Bay Area Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This course is a full immersion into the Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem bringing together the determination and professionalism of its entrepreneurs and the sophistication of its investors. The content will cover both sides of what makes that ecosystem work, entrepreneurship and investing, and the mutualism that exists here.
The class is based on innovation, entrepreneurship, and investor frameworks. Students will work in teams to complete both an entrepreneurial pitch and an investment memo on Friday. The pitches will be used on the final day to illustrate the nature of the commitment an entrepreneur makes at the start of a new company. Your investment decision will also be presented on the final day and these two experiences will cement the overall learning from the content, the visits, and the speakers. You will also have an opportunity to “design your life” based on those experiences.

There will be considerable work required and full participation in class discussions and group work will be critical for the class to be a success. Participating Haas students will receive letter grades. If you cannot commit to full participation and meaningful contribution to the course’s deliverables, please do not apply for this course.

CAREER FIELD: This class aims to deepen your skills on the core activities that make Silicon Valley work by examining both the entrepreneur’s and investor’s perspectives. It is a particularly good fit for anyone wishing to be an entrepreneur or investor and it is also valuable for anyone who wants to acquire the mindsets and skillsets of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors.

CLASS FORMAT: Activities, case discussions, company visits, lectures, and guest speakers. We will have one or two company visits and panel discussions to provide deeper perspectives about the community from practitioners.

REQUIRED READINGS: Readings will be assigned electronically through our learning management system known as bcourses. The required readings before class will be extensive. There is no textbook but we will make several recommendations for related books.

SARA BECKMAN has spent her years as a boundary spanner at UC Berkeley where she has held faculty appointments in both the Haas School of Business and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She served as Chief Learning Officer for the newly formed Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation and facilitated the creation of a multi-disciplinary Certificate in Design Innovation. She teaches courses such as Collaborative Innovation which integrates Art Practice, Theater and Dance Performance Studies and Business perspectives on both collaboration and innovation. Sara’s research focuses on the pedagogy of teaching design and on the role of diversity on design and innovation teams for which she developed a Teaming with Diversity curriculum that is being used in classes in engineering, biological sciences, humanities and business courses at UC Berkeley as well as at a local high school. She has published case studies on design for sustainability, design road mapping, and leveraging design approaches in sales processes.

DAVID CHARRON is a member of the professional faculty at UC Berkeley. He teaches courses in innovation and entrepreneurship including Business Model Innovation and Entrepreneurial Strategy, Growth Hacking for Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Applied Innovation/Design Thinking, and Venture Capital Investing. He actively works with scientists through the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health's I-Corps programs where he is Lead Faculty and trains others to teach its rigorous curriculum through the Lean Launchpad Educators program and also directly for the government. Mr. Charron is an entrepreneur, having been a founder of Scientific Learning Corporation, the first successful neuroplasticity company. He has also started several other ventures and advises startups, inventors, entrepreneurs, and companies. He is an angel investor in several companies (World of Good, sold to eBay; Yardbarker, sold to Fox Sports; Magoosh;, Neurotrainer, Cadence Health and others) and is on several Boards of Directors (Impact Carbon, a non-profit improving health, reducing poverty, and improving local environments while slowing climate change; Think-now, focused on disorders of human attention).

Mr. Charron has been Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (formerly known as the Lester Center) at Haas and was Executive Director of the Berkeley Entrepreneurship Lab, an incubator/accelerator, that produced three venture-backed startups per year (including Revolution Foods, CommandCad, TubeMogul, Indiegogo, Aurora Biofuels, Silicon Clocks, Alphabet Energy and others) during his tenure.

Vivek Rao Biography

Vivek Rao is a lecturer at Berkeley Haas, where he teaches human-centered design, foresight, and innovation methods to MBA and EWMBA students. In addition to his work at Haas, he also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering in the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation. His early-stage innovation and R&D experience spans products, services, organizational transformation, and infrastructure. During his PhD study in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley, his research won multiple industry and academic awards. He also worked in Process Research and Development at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Wastewater Enterprise. Before his PhD, he worked as a designer and strategist at IDEO, where he helped Fortune 500 clients innovate in sectors ranging from pharmaceuticals to furniture.


GNAM Student Testimony

“One of the best lectures I’ve had!”

“Fantastic course and learning outcomes. I came away with more knowledge than I expected learned a lot about VC as well as entrepreneurship.”

“The industry knowledge of the professors gave some interesting anecdotal commentary, as well as much greater credibility to the lessons learned in the course.”

“Fantastic professors!”

“Great learning outcomes and really well taught. Broadened my mind and showed me the possibilities in the Bay Area.”

“I would definitely recommend the instructors and the course to a fellow student who is into the entrepreneurship and venture capitalist topics because the way the course is designed gives a clear insight to both sides and all the exercises and assignments reinforces learning.”

“One of the best lectures I’ve had!”

“Make it longer! Like two weeks :)”