from the Thain Family Cafe for the first time recently after she heard about it from a friend.

    “I personally like my kettle corn really sweet and this wasn’t as sweet,” she said. But she said she would still definitely buy the product again.

    Carroll also sells his kettle corn at community events, such as the New Haven Cherry Blossom Festival and the AIDS Walk in the spring, and he said he is booked from April to late October. His popcorn is so popular at these events, he said, that he has to recruit help from his stepson, his wife and a friend, like he did when selling at a concert in Hamden, Conn., last summer.

    “Our line was so long the other vendors complained because we were blocking their view,” he said.

    Carroll said he is satisfied with the level of his business currently, but he said he has plans to expand in the future: He currently has two carts and is working on setting up a third, and he said he is talking with a company in Boston about franchising Elm City Kettle Corn sometime in the near future.

    “They tell me it would be good to franchise because the investment is low and the return is high,” he said, though he added that he has not pursued this expansion yet because he has been busy.

    Though Carroll has thought about his company’s future without him, he said he plans to continue running it for as long as he can.

    “I’m going to be 59 years old this year, so I guess I’m good for another 10 years.”

  7. Elm City looks to attract media companies

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    New Haven wants to use tax breaks to attract media companies to the city.

    The Board of Aldermen is considering a proposal that would give tax incentives to media companies that set up shop in certain areas of the city. But first, the city must create “entertainment districts,” a state designation that allows municipalities to attract businesses with tax reductions without completely foregoing tax revenue.

    The proposed tax benefits include 80 percent reductions in property and equipment taxes for five years, half of which the state would reimburse the city, meaning the city will get the equivalent of 60 percent of the tax revenue.

    The incentives would make New Haven very attractive to small companies which may not be able to establish a business in a larger city, said Tony Bialecki, deputy economic director of the New Haven Office of Economic Development, which worked with the New Haven Economic Development Corporation to craft the proposal.

    Michele Whelley, former CEO of the Economic Development Corporation, said the city wants to attract six new digital media business this year.

    According to the proposal, three startups have already expressed interest in setting up offices in the city if the tax breaks are approved: videogame designer Poptank, animated film producer Golden Ocean, and media business development company Revyrie.

    The city has been directly negotiating with these companies but has not yet finalized a deal, Bialecki said, adding that in the past week, two additional media companies have contacted the city about the proposal.

    The proposal’s tax breaks would also benefit Yale students who want to start media businesses in New Haven.

    But former Yale student Victor Wong, who left school to start PaperG, a local advertising technology company, said since most media companies have little physical property and equipment, they would not greatly benefit. But New Haven has an appeal for media startups that goes beyond tax incentives: New Haven is a great testing ground for a media company trying to reach a local urban audience, he said. It is large enough to be a test market while still having a tightly knit community.

    According to the proposal, the entertainment districts would be located in Science Park, around the New Haven Green and in Fair Haven.

    For the tax breaks to take effect, the New Haven Board of Aldermen must approve the proposal and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development must authorize the legislation.

  8. Frosh starts cookie business

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    Aaron Seriff-Cullick ’13 answered his phone Tuesday evening with a cheery smile and a flip of his wild red hair.

    “Hello,” he said. “Call Me Cookie!”

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    Walking across Cross Campus, Seriff-Cullick was on his way to deliver more than 50 homemade cookies to hungry Yalies when he received the call. It was just before 11 p.m., and the sophomore on the other end wanted to place her second cookie order of the night.

    “To someone who’s truly lazy, like me, it’s great because he comes straight to your door,” said another customer, Lepi Jha ’12, who ordered from Call Me Cookie on Sunday night.

    Seriff-Cullick launched Call Me Cookie, a homemade chocolate-chip cookie delivery service, last Thursday. Since then, every night after his varsity diving practice he has baked at a friend’s off-campus apartment for about two hours before traipsing across campus between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. to deliver plates of the freshly baked goodies to his customers. Since he began, he has made about 15 deliveries per night (with about seven cookies in each order) and has sold about 150 chocolate-chip cookies in total, he said.

    While Seriff-Cullick said he started Call Me Cookie to help pay for college, he added that he has always loved to bake.

    “Nothing beats a homemade cookie,” he said. “People could buy Chips Ahoy cookies — and they would be wrong to do that because these taste like a human made them.”

    ONE SMART COOKIE

    Seriff-Cullick is no stranger to baking or to entrepreneurial endeavors.

    A baker since the age of six, Seriff-Cullick ran a cake-making charity at his Austin, Texas, high school. Every Friday, he and 30 friends would make enough cake so that all 900 students could have a piece of dessert when school got out. Though the group never charged for the cake, it encouraged donations, which it gave to a local charity that gives homeless artists supplies and a place to sell their creations. During high school Seriff-Cullick also rented himself out as a clown for children’s birthday parties and local events. When he applied to college, he wrote his admissions essay comparing himself to every element of one of his original dessert creations: a hot cinnamon beignet on top of melted dark chocolate and raspberry sauce.

    At Yale, Seriff-Cullick said he saw the hungry members of the student body as ideal candidates to test out an idea he has had since before coming to college. With a secret recipe for chocolate chip cookies that he developed and perfected in high school, the Pierson College freshman said he believes he has created a unique cookie that will keep people coming back.

    Call Me Cookie is not officially a “business,” Seriff-Cullick said: He works entirely alone and has not registered the company as an organization with either Yale or New Haven.

    The freshman bakes every night in the Park Street apartment of Jay Frisby ’10, singing and whistling the whole time. In exchange for use of the Frisby’s apartment, Seriff-Cullick leaves Frisby the cookies that are not up to delivery standards — and does the dishes, too.

    Currently Seriff-Cullick’s only costs are ingredients, which he said he will continue to buy at Gourmet Heaven on Broadway until he becomes a member of a wholesale grocer like Costco. Though he declined to say how much profit he has made so far, he said that at his current price of 75 cents per cookie, he has at least broken even each night.

    “People will buy them because people like the idea of having cookies delivered,” he said. “And people do like the idea that another student is doing it.”

    To determine the price of the cookies, Seriff-Cullick said that instead of calculating the average cost of each cookie, he asked his friends all year how much they would be willing to pay for a homemade cookie. Though most said they would pay more than $1, he said he has no need to charge more than 75 cents.

    Seriff-Cullick added that Call Me Cookie may grow in the future — perhaps to include special requests on weekends or birthday cakes, for example.

    A COOKIE A DAY…

    Though Call Me Cookie’s operations began just a week ago, Seriff-Cullick said he had been planning something like the business since the summer before his freshman year. To advertise its opening, he put up flyers around campus, created a Facebook event and alerted all his friends. In one day, almost 400 people indicated they would be “attending” the event, which is scheduled to run until May 13, the last day of the spring semester.

    “[Baking] has been really therapeutic and nice for me,” he said. “I like that I just have my seven hours each night to do this.”

    On Tuesday night when Seriff-Cullick made a delivery to Linsley-Chittenden Hall at 11 p.m., his two customers said they ordered the cookies on a whim and had them within five minutes of their call. Hayden Mulligan ’11 said the appeal of Call Me Cookie over taking a study break at Yorkside Pizza or a buttery lies in the quick delivery.

    The “rush hour” in cookie delivery has changed every night, Seriff-Cullick said, though Saturday was slower because, as he put it, “drunk people don’t want cookies.” Still, he already has a handful of regular customers.

    Sam Sanders ’12 placed her second order of the night for 18 cookies, a large order for Seriff-Cullick, at just after 11 p.m. Tuesday. She said she found out about Call Me Cookie over Facebook and had been regularly ordering for different groups of people.

    For Seriff-Cullick, baking is about community, he said, which is why he expects people not to be deterred by the six-cookie minimum order required for delivery — so that people can come together to enjoy his baking.

    When Drisana Misra ’13 ordered from Seriff-Cullick on Monday night, she said she got a taste of that community feel. After ordering from Insomnia Cookies in New York City, a company that bakes and delivers cookies to dorms at other college campuses, she said she wanted something “warm and gooey” when she took a break from studying.

    “It’s more personal because he makes the cookies himself, whereas a buttery just puts Tollhouse [dough] on a pan,” she said. “You get to know him better.”

  9. Experts examine Asia

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    More than two dozen business leaders will descend on campus Saturday to share their expertise and discuss Asia’s economic development and sustainability.

    “Asia Tomorrow: The Future of Sustainable Enterprise,” Yale’s largest business conference this spring, is expected to draw more than 300 people from Yale and colleges across the Northeast, said Kaiyuan Wang ’11, one of the conference’s organizers.

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    The conference’s 25 speakers include clean energy and consulting company executives, law and economics professors, and leaders of sustainability ventures and enterprises, Wang said.

    As of Wednesday evening, 340 Yale students and 70 non-Yale affiliated people had registered to attend.

    The 9.5-hour conference, organized by the Yale Business Society, is part of the organization’s effort to promote awareness on campus of economic development in Asia, particularly India and China. The conference asks how Asia can balance its economic growth with environmental concerns, Wang said.

    “How can government and business leaders’ goals to increase profit mesh with environmental concerns,” he said, adding that sustainable enterprises can and should be profitable enterprises.

    The conference’s three keynote speakers will be Yale Environmental Law and Policy Professor Daniel Esty LAW ’86; Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna; and former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Rakesh Mohan ’71, who will be joining the Yale faculty next year as the professor at the School of Management and senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

    Between the keynote speeches there will be seven student-moderated panel discussions on topics such as the “Business of Green” and “India’s Economy: The Road Ahead.” Unlike most business conferences, which Wang said can be impersonal, Asia Tomorrow’s small panels and lunch discussions will facilitate personal interactions between speakers and students.

    “I think this conference will show that finance is not only profit-driven at the expense of other factors, such as environmental issues,” said Jia Huang ’11, co-CEO of Smart Woman Securities, a student organization that is organizing one of the panels.

    Shuai Yuan ’11, who plans to attend the conference, said he looks forward to hearing about green finance in Asia and that the topic interests him because he is from China.

    Sponsors of the conference include Calhoun and Berkeley colleges, the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and the law firm Troutman Sanders.

  10. CEO plugs green insulation

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    Having fungus in your walls is usually a cause for alarm. But Eben Bayer, CEO of Evocative Design, a firm that makes sustainable products, said in a speech Wednesday afternoon that mushroom-based insulation could offer a green alternative to synthetic foam.

    Bayer spoke in front of a crowd of about 40 in Kroon Hall as part of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ Industrial Environmental Management Program lecture series. Bayer said he hopes his company’s insulation and packing products, which cost approximately the same as synthetic foams, will reduce the use of petroleum-based products.

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    Claiming that Styrofoam remains in landfill for thousands of years, Bayer also pointed to the use of artificial foams as a strain on the world’s oil resources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam cups away each year.

    “We’re setting us up for a systemic collapse,” Bayer said. “We have accepted that there is a finite amount of these resources but we use them for everything.”

    Evocative Design currently produces biodegradable, fungi-based insulating material called Greensulate as well as a similar packing material called EcoCradle, Mayer said. These materials are formed by mixing a resin made from the fibrous roots of mushrooms, called mycelia, with another agriculture byproduct such as rice husks or corn husks, Bayer said. This mixture of mycelia and other organic material is stored in a cast in a heated environment to give the mycelia a chance to spread. After five days, the mycelia have formed a tightly-woven network of fibers and after being dried, they share a similar texture and density with synthetic materials such as Styrofoam. Evocative Design customized machines used by other industries to manufacture their products, Bayer said.

    Bayer emphasized that the company does not include the spore-producing region of the mushroom in its products because spore inhalation is dangerous.

    Throughout the testing phases, Bayer said mushroom-based materials are both fire and water resistant, features that are drawing both potential customers and investors to support the company. Evocative Design projects have received funding from groups such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the Environmental Protection Agency. The company also received 500,000 euros to purchase a site for a factory and to hire new workers from a green venture capital challenge.

    A 2007 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Mayer started Evocative Design with Gavin McIntyre while the two were still seniors at the school. He explained that he quit his first job after college on the first day to pursue Evocative Design full time. Bayer said that despite coming from engineering rather than a business background, he did not find it to be a problem.

    “People are willing to show you more things when they think you’re just a goofy college kid,” he joked.

    Bayer said a major goal of Evocative Design is to eventually produce a durable and biodegradable building material to replace traditional plastic.

    This year’s Industrial Environmental Management Program lectures are focusing on innovative methods for reusing and recycling waste, said Reid Lifset, the associate director for the Industrial Environmental Management Program. Upcoming speakers in the series include representatives from electronics recycling firm AER Worldwide.

  11. Other grocers prepare to step up

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    In three days, New Haven’s only major retail grocery store, Shaw’s on Whalley Avenue, will shut its doors for the last time. Community members say they are finding it difficult to find new places to buy their groceries and community organizations are coming up with ways to ease the strain.

    But some other businesses are preparing for new customers.

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    The largest business whose sales are likely to benefit is Stop & Shop, which has six locations within four miles of New Haven, according to the store’s Web site.

    Chris Negri, manager of the Dixwell Avenue Stop & Shop which is about 2½ miles from Shaw’s, said his branch is “definitely feeling the effects” of the supermarket’s closure. Negri declined to comment on how much business at the store has increased and deferred further comment to Stop & Shop spokespeople who did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    The Shaw’s closing will also affect New Haven’s smaller grocers if it has not done so already, five managers and employees at local grocers said.

    Adam Matlock, manager of the Whalley Avenue organic food store Edge of the Woods, which is located half a mile from the Shaw’s lot, said he has not noticed a spike in customers yet but that an increase is “very possible” because the two stores sell similar types of fresh produce. He attributed the lack of increase to the fact that Yalies were on vacation for the past two weeks, adding that he is unsure whether Edge of the Woods, known for being expensive, will lower its prices to attract customers who used to shop at Shaw’s.

    Julio Olivar, an employee at Gourmet Heaven on Broadway, said the store has not seen an increase in sales recently and said that is likely because of the store’s notoriously high prices.

    As these stores react to the closing of Shaw’s, so, too, are their customers. Ten Yale community members said they are beginning to go elsewhere for their groceries.

    Elisabith Mallin ’11 said as Shaw’s wound down its operations over spring break, she did her grocery shopping at businesses closer to campus, including Gourmet Heaven. She said she enjoyed doing her own cooking in her in-suite kitchen in Swing Space when she could shop at Shaw’s. But, she said over dinner at the Hall of Graduate Studies dining hall, she now eats primarily in the dining halls.

    Denis Zhernokleyev DIV ’10 said he did not shop regularly at the Whalley Avenue Shaw’s because a Stop & Shop is located closer to where he lives but he did appreciate going to Shaw’s on occasion because the store had lower prices than Stop & Shop.

    Since a new tenant for the Shaw’s lot has not been found, the Dwight Community Management Team is working with Yale and city officials to find a full-service grocery store to replace Shaw’s and to keep residents provided with groceries when Shaw’s closes.

    Linda Townsend-Maier, director of the Greater Dwight Development Corporation, said though a replacement for Shaw’s has been found yet, her organization wants to make sure local residents don’t lose interest in having a full scale grocer in the lot.

    Her organization teamed up with Yale Law School students to create a survey that collected information about how residents used Shaw’s and what they want in replacement. The results of the survey will be presented at a community meeting March 30, she said.

    In the interim, Townsend-Maier said the community management team is considering organizing a shuttle for Dwight community residents to nearby supermarkets and encouraging local residents to order their groceries online through a delivery service like Stop & Shop’s PeaPod.