This just in

On Yale & Yale alumni.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Student entrepreneurs take on the New York competition

In 2010, Siheun Song ’15MDiv and her friend Numaan Akram wanted to visit Washington, DC, to attend Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity, also known as Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Keep Fear Alive. Like many young people, they couldn’t afford the travel. Unlike many people, who carpooled or borrowed a friends’ cars, Akram and Song wrote an app, Rally Bus, which sent 5,000 people to DC through crowdsourcing and made $500,000 in revenue. On its first run.

Rally Bus is one of the many startups brewing in New Haven this summer thanks to the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s fellowship program. After years of fostering collaboration and competition among Yale teams, this summer YEI also looked outward, sending three of its best teams to the inaugural Yale-NYU Accelerator Pitchoff.

Students from New York University and Yale presented their startups to a crowd of 200 at Pivotal Studios in New York City on July 17. In addition to Rally Bus, Yale brought two other teams: Junzi Kitchen, a healthy alternative to traditional quick-service Chinese Food founded by Yong Zhao ’14PhD, Wanting Zhang ’11MESc, Ming Bai ’13MFA, and Jasmine Guo; and 109 Design, an advanced monitoring mechanism for scoliosis braces created by Levi DeLuke ’14, Sebastian Monzon ’14, and Ellen Su ’13. Yale swept the competition, winning both of the Pitchoff’s prizes. Junzi Kitchen won the award for best presentation, while Rally Bus won best overall pitch.

While the pitchoff may be new, Yale is by no means a stranger to spawning student startups. Since 2007, the YEI has offered stipends of $15,000 to teams of student entrepreneurs. Some of their projects, like Rally Bus, have been in development for years, while others have just gotten their start this summer. Regardless of where a startup is in its evolution, the YEI offers its resources to the startups it selects, connecting students with industry mentors, marketing consultants, accountants, and legal counsel. Breakfast and lunch are thrown in for the duration of the program, too.

The YEI’s summer fellowship program came to a formal end last week with “Demo Day,” in which Rally Bus, Junzi Kitchen, 109 Design, and every other YEI team presented its work in a six-minute pitch to an audience of students, alumni, and potential investors. But while the program is over, the experience has really just started. Every YEI team will take its project forward into the market; there’s a very good chance you’ll be hearing about them again in years to come. In the meantime, you can watch all the pitches from this year's Demo Day here.

Filed under entrepreneurship, fellowship, Yale Entrepreneurial Institute
The comment period has expired.