Strawberry Creek Ventures creates venture capital funds focused on UC Berkeley startup companies, with an investor base made up of campus alumni and other members of the entrepreneurial community.
With Strawberry Creek Ventures’ first fund in 2017, managing partner Matt Caspari said many companies backed by the venture have strong connections to campus.
“Our mission and Alumni Ventures’ (the umbrella organization) is to democratize access to the venture capital asset class,” Caspari said. “So we’re helping individual investors get access to venture-backed startups. Historically, this has been an asset class that has really been closed to individuals, really had been only a few extremely wealthy, very connected in Silicon Valley.”
As a graduate of the MBA program at Haas School of Business, Caspari noted he is a longtime mentor and advisor to several campus entrepreneurs. He said the venture fund’s focus on Berkeley companies was a “great fit” with his entrepreneurial background.
Caspari noted Strawberry Creek Ventures invests in companies across different venture capital stages, from the company’s “seed stage” to when the company sells its first shares of stock to the public.
“Entrepreneurship is a tough journey,” Caspari said. “We really want to back founders that can go off their perseverance to solve a problem that’s likely going to take many years to solve and build a business.”
Caspari added that the fund looks to support companies it believes can develop into large businesses with a large impact. As companies become more established, he said Strawberry Creek Ventures evaluates other measures such as a company’s revenue, margins and tractions.
Through its investments, Strawberry Creek Ventures aims to add value to and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs in Berkeley, spanning different domains such as software, climate, biotech and AI.
One of the venture fund’s more recent investments, Prime Roots, is a company focused on climate and tech that produces plant-based deli meat with less environmental burden, according to co-founder and CEO Kimberlie Le.
Le said in addition to Strawberry Creek Ventures’ funding for her company’s expansion and growth, the fund also provides a network of other partners and resources that enabled Prime Roots to find “key” members to add to its board. Caspari said entrepreneurs can access the broader Alumni Ventures network, which aids companies in attracting customers and hiring personnel.
“Berkeley is an amazing ecosystem of entrepreneurship,” Caspari said. “There’s great technology being developed in Berkeley. We see our role in the ecosystem is helping to catalyze these innovations coming out of the school, supporting these entrepreneurs, both with capital but, just as importantly, with our network.”