Amazoogle: Creating Data-Driven Startup Ventures

Challenge Lab

INDENG 185-002 (4 units)

Class Description

Big Data, machine learning and AI are well understood technologies, yet their applications in business are dominated by a small group of uber-practitioners, as exemplified by Amazon and Google.  What do these companies know – and practice – that others do not?  The Amazoogle class is an introduction into the strategy and technology of modern data-driven business models.

Beyond its application in well-known business sectors, the Amazoogle model now holds particular promise in delivering social equity in a range of fields, including healthcare, education and financial access.  How could these lessons also be applied to one of the most pressing challenges of our times – Climate Change?  Students in the class will learn and subsequently build, in collaboration with a small team of fellow students, a software application to deliver positive impact to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Students will leverage Big Data, machine learning and behavioral economics in the full Amazoogle model, with a constant eye on technology ethics.

Students from all majors, both undergraduate and graduate, are welcome to join as teams will be encouraged to assemble interdisciplinary skills to develop a software application for their final projects. A passion for the UN Sustainable Development Goals ( is preferred but not a pre-requisite.

Challenge Lab

Challenge Labs (INDENG 185) are classes for students of all academic backgrounds who seek a rigorous, interactive, team-based, and hands-on learning experience in entrepreneurship and technology. This course uses a unique pedagogy, The Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship that involves the use of games, industry guest speakers, team exercises, videos and labs to cover the early part of the startup lifecycle. Each Challenge Lab has a different theme. In this highly experiential course, students form start-up teams to create technology solutions or services to address a broadly-defined problem posed by an industry partner or social challenge.


Gert Christen is an innovation strategist and a launcher of new businesses – 14 so far in his career. He has built successful start-up incubators with start-ups acquired by GoPro and T-Mobile. During his corporate career he created the world’s first App stores for Nokia, delivering content to more than 200 million mobile phones. He is convinced that entrepreneurship is a key to solving some of the world’s biggest challenges and has been teaching the topic for over 10 years in Switzerland and at UC Berkeley since 2019. He holds a degree in marketing from HWZ University in Zurich, Switzerland, and an M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.


Shomit Ghose has been a longtime partner at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.  He has also had a long career as a start-up entrepreneur, participating in multiple successful exits, and having held all operating roles from engineer to CEO.  Shomit has been an industry fellow, advisory board member and lecturer at UC Berkeley’s SCET since 2005, and also serves as adjunct professor in innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco.  He holds his degree in computer science from UC Berkeley.


View current and previous class offerings of Challenge Labs.

Refer to our Courses page for a full list of SCET courses and current class offerings

and our Certificate page for more information on our Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Technology.


Contact SCET Academic Program Manager Michelle Lee at for additional questions.