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Berkeley-Haas Start Up Panel Series: Internet of Things
January 27, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
Berkeley-Haas Start Up Panel Series: Internet of Things
Ben Edwards – Founder, SmartThings
Ben is a catalyst to the various tech, design, and entrepreneur communities of which he is a part. He brings those talents and enthusiasm to his role at SmartThings where he heads up talent development activities.
Prior to founding SmartThings, Ben was a partner at Refactr, a forerunning agile software consultancy specializing in developing custom software for demanding clients. After Refactr’s work with CloudProfile resulted in an acquisition by ReachLocal, Ben and the Refactr team joined ReachLocal as a crucial part of that company’s IPO. Ben started the non-profit, minne✱, to foster technology and startup activity in Minnesota. Since 2006 that community and event series has grown into one of the largest barcamps in the world.
Shruti Gandhi – Managing Partner, Array Ventures
Shruti is a managing partner at Array Ventures. Shruti brings a strong mix of operating and investing experience. Previously, Shruti was an early stage venture capital investor at True Ventures, Samsung Electronics, Lightbank, HighBAR Partners, and the i2A Fund.
Shruti started working with Machine Learning algorithms while working on her master’s thesis in computer science from Columbia University on understanding user behavior on instant messaging platforms. While at IBM she worked on self learning algorithms that detected user location based on IP addresses, which she later incorporated into the Lotus Sametime product. Later, her company Penseev helped users make better connections with their friends based on social data.
When not investing, she is hacking on some app or thinking about ways she can be in many places at one time. Shruti also has an MBA from the University of Chicago, where she polished her finance skills before making the switch from engineer/founder to investor.
Will Greene –Product Strategy, Nest Labs
Will heads product strategy for responsive load at Nest Labs, maker of the Nest Learning Thermostat. The Nest Thermostat learns about you and your home to automatically turn itself down when you’re away, guide you to energy-efficient temperatures when you’re home, and free you from programming hassles by creating a customized temperature schedule. Once it’s learned your schedule, the Nest Thermostat can save you about 10-12 percent on your heating bills and about 15 percent on your cooling bills.
Prior to Nest, Will worked at Greenstart, a design consultancy and venture capital firm focused on cleanweb startups where he consulted with companies such as Simple Energy, EcoFactor, and Genability. He also served as the CEO of Xite Solar, a company he co-founded using technology developed at UC Berkeley to improve efficiencies for existing thin film cells, and enable production of high-efficiency, low-cost photovoltaics from a variety of earth-abundant, non-toxic materials. Earlier in his career, Will spent several years at the U.S. Department of Energy, where he worked as a commercialization advisor for advanced cooling technologies in the newly formed Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).
Will holds a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, and a MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Chris Hallas – Sales Executive, Building Robotics
Chris is responsible for BR’s largest clients, as well as their international accounts. BR has created a breakthrough IoT app for the commercial market called Comfy. Comfy allows occupants to control the HVAC and lighting in their office. Companies like Google and Under Armor, and even the federal government are using Comfy to save energy and increase employee productivity. This is a big growth year for BR so we’re looking for talented graduates to help us scale. Learn more at http://buildingrobotics.com/
Chris joined BR from Opower, where he was a member of the first MBA rotational program. Prior to his MBA, Chris worked for a leading London Hedge Fund, GLG Partners. It was while working at GLG that Chris first got involved in cleantech, co-founding a residential solar company with his father.
Chris holds an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and still lives in Berkeley with his wife and two sons.
Rama Sekhar – Partner, Norwest Ventures
Rama focuses primarily on early to late stage venture investments in enterprise and infrastructure including cloud, big data, security, networking, and storage. Rama’s current investments include Bitglass, Exablox, and Qubole. Rama was previously an investor in Morta Security (acquired by Palo Alto Networks) and Pertino Networks (acquired by Cradlepoint).
Before joining Norwest in 2009, Rama was with Comcast Ventures, where he focused on early and growth stage investment opportunities in the enterprise and infrastructure sectors.
Prior to Comcast Ventures, Rama was a product manager at Cisco Systems, where he defined product strategy and roadmaps for the GSR 12000 Series and CRS-1 routers, $1B networking products in the carrier and data center markets. Previously, Rama was a sales engineer at Cisco Systems where he sold networking and security equipment to AT&T as they rolled out their global IP/MPLS network.
Rama holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in finance and entrepreneurial management and a bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering, with high honors, from Rutgers University.