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Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Innovation Fund Awards First $100,000

A fund launched by Yale University last fall has awarded its first $100,000 to a start-up launched by Yale School of Management (SOM) students with a unique product for treating acid reflux.

The Yale Entrepreneurship Institute (YEI) Innovation Fund was launched in September 2013 by Yale University, Connecticut Innovations and First Niagara Bank to provide early-stage funds to promising start-ups coming out of YEI. Startup firm Eli Nutrition, Inc., maker of a new antacid called Tummyzen, snagged the first $100,000 investment, the school announced this week.

“We are thrilled that Eli Nutrition was chosen for investment from the YEI Innovation Fund,” Erika Smith, deputy director of YEI, said in an article on the YEI website. “They have a unique product backed by Yale science that shows tremendous promise for treating acid reflux.”

Eli Nutrition is built around a team of Yale students with different business backgrounds: Hasan Ansari (SOM ’14), Fanni Li (SOM ’14), Yulia Khvan (SOM ’14), Srikar Prasad (SOM ’14) and Faisal Hamid (YC ’13).

The start-up was an outgrowth of Yale’s Technology Commercialization Program, which matches promising faculty research with enterprising Yale SOM students. Through the program, Yale School of Medicine professor Dr. John Geibel was paired with SOM student Ansari, who is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of professional experience in product commercialization, product planning, and strategy consulting.

Geibel’s research has shown that zinc is highly effective in stopping acid secretion in the stomach, without any side effects and with some increased health benefits to boot. And so Tummyzen was born.

“If you had an active erosion in the esophagus, this [zinc] could aid in the repair process in addition to balancing the acid levels to provide heartburn relief,” Geibel said in an article on the YEI website. His research has been published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology and has patents in the U.S and internationally.

“Our belief is that many people taking harsh medications can manage heartburn much more safely through a dietary supplement,” Ansari says.

With the $100,000 investment from the YEI Innovation Fund, Eli Nutrition plans to expand its marketing and sales efforts, including launching an online marketing campaign, ordering its first full production batch of 10,000 bottles and ramping up online sales. That support allowed the start-up to launch its product in the local community. “It’s also a vote of confidence in the company and a signal to other investors,” Ansari notes.

Learn more about Eli Nutrition and its $100,000 investment from the YEI Innovation Fund.