Finding Greener Ways to Improve Technology

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For the first time ever, Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship  (BHEP) and Berkeley’s IEOR  department have joined forces to form an immersive and rigorous course, Lean Transfer (INDENG 290). This course consists of MBA students as well as M.Eng. students, undergraduates and visiting scholars. On November 29th, students in Lean Transfer presented their final pitches to fellow classmates as well as the inventors whose technologies were at the core of the class.


About Lean Transfer

Typical Lean Launchpad classes require students to supply their own ideas and technologies. However, not all students are inventors and many want to learn Lean principles without the pressure of starting an actual company.  Lean Transfer solves this problem by giving students access to world-class technologies created by UC Berkeley’s Bakar Fellows as a basis for learning the Lean Startup process.

Students spent the first few weeks of the course learning about these technologies from several generous Bakar Fellows and their grad students.  Students then formed teams around projects as diverse as making “greener jeans” to widely applying a novel microscopy technique.  The students also learned how to create testable hypotheses on finding a product-market fit.  These hypotheses were tested with potential customers using Lean Launchpad tools as well as “relentlessly direct” feedback from weekly presentations.  Each team completed 85+ interviews and had multiple pivots as they moved closer to the “ground truth” about their technology’s commercial potential.


Team Greener Jeans


Final Pitches

Student teams shared their Lessons Learned with the instructors, inventors and representatives from UC Berkeley’s Intellectual Property and Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA) group.

Although all teams experienced multiple pivots, none of the teams found a product-market fit to justify a standalone venture. However, the teams identified licensing and partnering as promising next steps for their technologies to be incorporated into larger products and services.

In summary one student, Rachel Grossberg, stated, “Having the best technology in the world doesn’t make it any easier to create a sustainable business.”  



Special thanks to UC Berkeley IPIRA, the Bakar Fellows inventors, and the graduate students who provided their knowledge and experience to help guide the students in Lean Transfer this past semester. More thanks to the volunteer co-instructors Errol Arkilic (M34 Capital), Darren Cooke (Torvents, Life Science Angels), Rhonda Shrader (Executive Director of BHEP) and GSI Chinmay Malaviya for making this course a reality!