Buzzing with Excitement about UC Berkeley Deal Flow

Next week, at BerkeleyHaas’ annual celebration (Haas Gala), Danae Ringelmann & Eric Schell, co-founders of Indiegogo, a Bee Partners company, will be honored for their incredible achievements in entrepreneurship.  In Part I of a series on how Bee Partners fits so well with UC Berkeley, here are my thoughts on the current investment climate within its ecosystem .

What do Sun Microsystems, neoprene wetsuits, hard disc drives, the computer mouse, ‘windowed’ user interfaces, and hypertext have in common? They were all developed at UC Berkeley!  

Cal students, alumni and its prestigious faculty have launched numerous successful companies including: Intel, VMware, Inktomi, Tesla, Keyhole, Warby Parker, Cloudera, NextDoor, Revolution Foods, ZipRealty, and many others.  According to a recent study (link is now deprecated) by The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, companies founded by UC Berkeley alumni, faculty and affiliates generate $317 billion in global annual revenue.  More recently, between 2010 and 2012, Berkeley Founders created 642 new companies – 77 percent as many new companies as over the preceding decade.  And we expect many more ahead — recent cohorts of Cal entrepreneurs impact individuals and their communities often globally in reach through the astounding power and impact of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.  Programs on-campus, including BerkeleyHaas’ Launch competition and SkyDeck, are maturing into viable accelerators with deep alumni mentor networks. And off-campus efforts, including CalFounders, aim to facilitate collaboration amongst alumni entrepreneurs.


We are incredibly proud here at Bee Partners of our heritage as a Cal-founded company ourselves.  And, we’ve had the great fortune of investing alongside numerous UC Berkeley co-investors into companies founded by both students and alumni of the school.  Of our six investments this year alone, three were founded by BerkeleyHaas MBA alumni and one by a Cal PhD graduate.   

Although the school has made great strides in recent years to catch up to that other school not to be mentioned (sorry, Garrett), there’s far more to be done.  Stronger collaboration efforts amongst programs and schools should pollinate better and more diverse ideas.  The University’s funding efforts with UC Ventures can stop the persistent capital-starved nature of Cal startups.  Funding sources, including Bee PartnersBerkeley Angel Network and many others, can drive more awareness to the breadth and depth of Cal’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.  

All of this is possible given the foundational strength of the University, its programs and its alumni.  We’re excited to continue supporting this incredible institution, to hire from its pool of talent and to invest in Cal Founders.  So on behalf of my fellow Cal alumni… Go Bears!  

Addendum:  Here are just a few examples of Cal-founded companies from the Bee Partners portfolio.  To date, Bee Partners has invested in 13 Cal companies, with two pending investment, representing ~40% of our investments to-date.

Bee Partners was among the earliest investors in Indiegogo, which has harnessed crowdfunding to enable individuals to fund campaigns spanning from independent films to tech & hardware, nonprofits, and a diverse selection of personal endeavors including medical, community, education and memorials. Indiegogo is global in reach and is visited by 15 million people each month. 224 countries and territories are home to campaigns. Congratulations Danae and Eric.

LeadGenius is a sales-acceleration solution that provides companies with an accurate, efficient way to qualify, deliver and convert leads.  This crowdsourced data-research tool provides businesses with an accurate and socially responsible way to accomplish work, and by doing so, the company has taught individuals how to participate in the online economy in over 50 countries.  LeadGenius was founded by Prayag Narula (UC Berkeley, MS 2012) and Anand Kulkarni (UC Berkeley, PhD 2011) and David Rolnitzky (UC Berkeley, MS 2012).

 Magoosh offers online standardized admission test preparation for the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, SAT, and ACT to make test prep enjoyable, affordable, effective and accessible.  Now in their 7th year, Magoosh has impacted students in 185 countries with over 1 million hours of lesson videos and 50 million practice questions answered. In 2013, after the company’s co-founder died suddenly from cancer, the two remaining co-founders founded The Hansoo Lee Fellowship for Entrepreneurs, which supports BerkeleyHaas MBA students with a stipend and mentorship to enable recipients to pursue their entrepreneurial ventures full-time during their summer internship.  Magoosh was founded by Bhavin Parikh (Haas, MBA 2010) and the late Hansoo Lee (Haas, MBA 2010).

 TubeMogul (NASDAQ: TUBE) is an enterprise software company for digital branding. The company offers a platform that enables customers to launch digital video advertising campaigns onto any digital device. The Company’s customers primarily include brands, companies, or product lines within companies.  Online video advertising was a $10.9 billion market in 2014 and is estimated to be $23.3 billion worldwide by 2017.  TubeMogul employs staff worldwide from offices in Emeryville, London, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit.  TubeMogul was founded by Brett WilsonJohn Hughes, and Mark Rotblat (all Haas MBA 2007).

Brett, Michael, and John celebrating TUBE’s debut on the NASDAQ!