The Rush to Eli Entrepreneurship (continued)

By David Finkle

Karaoke Heroes, a New Haven sing-out bar; and Khushi Baby.org, which has created beaded necklaces that carry a baby’s medical history for a physician’s quick updating. The undertaking has already received a $25,000 grant.

labcandy

Chief among the succeeding speakers was Jim Boyle, managing director of YEI, or the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, which isn’t something we might have envisioned materializing 52 years ago. Boyle, in his late forties, is so taken with the undergraduate get-up-and-go, that he referred to himself more than once as an “old guy.” Click here for a charming full write up of Lab Candy.

Indeed, Boyle was only one of many speakers — keynoter Kevin Ryan, a veritable start-up maestro, was another — who used the words “entrepreneur,” “entrepreneurial” and “entrepreneurship” so many times that if I had a dollar for every time one of them was invoked, two dollars for every time “sig” (for shared interest group) and five dollars for every time the word “awesome” was uttered, I’d have enough money to back my own start-up. Incidentally, the words cropped up, but perhaps not so much, at the Friday morning recognition of Yale volunteers around the globe. This sequence was hosted by impressively dynamic AYA executive director Mark Dollhopf, ’77. The idea was to celebrate entrepreneurial spirit–a well as encourage it in others–in diverse fields like Cincinnati’s 150th Yale Club anniversary (the first alumni club ever); YAANY’s Foodtober in New York; and the Yale Concert Band in Ghana. Incidentally, on the back of every seat in the Yale Law School’s Levinson Auditorium was a T-shirt ballyhooing the next Yale Day of Service — 5/9/15.

 “Yalies are in the process of getting to graduation

with their fortunes already in hand.”

 I don’t mean to give the impression that many of the start-ups in the entrepreneurial spirit aren’t worth high praise–Khushi Baby seems nothing short of genius–but the impression I was getting had to do with Yale University, and in particular Yale College, becoming a breeding grounds for money-makers. It seemed as if Yale, once regarded, rightly or wrongly, as a fast track to Wall Street finance and law, is no more any such thing.  Yalies are no longer preparing to graduate and then make their fortunes in the world. Now, it seems, Yalies are in the process of getting to graduation with their fortunes already in hand. They don’t have to worry about finding jobs in a job-challenged climate.  I had to remind myself that with the line of young start-up entrepreneurs on display, I might only be seeing a small percentage of what others on campus are up to with less immediate financial potential.

Again, I reiterate that Yale’s enterprising graduates and undergraduates are something to reckon with. At breakout sessions, also called “Fireside chats” (though few or no firesides were spotted), I was astounded at the dedication the starter-uppers demonstrated. Mike Wu and Frank Wu, both class of ’16 and adamant they’re not related, have inaugurated Aflume.com, a website that promotes contemporary music acts to fans. Alyssa Moore, class of ’14 and now going for her MPH degree at the Yale School of Public Health, is a founder of Spylight.com, a website to which television-watching consumers can go to purchase clothing they’ve just seen and coveted on, say, their favorite sitcom.

The event few of the record-attendance crowd would be likely to miss was President Peter Salovey’s Friday lunch address in the Commons. Quoting Nathan Hale’s comment incised at Branford that “I wish to be useful,” he said the entrepreneurial turn the University is taking is in keeping with a long tradition of having “the world look to New Haven” – maybe, one day, as much as it looks to Silicon Valley. He specified that the world’s sights were “not just for the next gizmo” but for “more in the economic development area.”

The Friday afternoon breakout session I made a beeline to, as did David Honneus, was “Class Leadership.” Why so eager?  Because on the three-person panel was Chris Cory. He was obviously chosen to speak because the ’62 website he supervises is considered one of the best, if not the best, of them. Needless to say, Chris was articulate, persuasive and amusing on the subject. You go, guy.

In closing, let me just say it was impossible to hear so much about the entrepreneurial spirit not to catch a dose of it. I began to wonder how many of us guys older than Jim Boyle have started a start-up? I wondered how many of us are ready to jump on the bandwagon? I’m psyched. Who else?

 

Ed note: If you have started a start-up, recent or not, or want to, please let us tell the rest of our classmates by sending information to your CorSec at chris@christophercory.com.

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  • Tom Sherman November 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    How about a social website called “People Tell Me Things,” where anyone can post — just once — a personal story? (We get the rights, of course.)