Innovative Entrepreneurs: UC Berkeley BPlan Startup Competition 2012

As a Consultant, it’s always good to understand trends in technology to get a better understanding of what startup companies are receiving funding.  So, if you are interested in new startups and ventures, you will find this blog post quite interesting. I recently participated for the third year as a mentor in the Annual UC Berkeley Startup Competition and was amazed this year by the brilliant new startup ventures that are being evaluated and funded by the VC Community.

The UC Berkeley Startup Competition is now in its 14 year, and provides entrepreneurs with the best possible resources — including education, networking, team creation, mentorship and new venture financing — to help turn innovative ideas into real businesses. Audience members at the Finals participated in the selection of the People’s Choice Award and the Elevator Pitch Award, which carried a $5,000 and $1,000 prize respectively.

I’m pleased to congratulate the winners of the Annual UC Berkeley Startup Competition below with four main tracks, IT & Web, Products & Services, Life Sciences and Energy & Cleantech:

Track: IT & Web:
Company: Kloudless, Inc.
Track: Products & Services:
Company: Back to the Roots
Track: Life Sciences:
Company: Calcula Technologies
Track: Energy & Cleantech:
Company: HARBO Technologies


This year, my mentor team was Modify Watches and they placed second as a finalist in the Products & Services track. I have to say that they were extremely prepared for the competition and since they are already profitable, this team was already a well-oiled machine. I’m sure everyone would agree that building and customizing your own watch to your fashionable liking and personality is very cool!

So about the Final four winners – they were all fantastic. What impressed me most about this year’s finalists and winners is that they not only considered the environment in their products and solutions but that they also took the time to really evaluate how consumers are buying and wanting products. For example, Modify Watches is currently selling customizable, interchangeable watches for consumers and plans to develop a platform for purchasing additional types of products that are also customizable for individuals.

All of the winners this year had innovative products and solutions, and each product to me really stood out as products or solutions that help to solve real-world problems. Read on to learn more about these brilliant new entrepreneurial companies!

Products that are Customizable/Interchangeable

Modify is a brand built on freedom of expression. Customizable for individual style, Modify’s interchangeable watches offer cool/hip design for anyday wear. Available in two different sizes and over 250 combinations, Modify is a brand made for anyone—any time, these watches are available for corporate gifting or licensing.

Products that are Sustainable, Help the Environment

The winner of the products/services track was Back to the Roots, a company that promotes sustainability and zero-waste, while reconnecting people to food through its grow-at-home mushroom kit. Their gourmet mushroom kits are made with 100% recycled (Peet’s – yes Peet’s would normally toss their coffee grounds but this startup is taking the grounds off their hands) coffee grounds, and produce 2 pounds of fresh oyster mushrooms in just 10 days! People of all ages can actually grow and eat their own mushrooms all at home, a unique experience in today’s urban lifestyle.

Global Products Solving Real World Problems

As for the Grand Prize winner of the competition, I have to give hats off to Calcuta Technologies. Calcula Technologies is developing a novel urological medical device for the removal of kidney stones outside of the operating room. Their patent pending technology will treat over 4 million patients per year in the US and in Europe. Impressive product!

Products that Helps you Manage your Data on the Cloud

Everyone’s talking about the Cloud and this company helps you manage your data in the cloud. Kloudless is a free service that helps you manage all the things you put in the Cloud. We enable users to search for, access, and manage their information that is spread across the Internet. We’re starting with email attachments, the black hole of cloud services, and will expand to other cloud services in the near future. Our solution addresses an increasingly large problem as more and more information moves into the c

Products that Help to Minimize Environmental Damage, Disaster

During the first critical hours, oil-spills spread, split, and create escalating irreversible damage. HARBO develops the only emergency oil-spill containment solution for immediate response. HARBO’s Zero Time to Spill system is at standby position on-board oil-tankers/rigs and other ships and deploys a floating barrier within minutes to contain spills. HARBO’s advantage: Minimizing environmental damage, avoiding large containment & cleanup expenses, offering superb costefficiency and preventing a PR nightmare.

Congratulations finalists and winners of this year’s Startup Competition! All these entrepreneurs should be applauded for their bold efforts to help the community and to really make lives better for consumers all around the world.

For more information on these finalists, go to the UC Berkeley Business Plan Startup page.' About Sherry Prescott

Sherry helps high-technology organizations meet their strategic goals through effective channels, alliance, and marketing programs. She’s led workshops based on her award-winning book, Market This!: An Effective 90-Day Marketing Tool.

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