HBSA 2017 Election Voter Guide

Hey, Haas! Here’s the official 2017 HBSA Election Voter’s Guider. Please take a moment to check out the platforms that our peers are running with, this year! Voting will officially take place from April 10th-13th on CampusGroups.

You can vote at this link: http://tinyurl.com/hbsaelections17

Elyse Weissberger

President

Hey Haas! I’m very excited to be running for HBSA President for the 2017-2018 academic year. I view this as an opportunity to expand on the incredible programming implemented this year and to create new, exciting events for the Haas community. One area I am especially passionate about developing is Haas’ connection with the wider UC Berkeley campus. We have the opportunity to make a substantial impact both within and beyond the walls of Haas. From our professional development workshops to social events, I think it is important to invite non-Haas majors to teach, learn from, and interact with our wonderful student body. As a transfer student, it is especially important to me to work with the rest of the board to develop outreach programs that help transfers make their transition to UC Berkeley. I would like to start this summer by creating events for Pre-Core students introducing them to life at Haas and in Berkeley. I am also excited to work with the Cohort Leaders to create smaller cohort programs, such as movie nights or hikes that entice students to attend. I plan to revamp the program so that students from across the different cohorts can design events specific to their interests. I would like each cohort to be themed, so that students can be a part of a cohort that they identify with and feel a sense of belonging to. I can’t wait to work with everyone to create a memorable, enriching year!

Michael Wong

Executive Vice President

Hello fellow Haas students! My name is Michael Wong and it is my honor to announce that I am running to be the Executive Vice President for your Haas Business School Association. This past year I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Technology and Communications committee and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. HBSA has enabled me to step outside of my comfort zone each and every day and has really allowed me to become the best version of myself. From working closely with various committees on events like the Haas Talent Show to facilitating online communications efforts to the undergraduate population, I have always felt like I am a part of an impactful group and I am eager to become even more involved. If selected as the EVP, my main goal is to promote a student-oriented vision. I plan to work closely with the President to reach out to both student organizations as well as individual undergraduates for consistent feedback on what HBSA can do for them. Based on the feedback we receive, I will communicate these messages to our individual committees so that we can tailor our events to the needs of the student population. Additionally, I hope to create cohesive community events like the Winter Formal that will bring various cohorts together. I have very high aspirations for what HBSA can accomplish, and it would be my honor to serve as your Executive Vice President for the 2017- 2018 academic year!

Kayla Lee

Vice President of Finance

Haas has been beyond my expectations in so many different ways. I still remember my accounting class last semester that I was collecting in-class feedbacks from. Not knowing most of the people in class and also being one out of the two juniors, I was more nervous than ever. However, this changed the minute I started speaking. I was welcomed with a warm round of applause, and some friends came to me afterwards and willingly offered to help me as mentors. Not only in that class, but I have also met so many great friends, professors and mentors at Haas, who made me who I am today. This is why I want to run for VP of Finance, to contribute better to the community that has given me so much already. As the VP of Finance, first of all, I want to make more people feel welcomed, and more connected. In order to do so, I want continue to build on the current events for the Haas community. I’ll be more than excited to bring the 2nd Winter Formal, Charity Talent Show, or even more ‘first ever’s. Also, I want to revamp the locker rental system. I want to make the rental system more accessible by actively publicizing and taking feedbacks from current users on how to better the rentals. This will let more people have a place to put books and blazers. I can’t wait to see how much difference we can make together for our community and beyond!

Michael Saucedo

Vice President of Professional Development

 

As the VP of Professional Development, I want to maximize the individual success of all Haas students during the recruiting process and provide more resources for continuing and transfer students who may be new to the recruiting process. As a transfer student myself, it was incredibly difficult recruiting for internships without the knowledge or experience that comes from participating in previous years. I consider myself lucky for the resources and network that come with being a student veteran, but not all students have access to those resources, making recruiting that much more difficult. Moving forward I want to pay back what I’ve learned and help as many Haas students as possible achieve My intention is to build a more collaborative and transparent recruiting process for incoming juniors and rising seniors, as well as create greater camaraderie within the Haas community! Some of my plans to accomplish these goals include: 1. Increasing the amount of resources available to Haas students, such as establishing a resume book for Haas undergraduates, mirroring the resource available to Haas MBA students. 2. Creating a more inclusive environment by improving outreach and establishing forums for juniors and seniors to share recruiting strategies and career opportunities. 3. Providing more frequent and more diverse workshops that will familiarize students with industry standards and recruiting deadlines. Please feel free to reach out and share your concerns, experiences, or suggestions regarding professional development at Haas. Thank you for your time!

Joshua Ahazie

Vice President of Student Affairs

As Vice President of Student Affairs, my focus will be ensuring all Haas students, both continuing and transfers have a great experience prior to, and while at Haas. In comparison to continuing students, transfers have little or no resources to aid their transition into the Haas program. Through transfer specific info sessions and mentorship programs, we can ensure a smoother transition for transfers and a stronger relationship between community colleges – all which enriches the Haas community at large. Our community is only as precious as the people in it. Success for me as VP of Student Affairs, will be to see more initiatives and events showcase the very students that make Haas great. I hope to build on what we have: our existing ideas, talents, cultures to ensure school remains fun. We have an opportunity to harness the collective impact of this group [Haas], and do something really special.

Serena Wang

Vice President of Student Affairs

Hi! My name is Serena Wang, and I am running to be your next VP of Student Affairs. My first day as an official Haas undergraduate was exciting. I felt like a freshman again, wandering the halls of Cheit and stepping foot into the large Andersen Auditorium. From being classmates with such brilliant students, to engaging with top professors, I was falling in love with everything that Haas had to offer. Now, as a HBSA mentor, HBSA essay reader, and Haas MBA extern, I am proud to be a Haas student. But there’s still so much left to experience. I want Haas to truly become a community in which we get to know each other – the diverse, ambitious, and passionate individuals that make up the Haas student body. I’m driven by potential, and I want to encourage, challenge, and provide our students with all the resources needed to be the best. My platforms are: 1) Expanding the HBSA mentorship program to provide MBA mentors to our Haas students. I wish to encourage a culture of reciprocation, to make sure that we are also investing into our upperclassmen as they give back. 2) Improving outreach to Pre-Haas students, by making the application workshops and panels more accessible and available to students. As an individual who has benefitted from these programs, I wish to drive greater student engagement so that underclassmen are well equipped for success and feel welcomed into the Haas community.

Emily Luna 

Vice President of Marketing

Lessening the communication gap amongst the student body and HBSA is my priority. Many of my peers are far too disconnected and uninformed about HBSA, thus making them indifferent towards the organization’s sponsored events and services. This can be accomplished through leveraging the HBSA social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) and their unique features like Twitter Polls and Facebook Live. Although emails can be effective, great brands use social media quite often to humanize themselves and create relationships with their audiences. HBSA can do the same by directly connecting with the Haas student body through responding to their comments, questions and concerns on social media. In addition, I seek to ensure efficiency and consistency in sharing HBSA’s story by managing the website.

Anushree Bhimani

Vice President of MBA & Alumni Relations

As the VP of MBA & Alumni Relations, I hope to increase integration between the MBA and undergraduate community. One of my most impactful experiences at Haas has been my involvement as a mentee in the MBA-Undergrad mentorship program. In fact, it is thanks to my mentor that I was recently able to achieve a big milestone in my career path. Through this VP position, I wish to share the same resources and opportunities I had with the entire Haas community. Below are the main goals I strive to achieve in this role: 1. Continue and expand the MBA-Undergrad mentorship program. 2. Increase the frequency of MBA-undergrad networking events. 3. Generate awareness about different possible pathways before and after MBA. 4. Provide a platform for undergraduates to learn from real life experiences of MBA students. 5. Create a professional network of MBA students and undergraduates.

Stephanie Huang

Vice President of Corporate Relations

Every Haas student wants two things – internships and free food. Both of them happen to be goals I want to help you achieve as your VP of Corporate Relations. I have partnered with companies like A.T. Kearney, KPMG, and FTI Consulting and worked on events from info sessions, case competitions, to Bay Area-wide events. With my extensive experiences, I am confident that they have equipped me with the skills to achieve the following objectives: 1. Continue to strengthen existing corporate sponsorships. 2. Target industries Haas students typically pursue to expand partnerships. 3. Bring in companies from diverse industries to showcase the abundant opportunities available to Haas students. Networking is the key to recruitment, and I aim to create more opportunities for you to interact with recruiters and professionals firsthand. In addition to the typical accounting, banking, and consulting firms, I plan to bring in companies, such as tech startups, VC firms, and multinational consumer goods companies. There are so many different opportunities open to Haas students. By connecting Haas with diverse corporate sponsors, I hope to empower you to pursue your passion with confidence.

 

Haas Travel Study Program: Japan

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Guest Post written by Amy Vatcha (Haas ’18)

Last month, 22 Haas students traveled to Japan for a week through the Kakehashi Project. ‘Kakehashi’ literally means building bridges, to improve US-Japan relations and encourage future business with Japan. Given the current political climate, building cultural bridges is vital. As a first time visitor to Japan, my reflections are through the lens of an outsider’s first impressions.

Upon arrival at the airport, we were screened by masked officials and body heat scanners. The surgical masks worn on the subway, the constant hand sanitizing, and the quarantine at the airport are evidence of their strong commitment to hygiene. This is reflected in Japan’s healthcare system with universal free coverage and the longevity of their aging population.

We visited four cities: Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, and Nara. In the short time span of a week, we were given a taste of the regional contrasts. Inter-city travel was speedy with the shinkansen bullet trains travelling at 200mph. Within each city, the polite silence of the Japanese commuters complemented the quiet whizz of the subway. Train travel in Japan was a relief from the electric screeching on BART. Japan’s punctual trains were packed with commuters so the lack of personal space took some getting used to! I noted the presence of women’s carriages on trains, and questioned why they were necessary. As always, Japanese products had a perfect eye for detail: the subway trains had hand grips of different lengths for people of different heights.

As government ambassadors, we were lectured by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). In a ‘progressive’ Westernized society, I was dismayed to see only 2 female speakers out of the 10+ lecturers in the ministry. The MoFA panelists tried to challenge our belief that the TPP was dead without addressing their plan if the TPP failed, which is relevant considering the new Executive Order to cancel U.S. participation in the TPP.

America is widely regarded as a land of abundance with a wasteful culture, but the unnecessary plastic bags, layers of packaging, and large decorative boxes in Japan surprised me. For a country that recently suffered a nuclear disaster, the vending machines at every corner seemed to be a waste of electricity.

basketweavingIn addition to touring factories and a sake brewery, we visited a basket weaver’s workshop. Keeping artisanship alive in this era of modernization brings out their humble pride, as the artisan proudly showed us his crooked knuckles after 50+ years of basket weaving. Japan can truly embody the best of the East and the West, tradition and modernity.

Visiting 2-3 shrines on a week-long business school trip highlighted the role of religion in everyday life. When we visited Ikuta shrine in Kobe at 7am, a commuter switched directions to escort us when she realized we were lost. I cannot imagine a commuter here getting late for work to help lost tourists. I hope to bring some Japanese manners home!

ikutashrineStepping out of California’s diverse population into a homogenous society made my week in Japan a stark contrast to my life here. I got used to cooked vegetables and raw fish, customer-centric hospitality with intense waving and goodbyes, a lack of visible homeless people, and anti-fog bathroom mirrors. Although we saw so much in a week, I did not exchange back my remaining currency because I am seriously considering revisiting. I was expecting a week full of sushi, but I learned so much from the bright neon billboards in an alien language and the seas of people at Shibuya crossing—the busiest street crossing in the world. I am deeply grateful to Berkeley-Haas, The Kakehashi Project, our Japanese host Mayumi-san, Professor Jon Metzler, and the UGBA 193i squad for memories to last a lifetime.

 

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Life-balance: the secret to stress-free happy days.

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Written by Federico Crivelli, Haas UG Blog Writer

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.  The more things you do, the more you can do.” -Lucille Ball

 

Students are busy— everybody knows that. Trying to juggle endless readings, hefty assignments, group projects, midterms, clubs, and recruiting is no easy task. On top of that, we always hear (and should keep in mind) that we can’t go back to the past, that college years never come back— and should therefore be enjoyed. Practically, this means not only choosing classes and extra-curriculars that interest you, but also trying your best at having a successful social life.

Yes, you read that right: social life. That does not mean networking. It means having some— get ready for it— FUN. I promise, this is not a bad word; so to the editors of this blog post: please don’t censure it! As a student at one of the best undergrad business programs in the world, you are competitive; everyone around you is, too. In these circumstances, it becomes fairly easy to prioritize everything else and forget to enjoy your college experience thoroughly. With this, I am not saying that you should sell your textbooks and buy a one-way ticket to Mexico: just don’t forget to take some time off to let your overheated brain cool down.

With this in mind, for most of us Haas students, it comes down to four or five main responsibilities that we need to handle. Namely, all of us have classes, some of us work, some are in clubs, on and off we’re all recruiting, and we also (should) have some fun in an informal environment.

Now, of course I am not going to tell you what you should do with your life and your time, but what I can do is sharing with you some of the advice that I picked up throughout my journey as a curious foreign kid. When I came to the U.S. everything was insanely hard, because I had to focus more on speaking and understanding English— a foreign language— than on the activity itself. But by asking a lot of questions, listening to a lot of advice, and personally trying out different lifestyles, I have now achieved a balance that makes me enjoy my existence exponentially more than ever before.

If there’s anything that can make my life even more satisfying, it is helping my peers achieve their own balance and their own happiness. So, to conclude, here are my top 3 suggestions to achieve the balance that makes me extremely happy with my less-than-perfect life.

  1. Spend time thinking about yourself.

What do you like? How do you have fun?

Do you enjoy being with other people? Do you value being alone?

What are the smallest things out of an average day that make you happy? Do you recognize their value (this one is important)?

What are your goals? Why do you wake up in the morning?

How do you want to be remembered after you die? How do you want to die?

These are extremely hard questions, and it is human nature to avoid them, especially the most unpleasant ones. But understanding the meaning of your existence is fundamental to understand your goals, your motivation, and which activities you genuinely enjoy.

  1. Learn to prioritize— on a daily basis.

While everything on your schedule is likely to be really really important, learning to discern what is most important (or urgent) will help you live a better life.

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My lock-screen background

My advice when prioritizing is to avoid being rigid. For many students, GPA is the absolute priority, while for some others that’s recruiting. While it is great to know what’s more important to you, make an effort not to be rigid when assigning your priorities, and allow yourself to determine them on a daily basis. In order to achieve the right balance, you need to find the right compromise between the willpower to get important things done and the flexibility to prioritize what is more urgent in that moment.

 

Always keep in mind your end goals, and every day choose to invest your time in the things that you believe can maximize returns in the long-run. This type of flexibility helps me keep clear from stress while still getting all my work done, so give it a try! 🙂

To sum up, discern what’s most important out of every day by learning to listen to your body, trusting your instincts, and also asking other people’s opinion: even if you disagree with them, you’d be surprised how much others can help you figure out your own thoughts.

  1. Work comes before play.

I spent enough time stressing the importance of incorporating time off into your schedule, but do keep in mind that relaxing and having fun should also be a way to reward yourself for being a diligent and committed student.

In fact, learning to prioritize also means being able to sacrifice. As my coach taught me, “nothing really worth having comes without struggle.” You need to be able to recognize what things are most important in order to achieve your goals and to prioritize them above anything else. Thus, that additional hour of sleep, that night out with your buddies, and that afternoon of laziness should only come after you are confident that you can reasonably take care of your duties. Working hard to get your job done should give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.

So give yourself some credit for how much you have already achieved so far. Spend time with your friends; pay attention to the great things that are happening to you; and don’t ever forget your purpose.

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Recruiting and the Pursuit of Happiness

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Written by Josh Wang, Haas UG Blog Writer

 Recruiting is one of the defining experiences that every Haas student has to endure. And while there is plenty of advice on how to recruit successfully, none of it addresses our personal lives. How do we successfully and effectively manage our mental and physical health, stress, and relationships?

I admit that I did not handle these things well. In the months that I spent networking and interviewing for my junior summer internship, I stopped exercising altogether, and picked up a habit of eating incredible amounts of greasy fast food. My weight ballooned, and the massive, but more importantly, uncontained stress put a strain not only on my happiness, but also on the happiness of people around me. I stopped going out with my friends, I stopped seeing my family and spending time with my younger brother, and most of all, I stopped caring about happiness altogether. I always told myself that after I got a job, I could find it again.

Yet the truth is, even as a senior who is finally done with recruiting, it has been a slow and painstaking process to return to the old Josh. I look back on my junior year, and although I found a great job and enjoyed my summer internship, I regret the lost time that I spent stressing about insignificant things and over-preparing for info sessions or interviews. I’ve had to rediscover my interests and hobbies. I’ve begun reaching out to people that I had neglected to catch up and hopefully become part of their lives again.

So, for all juniors and seniors still at the recruiting grind, here are three principles that I have realized over the last year. I hope that you’ll at the very least be open-minded to them, and at most, be shaped by them.

  1. Do not pay for your career or academic success with your happiness.

 You go to Berkeley. Academic success is ingrained in your blood. Missing a final is a nightmare that you’ve woken up from. Similarly, you are pressured by your peers, professors, and even Haas to find a prestigious career. The tagline that adorns every webpage: “Our students go on to great firms such as Goldman Sachs, Bain, and Google,” fills you with dread as you wonder if you’ve failed for not working at those places.

And as a Berkeley student, despite having midterms on your plate, despite having family or financial issues that eat away at your mental capacity, you’re still going to bust your ass to get a great job. That’s great. My point isn’t that you should give up your ambition.

But instead of giving up your happiness, give effort and dedication when you need to. For the other times, don’t forget to unwind with your friends. Don’t opt out of your hobbies, whether they are dancing, hiking, trying new foods, or binge-watching Netflix shows.

Don’t overthink emails, or let the stress of waiting on an email back from HR ruin a night out with your boyfriend or girlfriend. I can’t tell you how many times I had dinner with my bMail, with my girlfriend as a third wheel.

Continue to do things that make you happy, because your job or internship, by itself, will not.

Make weekend plans. Smile when you wake up. That smile is going to emanate in your next interview and set you apart from all the other Haas zombies you’re competing with.

  1. Your relationships are the most important thing that you have.

Think about the last time you were truly happy. Where were you? What were you doing? Regardless of your answers to these two questions, I guarantee that nothing was as important as who you were with. One of the most important things I learned last year was that no matter how successful I became or where I was in the world, I wouldn’t be happy without the people that mattered most to me.

When you start recruiting, or any stressful period in your life, it becomes easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to see them. That is simply false. You may have less time, but if you want something enough, you can make it happen.

When you graduate from UC Berkeley, you will have forgotten most of what you’ve learned in your classes. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably already forgotten what you learned in accounting today. The only thing that you will hold onto is the relationships you form and the memories you make with those people. Don’t come away from this amazing time and community with nothing. Make time for the important people in your life.

  1. Allow yourself to be happy.

A Haas friend of mine wrote an article last year for the Daily Cal, in which she talked about the “UC Berkeley problem that has no name” – we give ourselves so much pressure that we feel guilty for making time to do things that make us happy.

Too many times last year, I found myself thinking, “I should be prepping for interviews,” when I was doing anything but. My peers have repeatedly told me that they’ve experienced this as well.

I’m telling you that it’s ok. Take a deep breath. Two hours to unwind with some basketball or to grab a drink at Tap Haus isn’t going to undermine your chances. Don’t feel guilty about having a good time and being happy, because contrary to what your world is telling you right now, it’s what you should be doing. And when you’re done, feel free to lace up those dress shoes, grab that folder of resumes off your bed, and proceed to the next info session.

Just remember, in the words of king Kendrick, “We gon’ be alright.”

Internships during the School Semester: the Challenges and Outcomes

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Written by Mina Seo, Haas UG Blog Writer 

Last semester, I worked for a marketing company, while also taking on 19 units. This was extremely challenging but fulfilling and would have to be one of the hardest semesters that I’ve taken on. But my experience overall was full of learning and growth – I learned more about marketing through the internship than I did through classes and large lecture halls. I learned that time management, my best friend, didn’t include time needed for eating. I learned how to sleep while standing up on BART. But most of all, I learned that internships during the semester are largely equivalent to a full time job, minus the salary and benefits. For those considering working as an intern during the school semester, I recommend these tips below to help you juggle school, work, and social activities.

Too Many Activities, Not Enough Time

I have always been a busy body, always thinking of things to do, and finding ways to do them. I was never one to stand still. But interning 10 hours, working a work-study job for 10 hours, participating in club activities, and taking classes 18 hours a week took a toll on me. I was always in a rush to do things. I would sometimes give up work-study hours so that I could get more interning hours. I barely had any time to study.

To combat this, I decided to reduce my participation in club activities. Most of my college career has been about doing things I wanted to do now, but now I had to focus on what I wanted to do in the future. Because of that, I dropped my dance team club, so that I could study and develop my professional career. This helped me improve my time management. I was still involved in other clubs that didn’t require much time commitment, like the Korean American Student Association, so dropping dance didn’t leave a huge hole in my heart.

Adjusting to the New Schedule

Since I’ve never worked in the City before, it was extremely hard for me to get the hang of things. I struggled to wake up, go to work, and do just about anything for the first few weeks of the semester. I was extremely excited, but I was also extremely tired from the new adjustment. That was why I made my planner my best friend. It told me anything and everything I needed to know in order to do things on time. I adjusted my schedule and such to accommodate the new changes.

Expect Overtime

One thing that really affected my time was that I had to work outside of my assigned work schedule. For someone extremely clueless about traditional work culture, I realized that the hours they tell us are only the bare minimum. I had to attend events for work every week, sometimes every two weeks, because one, I wanted to, and two, I had to. People who went above and beyond got the most out of the internship, and I wanted that same experience. It was challenging to say the least. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the learning that came from putting in the extra time.

Don’t Go Through the Motions

After working for a while, it can get really easy to find a nice routine to the weekly schedule, and it is also really easy to settle. People can burn out and just do exactly what the supervisor wants them to do, but it is important to enjoy and find innovative ways to do work. My experience at my internship was extremely fun. I did something new each week, even if the assignments were largely the same. Whether it was to search for events or call potential organizations to promote something, every assignment was a new mission that I had to fulfill.

It’s Your Decision

I believe that any experience, good or bad, can be beneficial in the long run. I found out that the industry that my company focused on was not something I would do in the future. It was extremely fun doing all the things I did, but I felt that my efforts could be spent on something I loved, rather than on something I was only slightly interested in. The company culture at the internship was perfect. It was casual and relaxing. I definitely want to work somewhere that shares those values.

This article has largely been about my experience interning during the semester. If some of these things don’t apply to you, then that’s ok! Although summer is a great time to intern, it is still a great feat to be able to work during the semester while juggling a full time student work load. I recommend anyone to intern for at least one semester during the academic year. If you hate your internship, be glad that you’re only spending a maximum of 10-15 hours with the company. If you love your internship, add more hours and devote your time outside of your intern hours.  Like I’ve said before, experience is really important to narrowing down what career to go to. Through any internship, good or bad, experiences like this are there to help you grow.

Interview with Kunal and Rahul, the minds behind Dot.

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Interview conducted by Janina Morrison.

Have you heard of Dot? If you haven’t, it’s the latest tech project taking Kickstarter by storm. Within 12 hours of launching, it met its goal of $20,000 and has been featured on sites like Digital Trends and Product Hunt. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kunal Chaundhary and Rahul Ramakrishnan, the Haas seniors behind the physical push notification product.

JM: Let’s start from the beginning. How long have you two been friends and how did you meet?

Kunal: Rahul and I met during second semester freshmen year in a consulting club called Venture Strategy Solutions, which is a consulting club that focuses on startups.  I came into college wanting to do startups (which has been 3 years now), and Rahul was also interested as well so I’m always pitching him ideas. He’s also my roommate and we’re both at Haas, so those are some of the things that drew us together.

Our first company was Stash, which is like an Airbnb for storage, and we launched that the summer before our Sophomore year. It did pretty well; we were able to secure $5000 worth of space, sold about 10,000 sq ft of space, which is about the size of a warehouse, and had a couple hundred users. Unfortunately, the team fell apart since we all then took summer internships and didn’t put as much time and effort into it because of that. During that same summer, I came up with a new idea and approached Rahul with it. When we finally decided to work on it, we were picked up by the Citris Foundry, they invested about $30k into [us]. This past summer I went full time with it and now here we are today.

JM: So that last idea you pitched to Rahul is what we now know as Dot?

Kunal: Yes.

JM: So when did this idea of Dot first start?

Kunal: I’ve been sitting on this idea for probably 7-8 months-while we were still doing Stash-before I even told Rahul about it. It was pretty rudimentary in that we were just using the light to replace different notifications. For the longest time the only use was for the weather.

Rahul: It was a very idealistic idea. In the beginning we thought, ‘We don’t want people to use their phones at all.’ Kunal was telling me about something called “no-interface design,” this movement where instead of people just having screens and interface in front of you, getting rid of all of that and having a light that can flash on or off, with binary information to tell you what your phone would tell you, and you wouldn’t have to use your phone at all. That’s how it started, and that’s the main ideal situation. Then through different iterations, we decided that we needed to make it contextual, make your smartphone smarter.

Kunal: It was a long development of the idea, that’s really what last year was about. It really came about because we are both avid Sci-Fi fans who played a lot of video games in high school. A lot of this idea comes from those two worlds, worlds that aren’t constrained by physical limitations. If you’ve played video games, when you’re controlling your character, the way that developers relay information when you walk into a new area is by having a pop up on your screen, and there’s no real world equivalent to that. In Sci-Fi, computers are very aware of their surroundings, they can interact, they can consume data as much as we can. It was kind of inevitable that we came into this cross-section when we did.

JM: So is there a particular movie, TV show, or video game that inspired Dot? Especially since you mentioned that you both were influenced by Sci-Fi?

Kunal: Ideation is an interesting idea, because it’s very difficult to pinpoint what exactly the inspiration was. If I had to say what passively influenced us, for me I’d have to say Star Trek, mainly Data from Next Generation.

Rahul: You can draw analogies to Dot being like a smart secretary or something, like C3PO in Star Wars who updates you on information.  

JM: What is something that you know now about starting a project that you wish you knew at the time when you started this journey with Dot?

Kunal: It would’ve shaved off 8 months of our development time if we’d realized that we don’t have to build the entire product out when you get on Kickstarter. You can just get a functional prototype and then get the marketing assets. Marketing is extremely important. In this sort of climate with all the noise, you need to really hype yourself up. The most successful projects on Kickstarter, they are less developed than what they seem to be and the rest of it is just beautiful artwork and visuals, etc. You really have to sell your product before you make the product otherwise you’re just wasting people’s time.

JM: Oh interesting, I didn’t know that’s how it worked on Kickstarter. When I saw yours I thought, ‘Oh, they have the product, they need funding to put it into production.’

Kunal: Yea. We have a workable prototype and everything we’ve demonstrated in the video are all things that we’ve been able to do and replicate. To finish it, we require money and more importantly we require a lot of time. We realized that we can’t do this in school anymore; we’ll just hate our lives since it’s too stressful. The reason you do entrepreneurship is for the customers, the people, and when you go that long without really interfacing with enthusiastic people, it’s demoralizing and emotionally draining. If I had to do it over again, as soon as we got into the Foundry I would’ve gone over to Jacob’s, printed out a couple Dots on their high quality 3D printers, taken pictures of those, put them up, built the prototype and then launched before the semester ended.

JM: Where do you see DOT in 5 years? 10 years?

Kunal: We’re just trying to make it through the next month and then the next year! If Dot is still around in 5 years, we’ll probably be ditching the hardware and just becoming a big software platform that works with a lot of these interconnected devices. Hardware is really cool in the beginning but it’s difficult to scale, and the tech is moving towards a trend where we probably won’t need the hardware in a couple years. So our idea is just to become a software company.

JM: Where do you guys see yourselves after Dot?

Kunal: My thing for entrepreneurship, at least my take on it, is to start off with stuff that’s easy doable. My goal is to continually tackle harder and harder issues with technology and do something more and more complicated every single time. It’s unlikely I’ll get back to consumer hardware, I’ll probably move on to stuff like solar. It really depends on what the climate is like after we exit, our company fails, or whatever happens. Based on that, I’ll might go back to school, finish my degree, get masters, get an MBA or something like that, and then get back into the game.

Rahul: My take is kind of different from Kunal. I like taking internships at corporate companies; not the huge companies that move slow, but the faster moving ones. I think I learned a lot from the product managers. The past two internships I’ve had in product management, and it’s very relevant in terms of how to build product, release mbp, how to scale and learn from your customers, and move forward. By doing those I learned a lot about how these successful companies make new products, change them, and how they iterate on them. I take that information and put it back into startups. That’s what my approach is. Starting with easier technology is better because we’re college students and we’re learning about all of this new technology. Just applying what we’ve learned in the classroom with real world problems is really fun. It’s really rewarding to see what you’ve learned put in action and helping people around you.

Editor’s note: By September 21st, Dot raised over $115K on Kickstarter

*This post is an excerpt from the interview that Janina conducted. Keep an eye out for the full interview, which will be posted on the HBSA website at http://www.berkeleyhbsa.org/ in the near future.

 

Class of 2018 Haas Undergraduate Student Orientation

This article was written by William Vasseti (BS ’18) 

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Here are the logistics of orientation in case you weren’t there or fell asleep:

Overall, orientation consisted of good information about our cohorts, recruiting and careers, the alumni network, HBSA and a talk by the inspirational alumnus Lucky Sandhu (he is awesome!). There were also several opportunities to network with recruiters as well as a chance to hear from an employer panel consisting of firms like PwC, Accenture and Pandora. There was also ice cream.

What it felt like to be there:

On Monday morning, I checked in and entered the auditorium after my first of surely many rushed FIFO café breakfasts and found my assigned cohort group in the middle of the room. As a transfer student, I felt a bit out of place at first, but my initial anxiety about orientation went away just a tad after I recognized a few familiar faces sitting in the massive auditorium. I found a seat and just as I struck up small talk with the people next to me, orientation started at 9:30am. After a brief welcome and overview of Haas history, Dean Lyons took the stage. It was cool to see him speak about the four defining principles in person. He reminded us that we were meant to be in Haas and that it wasn’t a mistake (whew!). Seeing him in real life felt like meeting a celebrity, especially after having watched him on YouTube back when admission into Haas was still a hope. That’s right people, don’t forget how badly you wanted to get into Haas and how excitedly nervous you were to hear back about your application.

But, when the stress builds up and you’re in it, it’s easy to forget the anticipation of getting accepted to Haas that we all once held. Try not to beat yourself up if you feel stressed because my personal experience and preliminary research indicates that everyone at Haas, if not all of Cal, has at least one moment where stress seems to become unbearable. Please remember that we’re here to support each other and that it’s okay to talk about how you feel.

In my first week, I already felt a bit stressed. Before you know it there are assignments due, class schedules to sort out, info sessions to attend, the feeling that you “have” to network or you’ll miss out, clubs to join, resumes to finalize and on and on…

img_3588Back to orientation. After the speakers in the auditorium, we took a break to enjoy a Top Dog lunch and spent time socializing with other students. There were several companies with booths and a nice little pop-up market that sold shirts, jackets and other Haas gear. After hanging out for a while, we went back inside to listen to practical career advice about internships and resumes before Mr. Lucky Sandhu took the stage and reminded us that we are fortunate to be at Haas and that we have a purpose. It was an engaging presentation that really made orientation feel good. We then had a Q&A with recruiters, and by around 3:30pm orientation was officially wrapping up. Hopefully you collected your much anticipated Haas branded backpack and set off into the horizon. Two weeks later, I still use my backpack with a hint of insecurity about looking like a Haashole – but, hey! I made it in!

My main takeaways from orientation and the first two weeks are that 1) Others are here to support you and it’s okay to talk about your feelings. Many others are going through the same things 2) I can’t do everything at once, and 3) I am grateful to be here.