Start-up Culture at Haas
When asked why start-up culture is important, a bright and poised Yuvia Mendoza responded, “Start-ups can change how society works. They can change the status-quo.” Mendoza is an entrepreneur and a senior at Haas who founded Erupture, a start-up that connects entrepreneurs to investors. As a transfer student, Yuvia reflected on how Haas’ network has had a significant impact on her journey towards founding Erupture and learning more about the venture capital community.
Mendoza shared how resilience is an important character trait of founders – lots of people and investors will tell you no before you get a yes, and it can be hard to resist the nagging voice saying “what if this fails?” Mendoza has found a great support system at Haas and has met many resilient and resourceful entrepreneurs through her Haas network. Every Saturday Erupture hosts networking events that not only connect people to investors, but also possible team members.
Yuvia Mendoza is one of many student-founders at Haas. Daniel Tsentsiper is another Haas student entrepreneur who founded Veriply, a company that uses “machine learning and AI-powered invoice anomaly protection to prevent overcharges and fraud.”
Tsentsiper’s passion for start-ups is derived from his desire to control his own destiny – having a business of his own is a means to do just that. He describes start-up culture as “people with diverse opinions coming together to solve problems and to change the world.” The biggest skill he has learned from Haas has been leadership, and he has applied his leadership skills into his role as co-director of the Entrepreneurship Committee.
Tsentsiper used his start-up background and experience to create the Entrepreneurship Committee within the Haas Business Student Association. The committee’s goal is to provide resources and opportunities to future founders and will do so by “curating content to empower aspiring [entrepreneurs]… and building strategic partnerships with organizations.” In order to egnite more conversation about entrepreneurship on campus, the committee will host startup bootcamp sessions, workshops, and mentorship programs. These events will be open to all students.
One of the strong figures within the Berkeley entrepreneurship community is Rhonda Shrader. Shrader is the executive director of Haas’ Entrepreneurship Program and is a Berkeley Haas alumni who worked with one of her professors to start a company while at Haas. When asked what makes Haas’ start-up culture unique, Rhonda broke it down into three pillars: diverse mix of disciplines, mutual respect, and scrappiness. Haas is unique in that there are a lot of grad students, undergrads, and faculty all working together. This is seen a lot in programs meant for early stage start-ups, like Berkeley StEP and NSF I-Corps. Furthermore, “Haasies spend their first two years in the greater Berkeley mix, [allowing them to] form substantive networks.” Haas’ diverse network, entrepreneurship classes, and programs on campus makes it easy for students to learn more about entrepreneurship.
Shrader encourages students to get involved in the Berkeley start-up community by finding a problem that they really care about – “the best entrepreneurs are ones who solve problems they or those close to them experience personally” – and then find a diverse team that can work cohesively towards a common goal. It’s important to utilize the Haas network, programs, and events to learn the fundamental skills of building a company from scratch. If you’re interested in learning more about entrepreneurship or joining a start-up team, joining programs and events mentioned in this blog are a great way to start.