Mar 02, 2015

Entrepreneurship Deadlines & Opportunities: Gearing up for the Sabin Prize

CBEY's own version of "Shark Tank," the 2015 Sabin Prize, returns Friday, April 17th. But, the March 25th application deadline is fast approaching! Mark your calendars.

Every year, the Sabin Prize awards $25,000 to the most promising Yale venture at the nexus of Business and the Environment. Our finalists live pitch to an expert panel of judges in front of a packed house. Last year, judges included Dan Emmett Bryan Garcia, Rosemary Ripley Andrew Sabin, and Kyle Jensen. By a narrow vote, they selected the team behind FluidScreen, a device that can detect E. coli in water samples in less than 30 minutes. Other past winners include SilviaTerra, which identifies and quantifies trees in a forest using smartphones and satellite imagery. 

This year, as Yale entrepreneurship offerings expanded, we built a new CBEY Entrepreneurship Team and doubled down with our prospective finalists to ensure they put their best pitch forward. Through expert mentorship, communications training, and a variety of Sabin-specific workshops, our applicants prepare venture capital-quality presentations. 

One of the pathways to the Sabin Prize podium is the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant competition in the fall. In past years, two $10,000 winners have been selected from a large pool of applicants. However this year the field was so strong that two additional grants were awarded by CBEY.

Sobotka grant winners must participate in the Sabin prize competition, so the four winning groups, Conservation Matrix, Poda Foods, Tuckerman & Co, and Grovio, have been honing their pitches for the last several months. When we asked them about the process, and the resources they’ve leveraged, they all echoed the fact that the combination of funding and expertise has helped them prepare for Sabin and beyond.

Thomas Selby of Conservation Matrix, said that “the award from CBEY is meaningful for a few key reasons: (i)The funding is helping us to develop a website, travel to meet with partners and future customers, and design pitch and marketing materials, (ii) staff members at the Center have spent time with us, offered invaluable advice (important critical feedback) and have opened up their networks for us, and (iii) the award serves as validation around campus and throughout Yale’s global network, as we seek to build out our team and increase awareness of our innovative business model.”

Yesenia Gallardo of cricket flour venture Poda Foods emphasized that “the application process for Sobotka was straight-foward. We have really enjoyed and learned a lot from the trainings. We were especially impressed with the communications/pitch training from Julie Vance. She is such a great resource. Her advice really helped us nail our pitch and hone our skills. The use of our funds has enabled us to really jump in and start experimenting and growing. We just started building our first prototype at Yale'e West Campus and hope to have our first harvest in 8 weeks.” 

To Amanda Rinderle of organic dress shirt maker Tuckerman & Co, the “support and funding is critical to helping us scale the business so that we can have a greater impact on the way clothing is made." Her partner Jonas Clark noted that "CBEY has been such an amazing resource for us at Yale. Its mentorship, programming, and financial support have all helped us to build the sort of venture that we envisioned from the start-- one that's not only good for the bottom line, but also for people and the planet."

Expect to see more of these four groups as April 17th approaches, but remember that even if you haven’t yet pulled together your ideas for an application, spring break is an excellent time to get started. The CBEY Entrepreneurship Team will even be holding office hours every week (Mondays 10:00 am-12:00pm SOM cafeteria, Tuesdays & Wednesdays 1:00 pm -3:00 pm Kroon, 3rd Floor, Thursdays 12:00pm-2:00 pm CBEY office space) to help jumpstart and refine ideas.

For prospective students, as well as first years and joint-degrees, keep next year in mind to take advantage of the Sobotka grants, and all of the other resources the CBEY Entrepreneurship Team has put together to foster successful venture development.

About the Entrepreneurship Team

The Sabin Prize and Program are components of the Yale Center for Business and the Environment's Entrepreneurship Team. Launched in 2014, the Team's mission is to become the first place entrepreneurs come when they want to launch a mission-based venture at Yale. We are working to be a comprehensive resource for Yale innovators, including expert mentorship, extensive informational resources, and funding.