What is LAUNCH?


LAUNCH is Berkeley’s leading accelerator, designed to transform early stage startups into fundable companies. In the fall, our judges select the 20-25 hottest startups in the UC system. Teams are paired with serial-entrepreneur mentors and led through a rigorous curriculum by the acclaimed UC Berkeley Faculty. The three month long accelerator phase is designed to help UC startups grow quickly. We help companies build out their teams, protect IP, connect with industry experts, get minimum viable products into customers’ hands, prove their scalable business model, pitch to investors, and become fundable.

Program Details

  • Application Submission Deadline November 19th, 2017
  • Kickoff Boot Camp Early February

    LAUNCH Competition teams will come together in person at UC Berkeley for a two-day intensive boot camp. Teams will meet the faculty and their mentors for the first time and dive in to the curriculum they will be focused on for the months ahead.

    Topics covered will include:

    • Introduction to Getting to Fundable
    • From Strategy to Metrics That Matter
    • Advanced Customer Discovery
    • Agile Development
    • Lies Entrepreneurs Tell Investors (and Themselves)
  • Online Sessions February to April

    Teams will participate in five online sessions with Competition Faculty every other week and have direct access to mentors from February-April.

    Topics covered will include:

    • Scalable Business Model Design
    • Interviewing Customers, Partners and Investors for Customer Validation
    • Building the Team: Introspection, HR, Culture
    • Startup Law: Incorporation, Intellectual Property, HR
    • Channels and Partners: Get, Keep and Grow Customers
    • Metrics That Matter: Instrumenting Your Business and Product
    • Telling Your Story
    • Startup Finance
    • Customer Support and Evangelism
    • Selling: from Pipelines to Contracts to Closing
    • Funding for Startups: from Grants to Venture Capital
    • Networking and Pitching Investors
  • Final Bootcamp Late April

    Teams will participate in a final boot camp day in preparation for the Semi-Final and Final Round judging events.

    Topics will include:

    • What’s Next: Scaling for Success
    • Networking Sessions with Partners and Investors


  • Semi-Final/Final Round Judging Events Late April

    After an intense day of pitching at the Semi-Final Round, LAUNCH culminates that evening with pitching in front of a live audience of 300+ at the Haas School of Business.

LAUNCH History

The business plan competition (or now LAUNCH) is out-doing itself year after year, no peak insight. Happy to be back again, this time mentoring Xendit. — Philip Inghelbrecht, Co-Founder of Shazam

LAUNCH has truly been a student-run program since its inception in 1999. Founded by Melissa Daniels and Keval Desai, a pair of Berkeley-Haas MBA students, LAUNCH embodies and showcases the entrepreneurial spirit permeating throughout the UC Berkeley campus and beyond.

To this day, the executive committee is assembled from first-year Berkeley-Haas MBA students challenged with upholding and strengthening the tradition that makes LAUNCH extraordinary.

In 2012, the competition was rebranded from the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition to the UC Berkeley Startup Competition. A new format shifted the competition’s deliverables from a long-form business plan to a one-page “business model canvas” and a ten-slide “pitch deck” presentation. In 2014, the competition was rebranded from Bplan to LAUNCH to reflect the new format and mission. In 2015, LAUNCH is evolving again, now emphasizing an accelerator model designed to guide companies with validated products to fundable businesses.

To read about past Launch finals events and winners (2012-2017), please click here.

To read about past Bplan finals events and winners (1999-2011), please click here.

The Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program is an internationally recognized program and the primary locus at UC Berkeley for the study and promotion of entrepreneurship and new enterprise development. The program fosters teaching of successful entrepreneurship, encourages Berkeley-Haas students in the creation of scalable startups, conducts research and disseminates knowledge on entrepreneurship to the business and university communities, and facilitates interaction between the entrepreneurial community and the university.

Meet The Leadership Team