LAUNCH is The University of California’s startup accelerator, purposed to transform early-stage startups into fundable companies. During the fall, judges select a small group of startups in the UC system. Teams are then paired with serial-entrepreneur mentors and led through a rigorous curriculum with UC Berkeley faculty. LAUNCH hosts two bootcamps and one launchathon before its final demo day in May where the cohort pitches their final product or service to a kaleidoscope of investors. The three month long accelerating process is designed so that the startups can grow significantly in a smaller amount of time.
On February 2nd and 3rd, LAUNCH hosted a bootcamp for its Spring 2018 Cohort. This year’s cohort consists of 24 teams ranging from startups in biotechnology, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other areas. LAUNCH co-chairs, Jordan Sale and Christian Keil, kicked off the event with a brief introduction on what the cohort will be working on for the next three months and what to expect from the accelerator.
Guest speakers and industry leaders spoke throughout the weekend to engage with the startups on how to be successful. One speaker, Aman Verjee, COO of 500 startups, lectured on how the cohort can have a smooth experience for the next three months and beyond through team alignment, passion for their product or service, customer outreach and by having a scalable business model.
Later, a few of UC Berkeley’s faculty shared their stories on how they worked on their own startups. Andre Marquis, Executive Director, Innovation Acceleration Group, encouraged the cohort to ask as many questions as they could during their time in LAUNCH because “the accelerator will help you answer questions you don’t know the answer to.” He continued by telling the startups that they can expect highs and lows and to not be afraid of failure. Marquis motivated the cohort to pivot their ideas and decisions by stating “you are never right the first time.”
Later, each startup gave a brief five-minute introduction about what the mission of their company, what they plan to achieve in three months, and who their current customers are. To learn more about the cohort in detail, please visit the LAUNCH Medium article here.
The rest of the bootcamp consisted of lectures regarding company and risk validation, business models and value propositions, and customer outreach strategies. At the end of the first day, one of LAUNCH’s sponsors, WilmerHale, provided the startups with a “Legal 101” training to ensure a track of legal guidance and decision making.
The following day, the LAUNCH leadership team hosted various workshops for the startups to work together and understand what kind of problems they are trying to tackle in the coming weeks. One of the workshops, “Risky Assumptions”, helped the startups decide which assumptions about their company high or low risk and of those, which are hard to validate.
Make sure to visit the LAUNCH website to learn more about the mission, cohort, leadership team, and more!