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Yale Student Startup Awarded Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Hand Me Up, a company founded by three MBA students at Yale School of Management, has received the 2018 Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant from the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. 

The startup, created by Melissa Mazzeo, Jatin Batra and Cyndi Chen, aims to solve a common problem parents encounter: having to constantly buy new clothes as their children grow. 

Hand Me Up’s founders realized that this dilemma was a good match for an online subscription service, where parents could receive a box of secondhand children’s clothes, then return the clothes for a credit that could be put toward clothes in a bigger size when necessary. 

Mazzeo calls the startup a “more circular model for kids clothes” that will “challenge the consumerist culture around buying a whole new set of clothes again and again.” The result is a win-win that helps both parents’ pocketbooks and the environment. 

This combination made the business an ideal candidate for the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant. The grant, for Yale faculty and student ventures, looks for companies that have the potential both to succeed commercially and make an environmental impact. 

Applicants are asked to demonstrate that their ventures meet both these criteria. Besides showing that their startups have environmental benefits, applicants must submit a budget and a business plan. Qualifications of team members are also assessed. 

Previous recipients of the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant include DroneFlow, which makes machine learning drone software for natural resource management, and Real Impact Tracker, a company that helps individual investors make an environmental impact. 

This year, The Green Gear Company, a startup founded by Yale College senior Russell Heller, also received a Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant. Green Gear uses bioplastics to replace items traditionally made using fossil fuels, such as rain gear. 

The story of Hand Me Up is a good example of the resources that top business schools like Yale SOM offer to entrepreneurs. In this case, the founders were all Yale MBA students who were able to secure a grant reserved specifically for Yale students. 

From networking to grant opportunities, MBA programs like Yale’s open up new possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs, which helps explain why admission to these programs is so competitive. 

We can help you evaluate whether your profile is a good match for schools like Yale, and how you can structure your application to emphasize the unique strengths you would bring to the campus. For personalized feedback, sign up to receive a free MBA assessment!

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