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Fall 2021 | UC Berkeley's DECODE Silicon Valley Startup Success

Fall 2021 | UC Berkeley's DECODE Silicon Valley Startup Success

DECODE Silicon Valley Startup Success

Course Overview 

Berkeley’s Computer Science curriculum and Business curriculum trains many graduate and undergraduate students with a high level of technical and theoretical ability. However, UC Berkeley is only ranked 4th by the number of founders who raised more than $1M based on a report from Crunchbase. 

​Serena Zhang

University of California, Berkeley | Class of 2024
B.A. Architecture


Ryo Weng

​University of California, Berkeley | Class of 2024

 B.S. Business Administration 


​Jin Yu

University of California, Berkeley | Class of 2024
B.S. Business Administration


Aamir Khan

University of California, Berkeley | Class of 2022
D.S. Data Science

Student Facilitators

Decode Silicon Valley Startup Success bridges the gap. 

We teach startup intelligence. Our curriculum consists of guest speakers from top entrepreneurs and investors in Bay area and also hands-on assignments and projects to help students build their portfolio. By the end of our course, students will be able to:

  • Learn the fundamentals of starting a new venture

  • Identify, define, and characterize problems

  • Spot opportunities for innovation

  • Segment and analyze opportunities

  • Evaluate and choose innovation diffusion pathways

  • Evaluate and choose models of new ventures

  • Conduct customer and market research both qualitatively and quantitatively

  • Design customer journey

  • Establish foundation of product development

  • Evaluate and choose market strategy

  • Develop an in depth understanding of your customer

  • Identify and quantify sources of value

  • Map and influence customer decision making process

As a result, this course will prepare students for starting up their own company or joining an early-stage start-up. However, students can enroll in the course even if they aren’t planning on starting up. Lots of concepts and skills about entrepreneurship are highly transferable to other aspects of career development.


There are no prerequisites for this course. We're working really hard to make the material accessible for all backgrounds.

Grading and Assignment 

The course will be offered for 2 units, P/NP. The class is 6:30-8:30 PM PDT on Thursday, consisting of an introduction of the topic, guest speaker, Q&A, and group discussion. 


There will be weekly assignments released on Thursdays after the lecture and due the following Thursday at the beginning of the class. 


Projects are graded on effort. Every last 30 minutes of class is the group discussion for the weekly group project assignment. The idea is that students will discuss among the group in their approach to the problems, and the staff will facilitate this discussion.


Your grade in this course will be calculated on a 1000-point scale.

  • Weekly Assignment (300 points)

  • Semester Project (350 points)

  • Attendance (350 points)

You will need 700 points to pass the course, which roughly corresponds to doing all the problem sets and coming to all the classes. As this is a new course, we reserve the right to adjust this boundary and the point system as a whole as the course progresses, but we want everyone to succeed in this class and learn. 

Weekly Course Schedule

Time: Thursday 6:30-8:30 PM PDT
Location: Zoom

Speakers (*Continuously Updating)
Sep. 2
Opening - Information Session
To be announced
Sep. 9
Validating Ideas | Fantasizing to Fantastic
Shuonan Chen: General Partner at IOVC; Faculty at UC Berkeley; Board Director at DECODE
Sep. 16
MVP & Iteration | Make Something People Want
Kevin Tan: CEO at SnackPass Forbes 30 under 30
Sep. 23
Product Market Fit | 1000 True Fans
Brian Ma: General Partner of Iterative Capital, Former founder CEO of Divvy Homes, Weave and Decide
Sep. 30
Business Model | How to make money
Steve Huffman: CEO of the Reddit
Oct. 7
Team Building & Culture | The Unicorn's team
Sarah Hawley: CEO and founder of Growmotely
Oct. 14
Enterprise Business | Not all startups looks like Instagram
Kenny Mendes: Head of Finance, People, & Operations at Coda; Angel Investor/Advisor
Oct. 21
The art of scale | No growth equals death
Marcel Santilli: Head of Marketing at Scale AI
Oct. 28
Startup Finance, VC and beyond | Fundraise when you must
To be announced
Nov. 4
Legal | Things unnoticed that could kill your business
Reserved for Sam Angus: Partner in the Venture Capital and Corporate Group of Fenwick & West LLP
Nov. 18
Emerging Technologies | Surf on the tide of tech (To be confirmed)
Michael Seibel: CEO and Partner at Y Combinator
Dec. 2
Closing - Demo Day
Judges: To be announced

Semester Assignments & Workloads 

Semester Project