UC Berkeley sophomore Ishan Sharma announced his independent candidacy for the ASUC Senate on Monday evening.
Sharma, a business administration major, plans to represent the entrepreneurship and business communities on campus. His platform includes starting an MBA mentorship program for undergraduate students, improving campus transportation and consolidating entrepreneurship resources.
As a freshman, Sharma interned in former senator Annie Tran’s office and worked on projects concerning food security; he is currently the director of transportation for Senator Megha Torpunuri. Sharma said running independently offers room for more platform flexibility and innovation, which he said reflects the “heart of entrepreneurs.”
“(At UC Berkeley) there’s a real big excellence in both civic activism and social change but also innovation,” Sharma said. “There’s no other university that has that secret sauce. … This senate campaign is a great way to mix the two.”
Growing up in Cupertino, California, Sharma started his first business during his junior year of high school: HS Mixers, which hosts dances for high schoolers. During his freshman year at UC Berkeley, he launched a startup called Memory Labs, a voice-based reminder assistant for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Sharma said his personal experience navigating the campus’s entrepreneurial spaces have shown him the difficulties students face — although there are many resources, he said the “startup ecosystem” is fragmented and lacks a central body, and he hopes the ASUC can become a third party that helps businesses recruit on campus.
Shefali Sastry, Sharma’s campaign manager and a campus sophomore, said Sharma can impact students and implement big ideas through entrepreneurship.
“He likes seeing a problem and taking it apart and finding a solution,” Sastry said. “His platforms will allow the community to connect with each other better.”
Voting for the ASUC elections will be held April 9–11.