'Tis the Season for Demo Days

As holiday lights twinkle on along Berkeley streets, startup pitches are illuminating Berkeley auditoriums and office buildings from northside to downtown. Across UC Berkeley’s network of incubators and accelerators, demo day season has arrived.

The season began with SkyDeck’s demo day in the penthouse of the Chase building in mid-November. Over 150 investors and industry partners crowded into SkyDeck’s panoramic (and newly renovated) space to hear from 19 up-and-coming startups.

The following week, the Berkeley-Haas graduate students behind the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association and Haas Venture Fellows brought founders and investors together for VC Connect, inviting 13 startups from across Berkeley’s entrepreneurship ecosystem to pitch investors on their home turf – the Rosewood Hotel, once described by Forbes as “the hot spot of venture capital’s capital, Sand Hill Road.”

As we turned the corner into December, demo day season moved from SkyDeck and Sand Hill into Berkeley classrooms. First, the five Delta Prize finalists, incubated at Berkeley Engineering’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, pitched their startups not only for a panel of venture capitalists, but also for the 200+ entrepreneurially-minded students enrolled in the A. Richard Newton Lecture Series. The event showcased the progress and achievements of the five finalist teams for an audience of undergraduate students and Delta Prize judges, awarding the $15,000 Delta Prize to startups Dus and Hopsy for demonstrating the most progress over the course of the incubator program.

The following afternoon, demo day season relocated from Berkeley Engineering to the Haas School of Business for IDEAfest, the culmination of undergraduate course L&S 5: Introduction to Entrepreneurship. Ten undergraduate semi-finalists pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of their 150 classmates and industry judges including serial entrepreneur Lisa Guerra PhD ‘96 (SV2, Victrio, BeVocal), investor and entrepreneur Kevin Smith ’89 (The Vault, Seedchange), and designer Bret Recor (Box Clever).

Outside the classroom, the season rolled on. The CITRIS Foundry, an applied technology incubator supporting startups solving society’s most pressing needs, hosted a demo day to celebrate the graduation of their Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 cohorts – startups producing products from clean energy converters to glowing heart rate monitors.

To close out the season, Free Ventures, a startup launchpad designed by and for Berkeley students, featured six student startups for an audience of investors, students, professors, mentors, and industry partners – knocking it out of the park with a professional demo day showcasing some of the best of Berkeley's student-entrepreneurs.

During these same few weeks, three Berkeley seed funding competitions announced their winners. In the inaugural Pejman Mar Berkeley Challenge, the seed firm elected to invest in three startups, selecting DotDashPay as the recipient of its first $250K PMV Berkeley Challenge Award, and creating new award categories for two additional investments. The Foundation Capital Berkeley Founders Program selected four winners to receive $25K in funding from the firm, and the inaugural primeUC competition selected four life sciences startups from across the UC system to receive $50K-$150K in seed funding, including Cal-founded SonoMotion.

As final exams approach and 2015 comes to an end, new cohorts of Berkeley startups are just beginning their journeys in each of Berkeley’s incubators and accelerators, vying for the attention of investors, advisers, users, and clients. We can’t wait to follow their progress into spring demo day season. To learn more about Berkeley’s ecosystem of accelerators, incubators, entrepreneurship courses and startup competitions, visit innovators.berkeley.edu.

For more on the startups who pitched this season, check out the lists below.

SkyDeck Demo Day 

Fall 2015 SkyTeams

  • AxleHire: Same-day delivery services for e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers*
  • Civil Maps: Cloud-based AI platform to map real-world objects using machine vision algorithms
  • Clarity Movement: Creating the world’s highest-density air pollution map with versatile PM 2.5 Sensors
  • Eucl3D: Creating the “3D Print” button for video games
  • Etch: An AI relationship assistant that helps users who have too many contacts stay on top of every relationship*
  • FarmX: Helping farmers save time and resources while increasing productivity
  • Lendsnap: Creating a modern mortgage experience that cuts borrower application effort and helps lenders increase profits*
  • Lioness: Empowering women to take control and learn more about their own bodies*
  • LucidVR: Designing the world’s first consumer camera for virtual reality
  • Nodexus: Commercializing a novel microfluidic platform to provide fast, accurate, and multi-parametric results
  • Privail: Developing point-of-care diagnostics for the early detection of infectious diseases
  • Symbio Robotics: Developing robotic systems and software for advanced manufacturing
  • Tinkering Labs: Helping kids gain the knowledge, skills and grit to become the next generation of global innovators

Fall 2015 Showcase Teams

  • Dray Technologies: On-demand B2B platform for trucking that connects Shippers with Carriers
  • FirstDerm: Mobile app that provides users personalized dermatology information
  • Mentive: Turning any a-synchronous online course content into a structured and social learning experience
  • Mentl.io: Redefining interaction through cutting-edge neuroscience and machine learning
  • Picosense: The first fully portable, lightweight magnetic sensor to be used as a heart rate monitor
  • Picoyune: Plasmonic film technology that can replace a lab’s bench worth of equipment
     

VC Connect

  • AxleHire: Same-day delivery services for e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers*
  • Ayar Labs: Miniaturizing fiber optics, so all chips communicate with light instead of electricity
  • CalWave: Harness the renewable power of ocean waves to produce electricity and freshwater
  • DotDashPay: IoT payment platform enabling merchants to accept any payment method on nearly any machine
  • Hitmap: Online service for multi-unit businesses that predicts sales at any future locations
  • Identify3d: Intellectual property protection, quality assurance, and data security for digital manufacturing
  • LiftED: Mobile app enables special education professionals to measure, analyze, and share academic and behavioral performance
  • Mentive: Turning any a-synchronous online course content into a structured and social learning experience
  • Modify: Customizes goods and ecommerce storefronts, enabling anyone to sell bespoke merchandise
  • [re]Make: Partners with big brands and retailers to source apparel that is deemed “unsellable”
  • Seniorly: Consumer decision portal for aging options focused on senior housing space
  • Ticktate: Central information platform for live music fans owns all information from discovery through attendance
  • Voltaiq: Provides key insights into battery performance for companies developing batteries and battery-powered products
     

Delta Prize Demo Day

  • Dus: The best way for South-Asian singles to meet their life partner* (Delta Prize Winner)
  • Hopsy: Creating the first direct-to-consumers online marketplace for local craft breweries (Delta Prize Winner)
  • Hitmap: Online service for multi-unit businesses that predicts sales of any future locations*
  • Nosocom Solutions: Technologies to prevent Healthcare Associated Infections at hospitals
  • Vyrill: Video-centric marketplace for consumers to see products in action with videos from across the web*
     

Free Ventures Demo Day

  • LiftED: Mobile app enables special education professionals to measure, analyze, and share academic and behavioral performance
  • Nom Nom: Providing an online marketplace for home-styled artisan food
  • Sigma Sports: Wearable device helps coaching staff monitor athletes' training and conditioning
  • Smart Notes: Interactive notebook helps students learn more efficiently
  • Thera: Online chat platform connects survivors of sexual assault to certified experts for anonymous and confidential support
  • Wildfire: Local safety app crowd sources crime reporting to users
     

CITRIS Foundry Demo Day

  • Bash: Mobile app for organizing meetups and hangouts with friends
  • Bioinspira: Provides innovative sensing solutions that improve quality of life through a wide range of applications
  • CalWaveHarness the renewable power of ocean waves to produce electricity and freshwater
  • Meeglo: Senses your heart rate and glows as it changes to help you balance your mind
  • SimpleWater: Provides radically affordable arsenic removal systems for drinking water
  • WattTime: Provides data, software, and expertise that enables your smart devices to prioritize energy from clean power sources
     

SEED FUNDING COMPETITION WINNERS

Foundation Capital Berkeley Founders Program 

  • Clima: Fleets of drones to create on-demand rain and snow in drought-ridden areas
  • ServiceX: Uses natural language processing to deliver real-time product insights
  • IStyleMyself: Allows shoppers to photograph clothing items and instantly see themselves onscreen wearing it
  • Hitmap: a marketplace that helps retailers find and select other retail locations––offering predictive sales for that locale in a friendly, easy-to-use online platform
     

Pejman Mar Ventures Berkeley Challenge

  • DotDashPay: IoT payment platform to accept any payment method on nearly any machine (PMV Berkeley Challenge Award)
  • Tinkering Labs: creates learning, discovery and invention kits for young people (EdTech Award)​
  • Thera: Online chat platform connects survivors of sexual assault to certified experts for anonymous and confidential support (Social Impact Award)
     

primeUC

  • Spinal Singularity: Devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (Grand Prize Winner)
  • FirstStep: In-home monitoring system to improve the lives of children with asthma
  • Laser Associated Sciences: Optical technologies to improve vascular disease
  • SonoMotion: Non-invasive solutions for kidney stone disease
     

*Indicates Berkeley Founders’ Pledge member company. The founders of these companies have made a commitment to Berkeley from the earliest days of their startups, and pledged to give back when they can.