SkyDeck is UC Berkeley. Why That Matters.
I have been Executive Director at SkyDeck for almost three years. In that time, our program has grown from around 50 graduated startups to almost 150. Our mentor group – our SkyAdvisors- has grown from 30 to 90. We now have the Berkeley Acceleration Method. Our home, 2150 Shattuck, the tallest building in Downtown Berkeley, will soon have our lovely, lighted SkyDeck sign on top. Our building will become the “SkyDeck” building. This is our permanent home, here in Berkeley, one block from our campus.
We built this program because we believe in UC Berkeley and we believe that our talented founders will change the world.
The reason SkyDeck is so meaningful to me is that it is part of UC Berkeley. Not a separate entity, but an official UC Berkeley program.
SkyDeck is UC Berkeley. Period. We are Berkeley’s official startup accelerator and very, very proud to be so.
I could have found any number of investors to launch a fund to simply invest in SkyDeck startups. I was not interested in doing that.
I wanted to create a fund that would not only invest in our startups, but share the returns on those investments with UC Berkeley. A fund with a big Bear heart. A fund that would be our fund for UC Berkeley.
That’s what we have created with the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund. The Fund is a venture fund that is so tightly aligned with SkyDeck that it feels like our own fund (but it’s not- UC Berkeley cannot run a venture fund due to our legal status as a not-for-profit, public entity.)
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund is sharing returns from the fund 50-50 with UC Berkeley. 50-50. Let that sink in.
When I set out to find a fund manager, I knew I needed a Cal Bear. I needed an entrepreneur. I needed an investor. I needed an engineer or scientist to balance my business background. I needed someone who believed in SkyDeck and the UC Berkeley mission as much as I do. I needed someone with fund management experience. I needed someone with a global perspective. I needed one person to be all these people.
I found him. Chon Tang is an incredible talent and a fiercely dedicated Cal Bear. We both believe in UC Berkeley’s ability to create startups and draw talent from around the world that will transform our world and solve problems on a global scale.
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund will help our startups reach their potential, at one of the most exciting times for launching startups, in one of the world’s greatest centers of discovery and talent: UC Berkeley. Our startups don’t leave Berkeley to launch. At SkyDeck, they are at Berkeley.
We hope that someday, our startups will grow up to be big companies that solve big problems. Our goal is that the returns from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund will nurture the next generation of young startups, and help support our amazing, wonderful, soul-supporting university.
This can only happen because SkyDeck is UC Berkeley, and the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund is our fund. SkyDeck is UC Berkeley, and UC Berkeley is SkyDeck.
by Caroline Winnett, Executive Director, SkyDeck