Yale Announces Winners of Its First Annual Y50k Yale Entrepreneurship Competition

Yale Law School student John Leibovitz and graduate students in engineering Stephen Robinson and Stephen Brown have won the grand prize of $60,000 in cash and services in Yale’s first Y50K Entrepreneurship Competition.

The students won $30,000 in cash and $30,000 in business services for YellowPen, a Web-based knowledge management system that the student’s entered in the for-profit category of the competition.

The $10,000 cash prize for the Social Entrepreneurship Award went to a group of students led by Peter Schurman of the School of Management (SOM) for GenerationNet, which uses the Internet to democratically determine a non-partisan agenda, raise public awareness of pressing issues, and coordinate grassroots advocacy campaigns to generate national policy changes. Other members of GenerationNet’s team included SOM students Susan Thomas, Ross Decker and James Trowbridge, and Terry Kellogg, who is working toward a degree from SOM and the the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The prize for second place in the for-profit category went to Manufacturing Exchange, a team lead by SOM Yale School of Management student Alexis Cort. The third-place prize was awarded to Universal Registrar, a team led by Yale alumnus W. Henry Yaeger. Each team received $10,000 in cash in addition to other start-up services.

Leibovitz said YellowPen owes its existence, in large part, to the Y50k. He met Robinson and Brown at a Y50k team building function and said the group would not have devoted so much time to developing their plan if it had not been for the structure imposed by the competition. The education they received at Y50k educational sessions was invaluable, he said.

Leibovitz, Robinson and Brown are awaiting the field testing of software that will make YellowPen operate on the Internet. Their idea topped those of 41 teams consisting of professors, alumni, undergraduates, graduate and professional students and Yale employees, all of whom competed for cash and services worth more than $100,000. The competitors had to submit written business plans for their proposed ventures to a panel of judges from venture capital firms and non-profit organizations. Richard H. Brodhead, dean of Yale College, presented the awards in the Law School’s Levinson Auditorium. Steve Markowitz, the founder of MyPoints.com, gave the keynote address.

The Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES), founded in 1999 by Yale undergraduates Sean Glass and Miles Lasater, is the lead organizer of Y50k. With the backing of Yale and sponsors, Y50k provides growth opportunities for companies that will revitalize the community and develop a new generation of business leaders. Participation in the competition by Yale students and affiliates enhances the learning opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit at Yale and in New Haven. In addition, Y50k reflects Yale’s dedication to creating economic development in New Haven.

YES and Y50k help to enhance the value of good ideas and provide a network to exchange them, yielding many innovations, according to YES leaders. Going beyond the “dot com–drop out” mania, YES and Y50k choose to build on Yale’s strength as a liberal arts education by providing opportunities for creativity and innovation.

In addition to the Y50k Yale Entrepreneurship Competition, YES hosts speakers, conducts training sessions, publishes a newsletter and pairs students with successful professional mentors. YES also has an initiative to match students with local start-up companies and not-for-profit organizations that need business help. YES members include alumni, undergraduates, graduates and professors.

The panel of judges for the Y50k competition included Graham D.S. Anderson, general partner, Euclid Partners; Jim Carlisle, entrepreneur in residence, Primedia Ventures and general partner, Carlisle Venture Group; Michael Carusi, general partner, Advanced Technology Ventures; Zen Chu, general partner, NetVentures LLC; Henry Fernandez, executive director, New Haven’s Livable City Initiative; Terry Jones, partner, Wiggin & Dana; Frank J. Marco, chairman, Emerging Companies Practice Group, Day, Berry & Howard LLP; Edward J. Nicoll, chairman and CEO, Datek Online Holdings Corp. ; and Matt Ocko, general partner, Vantage Point Venture Partners.

For more information on YES and Y50K, contact Miles Lasater, Yale Entrepreneurial Society, 203-675-5928, email: miles.lasater@yale.edu. Additional information is also available on the YES Web site, http://www.yale.edu/yes or http://www.Y50k.com