UC Berkeley Venture Launchpad Takes Off

The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has created a new step-by-step directory for students that outlines all of the opportunities and offerings available to help budding entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

The center's new UC Berkeley Venture Launchpad is a platform designed to propel entrepreneurship through the entire lifecycle of developing a business, from idea creation to going live.

“The new venture creation process is the very soul of the Bay Area entrepreneurial experience,” says Lester Center Co-Faculty Director Jerome Engel. “For many students, creating their own enterprise is the critical goal they hope to achieve during their time at Haas. We help students build businesses from scratch in a way that greatly increases their chances of success in the marketplace and invigorates the economy.”

While several components of the Venture Launchpad have been in place at the Lester Center for many years, this new initiative more clearly delineates which component can help an entrepreneur at one of seven stages of entrepreneurship.

"The UC Berkeley Venture Launchpad initiative takes everything that’s great about Haas and brings it to a new level, with one objective: speeding up the delivery of innovation," says Kevin Brown, a Lester Center advisory board member, who credits Haas with being critical to launching his first startup, Inktomi. "The Launchpad provides access to a unique blend of accelerants — including hands-on guidance from top Berkeley faculty, a strong alumni and venture capital network, and best-practice resources — and makes them all available in a repeatable framework.”

The Venture LaunchPad begins with stage 1 – find an idea worth pursuing – and ends with stage 7 – launch! Along the way, student-entrepreneurs work toward stage 7 by taking advantage of the wide variety of opportunities at the Lester Center, which include helping to run or participating in a business plan competition, competing for a Lester Center fellowship, or meeting with a venture capitalist during special office hours.

Through generous support from the center’s advisory board, Engel and his team have already raised more than $400,000 for the Venture Launchpad, which is available to students this fall. The center has plans to raise a total of $15 million for all of its programs over the next four years.