Berkeley MBA's Team Takes Second in California Dreamin'


From the left: Richard Sudek,Chapman University; Gaurav Agarwal, MBA 13, Co-Founder & CEO Traverie; co-founders Tiffany Yang and Jimming Cheng


The Competition: Chapman University's inaugural California Dreamin' Business Plan Competition.

The Team: Evening and weekend student Gaurav Agarwal, MBA 13, co-founded Traverie, a travel discovery startup, with Tiffany Yang (MIT) and Jimming Cheng (Harvard) "I met Tiffany when she came to my wedding as a +1 and danced on stage with my wife to Bollywood music," says Agarwal. "Jimming and I worked together previously and became close friends."

The Outcome: Second place. "We won $25,000 after winning $1000 as a finalist in the UC Berkeley Startup Competition."

The Field: Among the schools topped by Traverie were USC, Caltech, and all UC schools. BYU came in first.

The Winning Idea: "Think of us as a visual interactive travel magazine with content from people you know and trust." Traverie (now in private beta) aims to make travel discovery "fun, inspirational and personalized."

Won Because of: The team. "We have relevant and complementary skills that work great together and things just get done. Secondly, we are going after a large market - $39B spent on travel advertising, 84% of it offline. Finally, our extreme focus on travelers and their needs has helped us build something people will love."

The H Factor: Agarwal says classes such as Problem Finding Problem Solving and New Venture Finance, along with the Startup Board of Mentors Program at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and the UC Berkeley Startup Competition 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."

Defining Principles at Work: "More than anything, the principles of questioning the status quo and following your passions inspired the team."

About The Author

From 2011-2013, Valerie Gilbert focused on sharing stories of Berkeley MBA student achievements and connection to the Haas Defining Principles. At Haas since 2004 and now Associate Director of Content Marketing, she still enjoys revealing the different facets of life at Berkeley-Haas to a variety of audiences.