Haas business school launches new entrepreneurship program expanding seed funding to student startups

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UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business announced a program Monday that aims to provide startup seed funding and learning opportunities for students in the school.

The Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program, or BHEP, is an umbrella organization that uses resources from across the school and provides $100,000 of funding for early-stage startups and mentorship programs. The BHEP will additionally fund Launchpad, a training platform for innovators, and LAUNCH, a competition for late-stage startups, among other services.

The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, which aims to support entrepreneurship education and innovation research, will now be a part of the BHEP.

“We are refocusing the effort on serving students who are seeking to found companies and on learning opportunities,” said Maria Carkovic, the executive director of the Institute for Business Innovation, which is involved in the selection of grant recipients. “Haas has a long tradition of serving students who want to pursue entering entrepreneurship … and we are now ready.”

According to Rhonda Shrader, a Haas alumna who will oversee all student-related services within BHEP, the program will provide assistance to the “three-phase cycle” of startup companies. These include ideation and team formation, customer discovery and prototyping, and creation of a business model.

“(Students) don’t have to wait until graduation to experience such processes,” Shrader said. “It will provide more experiential learning.”

“Many undergraduates have great ideas and passion about startup, but they often become hesitant because of the potential risk and lack of resources,” said Nicolas Min, a UC Berkeley junior in the business school.  “With its funding, mentoring and support, BHEP will open up a chance for undergraduate students to consider being a real entrepreneur and add true value to the Haas School itself.”

According to a press release, BHEP will strengthen connections between UC Berkeley’s and UC San Francisco’s science and mentorship programs that match current UC Berkeley students with UCSF faculty, allowing space for Haas students to adventure into entrepreneurship.

“Traditionally, lot of Haas students go into accounting, banking and consulting,” said Nathan Malone, a UC Berkeley junior in the business school.  “It’s great how they are redoubling their effort in encouraging entrepreneurship.”

The qualification and application process for the seed funding, which is available twice a year, will be announced soon and will give special consideration to undergraduate or MBA students who participate in startups. They will be required to write an essay that explains their startup.

Malone added that the funding from the dean could serve as an inspiration to those with big ideas but little capital to get them started.

Haas is planning to expand the LAUNCH program next year and expand teams that are involved in BHEP.

Contact Jason Kim at [email protected].