1) Who can apply to Berkeley SkyDeck?
Berkeley SkyDeck is open to all affiliates of UC Berkeley, LBNL, and UCSF. This means students, staff, alumni, researchers, visiting scholars, and faculty are all welcome. Your startup’s affiliated team members can be founders, employees, or advisors.
Global founders without previous affiliation to UC Berkeley can also apply to join our Global Founder Program. If accepted, they qualify for participation in Berkeley SkyDeck.
2) How much funding is offered?
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund offers up to $100,000 as accelerator funding for companies accepted into SkyDeck’s six-month full cohort program. The $100,000 is normally divided into two tranches: $50,000 immediately upon acceptance, and $50,000 after passing your ‘midterm’ 3-months into the program. This is offered via a standard SAFE note, without a discount, and a $2M cap. This accelerator funding can help you make your first outside hires, finish your product, test your go-to market strategy… and so much more.
The Fund will also invest up to 10% of your first institutional funding round, helping accelerate your fund-raising process even more.
3) Is there any kind of tuition cost for participating in your accelerator?
No! Berkeley SkyDeck is a program of the University of California, Berkeley – there are no additional tuition costs.
4) Why should I join Berkeley SkyDeck?
We offer expertise in both business building and fundraising.
Our mentor network leans heavily on Berkeley graduates and other experienced Silicon Valley veterans, and can offer tremendous assistance in finding product/market fit, building your team, and going to market. We are an official UC Berkeley program, and Berkeley has the largest alumni network in Silicon Valley. We can help you tap into that alumni network effectively.
From a fundraising point of view, Berkeley SkyDeck is backed by top industry investors and VCs from Silicon Valley and beyond. They work with us to identify their top targets for future investments. We also have hundreds of seed and angel investors who attend our Demo Days in hopes of finding the next moonshot startup. We have also brought in numerous international and corporate investors who are at SkyDeck to evaluate the potential of your product, and help you interface with other markets world-wide where you might have potential.
We also love deep science founders. As a member company here, you can access UC Berkeley lab facilities including QB3 Stanley Hall, LBNL Molecular Foundry, Nanofabrication Lab, Biomolecular Nanotechnology Center, and so much more. And we have lots of expertise ranging from SBIR to IP licensing that we’ll happily share.
And finally, remember that a portion of the gains from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund’s investment in your company will go back to the University. If you succeed, you will also be helping the next generation of UC Berkeley entrepreneurs succeed!
5) Are there specific sectors you invest in?
We are open to applicants from all sectors, ranging from consumer, to enterprise, to IT, to digital health, to the hardest problems in science. However, keep in mind our goal is to nurture and grow investable companies that can raise money from venture capital or corporate partners after graduation.
6) Is my startup a fit for SkyDeck?
Our accelerator program is here to help founders successfully develop their business and raise money from the best institutional VC investors at the best valuations possible. If your company is ready to raise institutional funds within the next six months (with our support), then you are a fit for SkyDeck.
Every company situation is different, but within the next six months you should be able to either show significant revenues, or achieve major product milestones. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you consider the process (and these are the same questions we will ask as we evaluate the application):
- Can I deliver a minimally viable product within the next six months with $100,000 in funding?
- Is my core team able to working on this full time over the next six months? Are all aspects of the business supported by competent, skilled co-founders?
- Have I identified who my customer is? Do I know who has buying authority, how much they can pay?
- Do I know the size of my potential market in 1 year, 3 years, 10 years?
- Who are my potential competitors, current and future? What advantages do I have over them?
- What resources or introductions could SkyDeck make, and can these help my business model succeed?
7) I’m not interested in accelerator funding, should I still consider SkyDeck?
Absolutely. Some companies won’t need the $100,000 in accelerator funding offered by the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund. We encourage you to apply into our “Hot Desk” program. The “Hot Desk” program offers you many of the same resources that our full cohort companies offer, including access to campus facilities, SkyDeck events, and when appropriate, presenting at Demo Day.
And you are eligible to receive investment from Berkeley SkyDeck Fund of up to 10% in an institutional round that you raise after joining SkyDeck.
8) Am I guaranteed to receive $100,000 upon admission into SkyDeck?
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund, for legal reasons, has its own investment review process. The SkyDeck review process is carefully designed to select teams that should be eligible for investment. The $100k in funding is further divided up into two tranches: $50k immediately upon entry into SkyDeck, and $50k more at the “midterm” point for achieving basic milestones in terms of business development.
9) I have been through SkyDeck once already, can we return?
Companies who have previously been through the program before funding was offered are able to apply again, and will be evaluated on the same basis as all other applicants.
10) 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.
Have more questions? Contact us directly and we’ll get back to you.