By Caroline OstermanIt all started during the first week of the Berkeley MEng program. Arjun Bidesi, MEng ’19 (IEOR), eager to pave his way in the booming startup world of the Silicon Valley, went straight to work networking with his fellow MEng classmates. He soon met Larry Zhang, who had a startup of his own and had previously interned at Berkeley SkyDeck. After attending several SkyDeck events with Larry, Arjun grew firm in his goal to become an entrepreneur. His first step: find several like-minded individuals who shared his passion and savvy for healthcare and technology. After four months of interviewing potential co-founders, Arjun met genomics scientist Zhong Wang with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “Zhong and I hit it off from the first time we met,” Arjun recalls. “We could clearly identify the complementary skills that we bring to the table and relevant experience and education to build a valuable business.” Now with an advantageous partnership, the duo set off to form the rest of their team and build a business in the genomics space. Arjun and Zhong soon partnered up with scientific advisors Haifin Lin, from the Yale Stem Cell Center, and Eddy Rubin, from the Human Genome Project.
Meet the rest of the GenomEdge team:
Arjun Bidesi, Founder & CEOArjun, MEng ’19, is studying Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. He comes prepared to the startup world with seven years of management consulting and an MBA from the Indian School of Business. In his search for a graduate engineering program, Arjun kept three criteria in mind: the startup ecosystem, course flexibility, and a one-year timeline that combined both technical and leadership curricula. Arjun found the Berkeley MEng program to satisfy all three. “The key is the brilliance of the professors who have lived in this startup ecosystem,” he says, “who not only teach you how to build and run startups, but also infect you with their passion for startups.”
“The key is the brilliance of the professors who have lived in this startup ecosystem, who not only teach you how to build and run startups, but also infect you with their passion for startups.”
Dinkar Juyal, Product LeadDinkar, MEng ’19, is studying Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. While working in India, Dinkar would spend his spare time reading about the booming entrepreneurial culture of the Silicon Valley. “The idea of breathing life into a research idea and shaping it into a fully-formed product has always fascinated me,” he recalls. Dinkar ultimately decided that the Berkeley MEng program’s intersection of business and technology suited his goals perfectly.
“The idea of breathing life into a research idea and shaping it into a fully-formed product has always fascinated me.”
Kaushal Yagnik, Tech LeadKaushal, MEng ’19, student studying Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences. After two years of industry experience working as a data scientist in India, Kaushal realized his ambition of making a difference in the world through data-driven solutions. Understanding the importance of a strong business acumen in the startup world, Kaushal sought out a graduate program that would provide this component and accelerate his entrepreneurial goals. “Indeed, thus far, this program has built a good foundation to my technical and leadership goals, and also provided an amazing network of friends — like Arjun and Dinkar — to propel my career,” Kaushal says.
“This program has built a good foundation to my technical and leadership goals, and also provided an amazing network of friends — like Arjun and Dinkar — to propel my career.”
A genomics company for college studentsOne thing the GenomEdge team knew they had in common was a passion for delivering the power of genomics to consumers — and they knew they needed to do it the right way. Their priorities included affordability as well as unadulterated privacy, which they knew is a threat many big players in the genomics industry pose. After their market research with surveys, focus-groups, and in-person interviews, the team realized that there was one particular demographic that could extract the most benefit from genetic testing: college students. Freshman and sophomore undergraduates, they observed, undergo an especially steep learning curve when acclimating themselves to the college dynamic. With this stage of life comes mental pressures and much uncertainty of the future; college students are simultaneously exploring their strengths and weaknesses while meeting new people and experiencing new things. So what would a college student seek from a DNA test? In an effort to help students get to know themselves better, the GenomEdge team sorted the many important aspects of college life into four different categories:
- Academics: Study schedules and majors
- Wellness: Fitness and diet regimes
- Health: Physical and mental health risks
- Personality: Personality traits and disorders
GenomEdge: A rising genomics startup built by three MEng students was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.