Startup institute for UC Berkeley students launches Wednesday

Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

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The House — a startup institute exclusively for UC Berkeley students, alumni and staff — launched Wednesday at 2560 Bancroft Way, the former student store.

The institute sets out to help founders in all different stages of the startup process through three different initiatives: the House Fund, the House Founders and the House Residency. The Fund is a $6 million venture capitalist fund exclusively for Berkeley startups, while the Founders and Residency initiatives are support platforms for students, founders and startups.

Campus alumni Jeremy Fiance and Cameron Baradar co-founded the organization with the aim that it would become an “end-to-end pipeline of support for (startup) founders.”

“Our goal isn’t to just spin up another accelerator and add more noise to the ecosystem,” Baradar said. “We could have a student come in and say to us, ‘I want to build something,’ then it’s our job to see what they need to get to the next step.”

Baradar said that he doesn’t expect every student to come into their programs having a clear idea of a startup business plan. He wants to help them conceptualize the idea and build them a pathway to pre-existing resources on campus and beyond.

According to Lukas Schwab, president of Kairos Berkeley, the House is a unique resource in that it is not trying to implement an entirely new organization into the Berkeley startup community. Instead, Schwab said, the program is bringing together and connecting pre-existing resources on campus.

Though the House has strong ties with faculty and students on campus, Baradar said, it is a separate, non-affiliated entity from UC Berkeley in order to operate at “startup speed.”

Campus junior Anjani Gupta, who thinks the institute could be really useful to many students on campus, expressed concern about the House not being affiliated with UC Berkeley.

“Companies want that Berkeley stamp of approval,” Gupta said. “So not having Berkeley’s name attached to it may be a little bit of a detriment. However, if it’s getting a lot of support that’s good as well.”

Baradar is also an advocate for promoting technology and entrepreneurship funding throughout the UC system. He worked with the University of California Office of the President and testified in front of the California Legislature to pass AB 2664, a bill that expanded funding for tech and innovation across the UC system.

“My willingness to spend time on (the legislation) is that we are not just setting up shop across the street … and trying to capture all the best talent,” Baradar said. “We fundamentally want to bring to bear the resources that will make Berkeley as an institution successful.”

Brenna Smith is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @bsmith_1853.