New Resources for Yale SOM Entrepreneurs
They call themselves TIE, which stand for Those Interested in Entrepreneurship. The group formed last year as an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Club aimed at including all of SOM — students, faculty, and alumni — and others around Yale in making it easier for students to start new enterprises.
"The level of support here is amazing," said Brian Murray '10, who is starting a real estate venture focused on creating more environmentally friendly multifamily housing for low income people. “You think you know everyone who is doing something, but then it seems like just about every day you hear about something else a student is doing.” Murray said that TIE is part of a surge in entrepreneurial activity at SOM. He spearheaded the development of a new website, called Entrepreneurship @ SOM, that acts as the home for all this activity and, as Murray said, "provides a focal point for entrepreneurship at the school."
Murray, who was a co-leader of the Entrepreneurship Club, ran through a list of his classmates who are working on launching new companies. One is creating store-front health insurance coverage centers, while another, club co-leader Alan Carniol, is partnering with Paul Holzer '09 on a career-development firm aimed at college students and young professionals. One student is developing a program that provides college tours enhanced by the GPS capabilities of smart phones; another is launching a company that uses RFID radio tags to measure wear-and-tear of heavy machinery; and a third is working on developing a better filter to remove arsenic from tap water. Classmates are looking at creating online ventures, real estate companies, even a franchise of Asian bubble tea stores.
Several faculty, including Connie Bagley, Barry Nalebuff, cofounder of Honest Tea, Rodrigo Canales, and David Cromwell, have helped students to form an informal entrepreneurship network.
One of the main goals of recent initiatives such as the Entrepreneurship at SOM website, is to connect SOM alumni interested in entrepreneurship with these budding business owners, to help them get their ideas into motion. The website works in conjunction with existing resources for students, most notably the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, a university-wide initiative to promote student entrepreneurship. Each summer, several SOM students get YEI fellowships, where they workshop their ideas, get advice from venture capitalists, and network.
Away from campus, the new alumni portal has become a home for Virtual Interest Groups, hubs formed around topics where alumni and students can meet to share ideas, network, and maybe launch a new business. Current VIGs include consulting, CSR, healthcare, and media & entertainment. Jeanne Hayes, director of the Office of Alumni Relations, said the VIGs are a key component of the new portal. "When you join a VIG, you know that your affinity with other members is reinforced by the shared experience of belonging to the Yale SOM community," she said.
Murray has been working on the Venture Capital & Entrepreneurship VIG (netid and password required) and said he has high hopes for it. "It’s all really encouraging," he said. "There’s a feeling that a lot of things are coming together at once. It’s really important for those of us who came to school looking to become entrepreneurs. We want it to be one of the pillars SOM stands on."