In January 2015, SCET launched the $15,000 Delta Prize, a new startup competition at UC Berkeley. Of the 30+ applicants from across the campus, four exceptional finalists were selected and spent the next three months accelerating their growth in Venture Lab. So why does UC Berkeley need another startup competition? Venture Lab Manager Eugene Noh explains, “The Delta Prize has a laser focus of helping early-stage startups get to the next level. The key is identifying teams that already have some measurable traction and giving them customized mentoring and resources to accelerate their growth. There are strong programs on campus, but the Delta Prize has the singular goal of preparing early-stage companies to be investor-ready.”
Instant eSports was founded by three passionate gamers, all undergraduate EECS students, who couldn’t find any one source for complete esports coverage, and by the end of the semester, their minimum viable product had been downloaded over 30,000 times from the iTunes App Store. Impressed with their product and team, the partners at Y Combinator decided to invest in Instant eSports and admitted them into their Summer 2015 Batch. This is a remarkable accomplishment, considering an estimated 1000 teams applied to Y Combinator, many for the second or third time. Regarding his experience at Venture Lab, Sebastien Merz, cofounder of Instant eSports, said, “Venture Lab was key in giving us the basic building blocks we needed to start our company. From providing office space, to connecting us with advisors, the support they gave was crucial in our first couple of months.”
Based on their progress over the three-month program, the winners of the Delta Prize were Vernox Labs, a company that uses big data analytics to improve the outcomes of capital project, and Instant eSports, a mobile app that provides news, scores and schedules for competitive gaming.