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Fines & Fees Freedom Fund team with their check

Student-Run Ventures Snag Prizes at Startup Yale 2023

Four startups founded by SOM students—Fines and Fees Freedom Fund, Carbon Loop, Cache DNA, and Phigitals—were among the ventures cited during the annual event recognizing entrepreneurship across Yale.

Four ventures founded by Yale School of Management students were among the winners at Startup Yale 2023, held March 30 to 31.

Startup Yale is the university’s biggest entrepreneurship awards. The annual event includes three days of venture pitches and celebrations and convenes Yale innovators, community leaders, investors, and practitioners across a spectrum of industries.

Finalist teams in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors pitched their ventures to panels of experts, academics, entrepreneurs, and investors. More than $175,000 in cash prizes were awarded during the virtual ceremonies.

The Yale SOM winning student teams include:

Fines and Fees Freedom Fund

Founders: Liam Grace-Flood ’22 and Yale Law School student Alejandra Uria. Team members include Caela Murphy ’23 and Yale Law student Elena Sokoloski

Winner of the $25,000 Manolo Sanchez Prize, an award for a for-profit or nonprofit that will improve the financial health of the financially underserved.

Fines and Fees Freedom Fund is a venture combating poverty-based incarceration through strategic payment of fines and fees, legal support, advocacy, and movement building.

Carbon Loop

Founders: Perry Bakas ’24, Yale School of the Environment student Harrison Meyer, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences student Conor Rooney

Audience choice award winner of the Sustainable Venture Prize, which is given to the most promising student venture focusing on environmental sustainability. As an Audience Choice winner, Carbon Loop received $2,000.

Carbon Loop is a project aimed at recycling waste carbon into high-value byproducts.

Cache DNA 

Founders: Heather E Williams ’23 and Michael Becich

Audience choice award winner of the $25,000 Miller Prize for best student-led technology solution venture. As an Audience Choice winner, Cache DNA received $2,000.

Cache DNA has created a biomolecule storage proposal.


Founder: Lacie Thomas ’23

Audience choice award winner of the Yale Innovator’s Prize, which honors student-led ventures or nonprofits with the most significant potential for large-scale impact. As an Audience Choice winner, Phigitals received $2,000.

Phigitals is a project that extends a fashion brand’s e-commerce site into a resale marketplace.