Three Berkeley-Haas Social Impact Startups Take Top Honors at LAUNCH

Three Berkeley-Haas teams focused on social impact took top honors at the recent finals of LAUNCH—University of California, Berkeley’s, Startup Accelerator and competition.

Taking advantage of the program’s new social track, the teams, LiftEd, Butterfly Medical, and Dost, participated in LAUNCH’s intensive three-month accelerator before going on to win the grand prize, second place, and second place (social category) awards, respectively. The third-place winner, Players’ Lounge, has Berkeley-Haas connections.


Now in its 18th year, the LAUNCH competition attracted close to 150 entries that were narrowed down to 19 teams, all of which participated in Demo Day on April 28.

The event, organized by Berkeley MBA students and sponsored by the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program, included a startup showcase expo, keynote speeches from high-profile LAUNCH alumni, and fast-paced final pitches in front of judges, VCs, and an audience of more than 300 people. A total of five winners took home a total of $85,000 in cash and prizes.

The top three winners joined three other social impact startups in a new LAUNCH accelerator specially designed for social enterprises, which includes the Social Lean LaunchPad course taught by Jorge Calderon, a lecturer in the Haas Entrepreneurship Group.

Last week’s LAUNCH Demo Day included keynotes from previous competition winners: Brett Wilson, cofounder and CEO of TubeMogul, and MBA 07, and Nick Sturiale, Managing Partner at Ignition Partners, founding CEO of Timbre Technology, and MBA00.

The Winners

Grand Prize ($30,000 plus $15,000 in legal services from WilmerHale): LiftEd, which makes an iPad application that helps education professionals accurately measure and reliably report the progress of special education students. There are nearly seven million pre-K to grade 12 students in the U.S. with legally diagnosed disabilities. LiftED enables educators to personalize student learning goals, analyze learning trends to make real-time adjustment to teaching methods, and share progress with school districts and parents. The team includes co-founder and CEO Andrew Hill and Amy Chou, both MBA 16. LiftEd also took first place in the “Information Technology for Society” category and second place in the “Campus & Community Impact” category on grand prize pitch day at the 2016 Big Ideas competition earlier this month.

Second Prize ($15,000): Butterfly Medical, which has developed an implantable device for the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, which the company says affects 50 percent of men over age 60. The team includes CEO Idan Geva, MBA 09.

Second Prize (Social) ($15,000): Dost, which built a mobile phone platform that helps break the cycle of illiteracy by delivering early education content and activities to low-income moms. Dost was also a finalist in the 2016 Global Social Venture Competition. The team  (in photo, left) includes Founder and CEO Sneha Sheth, MBA 16; Sindhuja Jeyabal, MIMS 16, I School; and Devanshi Unadkat, PhD candidate, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Dost was also a category winner at the 2016 Big Ideas competition. (“Mobiles for Reading” category).

Audience Choice ($5,000): Innovein, which provides a prosthetic valve for the veins that helps cure venous leg ulcers, a condition that affects roughly four million people in the United States.

Third Prize (six months of free work space at WeWork): Players’ Lounge, a social video gaming startup that provides gamers with a platform to play their favorite sports games for cash and prizes. The team includes co-founder and CFO Mark Murphy, MBA 17.