Tag Archives: Berkeley business news

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Berkeley-based startup sends part-time profs to school

ProfHire xxxxx. Photo: Sarah Gerber
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 This post is part of a series of business stories brought to you by WeWork Berkeley.

One local startup blends what the Bay Area does best: tech and academia.

ProfHire, located in downtown Berkeley at the coworking space WeWork, connects part-time faculty with universities looking to hire them. Co-founder Lesa Hammond developed the idea for the company while working in higher education HR.

“Qualifying, hiring, and on-boarding part-time faculty was problematic,” Hammond said. The process is different than for full-time positions, and often the people in charge of hiring adjuncts don’t vet the candidates sufficiently, she said.

Enter ProfHire, the platform Hammond and Oda ended up creating with technical lead Jonathan Jiang in 2014.

Faculty candidates use the service for free, filling out thorough profiles, including their expertise, interests, teaching philosophies and experience working with diverse populations. They upload their CV, licensure and a sample syllabus. The ProfHire staff vet them by checking references and interviewing them over the phone. They look for retired and working scholars with industry expertise and actively seek diverse candidates, Hammond said. … Continue reading »

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24-year-old Cal grad launches $6M start-ups fund

Jeremy Fiance. Photo: LinkedIn
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A 24-year old Berkeley alum who raised funds for start-ups while still in school announced Monday that he has started a $6 million fund for companies connected to UC Berkeley.

Jeremy Fiance has launched The House Fund, which will seed very early stage companies with anything from $50,000 to $250,000.

Financial backers and advisors (most of whom are UC Berkeley grads) include Shervin Pishevar, an early investor in Uber and now a managing partner at Sherpa Capital, Jeff Brody, managing partner at Redpoint Ventures, John Burke, the founder of True Ventures, and Prakash Janakiraman, the founder Nextdoor, and others, according to Venture Beat.

“We believe a University ecosystem is an ideal place to start up and Berkeley’s is one of the best around,” said Fiance in an article he posted on Medium. “But there’s still a huge need for strengthened community and funding support.” … Continue reading »

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Alice Rosenthal: Expert beekeeper, swarm catcher

Rosenthal with three of her hives in Oakland. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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This is the sixth article in our series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, written and photographed by Melati Citrawireja, a summer 2015 photography intern for Berkeleyside. Don’t miss her stories on textile designer Amy KeeferSt. Hieronymus Press, the workspace of David Lance Goines; Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher and the Pettingell Book Binderycoppersmith Audel Davis; and ethnobotanist and natural fabric dyer Deepa Natarajan.

In many ways, Alice Rosenthal is like the honeybees to which she tends: hard-working, gentle and charismatic. She is a jack-of-all trades type of gal, using her construction skills to rescue wild bees from inconvenient locations, while also looking after more than 150 hives of her own that are interspersed throughout the East Bay. This is her life, and also a thriving business called Bee Happy Solutions. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The Bone Room, Photo Center, LMi.Net, more

Employee and customers looking at skeletons
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BONE ROOM CLOSING STORE Berkeley’s quirkiest store, The Bone Room, announced on Tuesday that it is closing its brick-and-mortar store on Solano Avenue (which it had already downsized last spring). A place of wonder for children and adults, scientists and artists for more than 30 years, The Bone Room will be focusing on growing its online sales, “hosting more pop-up shops around California, and … increasing our popular literary events,” according a March 22 Facebook post. The store was founded by Ron Cauble, a brilliant scientist and natural historian, who also opened the East Bay Vivarium in West Berkeley. Cauble died in July 2015. The Bone Room will close its doors on June 1, but the post urged fans not to despair: “Fear not, dear Bone Roomers!!! We are NOT closing down, but rather evolving. Keep following us (and turn on our notifications) for sales, special items, Bone Crew antics, videos and more. Your incredible support is what has allowed our shop to grow. Thank you for the years so far, and for the years to come!” Visit The Bone Room’s shop at 1573 Solano Ave. through June 1; visit its website and online store (real bats in lucite, priced at $30 each!); connect with The Bone Room on Facebook.
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Update: SpoonRocket confirms it has shut down

Sweet potato and black bean chili from SpoonRocket. Photo: SpoonRocket
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Update: 3.15.16, 9:30 a.m.: SpoonRocket has confirmed it is ceasing operations. Tuesday morning it informed its investors it was shutting down its meal delivery service after failing to raise the necessary capital to continue. Co-founder Steven Hsiao confirmed the decision to TechCrunch. The company also sent out an email to its drivers letting them know it was closing down. It suggested drivers apply to jobs at San Francisco-based Sprig, another food delivery service where, it said, SpoonRocket drivers would be “an awesome fit.” The alert to drivers reads in part:

Admin Bay Area wrote:
3/15/16      URGENT UPDATE FOR ALL DRIVERS
GOODBYE…
SpoonRocket will cease all our operations effective immediately. We set out to build the next generation of food delivery network and we are proud of what we were able to achieve in a short period of time. However, as competition for on-demand food delivery has grown, it became clear that we could not continue to compete. Over the last few months, we’ve been exploring our next options and unfortunately came up short.
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A visit with East Bay textile whisperer Amy Keefer

Amy Keefer
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This is the fifth article in our series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, written and photographed by Melati Citrawireja, a summer 2015 photography intern for Berkeleyside. Don’t miss her stories on St. Hieronymus Press, the workspace of David Lance Goines; Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher and the Pettingell Book Bindery; coppersmith Audel Davis; and ethnobotanist and natural fabric dyer Deepa Natarajan.

Amy Keefer is not your average rainy afternoon knitter, crocheter or embroiderer. Keefer holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts with an emphasis on textiles and fibers, and uses these patience-demanding crafts as tools for self-expression, as well as to provoke political discussion.

One of her patterns that has become popular in the knitting community is a sweater with large teeth stretching across the chest. She wears a white version of the sweater as we chat in her thoughtfully decorated home. Keefer works on an embroidery project as we talk, her cat weaving between our legs, frequently reminding us of his presence.

“At first I thought the teeth project was just about identity — your dental records, and stuff like that,” she says. “But then I realized — oh! — you’re baring your teeth in defense mode.”

Much of Keefer’s work reflects this attention to security and promoting resilience in the wearer. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Berkeley’s Nabolom Bakery back in business

Nabolom back in business on Monday Feb. 2016. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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Five months after it closed, Nabolom Bakery reopened on a foggy Monday morning, with an enthusiastic line of long-time customers.

“I like supporting a local business, so when it reopens, it’s a joyful thing,” said Jeannie, who didn’t want to provide her last name. She hoped to find the blueberry apricot bran muffin (not today) and the cinnamon twist that she enjoyed in Nabolom’s earlier incarnation.

“Congratulations!” said another customer to new co-owner Julia Elliott. “Still standing!”

“Barely,” said Elliott, who had been working around the clock with her partner, Sabra Stepak, to reopen Nabolom. Elliott and Stepak bought the bakery (including its recipes) from the collective that owned it for four decades.

“I’m excited,” Elliott said. “But I’m so tired, I’m out of my mind. But people love Nabolom.” … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Svensson, Sal’s, MSC Custom, Convert

Convert store in San Francisco. A new Convert Collections store will open Feb. 23 in the former Convert Shoes space at xxxx Fourth St. Photo: Convert
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SVENSSON AUTOMOTIVE CLOSING AFTER 50 YEARS Svensson Automotive, which was founded in Berkeley by Rune Svensson in 1966, has closed up shop at 1740 San Pablo Ave. Current owner Baljeet Pal, who most customers know as BJ, said the business is closing as the property owner intends to turn the land into apartments (Berkeleyside has not been able to confirm this yet). The auto shop originally specialized in servicing and repairing Swedish car makes, such as Saab and Volvo, but subsequently expanded to include Toyotas. BJ immigrated to the U.S. in 1977 from India, and began working at the auto shop with his father, who then owned the business, in 1980, according to Jerome Solberg who spoke to him recently. BJ bought the business in 1985. “I really want to thank all of the loyal customers I have had over the past 35 years, they made my job enjoyable and rewarding,” BJ said to Solberg. “I am proud to say that my business put all three of my children through college and all of them pursued postgraduate educations. I now plan to semi-retire, play a lot of golf, and tour the world!” BJ will spend the non-leisure part of his retirement at Svensson’s second location in Lafayette which he opened in 1994. … Continue reading »

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IdeaScale: Crowdsourcing winning ideas across the board

IdeaScale. Photo: Sarah Gerber
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 This post is part of a series of business stories brought to you by WeWork Berkeley.

It is rare that a startup can claim the president of the United States among its first clients, but that is the case for IdeaScale, a company with headquarters at the Berkeley branch of the coworking space WeWork.

IdeaScale is an “innovation management platform,” meaning companies and organizations can use the software to run crowdsourcing campaigns. Clients use IdeaScale to solicit ideas, which users can then vote on. Assessment features help them evaluate the impact of executing the winning ideas.

Shortly after co-founders Rob Hoehn and Vivek Bhaskaran hatched the company in Seattle, Barack Obama was elected president. On his first day in office, he promised transparency and called for executive agencies to seek input from the public. Within 100 days, more than 20 federal agencies were running campaigns through IdeaScale, whose founders had a connection to the White House. The president’s SAVE Award, for example, asked federal employees to pitch cost-saving suggestions. The White House implemented the winning ideas, such as a tool-lending library for NASA projects. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

People's Café at 2015 Shattuck Ave. is now closed. Photo: Sharon Hahn Darling
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PEOPLE’S CAFÉ CLOSED People’s Café, at 2015 Shattuck Ave. (at University) in downtown Berkeley has closed to make way for two new businesses moving into the ground floor of the WeWork Berkeley building. As we have reported, Ippudo NY ramen restaurant and Blue Bottle coffee shop are moving in there. With its late opening hours and selection of cheap eats, from bagels through sandwiches, People’s Café was a favorite among Cal students. Its lease expired about a month ago, according to architect Ben Farrell who is responsible for getting the two Soma Capital-owned spaces ready for their new tenants. Farrell said the café was given an extended grace period until construction began at the corner spot. Ippudo will be at 2118 University and Blue Bottle at 2015 Shattuck. Farrell added that, if all goes well, Blue Bottle may be able to offer outdoor seating on a widened sidewalk, depending how quickly the Shattuck Square improvement project, which calls for a more pedestrian-friendly environment in the area, is implemented. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
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The hot ticket in downtown Berkeley on the evening of Thursday Jan. 28 was arguably the gala opening party for the new BAMPFA, but if you had seen the several-hundred strong line of people snaking down Center Street and round the corner along Shattuck between 5 and 7 p.m., waiting to get into the NextSpace building, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there was an even hotter event going on.

More than 3,000 people signed up to attend the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, according to Ben Hamlin, co-founder and CEO of Localwise, the Berkeley-based job community which organized the first-of-its kind event. And of those, more than 1,000 showed up. The fair, which was focused on promoting diversity in tech, was co-hosted by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. Other partners included 16 nonprofits, including the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinas in Tech, Telegraph Academy, Lesbians who Tech, Code Berkeley and the Level Playing Field Institute. (See the full list of partners).

The overwhelming response to the fair appeared to indicate the need for more opportunities for job-seekers to meet with young companies who are recruiting. Many attendees came from nearby UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College, but others had traveled from further afield, including from more far-flung colleges. For still others, their student days were far behind them. And it was a diverse crowd who formed lines and patiently waited to speak with potential employers inside NextSpace’s ground-floor atrium. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Gorgeous and Green
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WILLIAM STOUT CLOSES/RELOCATES Architectural bookstore William Stout has closed its Berkeley store, at 1605 Solano Ave., and is merging the business with its publishing arm on the Richmond waterfront. Owner Bill Stout told Berkeleyside the North Berkeley store never really met his expectations. “Moving means we can consolidate our inventory and service our mail-order customers quicker,” he said. Stout, whose flagship store has operated on Montgomery Street in San Francisco for more than 40 years, opened the Berkeley store in fall 2010. At the time, Bill Stout said he chose Berkeley because of the store’s publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because he saw the Solano district as being “a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now.” Stout also homed in on Berkeley because he believed there were more bibliophiles in the East Bay. “In San Francisco an interest in books is dying,” he said in 2010. Stout is hopeful that this latest decision”should be a good move.” William Stout‘s East Bay outpost is now at 1328 South 51st St., Richmond. Continue reading »

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Amazon opens new store on UC Berkeley campus

Amazon
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Amazon opened a sleek, modern, brick-and-mortar store on the UC Berkeley campus Thursday and it promises to ease package delivery and return for students, faculty, staff and the community.

But Amazon hopes the store, located in the refurbished Martin Luther King Jr. building facing Sproul Plaza, will be more than that. There are couches and chairs scattered around the 3,500-square-foot space, as well as a large television screen for students to watch movies or play video games. A large table holds Kindle e-readers, Fire Tablets and Fire TV devices, creating “an interactive Amazon device experience,” according to a press release.

The idea is to be such an inviting environment that students “turn into lifelong customers,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs. … Continue reading »

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