Three UC Berkeley Haas School of Business startups received top honors at campus startup accelerator LAUNCH’s Demo Day on May 2.
During the event, 10 teams pitched their companies to investors after completing LAUNCH’s three-monthlong accelerator program.
Clever.fm, a podcasting app, and EdVisorly, a program that helps community college students transition to four-year universities, received Best Pitch and Audience Choice awards respectively. MINWO, a site that connects Black entrepreneurs with resources and investors, tied for third place at the event.
“Demo Day was far from just another pitch,” said Manny Smith, EdVisorly co-founder and CEO, in an email. “EdVisorly is walking the talk and we are going to lead from the front as we revolutionize higher education. I thank God for this chance to live out my destiny in the Berkeley entrepreneurship ecosystem, as well as the students, community colleges, and universities that innovate with us.”
EdVisorly’s Audience Choice award came with a $5,000 prize and is the result of two years of preparation, according to Smith.
Smith and Alyson Isaacs, EdVisorly co-founder and chief operating officer, founded the company in 2019 and are part of the UC Launch Spring 2021 cohort, which comprises 21 startups.
“I feel blessed to have been part of this Launch Cohort,” Smith said in the email. “There were so many amazing founders and startups. While Alyson and I tend to be the face of the business, I want to give the credit to our wonderful team of engineers, marketers, and business leaders. We succeed together.”
Of the 21 teams, 10 pitched their startups on Demo Day. To prepare, teams met industry experts, tested their products with customers and received Haas mentorship during the LAUNCH program, according to a Haas press release.
The program culminated with Demo Day, where startups vie for funding from angel investors and venture capitalists.
“It was an amazing experience filled with seasoned advisors and speakers who helped guide us step-by-step through the Lean Launchpad methodology,” said Sean Li, Clever.fm co-founder and CEO, in an email. “They expertly helped 21 teams navigate through different products and industries over 3 months.”
Clever.fm, which was founded remotely during the pandemic, developed and released a limited-time beta of its podcasting app while training through LAUNCH’s program.
The EdVisorly team, which transitioned online due to the pandemic, had to think outside the box, according to Isaacs. She said the pandemic exposed many “educational pain points,” and that information technology solutions in education are experiencing a rapid increase in spending.
“While it would be great to have an office to meet together once or twice a week, creativity doesn’t happen in a cubicle,” Isaacs said in an email. “It happens when your team members are given agency and committed to our combined success.”