To me, entrepreneurship has always been about community, something which Yale embodies especially well. Together with three other Yale students—Eleni Steinman ’18, a fellow MBA student; Kirthi Bellamkonda MED ’20, a medical student; and Matthew Erlendson SOM/MED ’18, a dual degree student—I founded the Origami Project, an initiative to unify the student entrepreneurial body from the different Yale schools, thereby strengthening collaboration and information exchange. Our initiative aims at helping budding entrepreneurs to solve the age-old question: “Where do I start?” This initial push, bringing an entrepreneur from zero to 1, should be supported by an actively engaged community that wants to give back. In addition to the social events we held and the network of outreach we built in each Yale school, we are planning to hold ideation sessions and market research workshops using IDEO methodology.
In the Entrepreneurship Practicum class I took during my second semester at the Yale School of Management, I learned about the many struggles my fellow entrepreneurs go through. The great mix of pitches, discussions, and mentorship sessions helped me reflect and understand the common problems entrepreneurs share and how to mitigate them through preemptive actions. Every day I am amazed by the entrepreneurship community at SOM—a bunch of talented people with diverse backgrounds and projects. It is very tightly knit and supportive, fostering the creation of “network effects” within the community.
One challenge for many startups is to find a stable and affordable architecture to host their applications, service, or website. This can be web-based business models but also any technological innovation needing connectivity or data analysis. I experienced similar challenges when launching my startup, yourfreebooking.com. Its principle is simple: whenever a hotel room is booked on the website at prices of leading booking platforms, the customer has 1 chance out of 100 to be immediately refunded, without any hidden cost. This allows me to have the biggest impact possible on people who share my passion for travel. I had to significantly upgrade its servers and was looking for a solution providing scalability, robustness, and minimal cost. I came across Amazon Activate, an Amazon program that gives early-stage entrepreneurs $10,000 in free hosting credits, and reached out to the company to bring the program to Yale. In the first few weeks, Yale founders signed up to receive more than $110,000 in Amazon Web Services credits. This service is available to any startup with a Yale founder, whether student, alumnus, or faculty member. This is one example of how I perceive the entrepreneurial spirit in action: identify problems, find solutions, act, and share.