Berkeley StEP (Student Entrepreneurs Program) puts on their first ever Pitch Competition

Josephine Chiang
May 2 · 4 min read

UC Berkeley students have access to a variety of accelerators and funds for their emerging startups, but there is a disconnect between what they have learned in the classroom and where they need to be to join one of these accelerators. Hence, we created StEP, the Student Entrepreneurs Program. In just 4 months, our pioneering cohort of 25 teams worked with their coaches to complete the scaffolding of their startup. By this Tuesday, they were ready to pitch in our Startup Showcase Day.

If you weren’t there, boy, did you miss out. But I am here to catch you up on the details.

StEP Startup Showcase Day by the numbers

👉 6 judges representing 6 funds (SkyDeck, GSV Labs, Bee Partners, The House Fund, Dorm Room Fund, Arrow Capital); in addition, we had prizes from Y Combinator, Foundation Capital, Ironfire Ventures, Initialized.

👉 23 teams for preliminary round

👉 10 teams to the Final Round

👉 2 Runner-ups: Voca and DeWaste 🥈

……and 1 Winner: DISPATCH 🥇

After our first round of pitches, over 180 people poured into Spieker Forum at Haas School of Business on Tuesday evening to watch our top 10 teams pitch for the win. In 5 minute pitches, our teams shared what they have built and discovered throughout StEP’s 10-week program. In our following happy hour, ticket-holders, investors, and our StEP cohort had the chance to network with each other. Anindit Gopalakrishnan, an undergraduate studying Computer Science at Berkeley, told me, “It’s pretty amazing to get to chat with well-accomplished people and talk to them about what they’re good at.” I smiled as I realized we had achieved what we sought to build all along — a diverse startup community accessible to individuals at all entrepreneurship levels.

Excitement erupts as Kira announces the first place winner

The climax of the night was when Kira Noodleman, the representative judge from our supportive partner and sponsor Bee Partners, announced our first place winner, Dispatch. To eliminate the need for single-use packaging in food delivery and therefore reduce landfill, Dispatch is creating a reusable to-go container solution by tapping into the circular food delivery economy. Lindsey Hoell, co-founder of the team, expressed on stage how grateful the team is to witness their idea materialize and hard work pay off. Congrats to Lindsey, Andrew, Moritz, and Jessica for taking home the big win! 🎉🎉🎉

Of course, our StEP team is also extremely excited about what we have kicked off in our first run of the program. We will dive into a deeper reflection in a later blog post, but for now, we want to thank every individual that attended the showcase, every student of our first StEP cohort, and all of our supporting VC firms for helping us make our Showcase Day an incredible success. Thank you for celebrating with us the first of many StEPs.

The StEP team and some members of our cohort

Some other digits

🗣 5 roundtable topics discussed: product market fit, how to be a resource magnet, balancing design and engineering, growth hacking, and team culture building

🥂 82 bottles of beer & wine downed

🥪 160 sandwiches gobbled

And only 1 fight erupted… between Mike and Josephine over the last sandwich 🤼‍♂️

Keep in touch

As usual, stay updated on our program by…

📖 Subscribing to our Medium publication

👍 Liking and following us on Facebook and Instagram

🖥 And checking out the StEP website

If you are interested in supporting StEP, please email us at

If you are interested in applying to the second cohort of StEP, stay tuned on!

Berkeley StEP

Josephine Chiang

Written by

Berkeley StEP

A 8-week experiential program that connects UC Berkeley engineering, computer science, business, design, and law students to help them try a real founder experience

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