Faculty and Administration

Alex Bayen - FACULTY DIRECTOR

Alex Bayen

Alexandre Bayen received the Engineering Degree in applied mathematics from the Ecole Polytechnique, France, in July 1998, the M.S. degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University in June 1999, and the Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University in December 2003. He was a Visiting Researcher at NASA Ames Research Center from 2000 to 2003. Between January 2004 and December 2004, he worked as the Research Director of the Autonomous Navigation Laboratory at the Laboratoire de Recherches Balistiques et Aerodynamiques, (Ministere de la Defense, Vernon, France), where he holds the rank of Major. He has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley since January 2005, and an Associate Professor since 2010.

Bayen has authored one book and over 100 articles in peer reviewed journals and conferences. He is the recipient of the Ballhaus Award from Stanford University, 2004, of the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, 2009 and he is a NASA Top 10 Innovators on Water Sustainability, 2010. His projects Mobile Century and Mobile Millennium received the 2008 Best of ITS Award for ‘Best Innovative Practice’, at the ITS World Congress and a TRANNY Award from the California Transportation Foundation, 2009. Bayen is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award from the White House, 2010. Mobile Millennium has been featured more than 100 times in the media, including TV channels and radio stations (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNET, NPR, KGO, the BBC), and in the popular press (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times).

Laura Melendy - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Laura Melendy

Laura Melendy is the Assistant Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies, Director of the Technology Transfer Program, and Founder and Executive Director of the Learn2Launch program. She has spent the last 15 years helping move research results into practice. She has developed and delivered professional development, technical assistance programs, and communications to encourage application of innovation and best practices in government, industry, and start-ups. She holds engineering degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

In 2013, Laura received a request from a cohort of expertise-hungry French engineers and business students who wished to train with Berkeley engineering, design, and business faculty, and immerse themselves in the Silicon Valley entrepreneurship ecosystem. With her deep educational-programming experience and an entrepreneurial attitude, Laura set to work. She developed a budget, recruited faculty from across campus and industry, guided the curriculum, and smoothed the administrative path for the international visitors. The program for the group of 17 was a huge success, with multiple teams going on to raise millions of dollars in capital. Since that initial training, the demand kept coming. In 2017, the program hosted 48 students. Learn2Launch’s “birth story” rivals any Silicon Valley startup. “We didn’t set out to be entrepreneurs,” Laura says, “but we were bootstrapping, prototyping, iterating, launching, and scaling just like any startup, so right in front of our students, we were role models for the very skills we were teaching.”

Mark Coopersmith - Executive Faculty Director AND LEAD INSTRUCTOR

Mark Coopersmith

Founder of the Learn2Launch program, an educator, business leader and entrepreneur, investor and advisor, Mark has spent more than 20 years building businesses at the intersection of technology/clean tech, media, and brands. Mark works with investors, boards, and company leaders to drive growth and restructure businesses that range from early-stage ventures such as clean tech firm ETwater through global enterprises such as Intel, DirecTV and Sony.
Mark draws upon those experiences in the classroom at UC Berkeley, where he teaches Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Haas School of Business. He also acts as a mentor and advisor to many students and teams on campus and also at the SkyDeck Berkeley new venture accelerator.

Previously Mark was an Executive Vice President at Sony where he co-founded and built a $150mm consumer products and online commerce division, and was the founding CEO of pioneer online payments company WebOrder which he took though funding, growth and M&A (now part of Motorola). He was a Group VP and General Manager at consumer products company Newell Rubbermaid where he led the $300mm Global Technology Brands group; and earlier in his career was a strategy and M&A consultant with Ernst & Young.

Mark is an alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he earned his B.A. and MBA degrees. A frequent speaker on innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness, he has been broadly quoted including in the New York Times, The Economist , The Washington Post, LA Times and USA Today, and appeared in media ranging from Fox News and The Huffington Post to CNN and ABC Radio.

Whitney Hischier - INSTRUCTOR AND MENTOR

Whitney Hischier

Whitney Hischier works as an educator, consultant and coach. Her work involves designing and delivering custom executive education programs, facilitated workshops, consulting and coaching in often challenging situations. Her career spans 20 years of turn-arounds, entrepreneurship, management consulting, and executive education. Whitney has spent much of it working in distinct and remote parts of the world with a focus on enhancing national economic growth through business education and building networks between the public, private and academic sectors.

Whitney is a lecturer at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley in experiential and consulting-based courses, including Startup Lab, International Business Development, Natural Leadership (equine guided education), Managing and Motivating People, and Problem Finding Problem Solving.

Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Whitney worked as a change management and system implementation consultant for KPMG London, ABN Amro Amsterdam, and Deloitte SF. She holds a BA from Stanford University in International Relations and an MBA from Haas.

Alexander Fred-Ojala - Technical Program Director for Blockchain

Alexander Fred-Ojala is a Swedish expat in the Bay Area with a degree in Mathematical Statistics from UC Berkeley and Lund University. He has been a Research Scholar at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship (SCET) and Technology since the Fall of 2016. During this time he has been instrumental in the development of The Berkeley Innovation Index, the Data-X teaching framework and the UC Berkeley class IEOR 135 / 290: Applied Data Science with Venture Applications.

As an instructor Alexander has taught data science, machine learning, applied AI concepts, and blockchain technology to over 600 engineering students at UC Berkeley over two years.

Currently, Alexander is the Research Director of the SCET Data Lab where he manages and conducts research projects as well as industry collaborations on topics related to data science and AI technology. He is also a co-founder of the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab and he has been conducting executive education programs for hundreds of executives and technical leaders all over the world.

Alexander also has an entrepreneurial background and he has been on the founding team of three companies: InnoQuant (COO, innovation software company based in the Silicon Valley), Auranest (CMO, job tech startup, currently Series A), and Wheely’s (accepted into Ycombinator in 2015). Overall he combines strong technical skills, with a love for creativity, entrepreneurship, and teaching.

Horia Mania - TECHNICAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR A.I.

A PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, Horia studies the statistical and computational limits of machine learning methods, under the guidance of professors Michael I. Jordan and Benjamin Recht. In the past, Horia worked on research questions related to distributed optimization algorithms, combinatorics, and machine learning methods for nonstandard data. Currently, he explores the sample complexity of reinforcement learning algorithms.

Horia has taught machine learning at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Before moving to Berkeley, Horia obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Princeton University, where he was advised by Sébastien Bubeck.

Featured Guest Speakers and Experts

Todd Morrill - Customer Discovery

T. Todd Morrill has been building and leading companies since the early 1980s. He has worked at a variety of VC-backed and large companies, and was a founder of three. He spent seven years in investment banking for pharmaceuticals and biotech, and has worked at Bio-Rad, Lilly, Pfizer, Baxter and other multinational pharma, diagnostics and tools companies. His roles have included sales, product management, marketing, R&D, business development, corporate development and CEO. He has been an independent Board member of three companies.

He is the Managing Partner for Viderent Partners, a National Instructor for the NSF I-Corps and the Faculty Director at the Bay Area I-Corps Node. Todd has taught the long-form I-Corps LeanLaunch/BMC syllabus more to more than 50 cohorts in technology, technology services, energy, biomedicine and financial services. He designed and adopted the curriculum to Fortune 500 companies, where he has managed, taught and coached over 50 projects. Overall, he has taught and coached more than 475 teams developing services, products and processes.

Todd taught at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley from 2001 to 2009, where he is a Richard C. Holton Teaching Fellow. His courses included Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology; Mergers and Acquisitions; and Entrepreneurship. He has taught in the Intel Program in China and Japan, the Malaysia/UCSF program, and in biotech programs in Estonia, Australia, the UK. He has taught I-Corps programs in Kuwait, South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, Mexico and across the US.

John Danner - Growth Mindset

A trusted advisor, teacher, author, and speaker, John has spent decades helping leaders and their organizations navigate rapidly changing environments to their advantage.  His most recent book - co-authored with Chris Kuenne - is the Wall Street Journal bestseller: “Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win.”  He also co-authored – with UC Berkeley colleague Mark Coopersmith - the Amazon bestseller: “The Other ‘F’ Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work.”

John brings a rare blend of senior-level experience plus broad industry perspective to every engagement. He advises Fortune 500 companies as well as startups in fields as diverse as healthcare, energy, finance, enterprise services, technology and consumer products. John anchors executive education programs and delivers keynote addresses on five continents. And he teaches tomorrow's leaders at UC Berkeley and Princeton. 

David Riemer - Storytelling and Presentation Skills

David is a former ad agency President and Internet marketing executive who now works with entrepreneurs, artists and students to focus their ideas and get their stories straight.  David is a frequent speaker on storytelling and innovation and serves as Executive-in-Residence at Berkeley Haas Business School.  David also advises emerging Internet and consumer technology companies, with a specialization in helping new companies clarify their business and product strategy through a fanatical focus on the customer. 

David started his career at JWT New York and eventually became President of JWT West in San Francisco.  David served as VP Marketing for Yahoo! where he led business-to-business and consumer marketing efforts across virtually all of Yahoo!’s products serving 500 million users globally.  Previously he brought his strategic and marketing leadership to two Internet start-ups: Quokka Sports and the FeedRoom.

Clement Perrot - A French Entrepreneur CEO’s Perspective on Building a Business In Silicon Valley

Clement Perrot is the CEO of Prynt, a consumer electronics startup which uses miniature printers and augmented reality to change the way photography and video is experienced, especially via mobile phones (think 21st century Polaroid cameras). Print emerged from the very first Learn2Launch cohort in 2013, when Clement teamed up with his classmate David Zhang after they realized that neither one of them was particularly interested in the original concepts they were then pursuing on separate teams in Learn2Launch.  More from Clement’s LinkedIn profile:

Building the future of Photography, using Augmented Reality. Taking on many challenges at a time: 
- Building Consumer Hardware, a mini-printer case for smartphones that prints photos instantly. 
- Retailing at Best Buy, Urban Outfitters, Target, Bloomingdales, Amazon and T-Mobile.
- Backing our Hardware sales with a Razor and Blade model, and developing a subscription model around it.
- Using hardware to let people create "Harry Potter photos", photos that come to life from any smartphone.
- Developing a community of enthusiasts sharing stories and memories with photos carrying a secret message.

Tim Smith - Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyping

Tim heads up portfolio operations at early-stage venture investor Bee Partners. An 8-time founder himself, Jim has built companies from the ground up, operating in basically every facet of the life cycle and organization.  With more than 25 years of technology design, development, and marketing experience spanning large scale data center management to an interactive design agency, Tim has been in the founder’s shoes many times and is cool as a southern cucumber under fire.   

In his role heading portfolio operations at Bee partners, Tim supports entrepreneurs as they build foundational companies. His operational experience includes serving as Founder and CEO of Red Sky Interactive in San Francisco, one of the pioneering and earliest funded Internet agencies (by Omnicom, New York). Red Sky was the third most awarded interactive agency in the world in 1999. 

Tim’s broader entrepreneurship activities include serving as a Venture Advisor, Chair of the Design Program, and Representative to the Board at UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator where he also mentors many growth stage ventures.  Tim’s specialties include: technology marketing and strategy, creative team building, interactive product design and production, design thinking/rapid prototyping, making new things from disparate parts. He loves juggling, biking, board sports and may be the only person you know who’s car was repaired by Steve Jobs.

Liz Allen - Go-to-Market Strategy and Tactics

Liz is a chief marketing officer and growth- oriented leader, having held many top marketing roles in organizations ranging from early-stage startups through Fortune 500 companies.

Liz is a versatile marketing executive with experience building brands, for me fast-moving teams, and leading marketing functions in technology, retail, consumer goods & services, and entertainment industries. She has held top marketing roles with Steve Jobs at Apple, drove growth at The Gap and LucasArts; completely rebranded the At Home Group prior to its IPO; and overhauled marketing at Cost Plus World Market. Liz is recognized for her skill in quickly driving results, building high-performing teams, and forging collaborative partnerships.

Matt Kirmayer - Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship, and How to Work with Your Lawyer

Matt is a partner in the Venture Law practice at international law firm Perkins Coie, in the firm's San Francisco office. Matt enjoys the excitement of working with new technologies and the entrepreneurs who develop and bring those technologies to market. He focuses his practice on the representation of emerging technology companies, venture capital and private equity funds, and institutional investors.

Matt represents clients in many industries, including software, educational technology, digital media, social media, artificial intelligence systems, and life sciences. When working with emerging growth companies, Matt often serves the role of general counsel, advising on formation, assisting with introductions to, and negotiations with, angel and venture capital investors and, when it all works to plan, an IPO or sale transaction.

Matt has practiced corporate law for more than two decades, and he has worked on hundreds of financings, IPOs, and M&A transactions. He also serves as a mentor and guest speaker at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and he has sponsored and participated as a judge in the annual business plan competition at the Haas School of Business for many years. Matt is also a Sky Advisor to SkyDeck, U.C. Berkeley's incubator and accelerator program for startups.

Edith Yeung - An Early-Stage Investor’s Perspective on What Makes for Successful Startups

Selected by Inc's Magazine as one of the Silicon Valley investors you must know, Edith Yeung is the head of 500 Startups Greater China and partner of 500 Mobile Collective Fund. She has invested in over 40 mobile, VR, AR, AI and machine learning startups including Hooked - #1 reading app for millennium, DayDayCook - #1 Asian Cooking media and platform, Fleksy (acquired by Pinterest), Human (acquired by Mapbox), AISense, Penrose, Cryworks, SIlk Labs, Piper, Apptopia, Mobile Action, Andy OS, Quickly, Powercore, Pack, Ingrain, Switch, Bento, DayDayCook, Palantir, etc.

Before 500, Edith ran marketing for Dolphin Browser, a Sequoia-backed mobile browser with over 150 million installs worldwide. Edith also worked with many Fortune 500 companies such as Siebel, Oracle, AMS, AT&T Wireless and Autodesk. You can also find some of her work on BBCBloombergCNBCCBS , NPRTechcrunch

Next WebMashableRead Write Web, etc. She frequently speaks on China & Silicon Valley investment landscape.

<<Note: Edith is an investor in Prynt: a startup which emerged from the very first Learn2Launch cohort>>