Free Ventures | Support Cal's Student Entrepreneurs
We believe a university ecosystem is the ideal place to start up, and Cal is one of the best. But there's still a huge need for a strengthened community on campus to bring students together to tackle meaningful challenges.
Three years ago we founded Free Ventures with the vision of eliminating students' excuses for not pursuing a project or startup. We gave students course units to work on their startups, provided small amounts of equity-free capital, and brought in alumni entrepreneur mentors to guide them on their way. We supported brilliant students in turning an idea or project into a scalable business, and in doing so sparked venture-backed businesses that would not otherwise exist.
Since our founding in 2013, Free Ventures has incubated 40 teams of Cal student entrepreneurs in 7 batches. Collectively they've raised over $25 million from Y Combinator, KPCB, Greylock Partners, and other funds, and gone on to tackle problems in VR, drones, IoT, neuroscience, AI, real estate, and renewable energy -- just to name a few.
However, we can't do this alone. As a non-profit organization organization run entirely by students, we need your help to extend our mission and help the next wave of UC Berkeley student entrepreneurs. Please make a gift today and help spread the word.
We envision a world where Berkeley students spend less time on class projects and more time on building tools that create a positive impact on people's lives and the world. By connecting students with the right resources, motivation, and support, students can be empowered to build more, and do more. Join us in our quest to build a better community.
WE PROVIDE OUR STUDENT FOUNDERS WITH...
2 ACADEMIC UNITS
Students receive two units in Computer Science while participating in FreeV, thereby enabling them to invest more time into their company while working toward their degree. We work through Berkeley's DeCal program, and you can view our course page at decal.org.
We fund our teams to provide student startups with finanical support (up to thousands of dollars on needs-base) for their project. We call them micro grants, made to alleviate students' finanical concerns during the development of their startup with no strings attached.
Each week we bring in between five and six mentors -- our word for individuals with specific background from either industry or academia -- to sit down with each of our teams for twenty-minute one-on-one sessions. These provide our founders with the opportunity to openly discuss their progress or challenges and receive candid feedback from thought leaders in the Valley, in addition to building their network for future introductions or investments.
Our workshops are lead by industry or academic experts and are designed to provide information that tracks the development of each team's progress and premptively answers any questions that may arise. Topics range broadly and include design, product managment, funding, and legal incorporation.
Free Ventures provides students access to a variety of contacts from industry, academia, and the student community. This network can be tapped to provide technical expertise, funding advice, legal services, amongst other wisdom and help. Get plugged in to the network you need to succeed.
Students receive access to The House, a dedicated space to meet with their team members and work . For students with needs for specific resourses (e.g. hardware development equipment), Free Ventures works to secure the required resources through collaboration with other university entities or resource partners.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT
As a non-profit organization, we rely on donations from Cal alumni and venture firms to operate our program and support our student founders. Funds go directly towards our batch companies, namely in the form of needs-based, equity-free funding to help their companies scale, and to run our weekly mentor and workshop sessions.
Small donations will help to keep our program operating at its current scale, but larger amounts will help us to further advance our mission of supporting student entrepreneurs at Cal by providing more funding for hardware teams -- necessary for prototyping, patent filings, and manufacturing -- improving the quality of our workshops, and enhancing the sense of community and collaboration within our batch.
Please consider making a gift and help us spread the word to help us in our mission to empower UC Berkeley students with the resources they need to start up.