Each summer, the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY) offers summer fellowships to student entrepreneurs. Founders from across Yale spend eight weeks working on their ideas and getting a crash course in what it takes to start a successful company. Yale SOM students have participated in the program since its inception; this year, SOM students were part of four teams, focused on education, sustainability, food, and medicine.
The fellowship includes a $15,000 grant for each team, which allows students to focus full-time on their ventures during the summer. Founders spend every other week learning about all aspects of startups, such as how to acquire funding, market testing, leadership development, and finding manufacturing space; the intervening weeks are “sprint weeks”—time for students to take what they’ve learned and apply it to their ventures.
Melissa Mazzeo ’20, co-owner of Merry Go Rounds, which focuses on reselling children’s clothes online and in stores, said the combination of the various aspects of the fellowship has been crucial to the company’s expansion. “It’s the first time that I had the space to work on it completely full-time,” she said. “And that’s just made a world of difference.”