Pitch Mixer’s efforts to collaborate and invigorate the entrepreneurial spirit in Berkeley.
By Sabrina Atienza (UC Berkeley Student & Cloud Analytics Intern, Tealeaf Technology)

I once embraced this mantra: succeed in school and accordingly escalate within an entrenched, reputable firm to ensure financial stability. Before stepping onboard my first flight to California three years ago from New Jersey, my home state, my business-savvy uncle warns me that the entrepreneurial spirit of the West will seem a drastic contrast to the aforementioned indoctrination.

Yet, three years at UC Berkeley have elapsed and in my dual pursuit of Physics and Computer Science, I feel puzzled and ashamed to admit that the entrepreneurial scene here at Cal quivers like a child overwhelmed, perhaps overwhelmed by the startup flagship across the bay, Stanford University.

Of my many friendships and acquaintances in technical fields, the prevalent mentality is precisely my former mantra which by default diminishes emphasis on risk and the CEO mindset.

Outside of computer science and business, the notion of spearheading a startup seems no less than alien, and even during career fairs that feature promising startup companies, very rarely are such companies based in Berkeley. Frustrating circumstances further, I have yet to find (or create!) a convenient forum, bridging at all levels the human capital in technical disciplines with the human capital in business, economics, and finance. Simply put, the hub of West coast entrepreneurship resides elsewhere.

As any keen entrepreneur knows by intuition, the existence of demand motivates the creation of a product or service, and within the talent-rich ecosystem of Cal and the greater Berkeley area, the demand for entrepreneurship as a recognized discipline surges.

In response, organizations such as Pitch Mixer (founded by Ayori Selassi and Kalimah Priforce) aim to build a community on this side of the Bay, uniting passionate and diverse entrepreneurs, including myself, an infant within the startup world.

Although I have only begun attending such events, the celebration of female leaders in this past Pitch Mixer proved inspiring and energizing, as I depart Freight & Salvage eager to claw more deeply into cloud computing and machine learning, gripping a fortified confidence in my own potential to impact the world.

I observe at the event only one other enrolled Cal undergraduate despite the event’s location one block from campus, attesting yet again to the fragmented Berkeley startup environment. In perspective, however, this lack of cohesion serves as the perfect opportunity to jump in the chaos, bring people together, and start up a scene, a challenge rather suitable for the entrepreneur, the reward of succeeding truly unquantifiable.

What if I had actualized my ambitions two years earlier? What if I had met my co-founders two years earlier? These questions possess meaning insofar as we can ensure the next generation of Cal undergraduates need not contemplate them. In collaborating to invigorate the entrepreneurial spirit within Berkeley, we all contribute to one massive innovation: the emergence of a new hub of creativity, passion, and talent, the emergence of Berkeley as a premier entrepreneurial community.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Sabrina Atienza is a 3rd year undergraduate at UC Berkeley, pursuing degrees in Physics and Computer Science. She has several projects in progress, which involve the use of open computer vision libraries for body language processing, the use of Hadoop and HBase for cloud computation and real-time analytics, and a mobil/web application that will facilitate the formation of study groups within classes. She is presently employed as a part-time Cloud Analytics Intern for Tealeaf Technology, which plays with big data in customer experience management.