UC Berkeley or the art of relying on its network! Continuation of an unforgettable journey for 9 incubated startups.

31 January 2020 By

The end of the journey to the heart of Silicon Valley is approaching for our young startuppers! They take full advantage of the two remaining days to meet new players in this teeming entrepreneurial ecosystem. This Thursday, Schoolab San Francisco and the University of Berkeley will be their hosts!

Thanks to Julian (Picme) and Philémon (Barks) for their testimony on this busy day!

To start this day, go to the premises of Schoolab, partner of NEOMA! Welcomed by Mathieu Aguesse, the CEO of this American branch, the students discover an innovation studio entirely dedicated to the creativity and support of entrepreneurs. Mathieu explains that Schoolab strives to cross four poles of activity: consulting, accelerating startups, co-working and training. For him, everything starts with a single, ubiquitous state of mind in Silicon Valley: the desire to do it yourself. Whether it is to create their own business or to develop innovative projects in the form of intrapreneurship within large groups, all are driven by this same impulse.

The CEO’s speech echoes what our young shoots have heard throughout the week, namely that “all unicorns are global”. In San Francisco, a startup has value in the eyes of investors only if it carries an international ambition and very strong growth, even if the company burns its wings in ten years barely. A vision that leaves Philémon (Barks) perplexed: is it more desirable to embark on the creation of an ambitious but risky business in the long term? Or is it better to create a smaller structure that will last over time? For his part, he wants to make Barks a solid and sustainable company, an equally commendable choice according to Mathieu.

Among this ocean of startups that are created day by day, one of the key success factors remains the identification of its “key activity”: what is your main asset compared to your competitors? A unique question from which all the strategy of the startup stems, from the marketing plan to the financial investments, via the way of pitching your project. Morgan (Cassette) and Julian (Picme) realize that it is necessary for them to dig deeper into this question in order to differentiate themselves better on the market.

Mathieu also presents them with the Bridge program for which NEOMA has partnered with Schoolab. This program allows French students to come and study a semester at the prestigious University of Berkeley in order to develop a business creation project alongside professionals and entrepreneurship experts from the most dynamic of innovation pools. Then, in the second semester, these students are incubated at Schoolab San Francisco to continue their development. A program in partnership with engineering and design schools, which gives access to both complementary skills at the service of the startup and makes it possible to meet potential future partners.

After this presentation of the Bridge program, it is with great haste that our 9 startups are heading to the UC Berkeley campus. They meet David Law, Director of the Sutardja Center for entrepreneurship and technology, and quickly understand that this University fully encourages its students to undertake. At the heart of this campus, our students retain two major assets that make the University a paradise for entrepreneurs. Matthias (EzB) is first of all impressed by the fact that each university faculty can bring their skills to startups. Law, business, tech, social sciences … the departments do not act as independent silos, but rather as part of a whole of which the different parts are dependent on each other. An entrepreneur can thus prototype a product and use research centers to launch their idea. A system that perfectly meets the needs of a startup whose activities are, by nature, multiple.

The second undeniable asset lies in the strength of the University’s alumni network. As in all major American universities, UC Berkeley students are strongly attached and grateful to their school. This community bond is cultivated throughout their studies through sport, fraternities as well as the services and infrastructures made available to them. A powerful and virtuous feeling since it allowed UC Berkeley to collect several hundred million dollars in donations in 2019 from its alumni. Julian and Philémon are fully aware that this very active network represents a great pool of opportunities for entrepreneurs. When they return to France, they intend to rely more on the NEOMA network, which has 59,500 alumni spread across the world.

The evening is about pitch! Our young entrepreneurs take part in the “Founders Live” event, a monthly pitch competition which offers startuppers to present themselves in 99 seconds. The exercise once again demonstrates the importance of training to know how to put yourself clearly forward and captivate your audience with an adapted storytelling. The second part of the event is dedicated to networking, which allows our young people to train in turn on the pitch that they reworked throughout the week. Matthias (EzB) hits the bull’s eye, delighted, with the business card of a data analyst interested in his big data project.