UC Berkeley's non-profit, student-run incubator

We are a program run by students, for students. Each semester the brightest UC Berkeley student founders apply to Free Ventures to bring their dissertation research, side projects, or innovative products to market. As the only non-profit student-run incubator on campus we aren’t pressed for returns or exits. Instead, we spend our full time cultivating relationships with top undergraduate and graduate student groups, and craft highly individualized paths for founders with the support of top venture capitalists, resource partners, founders, and thought leaders from the Valley. In so doing, we make entrepreneurship accessible to Berkeley students of all backgrounds by empowering them with the support to innovate and build.

By tailoring our batch program to founders across industries and academic background — ranging from undergraduates to MBAs and PhD researchers, with engineering, the liberal arts, and other disciplines represented — Free Ventures fosters a unique range of perspectives in each batch. This shines through when our companies collaborate over the course of our 3-month program and beyond, and is duly reflected in the wide diversity of partners, investors, and thought leaders from the Valley that engage with our program and founders. We uniquely offer students academic units to work on their startups and provide small amounts of equity-free capital — in addition to a full suite of other resources — to enable students to spend less time in the classroom and more time building.

 

OUR batch companies RECEIVE:

 2 ACADEMIC UNITS   Students receive two units in Computer Science while participating in FreeV, thereby enabling them to invest more time into their company while working toward their degree. We work through Berkeley's DeCal program, and you can view our course page at decal.org.

2 ACADEMIC UNITS

Students receive two units in Computer Science while participating in FreeV, thereby enabling them to invest more time into their company while working toward their degree. We work through Berkeley's DeCal program, and you can view our course page at decal.org.

 Equity-free funds   We fund our teams to provide student startups with financial support for their project. We call them micro grants, made to alleviate students' financial concerns during the development of their startup with no strings attached.

Equity-free funds

We fund our teams to provide student startups with financial support for their project. We call them micro grants, made to alleviate students' financial concerns during the development of their startup with no strings attached.

 MENTORSHIP   We connect founders with a handful of thought-leaders (e.g. founders, investors, or executives) within each company's space to provide guidance and build a lasting relationship. Our Monday Mentor Sessions also provide feedback from 40+ individual mentors over the course of the batch.

MENTORSHIP

We connect founders with a handful of thought-leaders (e.g. founders, investors, or executives) within each company's space to provide guidance and build a lasting relationship. Our Monday Mentor Sessions also provide feedback from 40+ individual mentors over the course of the batch.

 WORKSHOPS   Our workshops are lead by industry or academic experts and they are designed to provide information that tracks the development of each team's progress and premptively answers any questions that may arise. Topics range broadly and include design, product managment, funding, and legal incorporation.

WORKSHOPS

Our workshops are lead by industry or academic experts and they are designed to provide information that tracks the development of each team's progress and premptively answers any questions that may arise. Topics range broadly and include design, product managment, funding, and legal incorporation.

 COMMUNITY   Free Ventures provides students access to a variety of contacts from industry, academia, and the student community. This network can be tapped to provide technical expertise, funding advice, legal services, amongst other wisdom and help. Get plugged in to the network you need to succeed.

COMMUNITY

Free Ventures provides students access to a variety of contacts from industry, academia, and the student community. This network can be tapped to provide technical expertise, funding advice, legal services, amongst other wisdom and help. Get plugged in to the network you need to succeed.

 WORKSPACE   Founders receive dedicated, 24/7 workspace at The House while in the Free Ventures program. For students with needs for specific resources (e.g. hardware development equipment), we will work to secure the required resources through collaboration with other university entities.

WORKSPACE

Founders receive dedicated, 24/7 workspace at The House while in the Free Ventures program. For students with needs for specific resources (e.g. hardware development equipment), we will work to secure the required resources through collaboration with other university entities.


Our track record

Our founders have gone on to become Forbes 30 Under 30, build companies that are changing the world, and continue to develop the college startup scene by creating The House. We have helped our 53 alumni teams raise over $30 million from top firms such as Y Combinator, Greylock, KPCB, and Accel. Collectively they’ve gone on to tackle problems in neuroscience, drones, IoT, VR, AI, real estate, bioengineering, FinTech, and renewable energy, to name a few.

Selected portfolio (last funding round): DataShark (Pre-Seed), Spotlight (Raising Series Seed), Gainful (YC Winter ‘18), Onederful (YC Winter ‘18), Fiat Lux Labs (Pre-Seed), Genetic Foresight (Pre-Seed), Pavlov (Pre-Seed), Blitz eSports (Greylock-led Seed, YC Summer ‘15), Wildfire (YC Summer ‘17; Series Seed from Accel, Greylock), Pantheon VR (YC Winter ‘17), Rooster (Series Seed), Lioness (Series Seed), Glints (Series A).