Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum

This is my first post. My name is Allen Wong and I am a first year student in the Evening and Weekend MBA program at Haas. It has only been two months into the program but we’re already well underway. On Friday, those of us in the weekday cohorts were treated to our first final exam (the weekend cohorts had their turn yesterday). It was certainly one of many bonding experiences that I am sure we’ll share in the years ahead.

From orientation to classes, many of us have gotten to know each other well. And as I learn more about my fellow classmates, I can’t believe that I am with this group of incredible people. There are times when I would space out during lecture and look around the room, thinking about what extraordinary company I am in. In that one classroom, we have leaders from a wide range of fields and disciplines. To give just a small sample, there are engineers creating the next product at Google, a scientist developing the treatment for the rare Maroteaux–Lamy syndrome at BioMarin (treatment that YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill is going through) and even a production manager making great beer at Anheuser Busch (cheers!).

It is not only the different fields but also the diversity of functions that makes the class so amazing. In that one room, you have all the parts of what makes a great company – sales, marketing, engineering, finance, legal, and human resources. With such remarkable people, full of energy and brimming with ideas, it certainly makes one think about teaming up to start a business.

For those of us who are entrepreneurially minded, Haas offers unparalleled support to take our energy and ideas into developing a business. That support starts with the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum. On the last Thursday of every month, hundreds of students pack Andersen Auditorium to try and figure out their next business idea.

As a student at Cal, there’s no shortage of opportunities either. In the coming months, there will be the Berkeley bPlan competition and the Intel Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge (longer list can be found at Big Ideas @ Berkeley). Given the enthusiasm I’ve witnessed, there is going to be healthy competition. People in my class are already forming teams around their ideas. For entrepreneurs, the best thing about the Evening and Weekend program is that we have two years to fail (technically three but I am being conservative). If we succeed, then we would have built a business. And if we fail, we would’ve learned a lot and developed a broad set of skills making us well prepared to impact any organization. It is astonishing how little downside there is to trying.

Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard at Haas came from Matt Field, Managing Director at TMG Partners. When asked what qualities he deems important for success, he said that he looks for people who bet on themselves. It is sound advice, one that I’ve taken to heart. So, bet on yourself. Apply to Haas.

- Allen Wong

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