‘Shark Tank’ Provides a Window into Entrepreneurship at Yale SOM

What do an antacid maker, an investment firm focused on the Dominican Republic, and a biotechnology company have in common? All three businesses were founded by Yale SOM student entrepreneurs.

To showcase the entrepreneurial talent at the school, Kyle Jensen, the Shanna and Eric Bass ’05 Director of Entrepreneurial Programs, organized a mock “Shark Tank”–style competition at a welcome event for admitted EMBA students on June 27. During the event, EMBA students played the role of venture capitalists investing in the ventures of three Yale entrepreneurs who pitched their companies: Hasan Ansari ’14 of Tummyzen, Kalil Diaz ’14 of Amergent Capital, and Sean Mackay ’14 of Isoplexis. The EMBA students used a real-time mobile application to allocate their capital over successive investment rounds based on gradually revealed details about the companies, including their products, customers, markets, teams, finances , and business models.

Kalil Diaz '14 of Amergent Capital

While real money wasn’t on the line, the game wasn’t strictly for entertainment, Jensen said; it provided valuable experience for the entrepreneurs. The event also provided a window for the admitted EMBA students into the challenges and scrutiny that entrepreneurs face, he added. “These are some of SOM’s boldest: those entrepreneurs creating new products, new services, new ideas,” Jensen said. “And, in the process, subjecting themselves to constant critique and criticism, incorporating it, and moving forward.”

Yale SOM is expanding its entrepreneurship programming this year, launching seven new entrepreneurship courses that will be open to students from across Yale who are founding companies in a variety of fields, including healthcare, life sciences, and technology. One of the new courses, called Startup Founder Practicum, allows students to work on their new ventures for credit, making their entrepreneurial experiences part of their education.

Jensen encouraged the EMBA students to contribute their own business experience to entrepreneurial ventures at Yale.

“Entrepreneurship is one of those areas that is by its very nature interdisciplinary,” he said. “It provides us with the opportunity to bring diverse people from around Yale into these fantastic classrooms in the new Evans Hall to learn about starting new ventures and to meet fellow entrepreneurs.”