It’s been over a year since I came to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business to immerse myself in the vibrant bay area entrepreneurial ecosystem – and I must say, I’m sold. From the top-notch academics, to the entrepreneurial guests who visit campus, to my ambitious and inspiring classmates, there is no shortage of start-up energy at UC Berkeley.
In the past year at Haas I have been fortunate enough to be a part of some incredible programs and classes, designed for aspiring entrepreneurs. Some of these experiences were inside the classroom as an MBA student, some were part of my duties as a Haas Venture Fellow and supported by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, others were sponsored by the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association (BEA), one of the largest student lead clubs at UC Berkeley. BEA is a must join for any aspiring entrepreneur as they host fantastic events, mixers, speaking engagements, and many more great programs.
Inside the Classroom
UC Berkeley offers over 20 core classes taught by seasoned entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and business executives. The entrepreneurial program is headed by Toby Stuart, the Leo Helzel Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and a recent addition to Haas from Harvard Business School. While at Haas, I have been a part of these courses as a student and also as a Teaching Assistant for Business Model Innovation and Entrepreneurial Strategy (BMIES), taught by David Charron. This class explores innovation of the business model as a strategy for new venture creation and growth. It also explores how the business model affects the venture’s chances of durable success. Charron, an entrepreneur and lecturer at Haas says, “Entrepreneurs often use their classes to work on their ideas. They recruit team members, test ideas and integrate their MBA into their businesses. It is a delight to help make this happen and see the many companies that have resulted." Many of his previous students have gone on to start business that were hatched and evaluated in Charron’s courses.
In addition to BMIES, my favorite course to date has been Venture Capital and Private Equity, taught by three Venture Capital industry veterans: Terry Opendyk (Onset Ventures), Sean Foote (Labrador Ventures), and Jerry Engel (Monitor Ventures. If you have ANY interest in Venture Capital or start-up financing, it’s a must take.
Lester Center for Entrepreneurship
Many of the entrepreneurial programs and competitions at UC Berkeley are developed at, managed by, or affiliated with the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, which is run by Executive Director Andre Marquis and Program Manager Kirsten Berzon. Some of their top programs include:
The Entrepreneurial Best Practices Series: This series features practitioners from the UC Berkeley and Silicon Valley communities who come to Berkeley-Haas to speak about the practical aspects of entrepreneurial activity.
Global Social Venture Competition: The Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure, and $50,000 in prizes to transform their ideas into businesses that will have positive real world impact.
The UC Berkeley Startup Competition: The UC Berkeley Startup Competition (Bplan) is one of the foremost events for University-affiliated early stage startups. It provides entrepreneurs with the best possible resources – including education, networking, team creation, mentorship and new venture financing – to help turn innovative ideas into real businesses. If you have a great business idea in biotech, software, cleantech, consumer goods, computing services, mobile applications, financial services, e-commerce or any other industry, this is the competition for you.
The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC): VCIC gives students the opportunity to act as investors in early stage companies – evaluating business ideas, watching company pitches, conducting due diligence, and negotiating investments – all with real entrepreneurs. You’ll learn the ins and outs of valuing companies, constructing a term sheet, and be evaluated by a number of high profile Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists.
Bay Area National Science Foundation Innovation Corps
Additionally, I’ve been involved as a Session Manager for the Bay Area NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps). The I-Corps is a joint effort between the University of California Berkeley, University of California San Francisco and Stanford University and funded by the National Science Foundation. It offers educational programs to accelerate the commercialization of science and fosters technology entrepreneurship nationally. It is based on the Lean Launchpad methodology taught by Steve Blank, one of the many world class Lecturers at UC Berkeley. For UC Berkeley students who want to quickly develop an entrepreneurial idea, either take Steve’s Lean Launchpad class, or enroll in the Berkeley I-Crops program, both of which will provide advice, coaching and access to some of the top entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and industry experts, all of which are there to help your start-up succeed.
Incubate and Accelerate
Berkeley Resources - SkyDeck | Berkeley: Another way you can get involved at Haas is to support Berkeley’s startup accelerator (SkyDeck | Berkeley) which was developed to foster entrepreneurial excellence through personalized engagement and key alliances among the University, National Lab, Local Government, and Private Sector. You can get involved as a volunteer or more formally by becoming a SkyDeck | Haas Fellow.
Opportunities to Lead
Not only have I been fortunate enough to be a part of programs offered by UC Berkeley, I’ve had the opportunity to also lead and organize some incredible events for Entrepreneurs. As part of my work as a Haas Venture Fellow, one of my projects was to chair the annual UC Berkeley | VC Connect event. This event brought together over 40 of the bay area’s top VCs and countless more Berkeley network entrepreneurs for an informal networking event, pitch session and this year even included a keynote speech from Ken Gullickson, COO of Evernote. If you have an interest in Venture Capital this is another must attend event for 2014. Additionally, being a part of the organizing committee for UC Berkeley’s annual Hacking Health Digital Health Hackathon, I was able to witness what can be accomplished when engineers, entrepreneurs, MBAs, and clinicians get together for a weekend and hack together products and business models.
Needless to say, there is no shortage of start-up energy at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business – it really has endless opportunities to learn, lead and excel. Best wishes on your next entrepreneurial venture, and I look forward to seeing you around campus.Konstantinos (Dino) Boukouris
President – MBA Student Association (EW) - 2014
Venture Capital Connect Chair & Haas Venture Fellow