UC Berkeley Fellow in the Spotlight — Rubi Sanchez

Rubi Sanchez is an entrepreneur and Venture Fellow at Strawberry Creek Ventures, a private, for-profit venture capital firm for UC Berkeley alums.

Time and time again, Managing Partner Peter Loukianoff has been impressed with Rubi’s involvement at Strawberry Creek. She’s a wonderful conversationalist with Berkeley alums and potential investors, personable, inquisitive, and proactive — all the qualities that embody an outstanding Venture Fellow.

We sat down with Rubi to ask her a few questions about her experience as a Venture Fellow, how UC Berkeley influenced her career, machine learning, and her involvement with Cocoon Cam — an advanced baby breathing monitor with computer vision technology. As a first time founder, Rubi quit her job to follow her passion of being an entrepreneur.

What were the high points and low points of your experience at Cocoon Cam?

The high points were often a result of bouncing back from the low points. On one side, parents all over the nation consistently cheered us on with e-mails, which was one of the best feelings ever. There’s nothing better than receiving warm e-mails from your customers. But bootstrapping a company is hard. Even though it was the right decision for us, it was difficult to go months without regular income.

I also must mention that one of the highest points was having the honor of meeting President Barack Obama as a result of being invited to the highly selective White House Demo Day. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

What was your big break with Cocoon Cam?

We ended up selling our first camera prototype — a Raspberry Pi with a 3D printed enclosure — after just a few months. That was a key indicator that we were solving a pain point so strong that parents were willing to purchase a very early (and not so pleasing-looking) prototype when even the computer vision technology was at an early stage.

What attracted you to becoming a Strawberry Creek Ventures Fellow?

As the main co-founder pitching to investors, I wanted to become a Fellow because I hoped to learn more about how investors think about startups while sitting at the other side of the table. I also wanted to use both my entrepreneurial experience and new investor perspective to help support and give back to both our organization and startup founders. Specfically, I hoped to help them better understand each other and how they can succeed together in today’s startup scene and hopefully for years to come.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a Venture Fellow?

The most rewarding experience as a Venture Fellow has been connecting with a lot of UC Berkeley alumni who are very eager to join such a strong network of entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters. I have yet to witness a network as diverse, supportive, and strong as the network that Strawberry Creek Ventures is building for the UC Berkeley community. And I am very happy that our rapidly growing community feels the same way!

How has your education at UC Berkeley guided your career and life choices?

Through the Interdisciplinary Studies Field major at UC Berkeley, I was able to take classes that I was very passionate about without pigeonholing myself into a single category. For example, my classes ranged from calculus and physics for engineers to lower and higher business, psychology, and healthcare division courses. As a result, I was able to develop my analytical and creative skillsets as well as knowledge base and apply these to several industries such as finance, healthcare, and most recently the tech industry.

As you’ve had some involvement with the machine learning industry, what do you see has the greatest potential in this sector?

Machine learning has the potential to impact and reduce inefficiencies in every single aspect of our lives if we identify the opportunity and choose to adopt it. From the time we wake up to an alarm that learns our sleep cycle, to wearing clothes manufactured completely by smart robots, to reading tailored news based on our actions, purchasing groceries without having to make a physical payment transaction, having a camera detect our vitals and a computer diagnose an ailment, to driving to work, there is the promise and potential to impact every single sector!

If you’re interested in becoming a Venture Fellow at Alumni Ventures Group, click here. To learn more about Strawberry Creek Ventures, or investing alongside UC Berkeley alumni, follow the link.

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