Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship
1517 Fund Supporting UC Innovators
The team behind billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 fellowship has taken a strong interest in entrepreneurial students at the University of California.
Working directly with hackers, makers, engineers, and scientists before and during the startup phase, 1517 Fund searches for the next Mark Zuckerberg on campus. Since 2015, they’ve invested more than $2 million into startups run by UC students and alumni. And they’ve given out tens of thousands of dollars in no-strings-attached grants to early-stage projects led by students. Additionally, thirty percent of 1517 Fund’s founders come from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized groups. The fund works to open the entrepreneurial path to all no matter their background and to make venture capital available to groups traditional VCs overlook or ignore.
“We spend a lot of time on campus,” said Danielle Strachman, co-founder and general partner at 1517 Fund. “We’ll come to campus and meet students often before they know they will launch a company. We try to provide feedback, help and guidance, and connections to other young people doing similar work. We like to say that capital partnership is just one way that we help.”
1517 Fund’s investments from the UC system include companies like FOSSA, Aether Bio, Aura, and Nelumbo.
FOSSA is a software-as-a-service company that helps software companies manage their open source code licenses and vulnerabilities. Founded by Kevin Wang (UC Berkeley), the company is valued at over $52 million and has investors like Bain Capital.
Founded by Pavle Jeremic (UC Santa Cruz), Aether Bio is an early-stage synthetic biology company that creates new enzymes by combining machine learning technology and robotic laboratories. Artis Ventures, investors in Palantir and Youtube, recently backed Aether’s latest round.
Brothers Steve and Daniel Lee (UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, respectively) launched Aura Health in 2017. Named one of the Best Apps of 2017 by Apple, Aura is a mindfulness and wellness companion available on both iOS and Android.
Nelumbo, founded by Liam Berryman (UC Berkeley) creates an omni-phobic coating for heat exchanges for the HVAC market. This coating helps reduce carbon emission and increase efficiency for HVAC units across the world.
“The students in the UC system have been great members of both our portfolio and our community. We always look forward to our time on campus here,” said Strachman.