The East Bay Startup Scene Heats Up

We’re probably not the only entrepreneurs who have wondered why the East Bay isn’t more of a hub for innovation–especially considering the proximity to UC Berkeley and the comparatively affordable cost of office space. Common knowledge seems to hold that while the Bay Area’s startup scene is huge, the East Bay never quite caught on.

That said, this month brings several exciting events for the East Bay startup sector, and may portend greater opportunities for East Bay startups, new tech companies, and general out-of-the-box thinkers.

Startup Clusters and Incubators

If you’re in the East Bay entrepreneur and you’re not already aware of the Berkeley Startup Cluster, it would be well worth to put them on your radar. The Berkeley Startup Cluster was started to counteract the “brain drain” effect that occurred as young entrepreneurs and scientists graduated from UC Berkeley and the Laurence National Lab, moved farther afield, and ultimately founded their companies in other communities. The program exists as a “virtual incubator” dedicated to promoting the success of a range of high tech startups that remain in the downtown Berkeley community by connecting them with local resources, events and research facilities. Based on a quick perusal of their past events, it is worthwhile following them or signing up for their list, to stay informed of upcoming happenings.

Berkeley California StartupsIn honor of Women’s History Month, the Berkeley Startup Cluster, the City of Berkeley, and The Downtown Berkeley Association will be hosting a PitchMixer for women startup entrepreneurs on March 28th, 2012 at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse. Registration is free. The event will feature East Bay women entrepreneurs pitching to a panel of female judges. The last PitchMixer event (which took place in Oakland) sold out, so sign up sooner, rather than later.

Networking for Berkeley Entrepreneurs

Also of interest is the upcoming session of the Berkeley Entrepreneur’s Forum, taking place at the Haas School of Business on Thursday, March 22nd. This month’s topic, “Entrepreneurs and the Decisions They Make” is focused on the unique challenges of social entrepreneurs. It will be preceded by a networking session with complimentary refreshments. Moderated by Brian Cayce of Grey Ghost Ventures, the event will feature speakers Sean Blagsvedt of babjob.com, Daniel Hoffer of couchsurfing.org, and Ned Tozen of d.light.

The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship is one of the big entities making waves in the East Bay startup community. In addition to sponsoring the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum, they have also created the UC Berkeley Startup Accelerator, which is seeking to incubate and boost the successes of startups out of UC Berkeley. Applications for Summer, 2012 are available, starting in April.

An exciting range of solo-preneurs and early-stage startups are also gravitating to the growing coworking community in downtown Berkeley. The Hub, Berkeley and one of our exciting clients, Sandbox Suites are two coworking spaces that are on our radar these days. The community forged in these spaces will ultimately lay the groundwork for a more fertile entrepreneurial sector in the East Bay.

Even the Economist is Coming to the East Bay

One more exciting upcoming event in Berkeley is The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Innovation Event, also taking place on March 28th in Berkeley. The program promises to be a stimulating one, with respected speakers from a range of institutions and innovative corporations, ranging form Harvard Business School to Zynga, to Burning Man. Panels will be focused on ways disruptive innovators can solve, or at least upend, some of the world’s biggest political and economic challenges. Register online anytime, though at $1,795.00 the ticket price is not for everyone.