Disrupt YU Boosts Student Startup Ideas to the Next Level
A new club at Yeshiva University is turning startup ideas into realities. The club, entitled Disrupt YU, aims to give students the tools and guidelines they need to turn their ideas into functional and successful startups.
Founded by Sy Syms School of Business juniors Menajem Benchimol and Zev Levitis, Disrupt YU’s goal is to inspire current undergraduate students to get involved with startups and pursue their own ideas. The club will meet once a week and give students information on how to develop and pitch their own ideas.
Benchimol and Levitis plan to bring in both keynote speakers and past YU students who have been involved in startups as undergraduates. The meetings will be focused on giving lessons on various topics, including how to build a website, market research, financial evaluations, and creating a business proposal. The meetings will help students fine-tune their ideas and organize them into professional startup proposals. After a student organizes his or her idea, the student will present the finalized idea to the club’s board members and a panel composed of undisclosed startup founders. If the panel approves, the club will then send the idea to an International Venture Capital firm (to be announced soon) that will work with them to see if the idea could be profitable.
Both Levitis and Benchimol have experience in the startup world. Levitis works at an International Venture Capital firm that invests in early stage startups as a campus ambassador for YU and Benchimol has a background in starting companies, such as Jabrutouch (an online chabura setup), and Kefbot (a chatbox agency). Benchimol and Levitis created Disrupt YU this past summer with the goal of catering to students who have startup ideas but no outlet to get them started.
“The lack of entrepreneurial spirit and startup culture [at YU] made us realize that there was a huge problem on campus, and we wanted to find a solution for this,” said Benchimol. “Everyone wants to take the same career path, but what about following your passion and making a company from something you love to do and making money along the way?”
Sharon Poczter, recently instated Chair of the Sy Syms Management Department, which was recently renamed the Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, was optimistic about the new club. “The formation of Disrupt YU represents YU’s renewed commitment to elevating the entrepreneurship of our students and signals the clear growth of our department and the school to become a leading education center for entrepreneurship in NYC.”
Benchimol describes Disrupt YU as “a club that will guide students from ideating their concepts, researching, and Minimal Viable Products, to preparing business proposals and an opportunity to pitch in front of a Venture Capitalist if their project [is] developed enough.” Their goal is to make YU more of an entrepreneurial school, similar to schools that foster startup ideas such as MIT or Stamford. They want to see students from YU being responsible for the newest Apps or innovations that are sweeping the world today.
Levitis and Benchimol believe that Yeshiva University students are innovative and intelligent and with the right guidelines and leadership, they can achieve boundless goals. They are hoping that this club will be just the beginning and that students will inspire their peers with their accomplishments to get involved and pursue their own ideas.
“From my involvement with Tamid, I know that there are many students in YU who have startup ideas or are interested in being part of a startup ecosystem and it sounds like this club will aid them in their efforts,” said Adam Kramer, a senior in the Sy Syms School of Business.
Disrupt YU is open to all students in Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business, regardless of their major. The club will hold its first event after midterms and will shortly after begin lessons to help students develop their ideas and conduct market research.
“Remember ideas are worthless without execution,” said Benchimol. “We want students to stop pushing off their ideas and start executing them. Even if they don't work out and fail you can learn from your mistakes and try again with your next idea.”