Today the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, in partnership with the prominent venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and leading talent and literary agency United Talent Agency (UTA), announced the Viterbi Startup Garage, an early-stage technology accelerator designed to provide financial and other strategic resources to a select group of USC student and alumni entrepreneurs.
"We are very excited to provide our students world-class opportunities and resources by launching the first Los Angeles accelerator backed by a prominent University,” said Ashish Soni, Executive Director of Digital Innovation and Founding Director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “We believe that KPCB and UTA are ideal partners, given KPCB’s unparalleled track record in identifying and advising phenomenal entrepreneurs, and UTA's track record in providing early-stage companies strategic assistance across a number of categories."
Southern California produces a large number of talented engineers each year. The USC Viterbi School of Engineering, with approximately 1800 undergraduate and 3800 graduate students, attracts many of the top students from around the world. However, entry-level and accelerator opportunities in Southern California have always been sparse. As a result, graduates that ultimately spin-out and launch their own startups do so for the most part in regions other than Southern California.
USC, KPCB and UTA want to change the situation and create an environment customized for USC engineering students and graduates. This will help facilitate the growth of the Los Angeles technology marketplace, as well as encourage the best and brightest engineers to not only remain in Southern California, but to also flourish and further enrich the region. USC is also working with Los Angeles-based Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. to sponsor and support other initiatives within the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute (VSI2) in and out of the classroom.
“Talent is global, and we are very impressed by the quality of engineers emerging from USC's Viterbi School,” said Mike Abbott, General Partner at KPCB. “The partnership with USC and UTA is an example of our intensifying efforts to identify and nurture the next-generation of technology leaders wherever they are in the world, adding to our strong track record of organizing and supporting pioneering development programs to build scalable successful businesses."
As envisioned, the accelerator will provide financial grants, strategic guidance and mentorship to approximately ten companies, who will work out of the Viterbi Startup Garage facility, housed in USC’s Information Sciences Institute in Marina Del Rey for twelve weeks beginning May 28, 2013.
"We have been proudly advising technology startups for many years, and the Startup Garage will give us an opportunity to be even more hands-on with inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on groundbreaking ideas,” said Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media, UTA. “So many early-stage companies are media focused or media adjacent, that we feel Los Angeles is the ideal place to launch an accelerator in partnership with world class partners like USC and KPCB."
The program will be formally introduced at USC on April 2, 2013 by Yannis C. Yortsos (USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Dean), Ashish Soni (USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Executive Director of Digital Innovation and Founding Director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute (VSI2)), Mike Abbott (KPCB, General Partner), and Brent Weinstein (UTA, Head of Digital Media).
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are the key ingredients of our knowledge-based society and a strategic pillar of the goals of the Viterbi School,” said Yortsos, Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “We are very pleased that we are in a position to launch this accelerator at our Information Sciences Institute, the birthplace of the Internet era.”
The Viterbi Startup Garage is one of several programs offered by the VSI2 which is a hub for innovation and engineering entrepreneurship that helps engineering students transform their ideas into successful business ventures. VSI2 board of advisors include Jeff Stibel and Peter Delgrosso from Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp., Jake Winebaum from Brighter, Bradley Horowitz from Google and Mike Abbott from KPCB.
Any USC undergraduate or graduate students or USC alumni who graduated in the past 5 years are eligible to apply to the Viterbi Startup Garage, with the requirement that at least one member of the founding team is an enrolled student in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering or a USC Viterbi alumnus. Applications will be accepted through Monday, April 22.
For more information about the program and how to apply, visit http://vsi2.usc.edu/startupgarage.