John DeClercq will step down as joint-CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce at the end of this month after 18 months in the job. Polly Armstrong, with whom he shares leadership responsibilities, will continue to head up the local business organization solo, most likely on a part-time basis.
By Hannah Long
On Wednesday night at the Freight & Salvage, the Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum will hold its first Berkeley event. In honor of Women’s History Month, the event will feature five women pitching their business ideas to an all-women panel of judges.
What makes a city a magnet for startups? Why do entrepreneurs and financiers flock to the South Bay even though there are so few good places to eat there? Does Berkeley want to be Silicon Valley anyway? (You can guess the answer to that one.) Maybe Berkeley is just not hip enough to attract young talent? Does the city’s red tape makes it too cumbersome to be innovative? And, perhaps most significantly, is there just too much distrust of businesses as they thrive and grow? Perhaps Berkeley should focus on what it already does well: incubating startups then allowing them to fly to pastures new, be that San Francisco or Palo Alto.
There’s a long-standing mismatch between the number of ventures spurred by innovations at the University of California Berkeley and Berkeley Lab and the number of those startups that locate in Berkeley. The Berkeley Skydeck startup accelerator, with 10,000 sq ft at the top of downtown’s tallest building, hopes to change that.
THE NICK OF TIME Nick’s Lounge, at 3218 Adeline near Fairview, has been a neighborhood fixture for almost 50 years. Bryan Smith bought the bar in April and has spruced it up, getting rid of the gambling machine and repainting the bar inside and out. He holds karaoke nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays and has live jazz two Saturdays a month. The last Saturday of each month is an “East Bay Open Mic” night, from 7 to 9 p.m. Now that it’s football season, Nick’s has live football from noon to 1 a.m. on Sunday and from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Mondays.
The Skydeck Innovation Center, planned for the top floor of the tallest building in Berkeley, received a $50,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund this week. The Skydeck, a project of the Berkeley Startup Cluster (BSC), will be a 10,000 sq. ft. incubator for fledgling technology companies. The grant was the largest award in the $260,000 distributed by the university fund for the 2011-12 fiscal year.