Studying and Launching Simultaneously: Student Startup Roundup

From a global crowdfunding platform to a $2.4 million waste-to-food mushroom business to a school lunch program in dozens of cities, Berkeley-Haas has produced a number of successful startups that have attracted the attention of such media giants as the Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Sunset magazine.

Juggling study groups with venture planning has become increasingly popular as the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship grows ever-more rapid. “The best way to create entrepreneurial leaders is to give them the experience of building startups while they are here,” said Andre Marquis, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, in the latest issue of BerkeleyHaas magazine.

To highlight student entrepreneurs at Haas who are doing just that, we are launching an occasional series of articles about student ventures called "Student Startup Roundup." Here is our first installment: a look at three student entrepreneurs in the Undergrad, Full-time, and Evening & Weekend MBA programs:

Evening & Weekend MBA Program: Gaurav Agarwal, CEO and co-founder, Traverie

Gaurav Agarwal, MBA 13, and partners Jimming Chen and Tiffany Yang launched Traverie, an interactive magazine, to make travel decisions easier and even more appealing. Users connect through Facebook for inspiration and recommendations from friends. The venture recently placed second in the Student Startup Madness tournament at South by Southwest, emerging from a field of 64 startup teams.

Launched this past November, Traverie is currently focused on growing its user base and developing partnerships.  Agarwal says classes such as Problem Finding Problem Solving and New Venture Finance, along with the Lester Center’s Startup Board of Mentors Program and the UC Berkeley Startup Competition, have all greatly contributed to the team’s success. “At Haas I’ve learned how to create a business out of an idea and how to build a strong team, which is the most important asset in a knowledge company.”

Full-time MBA Program: Jane Buescher, GM and co-founder, RockIT Recruiting

A tip from an alum from her undergrad alma mater (Duke) steered Jane Buescher, MBA 13, into the recruiting business with founding partner Cody Voellinger. The two friends had longstanding plans to launch a venture together, along with combined expertise in corporate recruiting (Voellinger) and corporate finance, risk management, and operations (Buescher). After the alum suggested that the Bay Area had a big need for efficient and effective matching of talent to need, the pair founded RockIt to help Bay Area startups build and grow their engineering teams.

Launched in June 2011, the company is currently working to meet the talent needs of about 50 Bay Area startups through a mix of high-tech tools and a high-touch approach. The firm engages in activities such as trivia nights and hackathons to meet and support the developer community. The six RockIT team members also host “Careers Lunched,” an initiative in which RockIT team members take an engineer to lunch (more than 500 so far) to expand their knowledge of engineer skills sets and interests beyond what is on a resume. Noting that a lot of its startup clients boast company T-shirts or track suits, RockIT decided to complement the mix with a trademark headband.

Undergraduate Program: Jacob Park, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder, Jellycoaster

Jacob Park, BS 14, is co-founder of a mobile application developer named Jellycoaster, whose first product, Buddy Up, has gained 200,000 users (mainly in South Korea) since its launch in June. The startup has raised $800,000 in seed funding from two South Korean VC investors: POSCO Venture Partners and SBC Ventures. The app helps users capture and record moments with friends; earn badges for activities such as coffee, movies, and working out; and identify their pals of choice through a leader board.

The idea for Buddy Up came when the founders realized that in our world today, virtually anything is searchable on the Internect except one's memories. Park's co-founders are CEO Daniel Joo and Chief Strategic Joseph Shin, currently a visiting researcher at Haas

"Coming to the Haas School of Business is probably the best decision that we’ve ever made for our company," says Park. "From numerous Lester Center of Entrepreneurship-sponsored guest speaker series and entrepreneur network events to the extensive alumni network in the tech industry, we were able to develop relationships with individuals that have been a significant help to the development of Buddy Up."

"A newly launched database of UC Berkeley alumni network called @cal allowed us to reach out to the alumni’s in the leading technology companies, including Twitter, Google, and Facebook. As we frequently visit these companies, we are able to sit down with engineers to gain valuable feedback to improve Buddy Up," Park adds.