Students Launch Small Business Academy in New Haven

Yale School of Management students have partnered with the City of New Haven to open the Small Business Academy, where students will offer free consulting to local businesses, and development professionals will host workshops and classes.

A group of students from the Outreach Nonprofit Consulting club joined forces with the city’s Small Business Service Center to help make it happen. Boris Sigal ’14, director of local procurement and business development for the New Haven Economic Development Corporation, helped make the connection.

“As a recent graduate of SOM, I’m continuously looking for ways to increase collaboration between SOM students and New Haven's vibrant small business community,” Sigal said.

“We've got incredible entrepreneurs and small business owners across the city who can provide meaningful opportunities for students to learn, and SOM students bring a diversity of knowledge and skills that provide valuable assistance. It's a win-win.”

New Haven city officials and members of the public gather at the grand opening of the Small Business Academy on May 5.

MBA students Alexandra Hellmuth ’16, Sabrina Ling ’16, Kevin Eliot ’16, Karen Chen ’16, and Ashok Poothiyot ’17 are participating. The students have created a business map of New Haven to give the city a better understanding of its small business ecosystem and to provide businesses with a user-friendly resource guide.

“The map will help business owners and entrepreneurs navigate the system of service providers who offer a wide range of support that includes technical assistance, funding, financial advice, and networking,” Hellmuth said. “We surveyed more than 30 organizations and created a roadmap that details the services offered by a select group of providers.”

Left to right: Boris Sigal '14, Sabrina Ling '16, Karen Chen '16, Alexandra Hellmuth '16, and Ashok Poothiyot ’17

Ling, a former small business owner, said she brings real empathy to the role. “I know how challenging it can be to find the resources you need,” she said. “The Outreach Nonprofit Consulting Club truly adds value to the community surrounding Yale, and the roadmap deliverable we worked on will offer small business a quick way to identify the resources they need.”