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Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures: The 2022 Winners

The Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) is delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures.

CBEY supports students in building sustainable businesses that are solving some of our planet’s biggest problems. A huge part of this has been via the Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures.  Since 2011, David Sobotka and his family have supported entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers who want to address the needs of both the market and the planet, giving two $10,000 awards annually.

This year, the Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures focused on solutions in four key areas of urgent action:

  • Protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Food, agriculture and land use
  • Energy use, efficiency and access
  • Materials and waste

After a competitive and selective process, we have decided to award three teams for this year's Sobotka Prize. Due to the outstanding quality of applications, we have decided to provide additional funding to support these three ventures. 


Lem-marie Chizungu (Yale School of Management) and Ivy Ocheing seek to create BOXI kit, a portable, customizable plug & play solar charging kit. Their goal is to introduce a low-cost, all-in-one solar power kit, offering better, cleaner, and cheaper renewable energy systems that will improve social, economic, and public health conditions in Africa.

Tyree Technologies

Wenxin Yuan (Yale University, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology), Beixi Hao (Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), Wangbiao Guo (Yale University, Department of Microbial), Shuaiqi (Yale University, Department of Microbial), Guojie Qi, and Richard Li created Tyree Technologies. Through the use of artificial intelligence and synthetic-biology-based technologies, they aim to provide a comprehensive microalgal carbon-negative solution for future food production and modern agriculture.

The Velocity Raptor

John Havlik (Yale School of Management), Michael Heyang (Yale School of Medicine), and Michael Murphy (Yale School of Medicine), and Sajid Hossain (Yale School of Medicine) are building The Velocity Raptor. As a group of passionate bikers, they are seeking to create an affordable, enclosed, electric motor-assisted pedal vehicle bridging the massive appeal of e-bikes with practical daily needs of shelter and safety for urban and suburban commuters in the United States.

Thank you to our judges

The CBEY team is very grateful for the team of judges that participated in this process. Some of the judges included:

  • Adrian Horotan (MEM '10) is a General Partner at Safer Made, a venture fund investing in companies and technologies that create safer alternatives for people and the environment and reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. 
  • Amir Chireh Mehr (MBA/MEM '17): is a Senior Vice President at Radial Power, a C&I green infrastructure developer-owner-operator backed by Starwood Energy Group and the Related Companies. 
  • Dominick Grant (MBA/MEM '12): is Director of Investment at Dirt Capital Partners and manages the company’s investment evaluation, due diligence and related reporting.
  • Melissa Mazzeo (MBA/MEM '20): is the CEO of Merry Go Rounds, a children's resale business based in Easton, Massachusetts that makes shopping for kids more sustainable, affordable, and fun.
  • Sasha Brown (BS '06; MBA '10) is a Partner at the Ecosystem Integrity Fund. Her responsibilities include investment due diligence, strategy development, process management, deal sourcing, and portfolio company support.