Haas to Provide Seed Funding, Enhanced Entrepreneurship Support to Students


Berkeley-Haas will strengthen entrepreneurship support for its students, including providing $100,000 in seed funding for Haas student startups this year, Dean Rich Lyons announced today.

In addition to seed funding, Berkeley-Haas plans to enhance its offerings for both MBA and undergraduate students who wish to learn more about entrepreneurship, or are already working at startups or founding their own companies.

“Our student entrepreneurs are already thriving within the Berkeley-Haas and Bay Area startup ecosystem,” says Lyons (pictured). “This new effort will continue to build on and expand that success, creating a new generation of leaders who will be mixing with alumni and giving back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Berkeley-Haas will pool a variety of resources from across the Haas School to integrate entrepreneurial thinking throughout the Haas student experience under a new umbrella organization, called the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program (BHEP).

Those resources include :

  • The Dean’s Startup Seed Fund, which will provide $5,000 grants to early-stage startups that include Haas students. The grant money will be used for prototype development and customer discovery activities.
  • A new industry specialist in the Career Management Group who will advise students interested in working at startups.
  • Competitions for both later-stage startups through LAUNCH: the Berkeley Startup Competition and for early-stage, social impact ventures through the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC). LAUNCH will add also a later-stage social impact track.
  • Greater interconnection between the UC Berkeley and UCSF science programs to encourage cross-disciplinary innovation. (A pilot project pairs UCSF faculty with selected Berkeley-Haas MBA students for short projects designed to assess, validate, or generate business ideas.)
  • Exceptional educators who teach entrepreneurship at the Haas School across programs.
  • Lean Launchpad, a training platform for innovators, developed by Berkeley-Haas Lecturer Steve Blank.
  • Collaborative projects such as SkyDeck, a multidisciplinary startup accelerator located at UC Berkeley.
  • Mentorship programs and mixers that draw heavily on the Haas Alumni Network and broader Berkeley community to connect current students with entrepreneurs and those working in related industries.

Students will continue to access events and services through the Lester Center, which was founded in 1992 with a $1 million gift from the late Howard Lester, past CEO and chairman of Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

The Lester Center will now be part of the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program, and will focus entirely on student-facing activities and events. Those include the startup competition LAUNCH, which offers $50,000 in prize money; hackathons and other experiential learning opportunities such as the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC); and Big Ideas@Cal.

The Lester Center will also manage the Dean’s Startup Seed Fund. To be eligible for grants from the new fund, teams must include at least one current Berkeley-Haas MBA or undergraduate student.

Applications are due online on December 4, 2015.  Half of the seed grants will be distributed in December, and the other half in May.

Grant winners will be selected by a committee comprised of faculty and Institute for Business Innovation leadership, along with investors and leaders from the Berkeley entrepreneurship ecosystem. Details on how to apply at entrepreneurship.berkeley.edu.

“We’re improving and redefining how we engage with the entrepreneurial needs of our students,” said Rhonda Shrader, MBA 96, who will oversee all student-related services within BHEP. “Through BHEP, we will continue to support students who are interested in entrepreneurial goals that range from participating in their first hackathon to accelerating a startup to seed funding.”

Professor Toby Stuart will remain as faculty director of the entrepreneurship program.

Andre Marquis, MBA 96, current executive director of the Lester Center, will take on a greater role (soon to be announced) that engages large enterprises interested in lean venturing methods.

More at entrepreneurship.berkeley.edu.

A few members of the new wave of Berkeley-Haas entrepreneurs, clockwise from top left:

  • Smartbod Co-founder James Wang, FTMBA 15, with Anna Lee, BS 13, (mechanical engineering)
  • WeTravel Founder & CEO Johannes Koeppel and Co-founder Zaky Prabowo, both FTMBA 15
  • Lendsnap Founder & CEO Orion Parrott, EMBA 14
  • Realiteer Co-founder Shuo Zhang, EWMBA 16
  • Xendit Founder & CEO Moses Lo (right), and Co-founder & COO Vivek Ahuja (2nd from right), both FTMBA 15
  • Crayon Crunch Co-founders Kai Schmittat & Tim Osterbuhr, both BS 15
  • Localwise Co-founder Maya Tobias and Co-founder & CEO Ben Hamlin, both FTMBA 15

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