UC Berkeley BPlan Finalist!
This past week, the Modify team participated in the UC Berkeley Startup Competition (aka “Bplan”). We applied in January and were accepted as semi-finalists from a pool of 150+ entrants. On Tuesday, three of us presented to an esteemed panel of venture capitalists, angel investors and lawyers. We’ll call ourselves a “ragtag” team, as it was clearly the three less-mature members of our team
The semifinals went great, as the public loved our dope watches, our team and the Modify vision of the future, and we were deemed 1 of 8 finalists. Here’s an image that was taken by Kevin Warnock, a great entrepreneur and writer (see his site here):
Tuesday was a fun night. Sean went home to begin work on a 12-page essay regarding the global human right to water and organic (i.e. non-GMO) foodstuffs. Ayo and I went back to the office and talked about working. Boy did we talk about working. But all that talking was tiring, so we went to sleep.
Wednesday was a doozy of a day. Thursday’s Berkeley BPlan finals would match us against 7 incredible startups. So we stayed up all night to revise our presentation and practice our Modify pitch. I called my mom and dad at 5am PST (8am in Cleveland) to update them. My dad reminded me of the time I overslept an interview for a prestigious fellowship with the Luce Foundation. My mom suggested that I get a haircut in advance of the finals. That, my friends, is support.
Thursday was great. We presented at 4:30pm to 5 venture capitalists from firms like Morgenthaler and Claremont Creek. Sean – you know, the guy who built our presentation from scratch! – led off the presentation. He discussed the passion that folks have for their phones… would you trade your iPhone with another person’s? No way! It’s yours – it has your ring tone, your apps, your layout. The VCs started nodding as he said, “Modify Industries wants to translate that passion to physical products – we want to help make them yours.”
Ayo then talked in depth about the history of Modify – pretty impressive given his 3 weeks on the job! He absolutely crushed it, weaving in his marketing expertise and deep understanding of customer needs. That was easy – he’d previously worked with McDonald’s, Ferragamo, HP, etc. He doesn’t say that Modify is small time, but we know that he’s always thinking, “I got this.”
I then spoke for 5 minutes about what we have learned so far, what products we will introduce next, who our team is (more than 2 dope boys in a Cadillac) and, of course, what our fundraising “Ask” is. We are actually filling out an angel round of investment right now, so please comment below or email Aaron if you’re interested in hearing about our vision
ANYWAY, we lost! The guys were phenomenal and it was close, but we finished 2nd in our track. The team that won the Products track (and the “People’s Choice” award) is another Berkeley startup, BTTR Ventures. That is an *amazing* company. They collect coffee grounds and turn what was a major waste stream into DIY mushroom kits. Check out their first product below… then think about the fact that they’re going to embed seeds in their new packaging so that you can plant the package and grow more food. Needless to say, we’re proud of them and excited to have been in the running
Below are some more photos from the “Public” finals. Images are of our team as well as of all of the winners from across the Berkeley BPlan competition. Congratulations to all of the participants, and thank you to everyone who cheered us on!!