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Yale student entrepreneurs show they are ready for the business world

Fri, 07/27/2012 - 2:30pm
Yale UniversityYale University

Photos: The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute 2012 Demo Day

Jim Boyle, managing director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), making remarks at Demo Day.
Alena Gribskov, YEI communications and program manager, introduces the student entrepreneurs.
Aaron Feuer ’13 talks about Panorama Education, which helps students, teachers, parents and administrators improve their schools through the use of comprehensive surveys. This new venture won the University's first investment award.
Max Webster ’12 presents the venture Communificiency, a crowdfunding platform that allows businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to raise money from their communities to finance investments in the energy efficiency of their buildings.
Vela-Susan Park ’13 describes Project Optix, a technology that analyzes movie theater attendance to create a dynamically priced marketplace for discounted movie tickets.
Claire Henly ’12 makes a presentation on Red Ox Technologies, which has developed an electrochemical desalination cell. The Yale technology desalinates water while producing electricity and synthesizing inorganic salts.
Graduate student Neil St. Clair talks about UnBuyThat, a secondary marketplace for the reselling of services such as hotel and restaurant reservations and daily deal coupons.
Medical student Aaron Abajian makes a presentation on RadXCloud, a patient-friendly technology that eliminates the need for a laxative during a virtual colonoscopy.
Colin Mills ’13 pitches Youlo.gy, a social network for individuals to personalize and customize their own memorial celebration and share their intentions and stories with others.
Hilary Barr ’12 talks about Specially, an online platform for affordable therapy augmentation for children with autism.
School of Management student Paul Christensen pitches Mental Canvas, which enables designers to explore unfinished ideas built from sketches and photographs arranged in a three-dimensional environment.
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Entrepreneurs from 10 new companies spawned at Yale made pitches to investors and business mentors July 26, and two split a new $50,000 prize awarded by the university.

The Demo Day presentation marked the end of Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s annual “summer boot camp,” when student-run businesses graduate to real world commercial competition.

“This year’s group was the most sophisticated and advanced enterprises we have ever had here,” said James Boyle, director of YEI.

The presentations included a plan to sell movie tickets at a discount, an online autism therapy program, a kit that allows individuals to plan their own funerals, and a new technology to convert wastewater generated in oil and gas production into valuable chemicals.

In the end, a panel of four business advisors decided to split the first-ever University investment award between Panorama Education, a platform for schools to collect feedback from students, parents, and teachers, and Mental Canvas, new software that allows designers to sketch digitally in three dimensions.

The 27 fellows participating in the boot camp came from six different schools within the Universitiy, illustrating the growing interest in entrepreneurial activity across the Yale student body. Ten of the original 12 businesses enrolled in the program originated with students, while two were based on technologies invented by faculty.  http://yei.yale.edu/2012-summer-fellows

In fact, a large number of the enterprises “pivoted,” or changed the emphasis of the companies during the summer, Boyle said.

“We imposed a much more rigorous methodology this year,” Boyle said. “We insisted that the fellows do some degree of customer valuation.”

Some companies are already working with customers. Panorama Education, for instance, will be helping 18 school districts — with some 700,000 students nationwide — collect survey data to be used in improving schools.

YEI provides on-campus incubator space, introduces students to alumni and industry mentors, and provides assistance in developing and implementing business plans. Since its inception in 2007, YEI has helped start over 52 currently active ventures that have raised $45 million in outside venture financing and created more than 185 new jobs.

In a recent survey, two of three Yale College students expressed an interest in being involved in entrepreneurial activity while at school.

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