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The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at UC Berkeley is partnering with Amazon AWS to bring the Dreamer Package through the AWS Activate program to SCET students. This special package will allow new companies a runway to validate and grow their company. Students can now receive $1000 in free AWS Activate credits, which for the first time are stackable and non-dilutive, meaning the credits can be used for your startup, regardless of any prior credit history with AWS. Additionally, these credits will not count against the $100,000 lifetime credit limit for companies.
Founders using the Dreamer package will have access to the entrepreneurs on the AWS Startup mentorbusiness development team – 50 founders from myriad market verticals with successful exits. Any founder using these credits will be able to meet with the Amazon AWS team of founders who have built and sold companies on AWS via exclusive office hours. Founders can discuss go-to-market strategy, product, fundraising, and technical questions with the AWS team.
For more information about the program, we asked AWS program lead Michael Greenberg – this is what he had to say!
The AWS Activate program was created to help founders at every step of their journey, from free cloud computing credits to offset any early-stage building costs to mentorship from startup founders within AWS. Student founders can take advantage of this opportunity by going to an official AWS Activate Partner Program within their campus Ecosystem.
AWS believes that by betting on the founders of today with this major early-stage investment of credits, technical support, and business mentorship, they will be able to serve the great companies of tomorrow. AWS is the leading cloud service provider for start-ups and has always believed that it’s success would be tied to the visionaries that create with it.
Students have used AWS to create multiple platforms and innovations. AWS is a happy long-term supporter of start-ups in the UC Berkeley Ecosystem. Dozens of start-ups within our campus partner cohorts each year leverage the AWS Activate program to launch their companies. Many of these start-ups become the great tech companies of tomorrow.
Because my background is in physics, I am always excited about supporting start-ups leveraging AI/ML in an interdisciplinary way to disrupt the status quo in different fields. Specifically, I am seeing incredible ideas around rapidly simulating experiments that would normally take years in a matter of days with machine learning. This may change the way breakthroughs take place in drug discovery, genomics, and synthetic biology. Additionally, I am excited to see the new business models that are developed in concert with AI-powered content creation.
The program is open to all Berkeley students – To join the program…
Have any questions? Contact Jennifer Nice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Amrita Bhasin is a senior studying sociology (‘23) at UC Berkeley and also the recipient of SCET’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship in Technology. Amrita has been working hard on building and scaling her SaaS startup, Sotira, which earned 2nd place at the SCET-Silicon Alliance Pitch Contest in 2021. Since then, Amrita has finished building out Sotira’s core features and integrations, competed in and won pitch competitions across the country, raised venture capital funding and opened up public beta access for Sotira to ecommerce sellers and resellers all over the world.
Being a founder of any type is one of the most challenging professions, but being a student founder at Berkeley comes with even more challenges to cross as a student entrepreneur must carefully balance between studying and working on their new venture. We wanted to learn more about Amrita’s experience as a student founder, so we followed up with her to produce the following Q&A and about her startup experience.
Amrita Bhasin: Sotira is a customizable financial tool for ecommerce sellers and resellers on Instagram or platforms like Etsy, Poshmark, Depop, Shopify, StockX and GOAT.
Sotira enables ecommerce sellers and resellers to be more profitable with the products they sell and the platforms they sell on. Tracking financials and calculating profitability is a struggle that a lot of small business owners face, especially platform marketplace sellers and resellers. Sotira is a one stop shop for all ecommerce financials and offers integrated analytics, expense tracking, profit analysis, pricing optimization and sales forecasting.
AB: My co-founder Gary Kwong (Berkeley alumni, class of 2021) and I both struggled managing multiple income streams and online businesses. We used and tried many of the financial tools available to small business owners. I spent two years using Quickbooks and struggled to input details of sales; I found myself spending a lot of time manually creating templates and tracking expenses vs. sales.
Gary and I had built a few side projects together and had met at an entrepreneurship club called Convergent at Berkeley on campus. We had complementary skills and decided to build a software product that would help small business sellers and resellers manage the financials for their business. I handle most of the user research and testing, marketing/advertising, social media partnerships with sellers and resellers and any other product related tasks. Gary handles the technical side of building Sotira and manages our external developers. Melanie Chau (UC Davis, Class of 2023), our designer, leads product design and built our prototype, website and landing page.
Our team has traveled to compete in a lot of startup pitch competitions on and off campus. Sotira was a 2nd place winner of the AWS University Startup Competition out of 1000 companies. We won a $10,000 cash prize, and the competition is the top student startup competition in the country. Sotira was a top 14 finalist out of 460 companies at the TigerLaunch 2022 competition, and we traveled to Princeton University in New Jersey to pitch. Sotira was a top 10 finalist and prize winner at the Draper University Startup Competition. Sotira won an award at the Big Ideas Competition and received a cash prize from Binance for the LIFT Blockchain for Social Good initiative. Sotira won second place and a cash prize at the SCET Silicon Valley Alliance Fall 2021 Startup Competition and first place and a cash prize at the Entrepreneurs at Berkeley Spring 2021 Pitch Competition.
We participated in the SkyDeck HotDesk Incubator and the NSF I-Corps Customer Discovery Program.
Sotira has also been awarded cash and equity-free grants from Envision Accelerator, the NEAR Foundation, Blockchain at Berkeley, the State of California Dream Fund and 1517.
Sotira is a part of the 2022 Soma Fellowship and raised venture capital funding from Soma Capital in April 2022.
I’ve taken the following classes at SCET:
Indeng 18 /ENG183C – Challenge Lab
Indeng 191/ENGIN 183E – Technology Entrepreneurship
Indeng 198 – Startup Acceleration.
Indeng 190E – Innovation X Future of Industry
Indeng 190E/Engin 183 – Deplastify the Planet (SCET article I wrote about a class project)
Indeng 95/Engin 183A – Newton Series
These classes developed me as an entrepreneur by exposing me to the journeys of so many different types of founders from traditional and nontraditional backgrounds. I was able to connect with some of the guest speakers who came to these classes, and they provided me advice and guidance on building Sotira.
AB: The most important mindset is perseverance and a dedication to not giving up. Building a startup is a journey of rejection and one yes (whether it’s from a key partner, top user or investor) can literally change the course of your company. It is not uncommon for founders to get 500 no’s from investors and a single yes.
Building a company is not like what is portrayed in movies or tv shows like the Social Network or Silicon Valley. It requires a mindset of truly removing yourself from traditional structures or frameworks you may have learned in a university business class or while working at a big tech company. Ultimately, the best way to learn how to build is to just build; there is a distinction between reading articles, watching videos and taking classes about how to build vs. actually building. A lot of founders get stuck on thinking that they need to know how to build before they start a company, but I think most if not all of the learning comes from the mistakes you make along the way.
Starting a company requires a lot of courage in that you have to make sacrifices that are sometimes monetary or social. The reality of the early stages of building a company is that you are likely not paying yourself anything or you are paying yourself barely enough for rent and nothing else. Being a founder also means that your life is often very unstructured; I’ve found myself working remotely and pulling countless all nighters, living out of suitcases for months at a time, taking red eye flights in which I’ve done midterms on planes and juggling working across time zones with team members in other countries. Because you don’t have a boss or anyone telling you to get up and work, you have to be intrinsically and deeply motivated to build as a founder even if you can’t immediately see the results of your work.
Sales is the most important skill in building a company and is something that most founders have to learn and hone. You are constantly selling your company to users and customers, investors and early employees. I am lucky in that I have a lot of sales experience and I interned at Google in sales so I was able to learn from experts in one of the top sales programs. Having a strong sales background and having the courage to hop on call with or talk to anyone has helped me tremendously in building Sotira.
Thanks to Amrita for sharing her story. You can learn more about her startup, Sotira at www.sotira.co and sign up for free access at www.sotira.app.
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The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) at the University of California, Berkeley is excited to announce a new partnership with IE University, IE School of Science and Technology in Madrid, Spain to help facilitate global collaboration between the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center and IE University students, faculty, and innovators. The collaboration will enable the SCET and IE to work together to develop innovative educational pedagogies for teaching technology entrepreneurship and collaborate on impact-driven projects.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with IE University and its School of Science and Technology,” says Ken Singer, Managing Director of the Sutardja Center at UC Berkeley. “Their focus on empowering students aligns perfectly with the Sutardja Center’s mission to empower innovators to positively change the world. By partnering with IE University, we will also have the opportunity to work again with Ikhlaq Sidhu, SCET Founding Director and Dean of IE School of Science and Technology, which will allow us to create a strong global partnership with IE University and help the Sutardja Center connect with innovators across the globe.”
“We at the College of Engineering are excited about the partnership with IE and look forward to a fruitful and beneficial relationship,” added Mark Asta, Executive Associate Dean, UC Berkeley College of Engineering.
Ikhlaq Sidhu noted that the partnership with the Sutardja Center will create a valuable two-way knowledge exchange, allowing IE University students and faculty to connect with Berkeley and the Silicon Valley ecosystem in California and enabling innovators and students from Berkeley to learn from innovators at IE. “We are excited to join forces with the Sutardja Center and to expand Berkeley’s global engagement while collaborating on technology and innovation programs,” he added.
The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) is a global innovation hub headquartered at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, where aspiring entrepreneurs take deep dives into the world of technology entrepreneurship and embark on the path to developing exciting new ventures. The Center offers a suite of courses and programs for students, executives, and global innovators. UC Berkeley is the world’s #1 public university and ranks as the #2 university for startups and entrepreneurs, according to Pitchbook. UC Berkeley has been at the forefront of innovation in emerging technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency.
IE School of Science and Technology offers undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students to be multidisciplinary, impact-driven technology leaders. With a focus on real-world experience and hands-on learning, students have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects and gain a deep understanding of the latest technology trends. IE is QS Ranked: #7 Data and Business Analytics, #7 MBA #3 Entrepreneurship, and among the top 25 most innovative universities.
IE University promotes positive change through education, research, and innovation. The academic institution offers a technology-based learning ecosystem for leaders who make a difference in the world with a global vision, an entrepreneurial mindset, respect for diversity and sustainability, and a unique focus on the humanities. IE University comprises five schools: IE Business School, IE Law School, IE School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs, IE School of Architecture and Design and IE School of Science and Technology. The institution has a faculty of more than 500 professors who teach students from 140 countries in undergraduate, master’s and executive education programs. IE University’s platform of more than 75,000 alumni is present in 190 countries. More information at: www.ie.edu.
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The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of California, Berkeley is embarking on a new partnership with top Moldovan universities to support workforce development and entrepreneurship in the Republic of Moldova. SCET is partnering with the Technical University of Moldova (TUM) and the State University of Moldova (SUM) to support the Future Technologies Activity (FTA) in Moldova funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sweden to create pathways for Moldova’s youth, assist in providing Moldovan companies access to European and global markets, and equip Moldovans with the skills and knowledge they need to take advantage of a growing digital economy.
“We are excited to partner with the Technical University of Moldova and the State University of Moldova to empower innovators and educators in Moldova with new skills and resources to support their rapidly growing startup and tech ecosystem,” says Susan Giesecke, SCET Director of Global Engagement. “We’re looking forward to bringing some of the best talent and minds UC Berkeley has to offer to assist the development and growth of this early-stage tech economy.”
To kick off the partnership, SCET Chief Learning Officer Ken Singer and Susan Giesecke traveled to Moldova in mid-October to begin curriculum development workshops with TUM and SUM professors. Over the next few months, the partners will continue remote consultations to push forward on curriculum design, followed by a Moldovan delegation visit to UC Berkeley SCET’s Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp from January 9-13, 2023. SCET’s signature intensive course brings together UC Berkeley students, global participants, and working professionals wishing to learn entrepreneurship and innovation skills and gain experience with building new ventures with interdisciplinary teams from around the world. The course utilizes SCET’s award-winning Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship pedagogy which enables participants to learn innovation skills through lectures and interactive game-based exercises in a collaborative environment utilizing the latest insights on strategy, tactics, culture, and psychology with an accompanying entrepreneurial infrastructure. The curriculum is structured to provide an optimal global entrepreneurship experience from real life experiences. The delegation from Moldova will observe and participate in the course to help inform their own entrepreneurship curriculum development at SUM and TUM.
Rector Viorel Bostan of TUM said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with U.C. Berkeley SCET to create world class entrepreneurship courses in Moldova. This is an essential skillset for business leaders of the future.” Rector Igor Sarov of SUM echoed, “SUM is very happy to be working with SCET and our partners at TUM to revolutionize our teaching methods and content, attract new students, and make Moldova a startup hub for the region.”
FTA is providing financial and technical assistance for this partnership and programming, with the goal of creating strong foundations for a thriving startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Moldova, which is critical for retaining young talent and building an innovative and resilient economy.
USAID Moldova Mission Director Scott Hocklander said of this program, “This innovative partnership facilitated by USAID’s FTA will bring the same cutting-edge teaching methods and curricula to Moldova that produced successful ICT startups and unicorns in Silicon Valley. Providing this exciting new opportunity to Moldovan youth is a game changer for Moldova’s higher education system, resulting in competitive startups and boosting entrepreneurship, and encouraging them to continue their studies and work at home.” Ambassador of Sweden to Moldova Katarina Fried said, “these educational programs will transcend sector, ensuring all Moldovan students have next generation knowledge and skills to prepare them for the economy of the future.”
The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology is a global innovation hub headquartered at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, where aspiring entrepreneurs take deep dives into the world of technology entrepreneurship and embark on the path to developing exciting new ventures. The Center researches emerging technologies in its labs and offers a suite of courses and programs for students, executives, and global innovators. The Center has labs focused on innovation in data science, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and meat alternatives. Additionally, academics from around the world visit the Center to learn about the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship, a unique innovation pedagogy that focuses on mindset training for innovators and entrepreneurs. UC Berkeley is the world’s #1 public university and ranks as the #2 university for startups and entrepreneurs, according to Pitchbook. UC Berkeley has been at the forefront of innovation in emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.
The Technical University of Moldova was established in 1964, originally under the name “Polytechnic Institute of Chisinau”, based on engineering and economic specialties transferred from Moldova State University. There were 5140 students enrolled (2085 of them being full-time students) at the university in the first academic year (1964 – 1965) at five faculties: Electrotechnology, Mechanics, Technology, Constructions and Economics. The academic staff included 278 teachers and only 36 of them held scientific/academic degrees and titles.
Over the next few years, the university’s development included both quantitative and qualitative growth, becoming a great educational, scientific and cultural center. At present, Technical University of Moldova has reached a total enrolment of 9520 students (6095 of them being full-time students), who study at 64 specialties and specializations within 9 faculties.
TUM also offers postgraduate education (1442 master’s degree and 124 doctoral students), staff retraining and professional development courses. Over the long years of its history, TUM has trained more than 78,387 specialists.
TUM hosts various Centers of Innovation driving industry-academia collaboration in Moldova including ZIPHOUSE Fashion Hub, Tekwill ICT Excellence Center, FabLab Chisinau, and CIRCLE IT and Engineering Labs. These centers were created in partnership with the Government of Moldova, donors including USAID, Sweden, and UKAid, and private sector partners.
The State University of Moldova (SUM) was the first higher education institution with university status established in the Republic of Moldova. Established on October 1, 1946, with the initial name of Chisinau State University, over time it has built an impeccable reputation at the national and international level. Its creation constituted a basic pillar for the development and consolidation of higher education in the country. In a short time, SUM has become a recognized leader of the national higher education system in the country, responding to society’s demands by diversifying the programs offered and establishing new subdivisions, departments and faculties.
For more than 70 years, SUM has become an elite university center, both nationally and internationally. About 120,000 graduates of the university work in various fields, such as: economy, education, culture, justice, politics, etc. and currently, the State University of Moldova is one of the most important higher education institutions in the country. SUM has a contingent of approximately 11,000 students, who study over a hundred bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in 11 faculties and 4 doctoral schools.
SUM hosts the Center of Innovation Mediacor Digital Media Production Center, launched in 2021 in partnership with the Government of Moldova, US Embassy, USAID, Sweden, and UKAid, as well as the Association of Creative Industry Companies of Moldova.
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After participating in a custom Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship bootcamp held across 3 weekends in September and October 2022, the 2022 Mastercard Foundation Scholars presented four startup ideas to a panel of industry judges. The startup ideas focused on addressing important needs of different customer segments in Africa on October 30th at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology.
The 13 scholars that have entered UC Berkeley in 2022 come from 8 African countries including Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Eritrea and are working on Master’s degrees in a varieties of disciplines including Development Engineering, Development, Information Management Systems, Biostatistics, Public Policy, Translational Medicine, Journalism and Folklore. They are selected and hosted by UC Berkeley’s Department of African Studies.
Thank you to the 3 industry judges – Bob Upham (Antler VC), Renee Yao (Nvidia) and Yerdua Caesar-Kaptoech (UCOP) — who came to campus on a Sunday morning to listen to the 4 inspiring startup pitches and give valuable feedback. We celebrated the finale with a celebratory lunch and tour at the historic Bernard Maybeck Guy Chick House in the Berkeley hills.
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The University of California, Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, in partnership with Y Combinator, the premier global accelerator, is excited to announce that the Sutardja Center will be launching Y Combinator’s co-founder matching platform for Berkeley students this coming spring. Using Y Combinator’s platform, one of the largest co-founder matching networks in the world with more than 50,000 profiles already on the platform, students will be able to match with co-founders based on interests, skills, location, and more. Whether students have an established company, no idea at all, or are already working with a co-founder, this program is open to anyone who is seriously looking for co-founders. Y Combinator pre-screens founders to ensure a high-quality pool of potential matches. Students will be able to connect with other Berkeley students, as well as students and entrepreneurs from all across the globe.
“Finding the right co-founder(s) is one of, if not the most important factor for entrepreneurial success,” says Jen Nice, SCET Director of Industry and Alumni Relations. “We are excited to bring YC’s proven platform to Berkeley and provide this as a unique opportunity and resource for students in their entrepreneurial journey.”
To participate, simply create a profile and start connecting with people of interest once your profile is approved. To provide more information on the program and how Berkeley students can get involved, we have invited Catheryn Li, Product Engineering Lead @Y Combinator, who launched this platform, for a detailed Q&A.
Good luck with finding your co-founder! It is definitely worth the effort towards creating an innovative solution, and supporting your team with the necessary talent and skills for success.
YC’s core philosophy is to help founders. We believe that any successful startup needs two things: a great team and a great idea. We launched the co-founder matching platform about a year ago to help solve the first for future founders.
Anyone who is serious about finding a co-founder can join the platform. You can tell us about yourself and what you’re looking for and we will find the most compatible profiles. Then you can reach out to anyone you’re interested in meeting and we will match you if they accept.
Yes, in fact, we have funded 28 teams that met through the platform in just 18 months!
The platform is for a wide range of startup stages, from those who are “just passively interested” to those who have an idea they would like to work on or even a startup that already has funding and revenue. You can indicate your startup stage on your profile when you sign up.
My favorite story is about Sequin. Vrinda Gupta left her job as a PM at Visa after getting rejected from the Chase Sapphire Reserve – a credit card she helped launch. She wanted to work on a product to help women build credit, and was looking for a technical co-founder who was both mission driven and had experience in fintech. She met Mark Thomas on the platform; he had ten years of engineering experience at Paypal, spent six years as CTO of family-oriented startups, and wrote on his profile that he cared deeply about gender equity. They had an instant connection and met in person every day for the next week. Together they went through YC Summer 2021 and raised $5.7M.
Yes! Divya Bhat, YC Visiting Group Partner, and I gave a talk this summer during Startup School 2022 titled “All About Co-Founders.” In it, we cover why having a co-founder is important, how to find one, how to split equity, and how to work together with one. I highly recommend checking it out.
The link to the YC co-founder program is provided again here for reference. We look forward to helping Berkeley students and the larger community of innovators find compatible co-founders and make an impact.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Nice at email@example.com.
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To help address the talent gap in the rapidly growing cybersecurity industry, SCET Student Innovation Fellows have been growing their skills. By partnering with Berke1337, UC Berkeley’s student-run cybersecurity club, SCET created a hands-on capture the flag competition, SCET Innovation Fellows Capture the Flag Challenge, that included a series of cybersecurity challenges that would enable Fellows to gain real skills.
To encourage students from all backgrounds to join, SCET focused on creating a welcoming environment where students could feel supported and empowered to try something new. To help students understand the industry and latest trends, SCET hosted amazing guest speakers including Ryen Macababbad, Senior Manager of Product Security Trust at New Relic, Christopher Kirk, Principal Incident Manager at Microsoft, Samantha Isabelle Beaumont, Cyber Security Principal at IOActive, Kate Kuehn, Chief Trust Officer at Aon Cyber Solutions and Renee Guttman, Founder of Cisohive, who shared insights on the growing field. We also offered a space after the talks where students could come with their questions and get help.
It was incredible to see students finding flags as soon as they were released. Most of them had no previous experience in cybersecurity and found the challenges engaging. At our cybersecurity cupcake party we celebrated all of our participants for stepping outside of their comfort zone to try something new.
These flags helped students learn about a variety of key cybersecurity topics, such as personal security and how to think like a hacker. Going forward students have the opportunity to connect with sponsor HackerOne and continue their journey in this space through Hacker101. Once they feel comfortable they can try out the bug bounties on the HackerOne platform where they can gain money for their skills.
Students interested in learning more cybersecurity skills can also connect with berke1337 (the cybersecurity club) to join a community of students who are interested in cybersecurity. They meet weekly to walk through a variety of technical topics and compete in CTFs. Another opportunity they can pursue on campus would be with the Center for Long Term Cybersecurity that provides scholarships and research opportunities.
1. Student research opportunities in Spring 2023
CLTC will have several student research opportunities in Spring 2023. If interested, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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