1) What stage startups do you take?
It varies. Typically, teams that are ready for SkyDeck have the following:
- At least two founders working full-time on the company
- A prototype or minimum viable product developed
- Some amount of traction in the form of beta testers/customers/other
We will accept earlier stage teams that are technology, biotech, or science startups. We sometimes take earlier stage teams of any type if there is a compelling team, idea, or market need.
2) If I’m very early stage should I apply for the cohort?
Yes. We close the Hot-Desking track during cohort application period. Even if you are not sure you are ready for the cohort program, submit your application. We sometimes offer applicants Hot-Desking if we find they are too early for the cohort but qualify for the hot desk program.
3) Does my startup need to be in a certain industry?
We accept startups in all industries.
4) Can I attend another program or accelerator at the same time I am in the SkyDeck cohort program?
Yes, as long as your startup’s primary residence is SkyDeck and your team attends all required events and meets deadlines for updates, as well as meetings with your Lead Advisor. Sometimes startups attend both SkyDeck and other campus programs such as The Foundry.
5) Do we need to have to have customer traction?
No, but if there is some traction a team can show with users, it is generally helpful.
6) What is the workspace like at SkyDeck?
We have a dynamic open co-working space. Cohort teams have a dedicated work space and can reserve conference rooms. We are at the top of the tallest building in downtown Berkeley, with a killer 360 degree view of the Bay Area. We have fiber-optic cable wifi and a large, fully stocked Nespresso machine.
7) What are the resources for SkyDeck startups?
SkyDeck regularly hosts office hours with VC’s, seed funds, angel investors, law firms, accountants, subject matter experts, qualified startup vendors, and experienced entrepreneurs.
Our Industry Partners regularly interact with our teams and are looking for startups working in areas of interest to them. They also help mentor and advise our startups.
Our SkyTalk series features experts in startups and investors. Our most recent SkyTalk featured partners from Sequoia Capital, Canvas Ventures, and InterWest Partners.
While in residence at SkyDeck teams can access our private site, the SkyPortal, where teams can find our Advisors, resources, calendar, and investor database.
Our Founding Females events are for our women entrepreneurs to deepen your networks for female founders and investors.
Our community of teams is growing and engaged. We invite alumni to SkyDeck for events and teams share resources and learnings with each other.
SkyDeck is a point of access to the campus entrepreneur and startup community. Investors and companies interested in partnering with startups often come to SkyDeck to connect with the startups at UC Berkeley.
8) Who runs SkyDeck?
Caroline Winnett, our Executive Director, is an entrepreneur and investor, as well as a Bear (Haas MBA). Her entire family went to UC Berkeley. Go Bears!
SkyDeck is a program of the Vice-Chancellor for Research Office at UC Berkeley. The governing Board for SkyDeck is the Vice-Chancellor for Research, the Dean of the College of Engineering, and the Dean of the Haas School of Business.
9) What events are required for us to attend if we should get accepted?
The first two weeks starting with Orientation Day on June 6 are required for Cohort Teams to attend, as we have many Berkeley Acceleration Method (BAM) workshops as well as other events. After that, we have many optional workshops and events for teams.
Every Friday we have SkyHack, a mandatory event for teams, during which one or two teams present a current challenge they are facing for their peers to hack solutions. It is a closed event just for teams and their Lead Advisors. Hopsy Beer is provided.
All teams are expected to present at Demo Day.
10) What is the Berkeley Acceleration Method (BAM)?
SkyDeck’s six-month program to accelerate startups towards a position of strength for growth and survival in their market. It is a practical, experience-based program designed by serial entrepreneurs, VCs, and thought leaders informed by the discipline of entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley. The program has 6 practice areas: Product Story, Market Traction, Business Model, Team Development, Funding Plan, and Design Methods. For each practice area, cohort teams attend a mandatory 1-2 hr. workshop during their six-month residence at SkyDeck. Each workshop is led by an industry expert from our network of Advisors.
Each team is paired with a Lead Advisor. Your Lead Advisor works with you throughout the program and is your main advocate. You can also work with the other Advisors at SkyDeck at any time. Typically teams meet with their Lead a few times a month and connect with other Advisors at several points during the program, as requested.
11) When does the cohort start?
Orientation Day is June 6, 2017.
12) When is Demo Day?
Demo Day is mid-November, 2017. Exact date TBA.
13) What is the difference between the cohort and the hot desk tracks?
Cohort teams have a Lead Advisor, go through the 6-month BAM program, attend all required events, are generally present at SkyDeck, and are fully engaged members of the SkyDeck community. They have a dedicated work space and have the expectation to present at Demo Day.
Hot Desk teams are for teams that are typically a little early for SkyDeck. They are also teams who are interested in a shorter stay than six months and/or already have funding and want to engage with the SkyDeck community as they transition from campus to their permanent workspace. Hot Desk teams do not have assigned work space or a Lead Advisor, but are invited to work in the open areas and to attend all workshops and events. Graduates of the cohort program are also invited to hot desk at SkyDeck for 6 months post-graduation, if space is available.
Hot desk teams are sometimes invited to present at Demo Day, if they are ready to do so and meet the standards of SkyDeck Demo Day presentations.
14) How do you work with UC Berkeley?
UC Berkeley is a valuable resource for our teams. SkyDeck works directly with the campus for our teams for intern and team member recruiting, use of the labs and computing facilities, connecting with a certain professor/dept. at UC Berkeley, and engaging with the other startup programs on and near campus. We can also help teams communicate with the myriad of student-run organizations.
15) Do you provide funding for your startups?
Not at this time. We have a fund in the development stage.
16) What is the Application Process Timeline?
- March 31 through April 9 – Applications review
- April 10 – Applicants selected for first round of interviews are notified
- April 17 & 18 – First round of interviews
- April 21 – Applicants selected for final interviews are notified
- April 24 & 26 – Final round of interviews
- May 1 – Applicants notified if accepted to Fall 2017 Cohort
- June 6 – Fall Cohort Begins
Still have unanswered questions? Contact us directly and we’ll get back to you.