Kyle Jensen, who joined the Yale School of Management as the inaugural Shanna and Eric Bass ’05 Director of Entrepreneurship last year, has been appointed to the additional position of associate dean.
The appointment reflects the increased importance of entrepreneurship at the school and the success of the Program on Entrepreneurship’s expanded curricular offerings for Yale students, Dean Ted Snyder said. Yale SOM added seven new courses on entrepreneurship in 2014-15, drawing more than 75 students from Yale College and other graduate schools.
“Even in the first year of the effort to build out the entrepreneurship program, the program has become a center of activity at the school and has engaged the rest of Yale University,” Snyder said. “Kyle’s leadership and the energy he brings to this new role are exemplary.”
Eric Bass ’05, who with his spouse, Shanna Bass, made a gift to endow Jensen’s position, said, “Providing a structure to support student entrepreneurs is an important step for Yale SOM. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the rapid growth of the program and the excitement about entrepreneurship at the school.”
Len Baker YC ’64, a partner at the venture capital firm Sutter Hill Ventures, led a task force of members of the Yale SOM Board of Advisors that made recommendations for the school’s strategy on entrepreneurship, which led to Jensen’s hiring. He added, “Yale, and Yale SOM in particular, has the potential to be a real engine for innovation, and Kyle has taken some big steps toward realizing that potential.”
During this past academic year, Jensen, who is also a lecturer in entrepreneurship and computer science, created a variety of classes and extracurricular programs to support Yale students interested in entrepreneurship. These range from survey courses like “Entrepreneurship and New Ventures” to “Start-up Founder Practicum,” a course in which students work on their own ventures. Student entrepreneurs may also avail themselves of informal support and camaraderie in the new Entrepreneurial Studies Suite in Edward P. Evans Hall.
Working so closely with student entrepreneurs is a great joy, Jensen said.
“Of course, I cherish my time with all students at Yale,” he said. “I have a special commitment to those student entrepreneurs who chose to start ventures here and now during their brief tenure at Yale. It is a privilege to be in their service, and I am thankful for the adventure they inject into my life daily.”
Jensen added that Yale has many resources for those student founders to pursue their ventures outside of class, particularly through the pan-university Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and centers like the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, the Center for Biomedical and Interventional Technology (CBIT), Innovate Health Yale, the Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), and the Center for Molecular Discovery.
“My colleagues in these groups are superb and they care deeply about helping Yale founders build successful ventures. That’s where the real, high-touch support happens,” said Jensen.
As Jensen noted, the majority of students in entrepreneurship classes at Yale are not starting their own ventures immediately, but instead will go on to positions at firms in a variety of industries after graduation.
I have a special commitment to those student entrepreneurs who chose to start ventures here and now during their brief tenure at Yale.
“For this reason, we teach a broad interpretation of entrepreneurship,” he said. “We teach how to be entrepreneurial, how to be innovative, and how to lead others into the unknown in the pursuit of opportunity. It’s something they can apply in their daily lives, regardless of what endeavor they embark upon after Yale. And, I think that fits comfortably into our liberal arts education here.”
Part of Jensen’s role is to help Yale SOM instruct aspiring student entrepreneurs from throughout the university, not just those enrolled at SOM. He works with the Yale College registrar to ensure that the courses at SOM are well structured for Yale College students and others, which helps to create a diverse classroom. For example, Jensen’s popular “Management of Software Development” course, co-instructed with technology entrepreneur Miles Lasater YC ’01, drew students with backgrounds in management, architecture, music, the environment, and computer science.
Jensen is quick to point out that much of the growth in entrepreneurship at Yale is driven by students. The student-run clubs, he said, “organize a great many events each year on a shoestring budget. There is fantastic work happening, much of it collaborative, between the Yale SOM Entrepreneurship Club, the Yale Entrepreneurial Society, HackYale, YHack, Float, and others.
“Entrepreneurship is a team sport,” he continued. “It’s important to have numerous opportunities for small, positive interactions with other potential entrepreneurs—preferably over food. The student clubs are great at that. It’s organic, it’s student run, it’s perfect.”
In the coming year, Jensen said his priorities include expanding some of the pedagogical innovations that he introduced this past year. For example, he is bundling together a series of mobile apps that he uses to enhance student participation in his classes. Using the apps, students can ask questions, write on the board, or communicate directly with each other. That work is supported by the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning.
Jensen also is taking advantage of the school’s participation in the Global Network for Advanced Management, he said. Many student startups have an international component, and the network allows the founders to find collaborators in countries throughout the world.