CONNECTIONS: The Power of the Haas Alumni Network

Giving Birth to a Biotech Startup

Asked to describe the ROI on his executive MBA studies at Haas, Matthew Cooper, BCEMBA 10/11, has no difficulty with the calculation: lifelong connections and 25 percent of the funding for his new venture, Carmenta Bioscience. Cooper, who previously worked at Roche and holds a PhD in toxicology, co-founded Carmenta in April 2012. The startup is developing a highly accurate diagnostic test for preeclampsia, a high blood pressure condition affecting pregnant women that can lead to life-threatening seizures. Cooper nearly lost his wife to preeclampsia before his son, Zachary, was born. “I am passionate about making this disease irrelevant,” he says. And so were several of his classmates from the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program, who invested nearly $500,000 of the more than $2 million raised by Carmenta. Here’s a look at why some of them supported Cooper.

Bala Kudaravalli

Bala Kudaravalli,
BCEMBA 12/13

IT Architect, Symantec
“It’s a good business opportunity; it’s solving a general problem. We learned at Haas to establish, ‘is there a genuine need?’ In this case, clearly, yes. Then, do due diligence, which Matt has done. He has a good team, good technology, and the right skills to make this opportunity a commercial success.”

Heather Wasielewski Bonilla

Heather Wasielewski Bonilla,
BCEMBA 12/13

(Part of an MBA independent study team working on Carmenta.)
“The Carmenta project was personal for me, as I suffered from undiagnosed preeclampsia with my first daughter. I truly believe that a diagnostic test such as the one Carmenta is working on would have greatly improved the safety of me and my daughter. Our team was very excited about being involved in a biotech startup at the very initial stages. It was a new experience for us; our previous experience had primarily been in established health care companies.”

Matthew Cooper, BCEMBA 10/11, with son ZacharyMatthew Cooper, BCEMBA 10/11, with son Zachary
Sonal Sinha

Sonal Sinha,
BCEMBA 10/11

VP, Industry Solutions, MetricStream
“I am not in biotech at all, so I don’t understand the details or science, but I invested because I believe in Matt. I know he has what it takes to be successful, and he is extremely passionate about what he does. This is very near and dear to him—and to me, as I went through a very challenging pregnancy.”

Tim Campos

Tim Campos,
BCEMBA 10/11

CIO, Facebook
“The investment was at its core a great business opportunity, but it was also an opportunity to do something with someone whom I have grown to respect and appreciate. I would consider investment with any of my classmates who have great business ideas.”