Berkeley Angels Network promotes entrepreneurship

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University of California, Berkeley, attendees Catherine Chiu and George Willman and Jerry Engel, the founding director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, formed the Berkeley Angels Network, a local investor community that encourages entrepreneurship, last year. This group's members include alumni, faculty and former teachers from UC Berkeley, and these experts are happy to share their knowledge with the city's business community.

"It was a logical extension of the support the university had given on campus," Chiu told The Daily Californian. "We wanted to harvest alumni with experience and knowledge to support entrepreneurship on and off campus."

The opportunities available from the Berkeley Angels Network
Network members have access to mentorship from a wide collection of UC Berkeley alums and entrepreneurs. Chiu said that the organization intends to provide access to investors who will actively listen to startup founders. Additionally, she stated that the network hopes to host numerous panel events and social gatherings at UC Berkeley's Skydeck - an entrepreneurship center operated by the school.

"The Berkeley Angels Network is an important part of the Berkeley entrepreneurship ecosystem," Engel told the news source. "It provides opportunities for students and alumni to meet investors who have a special Berkeley affinity."

Andrew Dunkle is one of several community members who has already benefited from the Berkeley Angels Network. He co-founded Go Overseas, a website that provides information for people who are interested in studying, traveling or volunteering abroad, and Dunkle said the network offered valuable networking opportunities with members of the Berkeley entrepreneurship community.

As of June 2012, the Berkeley Angels Network has hosted two networking sessions and two pitch meetings, events in which roughly 30 investors heard presentations from nine companies. The network has attracted roughly 100 members and at least three companies have received funding from some of its members.

Chiu said that the Berkeley Angels Network is currently a startup organization, but she anticipates it will significantly expand. She noted that the organization has exceeded expectations thus far, and plans are in the works so it can improve its operations.