Premium College Ts from Yale Entrepreneurs

When it comes to bplan comps, we almost always hear about the winners. This is good old selection bias. Tiffany Petrosino over at the Yale Daily News has a great piece on some Yale entrepreneurs who lost in the Yale Entrepreneurial Society Competition.

After losing in the competition,

Robert Henehan ’10 and Vincent McPhillip ’10 did not give up on their dream of building a T-shirt design company. Instead, they took their business proposal to another group — the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute — an institutional organization designed to support new student ventures and help keep them in the area. A month later, McPhillip said, they had procured a $5,000 living stipend through the YEI Summer Fellowship Program to stay in New Haven over the summer to develop the Catalyst Company, their startup T-shirt design company.

Their first venture will be selling T-shirts during Bulldog Days and Spring Fling, McPhillip said.

Joshua Feldman ’10, a designer for the company, said the goal is to convey the Yale name in a new way. His design, one of three T-shirt prints that will be available for sale over Bulldog Days, was inspired by the gothic architecture at the Law School: a “Y” emerging from a hand he had seen as the base of a column. Another design, by Emma Ledbetter ’10, features a Yale bulldog sporting retro Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Shirts will sell for $20, a price based on costs, which, without funding for the project itself, have been entirely out of pocket for Catalyst’s managers.

“I bummed some money off my mom,” McPhillip laughed, “but we see a good opportunity to see return on our investment.”

The sophomores said they are investing considerable time and resources into growth and expansion, looking to potentially outsource production to Mexico, tap into the alumni network for possible funding and advance their Web site into a “shopping experience” to include an exchange of design ideas.

“I am basically majoring in this company,” McPhillip said. “It’s a fairly significant amount of work.”

Some thoughts, a) t-shirts have always been a great business for campus entrepreneurs, but with economic/social change, t-shirts are now a mainstream product and a huge market, b) why don’t more schools have summer fellowships that allow students to work on new ventures & c) should schools let you major in launching a company or a non-profit or some other kind of value-creating entity?


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