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Yale Pitch Slam 2019: Sharing Ideas in a Risk-Free Space

“There’s a lot of doom and gloom, but what I want to pitch to you is action.” Ben Soltoff, an innovation fellow at Tsai CITY and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, kicked off fall 2019’s Yale Pitch Slam by encouraging the audience to take a stand against climate change. 

Yale Pitch Slam 2019: Sharing Ideas in a Risk-Free Space

On the night of the event, over a dozen students, who collectively represented Yale College and five of Yale’s graduate and professional schools, took the stage. Their ideas covered a wide range of fields and focus areas. Several students aimed to unlock the potential of natural ingredients, from Chinese “superfoods” like the jujube to increasingly popular Cannabidiol (CBD), to deliver health, beauty, and wellness benefits to new markets. Another theme that emerged over the course of the pitches was healthcare: students pitched ideas for better assessing the quality of medical research, building digital health tools to reduce the risk of repeat visits to hospitals, and bringing travel clinic services to people’s homes. Other students had ideas for improving life right here on campus, from a platform for more collaborative political discussions to a tool that would read course readings aloud in a compelling voice. In addition to ideas, the Pitch Slam also provided space for questions, calls for feedback, and more open-ended musing. “I’m here today not because of an idea,” announced one student, who had been considering potential overlaps between architecture and social entrepreneurship. “I’m here because of a question.”

“I feel like there’s a real community on campus around entrepreneurship.”

Following the pitches, the presenters connected with the audience at a reception in Tsai CITY’s building, across the street from Trumbull. Over snacks, audience members approached presenters to offer suggestions, connections, and offers to help them develop their ideas. For Ryan Schiller, a Yale College student who had pitched, this was heartening. “I loved having people support and develop each other’s ideas in a very open format,” he said. “I feel like there’s a real community on campus around entrepreneurship.” 

Several students commented on the value of hearing what fellow students from across Yale’s campus (with whom they otherwise might not cross paths) were passionate about. “It’s interesting to see what everyone’s working on, and it’s interesting that all of the projects were so different, from consumer to medical to tech,” said Tiffany Leong, a first-year SOM student. For Roshan Warman, a first-year Yale College student who had taken advantage of the “open floor” near the end of the night — a Pitch Slam tradition — to pitch an ambitious idea for transmitting energy from space, the event’s atmosphere of mutual interest and support was meaningful. “I thought it was a great community where you could present an idea,” he reflected. “I’m sure I stumbled a lot, but I never felt like there was a big risk.”