The Lester Center supports three premier startup competitions at Berkeley-Haas:
LAUNCH: The UC Berkeley Business Competition The marquee entrepreneurship event at UC Berkeley (more)
Global Social Social Venture Competition catalyzes ventures that create and measure both social and financial returns (more)
The Venture Capital Investment Competition allows students to apply the art and science of venture investing (more)
Overview of Startup Competitions
LAUNCH: the UC Berkeley Startup Competition is one of the foremost events for University-affiliated early stage startups. Founded in 1999, the UC Berkeley Startup Competition has become a leading Bay Area event and one of the nation’s top startup competitions. LAUNCH brings together entrepreneurs, students and alumni from across the greater UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco communities. Each fall, entrants organize teams through sponsored networking events, classes, and on their own in order to submit brief executive summaries shortly after returning from the campus winter break in January. Accepted competitors then refine their venture ideas and presentations, which are later judged by Bay Area venture capitalists to determine the semi-finalists, finalists, and ultimately, the Competition winners. Throughout it all, teams are matched with entrepreneurial mentors who provide guidance and help in iterating on their venture ideas.
The Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) empowers the next generation of social entrepreneurs by providing them with mentoring, exposure, and over $50,000 in prizes to transform their ideas into ventures that address the world’s most pressing challenges. Teams from across the globe learn how to design scalable models through a process that emphasizes stakeholder discovery, business innovation, and social impact assessment. Founded at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 1999, the GSVC has evolved into a global network of 13 premier business schools, universities, and programs in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. Each partner school and program is supported by vast regional and local networks that include other universities and organizations, student organizers, judges, mentors, and investors in the social impact, innovation, and entrepreneurship space. GSVC has helped launch successful social ventures such as Kiva, d.light, Revolution Foods, Husk Power, Ethos Water, and World of Good.
The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) is, in essence, a “reverse business plan competition.” Student teams assume the role of venture capitalists and evaluate and “fund” investment opportunities. Real entrepreneurs who are currently seeking funding present their startups to the VCIC teams, while the teams are judged by experienced venture capitalists. The Competition is open to all UC Berkeley graduate students interested in trying their hand at being a venture capitalist for a day. There is strong interest in the Competition each year, with an average of 30 teams applying to compete for just six spots. . Winners of the UC Berkeley round go on to compete in the regional finals at Santa Clara University. Regional winners progress to the national finals at the University of North Carolina, where a Haas team took the national title in 2005. VCIC ® is a trademark of the University of North Carolina.