Pejman Mar Ventures Announces DotDashPay as Winner of $250k Startup Challenge at UC Berkeley

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Payments Startup, DotDashPay, Becomes Part of PMV Portfolio & Community

Pejman Mar Ventures has selected DotDashPay, an IoT payments platform, as the first recipient of its inaugural UC Berkeley $250K Challenge. DotDashPay will become part of the Pejman Mar Ventures portfolio and community.

DotDashPay aims to connect machines to the future of commerce, and the funding and support from Pejman Mar Ventures will help accelerate their growth and realize that vision. “I’ve always held the firm belief that the immense talent at Berkeley should be supported both academically and entrepreneurially. Our team is excited to have been honored with this award that also celebrates that belief,” said Sean Arietta, Co-Founder of DotDashPay.

Pejman Mar Ventures first announced the Berkeley Startup Challenge in July 2015, and Mar Hershenson, Managing Partner of Pejman Mar Ventures shared that “The creativity and technical talent we’ve seen from UC Berkeley students and alumni, as well as the teamwork of the faculty and campus have created the foundation for a strong continued relationship.” She added, “We see our founders and entrepreneurs thrive as they work with us to build their companies, tackle challenges, and create the platforms and products of the future.”

Students and alumni from UC Berkeley will help create the big companies of tomorrow, and the talent and innovation seen from the applicants led PejmanMar Ventures to create two new award categories in addition to the main Challenge Award.

PMV Berkeley Challenge Award: DotDashPay, $250k
DotDashPay ( creates a hardware and software platform that makes it easy for machine makers to implement payments. All it takes is a couple of wires and a few lines of code to accept credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Android Pay, Bitcoin, etc on nearly any machine. What Stripe did for online payments they are doing for machine-based payments. DotDashPay was started by Sean Arietta, Colorado Reed and Joey Mucha. Sean and Colorado were both Computer Science PhD candidates at UC Berkeley.

EdTech Award: Tinkering Labs, $20K
Tinkering Labs ( helps kids gain the knowledge, skills and grit that they need to become the next generation of global innovators. Founded by Maker Education pioneer, Gever Tulley, and a team of experienced entrepreneurs, the company is developing a line of products for the $8 billion building sets & kits market, the fastest growing segment of the toy industry.

Social Impact Award: Thera, $5K
Thera is an online chat platform that connects survivors of sexual assault to certified volunteers for anonymous and confidential support. With Thera, users receive quality care and advice while protecting their identities. Thera was started by Kayla Razavi, Anders Truong, Monica Vathanavarin, Meghana Ravikumar and Tomo Ueda, all undergraduate students at UC Berkeley.

“We are thrilled to continue to build this strong partnership with the UC Berkeley community and Silicon Valley,” said Pejman Nozad, Managing Partner of Pejman Mar Ventures. “Expanding the program to include three awards is reflective of how impressed we were by the talent and innovative ideas we saw,” he continued.

This competition has helped build a strong bridge between Berkeley and Silicon Valley. "UC Berkeley students and alumni have always been innovators, and this competition exemplified that," said John Wilton, UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance. "I'd like to congratulate DotDashPay and the two additional winning teams and thank Pejman Mar Ventures for being an incredible partner. As part of the competition, they are donating 10% of the equity in DotDashPlay back to UC Berkeley, making it a terrific program that benefits students and the broader campus, while exemplifying the creative thinking we must continue to foster at Berkeley."

About Pejman Mar Ventures:
Pejman Mar Ventures redefines what it means to be a portfolio company by turning founders into family. We've built an environment and community where we not only share knowledge, resources, and networks, but we also work together to navigate obstacles, create pivoting strategies, and invest in our companies each step of the way.

Pejman Mar Ventures is an early stage, $50M seed fund based in Palo Alto. Historically, we have seeded companies now collectively worth over $25B including Dropbox, Lending Club, Doordash, Branch, Memebox, Gusto, Guardant Health, Soundhound, and more. The fund and Pejman Mar Ventures community are designed to work very closely with early stage companies coming out of top research schools. In the past 18 months, Pejman Mar Ventures has funded 11 companies in which the founders were either current students, or recent graduates, from top schools including Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and now students and alumni from UC Berkeley.

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Lily Johnson
Pejman Mar ventures
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