A group of UC Berkeley engineering and business students won the first annual University Mobile Challenge at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. The group bested 10 other teams from around the world with a business plan and working prototype of Noodle, a cloud-based college notes app.
The Berkeley team had emerged out of a competition in a course on mobile applications taught by Ken Singer, part of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology in the engineering school at Cal. Teams in the class had to prepare a business plan and an idea for a mobile app in the course. Those that wanted to have a shot at the Barcelona competition then had to work over the holiday break and into January to create a working prototype.
The Noodle team of Taylor Griffin, Karthik Lakshmanan, Apoorva Sachdev, Aaditya Sriram and Jade Trinh prevailed and went to Barcelona for the competition finals. According to Trinh, Berkeley’s team had to present 10th out of the 11 competitors to a panel of industry experts and venture capitalists. “We were confident and on point,” said Trinh. “We delivered an amazing pitch.”
The competition was conceived by Berkeley Mobile International Collaborative, a non-profit dedicated to creating strategic relationships between mobile companies, innovative universities, and entrepreneurial students. BMIC itself grew out of Singer’s class at Berkeley. “At BMIC we are fostering support for a non-traditional, highly collaborative paradigm of learning through entrepreneurship and this mobile technology competition,” said Bill Washburn, Executive Director, BMIC. “We hope to attract a diverse student population, including women and others who are underrepresented in technology.”
Trinh said the Berkeley team hopes to find a way to pursue the business plan that took them to Barcelona and victory. “We could see devoting ourselves to this if we could find an incubator like Y Combinator,” she said. Y Combinator seed-funds a large number of start-ups each year. The funded start-ups then work with the Y Combinator team over the summer to develop ideas to a more investible position.