Eleven Startups Receive New Round of Dean’s Seed Grants

Eleven early-stage student startups—including a proposal to fight obesity with a new kind of nutrition bar and a forest products company that reduces wildfire hazards by culling wood from the millions of “beetle kill” trees in California’s mountains—have been selected from a record 40 applicants to receive Dean’s Seed Fund grants this spring.

“This year’s competition among applicants was intense,” said Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program (BHEP). “There were so many qualified teams we awarded 11 grants rather than the usual ten.”

Team InnoWaste

This year’s teams include students in the Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA programs, and also involve a high level of collaboration across campus, Shrader noted. Berkeley-Haas students partnered with students from nine other UC Berkeley schools and programs: the School of Information, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the School of Public Health, the Fung Institute (Engineering), the School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the Graduate School of Education, and Berkeley Law, along with the interdisciplinary Masters Development Practice and undergraduate Cognitive Science.

Dean Rich Lyons initiated the $100,000 Dean’s Seed Fund in Oct. 2015, aiming to enhance entrepreneurship support for current Berkeley-Haas students. All grantees receive $5,000 as well as work space in the Berkeley-Haas incubator in downtown Berkeley. The grant money can be used for prototype development and customer discovery activities. This year’s award judges included members of the venture capital community and faculty.

The 2017 Berkeley-Haas student grantees are:

AndaBar: Alex Levy, FTMBA 17, Cecilia Toscana Rodriguez, FTMBA 17, Elizabeth Faust, MBA/MPH 18, Chloe McConnell, FTMBA 17. The AndaBar team will work to validate a market for the AndaBar nutrition bar formulated by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute to combat obesity.

Liverty: Alvaro Silberstein and Thato Keineetse, both FTMBA 17, with Cristian Garay, a Master of Information Management & Systems (MIMS) candidate and undergraduate Francisco Peralta, BA 18 (cognitive science). Liverty is focused on enabling people with disabilities to find and manage assistance anywhere and at any time so that they can live independently.

Sierra BlueFlame Woodworks: Adam Pugh, FTMBA 18; Sam Schabacker and Sandra Lupien, both Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidates at the Goldman School of Public Policy; and Carlin Starrs, a Master of Forestry candidate at the College of Natural Resources. Sierra BlueFlame is a forest products company addressing fire, safety, and climate emissions hazards by harvesting wood from some of the 100 million trees killed by bark beetles. The wood, which has a blue stain from fungus associated with the beetles, will be turned into beautiful furniture.

HomeSlice: (Above, left to right) P.J. O’Neill, Anna Roumiantseva, and Anne Ready, all FTMBA 17. HomeSlice is working to make it simple for groups of people to come together to jointly purchase real estate.

InnoWaste: Yi Lin Pei and Thulasi Narayan, both EWMBA 17, along with Maria Oldiges, MDP 17 (Master of Development Practice), and Bhuvana Bellala, MIMS 17. InnoWaste is a digital platform aimed at improving efficiency in recycling while generating social value.

OmSchool: Emily Tsay and Stan Hou, both FTMBA 17, with Zehra Ali, a Fulbright scholar in the MPP program at the Goldman School, and Lakshmi Balasubramanian, a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Education. OmSchool is an edtech company with a mobile app focused on interweaving social emotional learning in the classroom through mindfulness and positive psychology.

Oishii Farm: Hiroki Koga, FTMBA 17, with Ryoichi Kaneko, a Master of Laws (LL.M) candidate at Berkeley Law, and Yash Kankaria, Master of Engineering 17. Oishii Farm aims to bring agriculture production into the 21st century.

Ikanos: Luigi Rodrigues (above, left) and George Panagiotakopoulos (right), both FTMBA 18. Ikanos is an online network that will connect the world’s top executives with the most renowned and credible educators from top-ranked global academic institutions.

Lyme.Dot: Shannon Herline and Faith Kirkpatrick, both EWMBA 18, with
Jose Luis Pacheco, a programmer at San Jose State. Lyme.Dot is a secure digital platform that Lyme disease patients can use to track and store health data, match with patients experiencing similar symptoms, and share the data with their healthcare practitioners.

Flourish: Jessica Eting, Pedro Moura, and Bill Collins, all EWMBA 18. (left to right) Flourish is a mobile platform that empowers and motivates young adults to save more money by using mobile games as a gateway to savings and investing. The team is turning entertainment into investment by tapping into individuals’ need for accomplishment, recognition, and information​—making saving effortless and attainable.

Markt, formerly EveryFarm: Lizz Niemeyer, FTMBA 17, Adam Pugh, FTMBA 18. Markt aims to expand consumption of locally grown produce by directly connecting consumers and farmers through a transparent, online farmers market.