On a Friday evening in May, 300 Berkeley alumni and friends gathered in San Francisco to celebrate UC Berkeley’s rich culture of entrepreneurship.
Hosted by entrepreneur and investor Bobby Yazdani ’87, the event drew innovators, investors, and advisors from all stages and sectors of the entrepreneurial world – from Cal students incubating their first companies in Berkeley spaces to the alumni-founders of unicorn companies like Kabam Games.
With the most recent tech boom, the UC Berkeley has only gained momentum, consistently ranking among the world's top three universities in terms of the number of entrepreneurs, amount of capital raised, and industry diversity – and with more alumni on AngelList than any university in the world.
In the spirit of celebrating Berkeley’s ongoing contributions to new venture creation, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks joined alumni and faculty founders and investors for an evening of networking and reconnection in San Francisco.
"The spirit of innovation is pervasive at Berkeley, and we will enable it wherever we see it on campus," Chancellor Dirks announced to the packed room. "By teaching courses in entrepreneurship to students of all majors, by fielding multiple incubators that propel startups through the concept, prototype, and market-ready stages, and by maintaining the core excellence of our $700 million per year research enterprise, Berkeley will continue to deeply influence the path of business and technology."
The event also highlighted the success of the first year of the Berkeley Founders’ Pledge. Piloted in late-2013, the Founders’ Pledge gives alumni who are building new companies the opportunity to make a personal commitment to Berkeley – and be recognized for that commitment – from the earliest days of their ventures. That commitment can be fulfilled in support of any Berkeley school and program if and when members feel ready to give back. In the meantime, Founders’ Pledge members gain access to the Founders’ Pledge network, a broad spectrum of Berkeley resources, and a startup savvy Campus Navigator – an expert partner on campus who can concierge recruiting, networking, and unique experience assets for members.
In addition to celebrating Berkeley’s 115 Founders’ Pledge members, the event also honored the 6 alumni who have already fulfilled their pledges. “The support of these alumni is already impacting the campus,” emcee Angie Chang ’04 remarked. “Their involvement and their generosity are changing lives at Cal.”
Above all else, attendees valued the opportunity to meet one another. Early-stage founders exchanged information with veteran VCs, while classmates and former colleagues reconnected. “I was amazed to see the level of energy and passion at the event,” commented Gautam Godhwani ’94, co-founder of Simply Hired. “I met some amazing people, and reconnected with others I hadn’t seen in many years. I’m looking forward to engaging with the community at future events!”
Interested in attending the next Berkeley Innovators event? Join the network here.