Spring 2024 Alumni Dive Into Exciting Futures



Clockwise from top: Kate Gerhardt, Anny Moreira, Sepehr Khosravi

This spring, a fresh cohort of SCET students graduated from UC Berkeley, already forging new paths into the entrepreneurial world. Part of these learners’ impressive backgrounds was forged with the help of knowledge and collaboration from SCET’s course, ENGIN 183 Product Management.

Instructed by AI product leader Derek Chan, Product Management involves giving students hands-on opportunities to design products, pitch to target markets and learn from industry professionals in a team environment.

Keep reading to hear from three exceptional Product Management alumni who are now venturing into their own dynamic futures.

Sepehr Khosravi.
Sepehr Khosravi

Sepehr Khosravi

Sepehr took multiple hiatuses from school to work full-time, such as when he helped his family business, GiantTeddy, or when he supported product growth at Tesla. He joined Berkeley as a transfer student, completed SCET’s Product Management course as an exceptional student in Fall 2022 and then served as a course coordinator for subsequent semesters until graduating with a degree in data science in Spring 2024. He loves SCET courses, is a startup entrepreneur and aspires to be faculty at a community college or university in the future. 

What was your experience like in the Product Management course?

“One of the best courses I’ve ever taken. I met some really cool people there and the professors were really awesome. I was a transfer student and I hadn’t taken a lot of courses that were smaller sizes before. I was really interested in product management, but I didn’t even know what that really [meant]. 

“I really loved how we got to work together to create a project — my first experience doing that. My family sells giant teddy bears so entrepreneurship has always been in my family, but I haven’t really gone towards it, so this experience made me realize I want to do startups or product management. It shifted the direction I wanted to take my career, and I ended up coordinating the course for the next two semesters.”

Why did you decide to facilitate?

“I love teaching, and I love this course. I learned a ton from [teaching] – working with Derek especially. I love that SCET has industry professionals rather than professors, because I learned so much from being able to work closely with them.”

What are your post-graduation plans?

“I want to eventually work on my own startup, but I’m starting off working at Coinbase as a startup engineer. I was debating whether to go into product management or software, but a lot of people recommended that you become really good with the software portion of things to be a really great product manager in the future, so I’m super excited to refine my technical skills for the next two years.

“I’ll also be teaching a product-building DeCal this upcoming semester under SCET. A lot of SCET courses are about coming up with ideas, so this focuses more on the building and execution – coding, launching software, and acquiring your first customer over the course of the semester.”

What are some memorable skills you learned from the Product Management course that influenced your career decisions?

“It made me realize that I love working with people – in software you work with people less, which is why I originally made the switch. I got a lot better at being able to present in front of people and pitch, and realized that I really enjoy persuasion.”

How does your background as a transfer student interact with your educational path?

“I really recommend any transfer student to take SCET courses. Coming into Berkeley it’s difficult to find groups in large classes. Because [SCET courses] create a group that you work with all semester long, you end up becoming friends with those people and build a relationship with your professor – that’s the part I really like about small classes.”

Anny Moreira.
Anny Moreira

Anny Moreira

Anny grew up in Brazil and learned and taught English before becoming a transfer student at Berkeley. Despite imposter syndrome early, she completed SCET’s Product Management course as an exceptional student in spring 2023, was a product manager intern at SolaceVR, and co-presented at the Collider Cup with her team, Smart Speech, aimed to help people with autism. She recently posted one of her best days, presenting at her graduation with a degree in cognitive science this spring.

How did you get involved with SCET?

“I am from Brazil and I moved to the U.S. four years ago. I went to community college, and when I got to Berkeley I was very overwhelmed with all the options so I decided to create my own path. I was a Cognitive Science student and wanted to study the intersection of that and entrepreneurship, but I didn’t plan on getting the [SCET] certificate until after I took the Product Management class.”

What was your experience like in the Product Management course?

“I read about product management as a career and thought it sounded fun. I was scared, but that class was the best class I have ever taken. It felt like such a good mix of hands-on experience and theory. I joined a group that created a text-to-speech app, SmartSpeech with AI for children with autism, and we ended up winning the class competition and going to the Collider Cup. We’re now trying to see where this project goes.”

How did the Product Management course impact the trajectory of SmartSpeech’s project?

“I really liked that I was challenged by understanding user needs. In this case, our users were non-verbal, so we had to figure out ways to understand their needs without directly asking them. We learned from the class that we’d have to take our time on this and really understand product requirements. We learned to do a lot of networking, and even met up with some parents at a Stanford autism conference, which is how we introduced our product.”

How does your background as a transfer student interact with your educational path?

“With SCET, I felt like I could do anything. They make you feel like you can be a CEO, you can be a startup founder, you can be a product manager, you can be an engineer, or you can go into finance and venture capital… I felt like a world of opportunities was being opened to me. I felt hopeful about the future and excited to create my own career path. SCET was supporting me, not just with the classes, but also the professors and the themes I could choose from. It made me feel empowered despite being a transfer student and not knowing much about foreign universities.”

What are your post-graduation plans?

“I’ve been looking into product management, but I’m also trying to be open-minded. I’m considering going into venture capital right now, starting up my financial career. My dream is to be able to combine venture capital with companies in Brazil and support them, because I think that this country is where companies can go forward.”

What advice do you have for students considering SCET?

“As a transfer, I feel like a lot of transfer students kind of accept their fate and do the bare minimum. SCET makes you feel like you can expand your horizons and follow any career you want – I would recommend SCET to any new student, even if they’re not necessarily interested in entrepreneurship.”

Kate Gerhardt.
Kate Gerhardt

Kate Gerhardt

Kate was raised by a single mother, and seeks to advance multiple forms of diverse representation in her field. She completed SCET’s Product Management course as an exceptional student in fall 2022, and interned at Apple where she helped reduce PFAS in their products. After earning her degree in mechanical engineering this spring, she is transitioning to be a 5th Year Master’s student in 2024-25 for optimizing manufacturing and design with sustainability, and seeks to take more SCET courses.

What is your past experience like in product management?

“A little over 2 years ago I got a product management internship, and that was a great experience, but I felt like I was thrown in the deep end. I began looking for courses I could take, and did the Product Management course at Berkeley – which was fantastic, because of the hands-on experience and meeting with industry leaders – and a few courses at Stanford

“In SCET’s Product Management course, I was inspired by my background in 3D modeling. Usually to do 3D modeling you have to download expensive software that is inaccessible for people that aren’t working at a company or school that pays for it. My group and I got to use those resources and create our own 3D modeling Figma that was online, affordable, and could be collaborated on.

“After completing those, I landed a program management internship at Apple, which I landed because of my prior education. Currently I am an engineering intern at a medical devices company, and looking forward I do want to go into product or program management, but before doing so I want to gain a little more technical experience. I’m taking another SCET class next semester, Deplastify the Planet, so I’m super excited about that.”

What appealed to you about SCET courses?

“It’s so hands-on. You can take a project from start to finish and then present it. When I took my product management courses at Stanford, it was very “textbook”, but you don’t get to create anything on your own. Actually getting to create a product, going through the whole product life cycle and interviewing people was super helpful to me. It’s one thing to just learn about something from a textbook but it’s another when you work with a team and gain feedback to create a viable product.

“Another main thing for me was working in a team environment. I found that a lot of my coursework was very individual, so working with a group of people from other majors or other disciplines was very nice. It’s easy to tunnel-vision on your ideas, but having to ideate with your teammates definitely contributes to a better, more successful project.

“Right now, even though I’m not currently in management, I make it a point to ask for feedback from different groups – the quality team, the users, the doctors that use our medical equipment – to make sure my own work is the best possible. I think these skills can be applied to basically anything else.”

How do you combine your interest in sustainability in the entrepreneurship world?

“When you manufacture something, there’s so much waste that goes into that product, and that can be cut down. In my internship with Apple, I was part of one of their environmental initiatives that took a chemical called PFAS out of all of their lines, and that opened my eyes to how these plastics affect our bodies. That inspired me to go on this sustainability mission, and it’s one of the big reasons why I’m getting my master’s degree as well. I want to learn about sustainable materials, how to design and manufacture while keeping sustainability in mind. It’s a very big part of engineering, but also a very big part of leadership. If leadership doesn’t push for sustainability, it’s something that can easily be put on the back burner.”

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Meet Our Spring 2024 Course Coordinators



scet spring 2024 course coordinators - This is a collage showing four course coordinators students. Starting with Top left, there is Claire Chu, Sanjana Gurram, Anderson Lam, and Katrina Manaloto

Developing entrepreneurship skills isn’t about flipping through a textbook – it requires immersive, hands-on learning. The Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship has been designed by SCET to do just that. Through a series of interdisciplinary courses that combine theory and business models with real-world tests and activities, the Berkeley Method brings people and ideas together. With a focus on journey-based learning, SCET courses aim to engage rising entrepreneurs in a unique way that drives them towards future success.

Fostering such an environment requires a wealth of knowledge, experience, and hard work. Our SCET course coordinators – student assistants hired by SCET to support faculty – use their innovative ideas and enthusiastic support to guide fellow students through an unconventional yet rewarding course structure.

Course Coordinator Profiles

Meet our Spring 2024 course coordinators below to learn more about their backgrounds, ambitions, future plans and experience in the SCET classroom!

Claire Chu, a young woman, stands smiling in front of UC Berkeley's Doe Library. The library is a large building with columns lining the front. Claire is wearing a blue-and-yellow Berkeley graduation stole.
Claire Chu

Claire Chu

Major: B.S. Business Administration 2024
Course: SportsTech and the Future of Sports

What did you learn being a SCET course coordinator?
“I learned how collaborative, creative, and innovative students can be through hands-on, project-based classes. The sports industry is also ever-changing, so the tech landscape is very interesting to follow.”

What inspired you to become a course coordinator for entrepreneurship and innovation classes?
“I was inspired to be a Course Coordinator because enjoying the classroom space went beyond developing curriculum, but extending into supporting students’ endeavors and ideas. As a course coordinator, I could facilitate the materials and resources to make this happen.”

How do you believe the courses you coordinate prepare students for their careers, whether they pursue entrepreneurship or not?
“The students create pitches and present them to career venture capitalist judges. These demo days and presentations set students up very well for work tasks and team activities allow students to understand [how to] collaborate with one another.”

Anderson Lam speaks into a microphone. A slide projected on the background reads "ENGIN 183B" and contains positive reviews of Anderson's facilitation.
Anderson Lam

Anderson Lam

Major: B.S Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences 2024
Course: BMoE Bootcamp

What inspired you to become a Course Coordinator for entrepreneurship and innovation classes?
“My inspiration to become a Course Coordinator for entrepreneurship and innovation classes stems from my transformative experience as a participant in the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship (BMoE) bootcamp in Spring 2023. The vibrant atmosphere, where students from diverse academic backgrounds collaborated on startup ideas to address society issues, deeply resonated with me. This experience, coupled with the invaluable interactions with esteemed mentors and industry leaders, motivated me to take on a role where I could facilitate similar opportunities for others and contribute to nurturing the next generation of innovators.”

What is your favorite part about working as a Course Coordinator for these classes, and why?
“My favorite aspect of working as a Course Coordinator for the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship (BMoE) bootcamp is the opportunity to mentor diverse groups of students as they validate their startup ideas, develop business plans, and refine their pitches. I particularly enjoy the dynamic, collaborative atmosphere where students from various backgrounds come together to tackle global challenges, and the chance to interact with inspiring mentors and industry leaders. The role allows me to deeply engage with each team, often working late into the night to support their progress, and continuing to mentor them beyond the duration of the bootcamp until they achieve success.”

What advice do you have for students who are considering taking these courses or pursuing careers in entrepreneurship and innovation?
“My advice centers on embracing openness and curiosity. First, actively seek and welcome diverse viewpoints from a variety of people; these differing perspectives can significantly enrich your understanding and approach to solving complex problems. Don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people—networking can open doors to opportunities and collaborations that you might not have considered. Remain curious about emerging technologies and trends; staying informed about developments outside your immediate area of expertise can inspire innovative ideas and solutions. Finally, be prepared to work effectively in diverse teams, as collaboration across different majors and backgrounds is often the key to successful entrepreneurial ventures. This interdisciplinary approach not only broadens your own skills but also enhances the collective output of your team.”

What are your summer plans?
“This summer, I am excited to intern at Bayer Crop Science in Kansas City, where I’ll be working as an electrical engineer. This opportunity will allow me to apply my academic knowledge in a practical setting and gain valuable industry experience. After my graduation in December 2024, I am actively seeking full-time positions in electrical engineering or product management. I am flexible with relocation anywhere in the U.S. and am looking for companies that can sponsor my OPT for three years. I am eager to contribute my skills and grow professionally in a dynamic work environment. If you know any opportunities, please contact me at lamweicheng@berkeley.edu.”

Katrina Manaloto, a young woman, stands in front of a fenced wall with plants at her sides.
Katrina Manaloto

Katrina Manaloto

Major: B.A. Molecular and Cell Biology and Rhetoric 2024
Course: Transforming Brain Health with Neurotech

What inspired you to become a Course Coordinator for entrepreneurship and innovation classes?
“Growing up around my dad, an experienced innovator and startup consultant, made me very familiar with the inner workings of entrepreneurship. From him, I learned what it means to find a demonstrated need in a community and try to offer them a solution, and I wanted to pass that knowledge on by assisting one of the SCET courses!”

What advice do you have for students who are considering taking these courses or pursuing careers in entrepreneurship and innovation?
“Some advice that I have for students is to remember that entrepreneurship should always be in pursuit of serving one’s communities and filling in societal needs when existing policies or frameworks don’t meet those needs. Never separate entrepreneurship from the people you hope to help!”

What are your post-graduation plans?
“Post-graduation, I am planning to travel over the summer and hopefully return to the Bay to work in neuroscience research or scientific writing. I am currently searching for opportunities, so feel free to contact me at my LinkedIn if you would like to chat!”

Sanjana Gurram stands in front of a forested backdrop.
Sanjana Gurram

Sanjana Gurram

Major: B.S. Bioengineering + Business 2025
Course: Deplastify the Planet

What inspired you to become a Course Coordinator for entrepreneurship and innovation classes?
“I took Deplastify the Planet a year ago, and it changed my perception of how I could contribute to the world. I wanted to facilitate this class to help people work on sustainability problems and make real impacts.”

Can you share any memorable or rewarding moments you’ve experienced while working as a Course Coordinator?
“I’ve loved seeing the projects in Deplastify progress and was amazed by the end products of every team when I heard them pitch.”

What are your summer plans?
“I’m working on developing my own project (which spun out of Deplastify!) with my wonderful team in New York.”

The post Meet Our Spring 2024 Course Coordinators appeared first on UC Berkeley Sutardja Center.



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SCET Takes the Global Stage at Asian Leadership Conference



SCET delegation at Asian Leadership Conference

University of California, Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) faculty, students, and alumni encouraged innovative global leadership at the 2024 Asian Leadership Conference (ALC) which took place in Seoul, South Korea on May 22 and May 23. The goal of ALC is to bring together world leaders from government, academia, industry and the startup world to raise awareness and address key topics and issues that the world is facing and to foster more global collaboration.  Keynote speakers at this year’s Asian Leadership Conference included Sanna Marin (Prime Minister of Finland), Jacinda Ardem (former Prime Minister of New Zealand), Kevin McCarthy (former US Speaker of the House), and Ron Klain (former Chief of Staff for President Joe Biden).  

The theme of this year’s conference was “Era of hyper-uncertainty: innovative leadership that opens the future,” where SCET was particularly poised to contribute, with sessions on building startup teams, creating innovative business models, startup pitching, and global entrepreneurship education. 

“Innovation and entrepreneurship is crucial for global leadership, especially in times of uncertainty, as it enables us to navigate and adapt to rapid changes,” says SCET faculty, Gigi Wang, who led the delegation. “By fostering an innovative mindset, we can create solutions that not only drive economic growth but also address pressing global challenges.”

SCET leadership presenters included Lecturer & Industry Fellow Gigi Wang, Managing Director & Chief Learning Officer, Ken Singer, and Lecturer & Industry Fellow, Victoria Howell, along with UC Berkeley BMOE bootcamp students.

SCET Faculty and Industry Fellow, Gigi Wang led the SCET delegation and presented a session on Innovative Business Models and moderated a panel of SCET student alumni who demonstrated their winning startup pitches
SCET Faculty and Industry Fellow, Gigi Wang led the SCET delegation and presented a session on Innovative Business Models and moderated a panel of SCET student alumni who demonstrated their winning startup pitches

In addition to a popular session on Innovative Business Models, Gigi Wang led a lively session titled “Berkeley Bootcamp Startup Pitching,” where she talked about SCET’s unique pedagogy, the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship, and her very popular Berkeley course, Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, where students create a startup in just five days. SCET students Lucas Walsh, Riya Kumar, and Tanmay Vijaywargiya presented their award-winning startup pitches to a crowd of students and educators from local Korean universities, representing the growing interest from young people in innovation and entrepreneurship.

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SCET student alum, Tanmay Vijaywargiya
DSCF5060
SCET student alum, Lucas Walsh
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SCET student alum, Riya Kumar, presenting her Collider Cup winning pitch, Red Box

Managing Director Ken Singer stole the show with his session “Building a Successful Startup Team,” where he presented various frameworks and journeys for startup team formation. His presentation solicited dozens of questions from an excited young crowd interested in this key skill of forming the right team to build a successful startup.

SCET Managing Director and Chief Learning Officer, Ken Singer, presenting on what makes a successful startup team
SCET Managing Director and Chief Learning Officer, Ken Singer, presenting on what makes a successful startup team

“It is often said that the success or failure of a startup begins and ends with the team,” said Ken, who after the talk hosted impromptu “office hours” for more than an hour for a dozen students inspired by this talk.

Victoria Howell hosted an inspiring panel session titled  “Global Entrepreneurship Education,” which explored the current trends in how universities and schools are educating students in a field which is notoriously difficult to teach. Panelists included SCET alumna and venture capitalist, Yura Isabel Hwang, scientist and Oxford lecturer, Jason Lee, and Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Doha for Science & Technology, Sylia Khecheni. 

"Global Entrepreneurship Education" session moderated by SCET faculty Victoria Howell. The panel included Sylia Khecheni, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Doha for Science & Technology, Jason Lee, scientist and Oxford lecturer, and Yura Isabel Hwang, SCET alumna and venture capitalist.
“Global Entrepreneurship Education” session moderated by SCET faculty Victoria Howell. The panel included Sylia Khecheni, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Doha for Science & Technology, Jason Lee, scientist and Oxford lecturer, and Yura Isabel Hwang, SCET alumna and venture capitalist.

In addition to the SCET presenters, the delegation included Jay Choi, SCET and Berkeley Engineering alumnus who helped organize the delegation, University of Southern California Lecturer Mike Lee, and SCET Chief Marketing Officer, Keith McAleer. 

SCET leaders have been speaking at the conference every year since 2018. The conference organizer, Woosuk (Ken) Choi collaborated with Gigi Wang to bring Berkeley faculty and students to the conference with the hope that they will network and inspire a global perspective for the Korean students in attendance to help broaden their mindset and prepare them for global engagement in business, innovation and leadership.

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From left to right: Woosuk (Ken) Choi, Director General of the Asian Leadership Conference; Gigi Wang, SCET faculty and industry fellow; and Riya Kumar, SCET student alumna and conference presenter

The full SCET track unfolded in the following way:

ASIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE May 23, 2024 – Entrepreneurship &  Innovation Track

  • 9:00 a.m — “Business Model Innovation” – Gigi Wang, Industry Fellow & Faculty, UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
  • 11:00 a.m. — “Berkeley Bootcamp Startup Pitching” – Gigi Wang and Berkeley students Riya Kumar, Lucas Walsh, and Tanmay Vijaywargia
  • 1:00 p.m. — “Preparing the Next Generation at US Universities” – Mike Lee, Senior Lecturer, Digital Entrepreneurship, School of Engineering, University of Southern California
  • 2:00 p.m. — “Building a Winning Startup Team” – Ken Singer, Managing Director & Chief Learning Officer, UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
  • 3:00 p.m. — “Global Entrepreneurship Education” – Victoria Howell, Director, Professional Programs, UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology; Sylia Khacheni, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, University of Doha for Science & Technology; Jason Lee, Entrepreneur & Lecturer, University of Oxford; and Yura Wang, Berkeley alumna and Head of IR, APAC, Factorial Funds 

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Highlights from HyLight: A Conversation with Founder Thomas Laporte



Co-founder Thomas Laporte smiles for a headshot with a dark background

Thomas Laporte joined the SCET community in the spring of 2022 after participating in the Le Bridge Startup Fellows Program, hosted by Berkeley in collaboration with Emlyon Business School, where Laporte received his master’s degree in management. Here, Laporte met his future co-founders and set the foundation for HyLight, a company building Hydrogen-powered airship drones for long-range monitoring of pipelines and power lines. 

Since then, HyLight was accepted into Y Combinator in the spring batch of 2023 as one of two hardware companies and raised nearly $4M in their recent round of seed funding. We followed up with co-founder Thomas Laporte to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey and the evolution of HyLight from an idea to a full-fledged company.

From Business Law to Entrepreneurship

However, Laporte did not always know that he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship in a professional capacity. Before starting his entrepreneurial journey, he studied business law at a top law university in Paris, France, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law. It was not until he met passionate legal tech founders that he realized his interest in entrepreneurship. 

“By meeting legal tech entrepreneurs who were previously lawyers…I really felt something when they were talking about their projects, and this kind of energy really resonated with me. At that time, I did not know why I was truly studying law. The only thing that I knew was that I wanted to keep myself open to as many possibilities as possible.”

From there, Laporte decided to pivot from law to entrepreneurship, receiving admission to Emlyon Business School, the most entrepreneurial business school in France, where he would receive his introduction to Berkeley SCET and the rest of Silicon Valley. 

“Everything clicked…All the people around me wanted to be entrepreneurs. They all had the same energy. That was something that I lacked previously, even in business school. I wanted to find other people like me who wanted to build stuff.”
After meeting his co-founders through the Le Bridge Startup Fellow Program, the team got to work. Following the program’s conclusion in May 2022, HyLight was accepted into Berkeley SkyDeck Europe in its inaugural batch, marking the commencement of HyLight as a company and Laporte’s journey as an entrepreneur.

Insights on Successes and Setbacks

When asked about the joys and setbacks that come with being a founder of an early-stage startup, Laporte noted the constant fluctuation of joys and setbacks as a startup founder and the importance of not losing focus. Setbacks are integral to the startup experience. Laporte believes that the key to bouncing back after rejection is to stay focused on the most fundamental aspects of the company: the mission, clients, and the value created. 

“You have very high highs and very low lows. I take a little bit of distance from setbacks because we had so many setbacks that this new one isn’t going to kill us. The only thing that will harm us is losing track of what is important: the value we’re creating for our clients and the mission that we’ve targeted.”

When asked about the traits of a successful entrepreneur, Laporte believes that entrepreneurs must embrace a humble approach to learning from their mistakes and mitigating their biases. Entrepreneurs must learn to bounce back from setbacks extremely quickly and identify the source of the issue at hand. Learning to abandon a sense of personal failure and embrace the position of the learner is critical to progress. Secondly, Laporte reminds aspiring entrepreneurs that no one truly knows how events will unfold. Entrepreneurs must learn to make decisions quickly and feel comfortable taking risks. 

“We have so many third-party people telling us what to do. If we give them all the same situation, somebody will advise us to do A, somebody will tell us to do B, and somebody else will tell us to do C. A successful entrepreneur needs to realize that no one is going to give them the right answer – you need to create it. You need to make decisions sometimes when it’s dark and you have no idea what’s going to work or not, but you need to make a decision in order to go forward.” 

Laporte then describes the unique role of the Berkeley entrepreneurial community mentorship in transforming HyLight from a concept to a company. He particularly appreciated the innovative, risk-embracing, and supportive culture of Silicon Valley. He is especially appreciative of the mentorship the team received throughout their time within the Berkeley ecosystem, noting Marc Tarpenning, co-founder of Tesla Inc. and UC Berkeley alum, in particular.

“What’s amazing about Silicon Valley and UC Berkeley is that you can contact anyone and say, ‘Hey! I really like what you’re doing. I’d love to be able to talk with you for 15 minutes.’ And people say yes – and that’s amazing.”

The Future of HyLight 

At the end of the day, Laporte’s goal is to have a positive impact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Over the next five years, he hopes that HyLight will be able to reduce the use of helicopters to gather data from the air, as well as decrease methane emissions in the gas sector in both European and American markets. 

The Hylight team poses with a Hylight Hydrogen-powered drone outside.
The HyLight team poses with their airship drone. Photo courtesy of hylight.aero.

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Impact Foods Launches in Cal Dining: a Q&A with Founder Kelly Pan



Co-Founder Kelly Pan smiles while enjoying a bowl of delicious Impact Tuna.

Impact Food, a startup bridging food innovation and sustainability, specializes in creating cost-effective, nutritional, and tasty alternative seafood. Founded in the Alt Meat Lab course offered by SCET, Impact Foods is the recipient of the Hult Prize as well as the People’s Choice in the Collider Cup in 2020. We followed up with co-founder Kelly Pan to learn more about the company’s journey and mission, as well as the recent Impact Food launch in Cal Dining.

What inspired Impact Food, and how has the Alt Meat Lab course helped to bring your product to life?

Impact Food was inspired by the urgent need for sustainable, nutritious, and delicious alternatives to traditional animal-based meat, driven by concerns over environmental impact, animal welfare, and health. The Alt Meat Lab played an instrumental role in bringing our first product to life by providing a collaborative and innovative environment to explore the science and technology behind alternative proteins. The supportive ecosystem of diverse students, expert mentors, and a network of industry professionals encouraged experimentation and creative problem-solving to turn our class science project into an entrepreneurial venture.

 What has been most rewarding about your journey as an entrepreneur?

The most rewarding aspect of my journey as an entrepreneur has been seeing the tangible impact of our innovations on both the environment and people’s lives. Watching our team grow and build together through both our wins and challenges has been incredibly fulfilling, as has receiving positive feedback from customers who appreciate the quality and sustainability of our offerings. The opportunity to contribute to a healthier planet while building a successful business with passionate, impact-driven individuals is immensely gratifying.

Kelly Pan and her co-founder, Stephanie Claudino, both smile with bowls of Impact Food products in front of Onigilly, a Japanese restaurant
Kelly Pan and co-founder Stephanie Claudino celebrate the addition of Impact Tuna to the menu at Onigilly. Photo courtesy of Kelly Pan.

What is the vision and mission of your company, and what impact do you hope your product will have on the environment and food industry as a whole?

The vision of Impact Food is to empower people to eat food that is better for them and the planet. Our mission is to build a more sustainable and resilient food system through delicious, nutritious next-generation seafood. We hope our products will significantly reduce carbon emissions, alleviate pressure on our oceans, and decrease reliance on fisheries for food. By doing so, we strive to transform the food industry, making sustainable choices more accessible and appealing to consumers worldwide. We’re working to reduce the environmental footprint of food production while promoting health and well-being through innovative, high-quality food.

Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs at Berkeley hoping to make a similar impact?

Stay passionate and resilient in pursuing your vision. Leverage the Berkeley network and resources available, such as courses, labs, and mentorship programs, to refine your ideas and gain valuable insights. Don’t be afraid to take risks and learn from failures, as these experiences will help you grow and strengthen your business. Embrace collaboration, be open to feedback, and ask for help when needed. Most importantly, stay committed to your mission, as the journey may be challenging, but the rewards of making a meaningful impact are well worth it.

What role do you think alternative meat products will play in the future of sustainable food systems?

Alternative meat products will play a critical role in the future of sustainable food systems by significantly reducing the environmental impact of food production. They offer a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions, decrease land and water usage, and reduce the strain on natural resources compared to industrial fishing and factory farming. Alternative meats also help address food security by providing a scalable and efficient protein source without compromising on taste or health. As technology and consumer acceptance continue to grow, these products will become an integral part of a more sustainable and resilient global food system.

What is the impact you hope to see with Impact Food’s launch in Cal Dining?

With the new launch in Cal Dining, we hope to see a positive impact by providing students with sustainable and nutritious protein options that align with their values. We aim to reduce the carbon footprint associated with campus dining while offering delicious and satisfying alternatives to conventional animal meat. We hope to raise awareness about the benefits of alternative proteins and encourage a shift towards more sustainable eating habits among the campus community. Ultimately, we aspire to set a precedent for other institutions and communities to adopt similar practices, contributing to a broader movement towards sustainable food systems.

The Impact Food team smiles at a booth in front of Pokeworks to celebrate the addition of Impact Tuna to their menu
The Impact Food team celebrates the addition of Impact Tuna to the Pokeworks menu. Photo courtesy of Kelly Pan.

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SCET’s Alt:Meat Lab Receives $800K Grant from Open Philanthropy



Kate Sullivan holds out a plate of plant-based sushi across a table, which judge Jay Onda reaches towards. Jay is seated at the table.

The UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) received a grant of $800K from Open Philanthropy this spring. The grant supports programs offered under SCET’s Alternative Meats Lab (Alt:Meat Lab), through which student researchers explore new solutions in sustainable food production.

Building on previous grants awarded in 2019 and 2022, this two-year funding allows the Alt:Meat Lab to continue to support students building new ventures in the field of plant-based food technology.

During Fall 2024, this grant will support the course ENGIN 198-002: Exploring Sustainable Food Production, facilitated by Alt:Meat co-founder Ricardo San Martin. This course tackles challenges in the plant-based food industry, encouraging students to create new technology-based food products and startups.

Alumni from Alt:Meat Lab courses have produced successful plant-based meat startups, including Prime Roots, Sundial Foods, Impact Foods and Black Sheep Foods. The goal of Open Philanthropy’s grant is to foster innovation in the plant-based meat industry to create products that are better for the environment, human health and animal welfare.

About the UC Berkeley Alternative Meats Lab

The Alternative Meats Lab at UC Berkeley helps entrepreneurs and researchers investigate the next generation of foods such as plant-based meats,  dairy substitutes, and alternative sources of fat and protein. Operating out of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the Alt: Meat lab seeks to foster an open and collaborative space, where aspiring entrepreneurs are developing novel solutions to address food’s current impact on the environment, health, and animal welfare.

About Open Philanthropy

Open Philanthropy identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes its findings. Its mission is to give as effectively as it can and share the findings openly so that anyone can build on them.

The post SCET’s Alt:Meat Lab Receives $800K Grant from Open Philanthropy appeared first on UC Berkeley Sutardja Center.



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Bootcamp to Business Dream: SCET Alum returns to Berkeley as CPG Founder/CEO


Kashish Juneja, a woman in a pink suit, stands centered and speaking in the direction of the camera. The backs of two students, are seen at the edges of the frame as they listen to Kashish.

Kashish Juneja speaking with students in ENGIN 183D Product Management.

 

Just three blocks away from Embarcadero Bart Station at 101 Spear, an SCET Bootcamp alum is building her dream business. Meet Kashish Juneja, the visionary entrepreneur and tenacious Cal grad whose dorm room drink experiments flourished into AURA, a high quality health-conscious boba brand.  

Her journey began when she enrolled in Berkeley Bootcamp with an idea forming in her head. 

Reflecting on her time in Bootcamp, Kashish credits it with the realization that she wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. It provided the framework to structure her vision and transform it into a compelling pitch. Amidst developing her product at the time, Clutch, a B2B delivery app, she experienced the roller coaster of highs and lows inherent in startup life – from identifying a problem to finding a team to prototyping. She loved and embraced both the triumphs and setbacks. 

AURA was created during the era of Zoom university, during the final two years of her degree. Empowered by the flexibility of remote learning, Kashish would turn off her camera and experiment with concocting new beverages in her dorm room. 

From her dorm room, Kashish took AURA to the next level by introducing it to the campus community. She set up shop in her dorm room, and began selling drinks and hosting blind taste testing for students.

Today, Kashish is excited to share the mission behind AURA. “You are what you eat,” she says, and “food impacts your mentality.” Growing up, Kashish had a complex relationship with food. She wanted to create something that was health conscious, but didn’t compromise on taste.

Kashish Juneja sharing her AURA products with students

Beyond the beverage itself is a deeper commitment to the environment of joy and family values that she is creating around the brand. At her San Francisco location, she offers latte art classes and mentorship workshops, cultivating an inclusive space for all.

Kashish recently returned to SCET as a mentor, serving on a panel for ENGIN 183D Product Management, where she and other panelists shared insights on leading through influence and collaborating cross-functionally. 

Kashish Juneja sits at a table, speaking to a group of six students who are taking notes on laptops and paper.

Kashish Juneja mentoring a Product Management student team

Kashish wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know that she is a resource to them. Her advice is to take a leap of faith as she did. “Go for it. Obsess over solving the problem. Often school can tell us to focus on intelligence, but being in tune with our emotions brings us happiness,” she advises, “and whoever the customer is will see that.”

While AURA’s flagship store in San Francisco serves as her home base, Berkeley still holds a special place in Kashish’s heart. She envisions a stronger future presence in Berkeley, by both nurturing student entrepreneurs and contemplating the idea of a Berkeley store. 

For now, AURA is open daily just five stops away from Berkeley via BART. Kashish welcomes young entrepreneurs seeking guidance, alongside anyone with a craving for guilt-free sweet treats. 

The post Bootcamp to Business Dream: SCET Alum returns to Berkeley as CPG Founder/CEO appeared first on UC Berkeley Sutardja Center.



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Bootcamp to Business Dream: SCET Alum returns to Berkeley as CPG Founder/CEO



Kashish Juneja, a woman in a pink suit, stands centered and speaking in the direction of the camera. The backs of two students, are seen at the edges of the frame as they listen to Kashish.

Just three blocks away from Embarcadero Bart Station at 101 Spear, an SCET Bootcamp alum is building her dream business. Meet Kashish Juneja, the visionary entrepreneur and tenacious Cal grad whose dorm room drink experiments flourished into AURA, a high quality health-conscious boba brand.  

Her journey began when she enrolled in Berkeley Bootcamp with an idea forming in her head. 

Reflecting on her time in Bootcamp, Kashish credits it with the realization that she wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. It provided the framework to structure her vision and transform it into a compelling pitch. Amidst developing her product at the time, Clutch, a B2B delivery app, she experienced the roller coaster of highs and lows inherent in startup life – from identifying a problem to finding a team to prototyping. She loved and embraced both the triumphs and setbacks. 

AURA was created during the era of Zoom university, during the final two years of her degree. Empowered by the flexibility of remote learning, Kashish would turn off her camera and experiment with concocting new beverages in her dorm room. 

From her dorm room, Kashish took AURA to the next level by introducing it to the campus community. She set up shop in her dorm room, and began selling drinks and hosting blind taste testing for students.

Today, Kashish is excited to share the mission behind AURA. “You are what you eat,” she says, and “food impacts your mentality.” Growing up, Kashish had a complex relationship with food. She wanted to create something that was health conscious, but didn’t compromise on taste. 

Kashish Juneja pours a small bottle of orange AURA drink into one of many empty clear glasses set up on a table. Four students watch while pouring their own AURA drinks into glasses.
Kashish Juneja sharing her AURA products with students

Beyond the beverage itself is a deeper commitment to the environment of joy and family values that she is creating around the brand. At her San Francisco location, she offers latte art classes and mentorship workshops, cultivating an inclusive space for all.

Kashish recently returned to SCET as a mentor, serving on a panel for ENGIN 183D Product Management, where she and other panelists shared insights on leading through influence and collaborating cross-functionally. 

Kashish wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know that she is a resource to them. Her advice is to take a leap of faith as she did. “Go for it. Obsess over solving the problem. Often school can tell us to focus on intelligence, but being in tune with our emotions brings us happiness,” she advises, “and whoever the customer is will see that.”

Kashish Juneja sits at a table, speaking to a group of six students who are taking notes on laptops and paper.
Kashish Juneja mentoring a Product Management student team

While AURA’s flagship store in San Francisco serves as her home base, Berkeley still holds a special place in Kashish’s heart. She envisions a stronger future presence in Berkeley, by both nurturing student entrepreneurs and contemplating the idea of a Berkeley store. 

For now, AURA is open daily just five stops away from Berkeley via BART. Kashish welcomes young entrepreneurs seeking guidance, alongside anyone with a craving for guilt-free sweet treats.

The post Bootcamp to Business Dream: SCET Alum returns to Berkeley as CPG Founder/CEO appeared first on UC Berkeley Sutardja Center.



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