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Celebrating Creative Innovation at Startup Yale 2024

Infused with the innovative spirit of Hotel Marcel, Startup Yale 2024 celebrated the impressive achievements of the greater Yale innovation ecosystem over two days of exclusive industry insights and relationship building. From live pitch-offs for cash prizes to interactive learning sessions, students and professionals came together to spark connections and watch new ideas take flight against the backdrop of sustainable elegance.

The annual innovation bash kicked off on April 4th with a focus on community through a lively mentor dinner followed by a commitment to local improvement through pitch presentations for the New Haven Civic Innovation prize. On April 5th, attendees participated in additional panels and workshops that covered practical issues in entrepreneurship, like “Unlocking Newsletter Growth” with Chenell Basilio, Writer & Reverse Engineer of Growth In Reverse, and “Deal Sourcing” with the Meng Impact Investment Fund, as well as pressing issues in the field of innovation, such as the “Breakthroughs Using AI” panel with Yale innovators Ruzica Piskac, Georgios Palaiokrassas, and Josh Beal. Two founders shared their personal entrepreneurship stories in “Falling in Love with the Problem and the Future of Founders” and “Founder’s Burnout: Proven Strategies, Playbooks, and Insights.” These parallel sessions represented alternate sides of a founder’s journey, with the speakers reflecting on the necessity for both passion and balance in a founder’s life. In “Falling in Love with the Problem,” Pills2Me Founder Leslie Asanga highlighted the importance of connecting deeply with your venture’s problem in order to better serve the end user. “When you love what you’re doing, it becomes your life’s purpose, your north star,” he shared. “There’s no failure with Pills2Me because we’ve already impacted tens of thousands of lives.” However, founders also need to respect their own personal boundaries to keep the venture sustainable over the long run. In “Founder’s Burnout,” Nebia Co-Founder and CEO Gabriel Parisi-Amon walked attendees through the stages of burnout and shared practical advice for becoming a more self-aware and balanced leader in the pursuit of innovation. Next door, John Hill, former VP of Network at Techstars, rounded out the afternoon sessions with “Building Your Startup Network,” a fun but frank tutorial of LinkedIn’s filters to elevate your networking game.

The workshops culminated in a keynote fireside chat, “Monetizing Attention: Turning Short-Form Content into a Seven-Figure Venture,” and live recording of the Billion Dollar Creator podcast from ConvertKit founder Nathan Barry and Yale’s own “Gen Z Historian” Kahlil Green ’22. The pair opened their talk with audience-sourced recommendations for New Haven pizza before diving into Kahlil’s content creator story from his initial TikTok fame to his recent expansion into mainstream media as a correspondent on Nickelodeon News. Looking ahead at Kahlil’s journey, they discussed the importance of building beyond a personal brand and selling a recurring product that connects with your audience’s values in order to elevate a creative venture into a successful business. Together, the two demonstrated the growing power of creators in the entrepreneurship space. “Creators capture the most valuable currency in the world—attention,” Nathan remarked. “When you have that much attention to harness, you can direct it at pretty much anything.”

Pitches & Prizes

Running alongside the interactive sessions were Yale’s entrepreneurship prizes, which provide funding for ventures advancing world-changing ideas in health, education, technology, equality, and more. Each of the 7 prizes below also offer valuable feedback from professional judges and the chance to meet and pitch their ideas to top venture capitalists and leading industry experts. This year, 25 teams of entrepreneurs representing issue areas from ethical AI tools to holistic housing competed for over $160,000 worth of prizes from Yale’s biggest entrepreneurship awards. Each award includes the prize winner(s), chosen by the prize’s judges, and the audience choice award, which grants $2,000 to the audience’s favorite venture following a live vote. Meet the winners of Startup Yale 2024: 

New Haven Civic Innovation Prize

The New Haven Civic Innovation Prize awards up to $15,000 to the best student- or community-led venture or project focused on benefiting the City of New Haven. The prize aims to catalyze innovations that address, and are informed by, community priorities. This year, the award went to two teams: Jubilee Project, winning the $5,000 runner up prize, and The Huneebee Project, winning the $10,000 grand prize.

Prize Winners: Jubilee Project (Matthew Denney, Sinclair Williams ’18, and Quiana Horry) and The Huneebee Project (Sarah Taylor)

The Jubilee Project is an initiative in New Haven to bring holistic flourishing through relational, spiritual, and economic thriving. Its core economic focus is housing, specifically turning working-class renters into wealth-building owners and rental properties into owner-occupied homes.

Huneebee Project is a non-profit social enterprise based in New Haven with two core missions: to support equitable job preparedness for our most resilient local youth and to promote environmental conservation in disinvested neighborhoods.

Audience Choice Award: Fulcrum (Laurie Jimenez, YC ’26, and Jing Luo)

Fulcrum is a tech-enabled oral health management system focused on addressing the unmet oral health needs of the Medicaid population managing chronic diseases.

Sustainable Venture Prize

The Sustainable Venture Prize awards $25,000 to a promising student for-profit venture that advances environmental sustainability through multi-disciplinary approaches to environmental and social problem solving.

Prize Winner: Catala (James Licato, YC ’25, and Claire Chouinard, ENG ’27)

Catala offers a sustainable water membrane technology which enables a one-stop, drop-in solution for industrial water treatment at a fraction of current costs.

Audience Choice Award: Prospect Growth (Andreas Backhaus, ENG (PhD) ’24, and Wyatt Arnold, ENG (PhD) ’24)

Prospect Growth has developed a new technology for the low-cost scalable production of nanoparticle-based fertilizers (“nanofertilizers”) to increase crop yields while reducing nutrient inputs and losses.

Manolo Sanchez Prize

The Manolo Sanchez Prize awards $25,000 to a Yale student-led for-profit or nonprofit social start-up, community-led initiative, or narrative change campaign increasing access to or utilization of financial infrastructure, sustainable financial resilience, wealth creation, and/or capital for financially underserved communities.

Prize Winner: Guideli (Oyebade Adepegba, SOM ’24, Daniel Jayeoba, and Adebayo Oshingbesan)

Guideli provides an AI-powered solution that streamlines the immigration visa application and relocation process, making it simple, accessible and efficient.

Audience Choice Award: WealthMeUp (Feli Oikonomopoulou, SOM ’24)

WealthMeUp makes financial knowledge fun and therefore accessible to all, with a particular focus on young female professionals aged 22-35 years old.

Rothberg Catalyzer Prize

The Rothberg Catalyzer Prize awards a $15,000 cash prize to a student-led venture working on a novel healthcare solution. The prize aims to offer catalytic support to interdisciplinary teams dedicated to solving pressing clinical and/or medical needs.

Prize Winner: TaeSun (Chandra Fincke, YC ’24, and Dr. Jeanie Chung) 

The TaeSun device is an innovative, portable solution for detecting fentanyl in substances, offering quick, reliable results. Designed for use in various settings, it simplifies drug testing, promotes safety, and aids in overdose prevention in one user-friendly apparatus.

Audience Choice Award: Clairity (Samip Kafle, MED ’24, Muthukumaran Venkatachalapathy, PhD, Ryan Bose-Roy ENG ’24, and Eric Pan, ENG ’27)

Clairity offers an innovative, lightweight spatial audio processing model designed for integration into hearing aids and cochlear implants to redefine auditory experiences in challenging environments.

Miller Prize

The Miller Prize awards $25,000 to a promising student-led venture working on innovative tech or a tech-enabled solution that has a definable go-to-market strategy.

Prize Winner: Catala (James Licato, YC ’25, and Claire Chouinard, ENG ’27)

Catala offers a sustainable water membrane technology which enables a one-stop, drop-in solution for industrial water treatment at a fraction of current costs.

Audience Choice Award: TranscribeGlass (Madhav Lavakare, YC ’25)

TranscribeGlass is the world’s first affordable, comfortable, wearable smart glass device for people with hearing loss. It improves comprehension of spoken communication by projecting subtitles in the user’s field of view.

Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education

The Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education is a $25,000 cash prize awarded to the best student-led venture focused on social innovation in health or education for underserved communities in the United States or low-resource countries.

Prize Winner and Audience Choice Award: UpKeep Care (Blake Robertson, SPH ’24, Kiley Pratt, SPH ’24, and Peter Yu, YC ’24)

Upkeep Care connects older adults and their caregivers to an extensive database of resources using conversational AI. Upkeep Care seeks to lessen the burden on caregivers and older adults by giving them immediate, personalized support and guidance to readily available government and community resources.

Yale Innovators Prize

The Yale Innovators Prize is a $15,000 cash prize awarded to the for-profit or non-profit venture or project that has the potential to produce the most creative or impactful solution to real-world problems that doesn’t qualify for any other Startup Yale prize.

Prize Winner: Numanac (Dan Kelly, ARC ’25, Daniel Lee, James Fitzgerald, and Reem Kseibati)

Numanac leverages AI-enabled Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG) to simplify farm knowledge management/decision-making, enhance operational efficiency, and empower farmers to derive actionable insights from data.

Audience Choice Award: Win Number (Nicole Morrison, SOM ’25, and Miriam Huerta, YC ’24)

Win Number combines advanced analytics, AI, and persuasion science to help progressive campaigns run more efficient and effective voter contact programs.

Beyond Startup Yale 2024

Matt Gira and Abigail Winslow, co-leads for Startup Yale, ended the final day of Startup Yale with a warm congratulations to the 25 teams, 34 judges, and 9 speakers whose commitment to the event’s mentorship and community represent a powerful investment in the next generation of changemakers.

Each year, the greater Yale and New Haven innovation community gathers through Startup Yale to amplify the impact of trailblazing creatives, innovators, and entrepreneurs. But Startup Yale isn’t the only way to foster collaboration — join our weekly newsletter or visit us online to stay connected with the brightest minds in entrepreneurship wherever you go.

Learn more about Startup Yale 2024 and all of this year’s finalists here.

Happening April 4-5, 2024 at Hotel Marcel