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USC’s Vice President of Research elected as Board Chair of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP)

Randolph Hall, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at USC, has been elected to be the incoming Board Chair for the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), a project-oriented, membership organization whose mission is to improve industry-university collaborations. His term begins July 1, 2016.

The UIDP has a singular focus – and that is to improve university-industry collaborations by convening leading experts and practitioners from academia and industry to identify practical approaches and solutions to common challenges. “The UIDP is composed of leading innovation firms and research intensive universities. We are fortunate to have Dr. Randolph Hall, a recognized academic leader from one of the world’s great universities, serve as our incoming Board Chair,” said Anthony Boccanfuso, President of UIDP.

Hall will serve on the UIDP Board’s Executive Committee and actively participate in setting the group’s agenda in areas such as finance, membership, outreach and projects. Following his one year term as incoming Chair, Dr. Hall will rotate to the Presiding Chair position, then a final year as Immediate Past Chair.

As Vice President of Research at USC, Hall is responsible for research advancement, ethics, and administration for USC’s nearly $700 million research portfolio. The USC Stevens Center for Innovation, USC’s center for technology transfer and corporate research relations, is one of the units that reports to him. Vasiliki Anest, Senior Director of Corporate Collaborations at USC Stevens serves as USC’s UIDP representative. “UIDP projects and publications help overcome challenges and provide opportunities to increase the success of university-industry collaborations. USC has been an active member and we look forward to working with UIDP to strengthen relationships between universities and industry,” said Hall.

Hall’s election marks the first time a USC representative has held the board Chair position at UIDP. The UIDP board currently is led by Karl F. Koster (Executive Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of Corporate Relations) and will be followed by Debbie Radasch, Director, Strategic Universities for Boeing Research & Technology, on July 1st.

ABOUT RANDOLPH HALL: Hall is Vice President of Research at the University of Southern California, and is responsible for leading research initiatives across the university, overseeing research advancement, administration and ethics. As Vice President, Hall has led the creation of policies to catalyze collaborative research, including changes in promotions and tenure, research attribution, and shared repositories; creation of funding programs that support collaborative research and shared equipment; and infrastructure and events enabling digital scholarship. He has helped faculty create national research centers, built alliances with external research institutes, developed the Center for Excellence in Research, created the DC-based research advancement office, and built an integrated research office that encompasses contracts and grants, technology transfer, human subject protection, animal resources, clinical trial administration, research ethics, research training, research advancement and internal grant programs. Hall’s experience includes serving as the founder/principal investigator for two national research centers, the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), and the National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research (METRANS). He also served as senior associate dean for research in the Viterbi School of Engineering for four years. Hall was chair of Industrial and Systems Engineering during a period when the faculty size grew by 50%, and when it became the first named academic department at the University of Southern California, upon receipt of a $10 million gift from Daniel J. Epstein. Hall received his Ph.D. (1982) and M.S. (1980) in civil engineering from U.C. Berkeley. He received his B.S. in industrial engineering and operations research from U.C. Berkeley in 1979.

ABOUT UIDP: The University Industry Demonstration Partnership was created by the National Academy of Sciences as a forum for representatives from universities and industry to find better ways to partner. Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on academic research. UIDP supports its members and their employees in finding better ways to use valuable research resources. The UIDP is a project-oriented organization where members identify issues impacting university-industry (U-I) relations and opportunities to develop new approaches to partnership and collaboration. UIDP members identify, create and test demonstrations and practical approaches to address both operational and strategic issues, resulting in proofs of concept and unique insights for U-I collaboration going forward.

For more information on USC Research and Innovation, please visit:

Start with a Problem not a Solution

Start with a Problem not a Solution – A trap that many products fall into. People don’t actually need what you’re building.

Original article by Mikael Cho of Crew published on Medium

A product in search of a problem.

A trap that many products fall into. People don’t actually need what you’re building.

If a product doesn’t solve a problem, no one cares.

This is why when we started Crew, the first thing we focused on was making sure we were solving a problem, even if our product was primitive and many things were done manually rather than with technology.

To help us gain insight into what’s working and what’s not, we look at 3 main signals:

1. Data — Numbers showing how people are using Crew
2. Customer input — Emails, phone calls, or suggestions from customers after using Crew
3. Intuition — How do we feel when we use Crew? What do we think needs to be improved?

One of the main focuses for us is looking at the repeat usage of Crew members posting projects.

We want our product to be so useful that our members don’t just use us once but every time they need creative work.

Experience = multiple “wow moments”

(not just one)

Think about the first time you used a great product.

It probably felt like it was designed for you. Every action you wanted to do felt right. Your senses (vision, touch, sound) were in tune with the product.

You might’ve said “wow” while using it.

That product touched you on an emotional level and you remember it. You shared it. And you want to use it again.

I know it might be a tired example, but I felt this type of positive emotion the first time I used Uber. Uber’s app connects you with drivers to get around your city.

At first, it may seem like using Uber would not be that much better than calling a cab. But, the trick to Uber’s stickiness is not just one, but multiple “wow moments” that make it substantially better than calling a cab.

The first time I used Uber, there were 4 distinct “wow moments”:

1. How do I know if a cab is available right now?

Uber shows you cabs around you on a map.

2. When will my driver show up?

Uber shows you a map of where your driver is with an estimated time of arrival

3. Will my driver take credit card or do I need cash?

Uber connects with your credit card.

4. What should I tip?

Uber automatically includes a tip you set.

The way Uber baked multiple “wow moments” into their product is one reason why their system is so strong.

With each additional “wow moment”, your chances of using Uber’s app increases compared to hailing a cab.

However, one of the challenges with creating multiple “wow moments” within your product is that they take time to construct. Uber took a year to build their first app and launched in one city.

You need to be patient and willing to go all-in on a problem to create an experience worthy of multiple “wow moments.” Creating the right experience is risky when you might not have all the signals to say what you’re building is the right thing. But that’s part of the road to building a differentiated product. You won’t have all the answers at the start.

To reduce risk, you can begin by focusing on the main one or two “wow moments”.

This may not be good enough to create the full experience you’re after but as you build more and seek to reach that same level of quality of that one “wow moment,” your product will get closer to what you’re after.

This is what we did.

The first “wow moment” we focused on was helping you find a vetted, qualified designer/developer within a day.

Finding the right designers and developers is hard even for the best technical companies like Facebook and Google. Because software is becoming a need for almost every business, the supply for software engineers and designers is throwing the demand curve for a loop.

In Crew, we’ve found that finding the right designer within a day creates a “wow moment” for about 25% of our customers. After matching a project with a designer/developer we help with things like managing the project and payment but not at the level of quality to create multiple “wow moments”. Yet.

To find the areas we need to improve we used our 3 signals (metrics, customer input, and our intuition) to make a long list of problems.

When defining what to build, it’s often best to start by picking out the right problems to focus on and not get too caught up in solutions yet.

How we solve each of these problems could be done thousands of different ways.

For now, getting problems down is the focus. We can define potential solutions later.

Before this meeting, we each took a week and made a long list of problems from different perspectives:

Angus — Engineering

Kirill — Design

Steph — Customer happiness

Mikael — High level

Angus broke down the problems from clearly defined and easy to do to undefined and needs to be discussed (Hard To Solve means needs to be discussed):

Our plan is Angus and our product team will start development on the bottom (the clearly defined tasks) while Kirill, Steph, and I tackle the higher order issues on top that need more refinement before development can start.

We’ll work toward the middle. As we define the hard to solve issues, and as what needs to be built becomes clearer, those items will drop down to obvious fixes and we can build them.

Hard problems aren’t bad. Hard problems can be the best opportunities for you to “wow” your customers if you build them right.

The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity.

Building Crew in Public

Privacy be damned. Building Crew in Public is a series of 6 short essays on product design philosophy and the struggles we faced designing our own product. You can read the original, On The Road-inspired version on the Crew Backstage blog.

1. We’re all selling experiences

2. You Are Here

3. Constraints, not barriers

4. Ask lots of questions

5. Anatomy of a homepage

6. The journey is more important than the destination: Designing the optimal onboarding flow

7 LA-Based Apps for Recent Grads (Built in LA)

A mobile marketplace for millennial renters, RadPad aims to take the pain out of finding and leasing an apartment. The LA-based company allows users to apply for leases easily, and to pay for all transactions (including rent) via a debit or credit card.

Third day of a hangover? It might actually be the flu. The problem is: no one wants to navigate LA traffic with the flu. Heal brings a pediatrician or family doctor to your residence for a flat $99 fee.

Given the amount of time Los Angelenos spend commuting, the odds of being stranded on the side of the road are pretty high. HONK’s aim is simple: they provide a simple app where users can indicate their situation, and the wait time for help is usually just 15-30 minutes.

Looking to make a little extra cash on the side? toot is an on-demand tutoring service that allows recent grads to offer their services to students in a cashless, easy-to-manage system.


There’s always a degree of unknown when heading to a bar on a given night, and Roo’s goal is to eliminate that. Users review a bar in real time so that potential customers can judge via their phone whether it’s worth a trip.


When it comes to fitness, motivation can be an issue for anyone. Fit’s app fights that, connecting like-minded individuals to exercise together. Whether it be yoga in the park or a pick-up basketball game, Fit brings together people who want to work out.


Santa Monica-based is the on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service that we’ve all been dreaming of. Users specify a date, time and purpose of the pick-up (dry cleaning or bulk laundry), and a driver comes and picks it up.

Startup Feature: Speakeasy Briefs


Speakeasy Briefs is premium men’s boxer-briefs with a secret pocket.  This pocket is ideal for carrying a passport, money or a hip flask.”


“Speakeasy Briefs was launched on Kickstarter in May of 2013.  It raised $32,616 in a 30 day campaign, which was one of the 30 most funded fashion campaigns in the history of Kickstarter at the time of its funding.”


“Speakeasy Briefs has been featured in several prominent media outlets, including Forbes, NPR and Fox News.”


“Entrepreneurship activates a part of your brain that you didn’t even know existed.  Bringing your ideas into real products that customers love is incredibly fulfilling.”


“Too many to count.  Our supply chain fell through with 5 days left in our Kickstarter campaign.  We had to figure out how to create the product all over again, after we’d sold 1,500 pairs of briefs.  I was literally running around San Francisco knocking on factory doors to find someone who could create our product.”


“It is not the entrepreneur’s job to do every job, it is the entrepreneur’s job to build the company.  At first, you will have to do every job, but this will not scale.  Focus on replacing yourself at every level you can, and empowering others to own their aspect of the business.  It takes years to be able to pay yourself what you are worth, so align your expectations accordingly.  If you aren’t ready for 1,000 days of poverty, ask yourself if this is really what you want to pursue.”



5 Trojan Startups Acquired by Major Tech Companies [by Trojan Family Magazine]

Original article from Trojan Family Magazine written by Katharine Gammon

FOR MANY STARTUPS, being acquired by a like-minded, well-respected large company is the ultimate payoff for years of hard work and planning. Here are just a few of the unique ventures from USC alumni that caught the attention of major tech companies.



Founder: Adrian Aoun ’05, MS ’05

Acquired by Google in 2013

Wavii offered users quick news updates, tailored to favorite topics such as celebrities or athletes, that could be accessed through an iPhone app. Its features were folded into Google.



(originally called EdCanvas)

Founder: Amy Lin ’08, MS ’09

Acquired by TES Global in 2014

The Blendspace app helps teachers organize digital content, giving them convenient access to YouTube videos, PDFs, pictures, Dropbox files and more. It also allows teachers to share their content with students and track student learning with built-in assessments.

virtual-tourist and

Founder: J.R. Johnson ’93

Acquired by TripAdvisor, a property of Expedia, in 2008 is a free online community with user-generated travel guides, reviews and online forums for traveling. is a price comparison tool for booking flights and hotels.



Founder: David Hodge ’11

Acquired by Apple in 2013

Embark makes free, fast and simple mobile apps for mass transit riders. It includes a unique transit map for 10 cities, allowing users to access the application without an Internet connection.


280 North

Founders: Tom Robinson ’07, MS ’07; Francisco Tolmasky ’06; Ross Boucher ’07, MS ’07

Acquired by Motorola in 2010

This Y Combinator startup developed tools such as the Cappuccino programming language, which allows developers to build rich Web applications with little programming knowledge though a proprietary framework and toolkit.

Apply for the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase 2016

Click Here to Apply Now!

Event Name: Call for Applications and Info Session: USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase 2016

Sponsor: USC Stevens Center for Innovation

Info Session Dates: April 6, 2016, 12:00PM-12:50PM and April 13, 2016, 12:00PM-12:50PM

Location: University of Southern California, Taper Hall (THH 212)

Description: Are you a USC student with a startup idea or invention and would like to win funding to take your concept further? Come to a free USC Stevens informational session on April 6, 2016 or April 13, 2016 at Taper 212 (THH 212) from 12:00pm-12:50pm to learn more about the 10th Annual USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase. The Student Innovator Showcase is USC Stevens’ annual flagship event where USC students present their inventions, startup ideas and prototypes (in all disciplines) to faculty and leaders from the local venture, entrepreneur and business community, competing for thousands of dollars in USC-sponsored prizes. Concepts can be anything with the potential for impact, from a smartphone app to a breakthrough medical device. The Student Innovator Showcase will take place Friday, October 7, 2016 at USC. Applications for the Showcase will be accepted online at starting Wednesday, April 6, 2016 until Sunday, May 16, 2016. The competition is open to all USC undergraduate and graduate students.

Click Here to Apply Now!

Screenshot at Apr 01 13-34-57

RECESS Music & Ideas Festival 2016 $250k CASH Prize Pitch Competition

RECESS Music & Ideas Festival

Do you have a brilliant startup idea? Want the chance to take it to the next level and live out your startup dreams? RECESS Music + Ideas Festival is here to help you take your business from dorm room to boardroom! Get your shot at winning a $250k CASH PRIZE!

RECESS Music & Ideas Festival is the world’s only experience that combines the most innovative new startup ideas and the hottest acts in music. This Spring, we are throwing a “March Madness”-style Pitch Competition, powered by Southwest Airlines, followed by an After Party with some of the biggest acts in music. We want to get YOU in on the action!

The tour will hit-up 18 of the country’s top colleges & universities- spanning 6 cities (3 campuses in each city) to host the first round of the Pitch competition- the Campus Qualifiers.

USC students can apply here for the opportunity to be selected to compete in the Campus Qualifiers and pitch their startup ideas to a panel of distinguished judges.

The winner from each of the 18 Campus Qualifiers will advance to the Pitch Regional Semifinals where they will pitch on stage at Club Bahia to a panel of elite judges before celebrating with a FREE CONCERT at the After Party, featuring performances by TBA.

Campus Qualifiers National Bracket

RECESS Bracket Post- Facebook

The winner of the Pitch Regionals will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the RECESS Field Trip in Los Angeles, CA (June 8-9th). There, they will join 10 of the winning student startups from the other regions to compete for the chance to pitch some of the biggest VC’s and Investors in the world and have a shot at winning a $250k CASH PRIZE, courtesy of partner, the Capital Championship!

Don’t miss out on the chance to turn your startup dream into a viable business and start living the #startuplife!

****APPLY BY MARCH 28TH at ***

Not A College Student?

No problem, we’ve got you! We’ve partnered with The Capital Championship to provide an opportunity for more established startups to give their pitches and a shot at winning a $250k prize!

Apply at

April 13th | Annenber (ASC) West Lobby

Networking: 5pm-6pm
Live Pitches: 6pm-7pm

(5) Top USC Teams will pitch to judges

(1) Winner will be announced and advance to the Pitch Regional Semifinals

*Students that attend the Campus Qualifier will receive a guaranteed entry ticket to the Pitch Regional Semifinals (until 11:00pm)*

April 28th | Club Bahia

Startups pitch on stage before a free concert

feat: TBA
Doors: 7pm
**RSVP doesn’t guarantee entry and is available on a first come basis**

*Open to Public

*College Students with Valid College ID will have priority access entry.

*Students that attend the Campus Qualifier will receive a guaranteed entry ticket to the Regional Semifinals until 11:00pm*


Applications end March 28th
Apply at

Quesitons? Email


Southwest Airlines
The Capital Championship

Building a Smarter Los Angeles: Annual Smart Cities Conference

Building a Smarter Los Angeles: Annual Smart Cities Conference
FRI, MAR 25 AT 9:00 AM, Radisson Hotel at USC
Get Tickets on Eventbrite

Today, 54% of the world population live in urban areas, where 80% of the world energy is consumed. By the year 2050, it is estimated that more than 70% of the world population will live in cities. Urbanization has become a major challenge to cities around the world. Are we ready to face the challenge?
On Friday, March 25th at the Radisson Hotel at USC, we here at Team SixThirty invite you to join our conference to hear about solutions to that challenge – Building a Smarter Los Angeles. This event will bring together industry professionals, government officials, and thought leaders on how open data and analytics can drive better outcomes in traffic management, energy, crime prevention, and other challenges here in LA.
With speakers from organizations like IBM and Los Angeles County, Building a Smarter Los Angeles will offer you a chance to network with like-minded data-driven individuals, find out about opportunities for emerging smart city technologies, and meet speakers such as:

  • Mark Dixon, Executive Architect at IBM Analytics
  • Steve Hamilton, Senior Manager at Deloitte
  • Gary Painter, Director at Sol Price Center for Social Innovation
  • Mark Vallianatos, Director at Urban and Environmental Policy Institute
  • Geoff Wardle, Director of Human Factors at Urban Systems Labs
  • Ali Farahani, Chief Data Officer at LA County
  • Joyce Edson, Deputy Chief Information Officer at LA City
  • Leah Lewis, Executive Director at Cisco

Our goals are to bring together current and future city leaders to facilitate conversations and inspirations of Smart Cities, to promote open data initiatives, and to share ideas and research that can benefits citizens of Los Angeles.
Main Topics

  • To promote the open data initiatives
  • To define “Smarter Los Angeles” and understand its current progress
  • To share ideas, best practices, and case studies of Smart Cities
  • This conference is sponsored by USC Marshall School of Business and IBM. We hope that you’ll join us for this one-of-a-kind event; for more information, please visit

More on Team SixThirty (USC Trojan Founders!)
Organizer of Building a Smarter Los Angeles: Annual Smart Cities Conference
Team SixThirty is a nonprofit platform that connects the burgeoning data communities with civic and government leaders to build Smarter Cities through data analytics.
Our model connects talents, ideas, and tools together: we recruit data professionals and students who are interested in Smart Cities, work with city officials to identify areas where data analytics can be of most help, and equip our members with the knowledge and technical skills necessary to contribute to Smart Cities. Our website is

Tickets are On Sale at $55, but Blackstone Launchpad / IncubateUSC has a limited number (2) comped tickets available – Sign up Here to Request!

Bixel Exchange Special Event: UPS Open House

Ever wonder how your monthly box of goodies gets to you? How your last-minute gift to grandma makes it all the way home in time for her birthday? Join us for an exclusive inside look into one of the most technologically advanced sorting facilities in the world. Bixel Exchange, in partnership with UPS, is happy to invite you on March 24th for a rare look into a state-of-the-art facility boasting more than 155 miles of conveyor belts, lasers, eyes, pucks and much more.

In addition to the hosted tour, we will hear from Rimas Kapeskas, managing director of UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund. Rimas develops critical partnerships and acquires knowledge returns from their investments in technology companies and emerging market spaces. Established in 1997, the SEF is an important business development tool that enables exploration of emerging markets and technologies that enhance the evolving business models at UPS.

We will also be joined by Mitch Free, founder and CEO of each CloudDDM and ZYCI CNC Machining. Free is a serial entrepreneur, manufacturing industry maverick and global trade expert. He has spoken at Northwestern University, Harvard Business School, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and appears regularly on various media outlets, including CNBC and Fox Business Network. Free was selected by the Clinton Global Initiative to help develop strategies to revive American manufacturing.

Event details:
Who: You are receiving this special invite because we feel you and your organization are uniquely positioned to gain value from the tour and the amazing speakers that are lined up

What: Bixel Exchange’s hosted tour of UPS’ state-of-the-art sorting facility

Where: UPS Regional Air Hub, Ontario, CA

When: Thursday, March 24, 3 – 9 p.m.

  • 3 p.m. – Meet at L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, 350 S. Bixel St., Los Angeles 90017
  • 3:15 p.m. – Board co-working bus (equipped with wi-fi)
  • 3:20 p.m. – Depart to UPS sorting facility at Ontario Airport for tour
  • 6 p.m. – Dinner and drinks
  • 7:45 p.m. – Board co-working bus for return to L.A.
  • 9:30 p.m. – Arrive at Chamber

Please RSVP below. Questions may be directed to

More Event Info:



Rimas Kapeskas, Managing Director – UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund

Rimas Kapeskas manages the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund (SEF), the private equity strategic investment and corporate venture capital arm of UPS (NYSE: UPS). The fund is globally focused on developing critical partnerships and acquiring knowledge returns from its investments in technology companies and emerging market spaces. Established in 1997, the SEF is an important business development tool that enables exploration of emerging markets and technologies that enhance the evolving business models at UPS.

Rimas oversees all operations of the fund, including sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities, facilitating the ongoing relationship between UPS and the venture capital community and portfolio companies, and management of the fund staff. Since taking over the SEF, Rimas has successfully expanded the fund’s focus from U.S.-only to a global reach and also incorporated a process for direct strategic engagement with startup companies.

Prior to taking over responsibility for venture activities, Rimas spent many years leading UPS R&D efforts and has also been involved in diverse roles in marketing, sales, planning and integration of international acquisitions and related IT. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in business administration from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Rimas resides in Dunwoody, Georgia, with his wife, Carla, and two children, Luka and Viktoria.

Mitch Free, CloudDDM – Founder & CEO

Mitch Free is a serial entrepreneur, manufacturing industry maverick, and global trade expert. He currently serves as the founder, chairman, and CEO of two digital manufacturing companies; CloudDDM ( and ZYCI CNC Machining (  Mitch also founded in 2000 and served as CEO and Chairman until 2013.

Free began his career as an apprentice machinist and developed a passion for applying advanced manufacturing technologies. Northwest Airlines recruited him to develop methods to reverse engineer and produce aircraft parts. Holder of multiple patents, his track record of innovation and leadership quickly led to to senior management positions where he oversaw aircraft acquisition and commissioning projects worldwide. The vision for propelled Mitch into the world of digital manufacturing where his pioneering work quickly established him as an industry leader.

A dynamic and sought-after presenter, Free has spoken at Northwestern University, Harvard Business School, Wharton, Fudan University in China, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and appears regularly on various media outlets including CNBC and Fox Business. Because of his involvement in American manufacturing and global trade, Free was selected by the Clinton Global Initiative to help develop strategies to revive American manufacturing.

Free is a previous winner of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and has recently been featured in Start Up Playbook and Makers, the New Industrial Revolution

Blackstone Launchpad / IncubateUSC has a limited number comped tickets available – Sign up Here to Request!