DRF Partner Feature: Berkeley’s Josh Ephraim— From Healthcare Consulting to JD-MBA
Just like you, all our investment partners at Dorm Room Fund are students just as passionate about startups coming from different backgrounds! Today, we’re featuring Bay Area Partner Josh Ephraim.
Quick Bio: Josh is a JD-MBA student at Berkeley Law and the Berkeley-Haas School of Business where he is the President of InSITE Fellows and founder of the Berkeley Startup Central, the only place to find the exhaustive list of events and resources for entrepreneurs in Berkeley. Prior to graduate school, Josh worked at IMS Consulting Group working with healthcare clients and at StartUp Health, a global digital health startup accelerator as the Enrollment Director.
How did you first get interested in startups?
I used to really look forward to the Time Magazine “Best Inventions” every year. In 2003 they touted a Foam-Rubber microphone, a stealth surfboard, and a genetically modified tomato In that issue, I remember seeing this infrared keyboard and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. Technology has come a long way from then, but that is the earliest I remember being really excited about new ideas and technology.
When I began a job doing healthcare consulting after college I began to appreciate how valuable startups would be to make healthcare more efficient. I took a job at a startup accelerator focused on digital health and have been passionate about helping entrepreneurs improve the way we live ever since.
Why did you join Dorm Room Fund?
I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed. Last year I developed a platform called Berkeley Startup Central in order to help entrepreneurs in Berkeley navigate the resources available on campus. Dorm Room Fund gives me the opportunity to have a huge impact on campus by connecting with promising student entrepreneurs and actually providing them with a capital to get them off the ground.
I was also incredibly impressed with the strength of the DRF network — both founders and investment partners. There are a few other opportunities to have an investment role on campus, but to me, the DRF network was unmatched. Everyone is incredibly smart and supportive and it’s a really tight-knit community.
What do you look for in startups and student founders?
It’s not a very unique thing to say, but at this early stage the team is by far the most important thing. It’s important that the team is smart, talented, and has enough grit to succeed as an entrepreneur. How to spot these things is probably something for a longer conversation. It’s definitely challenging and interview skills are really important. One question I always ask is, “what makes this team the best to solve this particular problem?”
What is the best part about being a DRF partner?
This question is really hard because there are so many great things! This might be a cop-out because it is so broad, but I love the opportunity to learn from the DRF community. I learn a ton when I meet with new entrepreneurs, when I meet up with the DRF investment team, and when I chat with entrepreneurs we’ve already funded. DRF folks are incredibly motivated and also great at sharing their knowledge and skills
What advice would you give to student founders out there?
Do your homework before you commit to an idea. I see a lot of new entrepreneurs that have great teams but are working on a problem that they are not equipped to solve. I’ve also seen a lot of entrepreneurs that don’t know enough about other companies in their space — especially why they have succeeded or failed.
Asking for help is also really important and I’ve noticed that the best entrepreneurs are very good at this.
What is the one thing that gets Josh excited?
I really care about health and wellness, and I think about that sector very broadly. I’m excited about how entrepreneurs can make being healthy easier and more accessible. I also love brownies and ice cream so that gets me excited too.