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School of Management

Ten Student Ventures Win Entrepreneurial Awards

We are delighted to announce the ten student start-ups which were selected as winners of the 2020 Yale School of Management Donor-Funded Entrepreneurial Awards. Each year, Yale SOM student-founders receive funding through a competitive awards process that is judged by a panel of Yale SOM alumni. These awards provide funding for student-entrepreneurs to work on their ventures over the course of the summer.

“We are grateful for the alumni who have contributed funding and time to support the Donor-Funded Entrepreneurial Awards program. The students selected for this year’s cohort truly embody Yale SOM’s motto of “educating students for business and society,” said Jennifer McFadden, Lecturer and Associate Director of Entrepreneurial Programs. “The recipients have worked incredibly hard during the school year to balance the needs of their ventures with their school work and other demands on their time. We applaud the success that they’ve had so far and look forward to tracking their continued success in the future.”

Here are the ventures of this year’s winners:

The Henry F. McCance Entrepreneurial Award provides summer internship funding for first-year students, new venture seed financing for second-year students, and funding for Yale SOM students joining an early-stage startup.

Onda Sparkling Tequila: Max Dworin '20, Noah Gray '20

Onda is a spirits brand for a new generation of drinkers. Our first product is a line of canned sparkling tequila beverages, made with blanco tequila and real, legit fruit. Our brand is inspired by the surf style of the ‘90s and can of Onda is 5% ABV, 100 calories, zero sugar, zero carbs and naturally gluten free. Learn more at and @drinkonda.

Merry Go Rounds: Melissa Mazzeo ‘20

Merry Go Rounds is a children’s resale marketplace that makes shopping for kids more circular, sustainable, and fun. We sell curated, high-quality new and used kids' clothing, toys, books, and gifts through an online store, custom boxes, a virtual personal shopping service, and a brick-and-mortar shop in Easton, MA. Our mission is to improve the experience of shopping secondhand, change people’s perception of resale, and reduce the environmental impact of children's goods. We are a women-owned, family-owned business and are in the process of becoming a certified B Corporation.

Brio Health: Daisy Rosales ‘20

Brio enables access to quality mental health care in low-resource contexts through design and collaboration with local community organizations. Through our flagship multi-year partnership program, Brio provides a mental health design process, toolkit, consultation, evaluation and leadership support for building community-owned models of care. Since 2018, Brio has worked with local organizations in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and India, creating first-ever care and training to address addiction, trauma, burnout, social-emotional learning, and more. As of 2020, Brio's partnerships have increased access to mental health support or training for more than 2300 people. 

Upright Oats: Betty Tang ’20, Thu Ra ‘20

Upright provides the first and only oatmilk that is as nutritious as dairy. Our mission is to make food that empowers sustainable progress. Upright is dedicated to clean ingredients and sustainable practices (pending Certified B Corp), catering to conscious consumers eager for healthy dairy alternatives. The lactose-intolerant founders, Betty and Thu Ra, were inspired by our own inability to find a dairy alternative that was good for our bodies and good for the planet. Working with food scientists, we are now finalizing our product and fundraising to enable our launch later this year.

The Fuad El-Hibri ’82 Entrepreneurial Award provides summer internship funding for first-year students, new venture seed financing for second-year students, and funding for students joining early-stage startups.

Navi Health: Nitya Kanuri '20, Salina Hum '21, Agnieszka Matyja-Sanetra '21

Navi Health is an early stage startup seeking to ensure all college students can navigate their journey to mental wellness. We do this by developing mental wellness care coordination technology for college administrators. Our first product, Connect to Care, is a digital navigator that recommends a personalized care plan to a student based on their preferences and the resources available at their college. Care plans can include services like one-on-one counseling, group-based therapy, or mindfulness and meditation workshops. We’re also developing longitudinal digital assessments so that 1) students can track their progress across a number of touchpoints of care, 2) counselors can receive timely feedback that informs on-going improvement, and 3) administrators can monitor trends in the student population and proactively reach out to students who may be at higher risk.

ReCore Medical: Marley Windham-Herman ‘21, David Dupee '21, Lina Kacyem ‘21

ReCore was created to address the growing need for cancer treatment around the world, especially in developing countries. Biopsies are the gateway to cancer treatment, and are high volume but also high cost procedures. We are creating a reusable core-needle biopsy device that reduces cost and increases access to these fundamental procedures. In addition to the long-term cost saving benefit of being reusable, ReCore’s innovative design lowers the upfront cost of the device, reduces downtime by removing the need for servicing or repairs, simplifies inventory management, and increases access in underserved areas.

Thermaband: Markea Dickinson ‘20

Thermaband is a mother-daughter founded startup seeking to serve as the standard of care for thermal wellness, for those who often feel uncomfortably cool or warm. Thermaband Zone is a wrist wearable personal thermostat for women and their families, empowering users with digital health data through device sensors.

The Nancy Pfund ’82 Social Impact Award promotes social entrepreneurship by supporting first-year students pursuing summer internships at mission-driven, social sector organizations with double bottom lines.

Mesa Victuals: Tony Ciscernos ‘21

Mesa Victuals is working towards a sustainable, inclusive food system that inspires an appreciation of nature. We are focused on improving nutrition in the backcountry. Our first product is Trail Spice, a nutrient and spice blend you can add to the meals you already bring backpacking to get extra flavor and calories and to improve your overall nutrition. Check out our website at for more information!

The Morris and Miriam Pozen Entrepreneur Award, which provides summer internship funding for first-year students, new venture seed financing for second-year students, and funding for students joining early-stage startups.

Qi Foods: Tiffany Leong '21

Qi Foods aims to bring traditional East Asian superfoods to the mainstream Western market. The traditional East Asian herb category has hundreds of superfoods but has not entered the mainstream market despite growing Western consumption of Asian-American products and the shift to living healthier lifestyles. We aim to fill this large white space, first with a naturally sweet ready-to-drink beverage line made with traditional herbs and fruits that have been consumed in East Asia for thousands of years for their health benefits and flavorful tastes.

Ameelio: Uzoma Orchingwa '20

Ameelio is the first free prison communications and analytics platform built for incarcerated people and their loved ones. Using our tools, users can send physical letters and photos to any incarcerated person in America; soon, they will also be able to make video calls to any of our partner facilities––all for free. Ameelio’s work intersects the two most pressing issues of the moment: COVID-19 and criminal justice reform. Prisons are on lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19; with visitations suspended, incarcerated people are more isolated than ever. Meanwhile, private telecommunications companies exploit vulnerable families’ desire to remain connected while separated by incarceration. These providers profit primarily from low-income families, and disproportionately from people of color. The high cost of maintaining contact with incarcerated family members has led more than one in three families into debt to pay for phone calls and visits alone.