💡 The Cal Hacks Fellowship

TL;DR

  • Cal Hacks Fellowship is a program to help some of the most promising hacks and teams from this weekend develop their hacks into successful companies or open-source projects. If you get into the Fellowship program, you'll get an initial funding of $1000, space in an incubator, and lessons and workshops by executives, entrepreneurs, and engineers.
  • To apply, make a 7 slide pitch deck according to our guide linked below, a rudimentary logo (it can be as simple as your name spelled out), and show progress on your idea, both as a prototype and as a product people want to use.
  • Team must have at least 50% of its members living in Berkeley to be eligible.

What is the Cal Hacks Fellowship?

To increase the effects of the hacking mindset, Cal Hacks offers a multi week program for Berkeley students to develop the projects they make at the hackathon into a fully-fledged startup. It’s the perfect way to create a large impact and increase the reach of the tech you come up with. More importantly, it allows you to develop important managerial, financial, marketing, and pitching skills. 

👀 What are we looking for?

  • Teams that believe in what they are creating and have an openness to learning new things:
  • Even if what you are making is simple, it doesn’t matter: if your project is interesting, tackles a new problem, or addresses an existing one in an interesting way, we encourage you to apply.
  • It’s easy to take a humble approach and believe that in the long run what you are making won’t make a difference. Realize that the greatest ideas of all time have come from projects like the ones you are making, the only difference is that they iterated upon their ideas for a longer time and evolved them into what they are today. That’s what this program is for, you don’t need a refined approach or something revolutionary from the get go, just a curiosity to learn, and belief that what you are doing is unique in some way.
  • Those who want to grow their project into something that creates more impact.
  • We also want people who make significant progress during the hackathon. 
  • In order to judge how great an idea is, we need a starting point. Your project is just that, so make sure that you put a decent amount of thought into the product.
  • Passion!

How do I apply?

  1. Create a pitchdeck: if you are unsure as to where to start, check out our guide here.
  1. Make sure your project has some functionality and that you develop a core function. Even if the tech is difficult, a good prototype could be something like a spreadsheet that you build along with, for example, a design for an app. Basically, your prototype doesn’t have to be super technical (but it will help if it is).

Tips 

  1. Think about how to make your idea feasible and be able to describe how you would implement your project down the line.
  1. Look at the people your product tries to engage and explore other solutions that already exist, make sure to think about how what you are doing is different. Specifically try to look for your “desperate user”, someone who needs your particular solution badly and doesn’t have a product out there for them.
  1. Envision what will come out of this idea, look far ahead and try to see what it potentially could become.
  1. When differentiating yourself from competitors, it always helps to have two main factors and create a graph (each axis representing one of these factors) and place your idea among competitors, ie. if I was comparing uber from lyft my x (or y, it’s arbitrary) axis could be amount of drivers and my y axis would be how well-treated the drivers are, in which case Uber would be a lot lower and more to the right of Lyft. This visual representation of where your solution stands compared to competitors really helps people understand your differentiation and the gap in the market you are trying to address.
  1. Research always boosts your ethos when you present your solution. Have some knowledge on the market and have responses to what people will ask you. Remember that good ideas aren’t exclusive to people that have specific experiences, you can find a gap in a market or provide a useful insight that a founder of a VC would have never thought of. So be confident and don’t be afraid to respond to someone’s thoughts on your product no matter who they are (this includes judges)!
  1. Most importantly, have fun! We want your projects to be driven by passions that you already have, if you don’t enjoy your project how can you expect others to enjoy it as well?

📚 Resources