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Apply for the USC Greif Center New Venture Seed Competition! $50,000 in Cash Prizes

Do you have a great idea? Do you want to launch your company? Then you should participate in the New Venture Seed Competition.


New ventures can be from any industry. Entering teams must either have at least one current USC student (graduate or undergraduate), or a current USC faculty member or a USC alum less than 5 years from graduation. Please note, prior NVSC winners are not eligible to compete.


Significant cash prizes will be awarded to the top 6 teams: First Place: $15,000, Second Place: $10,000, Third Place: $7,500, Fourth Place: $7,500. Fifth Place: $5,000. Six Place: $5,000.


  1. Apply to the New Venture Seed Competition by submitting a completed application packet (using the application form), Applications must be completed no later than 11:59 PM PDT Wednesday, February 17, 2016. Teams may make changes to/resubmit the application until the deadline. The form can be found at
  2. Two information sessions will be scheduled on February 3 from Noon to 1 pm in VPD LL101 and another on February 10 from 6 to 7 in VPD LL101. The information session will include details on the semi-finals and provide additional materials for teams in the competition.
  3. Mandatory Training. All teams will be required to send at least one member of their team to a mandatory training. This will take place on February 23 at 8 pm. Location will be announced directly to the entrants of the competition.
  4. Semi-finals. All eligible applicants will compete in a preliminary judging round on March 2 from 6:00 to 9 pm. Finalists will be chosen following this round and will be notified no later than March 4.
  5. Coaching sessions Finalists will be required to work with the Greif Center to perform customer discovery. These teams will be mentored and be provided resources in order to hone their business idea so that they are prepared for the finals. At least one member from each team must attend these meetings which are tentatively scheduled for March 5, March 10, March 26, April 2, 9 and 16. These dates are subject to change to accommodate schedules.
  6. The New Venture Seed Competition finals will be held on April 20 at 6 pm.
  7. New Venture Seed Competition Awards. Winners will be announced at the Marsha Israel Awards Dinner on April 28 hosted by the Greif Center. To be eligible to win, all finalists must have at least one member in attendance.


Professor Albert Napoli:

Learn more at:


Apply to Pitch in the Tech Coast Angels Fast Pitch Competition! $20,000 in Cash Prizes

All applicants will receive pre-competition coaching to hone their 60-second pitch & 10 finalists will be selected to pitch at the Celebration of Entrepreneurship Event!


  • 1st Place: $20,000 prize from Tech Coast Angels
  • 2nd Place: Intellectual property services from Nguyen & Tarbet Patent & Trademark Law and corporate legal services from Pivotal Law Firm
  • 3rd Place: One year of free office space and parking from Real Office Centers in Newport Beach
  • The 30 semi-finalists will receive a free ticket to attend the Celebration of Entrepreneurship

Hundreds of Orange County Angel Investors, top CEOs, entrepreneurs, and notable members of the startup community will be in attendance.

Entrepreneurs: Click Here To Apply To Pitch!

The event will feature:

  • Networking portion with an open bar, tray passed champagne, and heavy appetizers
  • Keynote by Steve Streit, CEO of Green Dot, sharing his path from Tech Coast Angels funding to taking Green Dot public and getting a 111X return for investors
  • An exhilarating Fast Pitch competition with 10 companies

What is a Fast Pitch?:

Fast Pitch is a twist on the classic elevator speech created by Tech Coast Angels’ founder Luis Villalobos 15 years ago. Since its inception, Fast Pitch has been widely adapted but the message remains true: an entrepreneur needs to captivate a potential investor quickly in 60 seconds. Tech Coast Angels believes that every entrepreneur needs to be equipped with a Fast Pitch to catch investors’ interest. Every applicant will come away from the open-training sessions with a tailored, 60 second Fast Pitch of their own.

Attendees: Click here to register!

Tech Coast Angels’ Celebration of Entrepreneurship
March 10th 2016 from 6 – 9 pm.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Samueli Theater

Global Recon – 5 Part Lecture Series with Machine Shop Ventures @ BLP

Want to take the next step in becoming a world-class entrepreneur?

The world is becoming more connected than ever. Internet-native millennials are ambitiously looking to their global peers on social media, blogs, and news outlets to learn about trends that can be adapted to their local business landscapes.

Global Recon is a 5-week entrepreneurial lecture series at USC hosted by Kiel Berry, the Executive Vice President at Machine Shop Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by Linkin Park. As a fund that has invested in the likes of Lyft, Robinhood, and Blue Bottle Coffee Company, Machine Shop has well demonstrated their knowledge and ability to succeed in their field. For each lecture, we will bring in relevant entrepreneurs from around the world to provide real-time insights on unique and extraordinary topics we cover.

Each lecture, we will discuss a different current event or trend shaping the global technology, social entrepreneurial, and/or entertainment landscape. Prior to each lecture, each topic is personally tailored to a current event or trend to cover to ensure that we stay as current as possible.

In a “case-study” type method, we will analyze and dissect the following:

  1. Business strategy involved in a company decision
  2. The various implications for the company
  3. Cultural dynamics involved
  4. Macro learnings to be gleaned by entrepreneurs

Classes will be held starting March 1st and will continue every Tuesday from 7-9pm, and will conclude on April 5th. Apply Now to Attend! Applications Close February 20th!

For more information, as well as the link to the application, visit We are excited for you to join us and look forward to reviewing your application!


[Apply] 2016 Inaugural Mayor’s Cup Competition

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has developed the inaugural Mayor’s Cup competition, providing local university and college students the opportunity to explore innovative solutions to local civic challenges. This competition hopes to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to provide innovative solutions to civic challenges.

Supported by The Mayor’s Office of Budget and Innovation and the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Southern California, the competition will focus on the following topics:

Civic Engagement

  • How can we support the enhancement and beautification of City Assets and Public Property?
  • What can we do with vacant, blighted, and city-owned properties in your neighborhood?
  • How can we build and preserve more affordable housing including incentivizing public and private investors?

Local Economy

  • How can the City better connect everyday small business owners to the professional services and growth opportunities they need to thrive?
  • How can we grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in L.A. to increase employment opportunities and provide skills to local workers?

The Grand Prize Winner will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to work with City Hall for eight weeks to develop their idea.

– Learn more and apply at:

Apply for the GSEA (Global Student Entrepreneur Awards) Competition

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) is the premier global competition for student entrepreneurs who actively run a business. EO GSEA nominees compete in qualifying competitions for the chance to advance to the Global Finals, held in May 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. With more than 1,700 competitors from more than 30 countries, EO GSEA is an exclusive opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses!

The EO GSEA Competition this year is combining forces with UCLA and USC Blackstone LaunchPads. We are inviting selected teams to pitch on Thursday, February 4 at the UCLA Blackstone LaunchPad from approximately 1:30 to 6:00 pm. You must be a college undergraduate, or if a team, the CEO leader would need to be an undergraduate, in business for 6 months, have some sales/revenues ($500), but doesn’t have to have profit (yet). There are only 6 slots available to pitch. The top team will then go to Nationals in Miami (March 2-3) with a shot to pitch in the Global Finals in Bangkok, Thailand (May 12-16). That’s right, a chance to expand your business on the international stage!
The deadline for your application is Friday, January 29 and the pitch event will be on Thursday, February 4 between 1:30 – 6:00 pm. This will be a good learning opportunity for those of you who will be doing their first pitch and a great opportunity to gain exposure for your company.

Apply today for the GSEA-LA Regional Competition:
For more information about GSEA and EO:

Registration is now open for the next ZAP! course. $50,000 customer discovery grants

Join the program that has successfully enabled 4 teams to get $50,000 customer discovery grants from the National Science Foundation!  Our short course helps you qualify for these prestigious I-Corps awards.

Registration is now open for our next ZAP! course.  Register online by Tuesday, January 19.

January 22, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

January 29, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

ZAP! is based on the successful National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) methods of accelerating the translation of university engineering research to the marketplace.  If you complete ZAP!, you will be invited to IN-LA’s Technology Scouting Workshop, and may move forward in the IN-LA process toward eligibility for a $50,000 NSF I-Corps grant.

It’s really easy!  Here are the steps:

  • Go to and enter “USC ZAP January 22/29” for the date.
  • Before the first class, fill in the attached two-slide template.  Don’t worry if you don’t know all the terms – we’ll teach them in our course – just give it a try.
  • In the first class, learn about business terminology and more importantly, how to interview customers to understand their needs.
  • Interview 5 people in the week following the first session.
  • Tell us what you learned in the second session.

That’s it!  Join the wave of innovators commercializing their technologies.

ZAP! first deck template

Apply for the 2016 E-Team Program by Venturewell: $25k in Funding, 1/27 Deadline

Got an invention that can make an impact on the world?

Get help moving it to market through the E-Team Grant Program

Apply by Wednesday, January 27

If you’re part of a university-based, student-led team developing an innovative technology that solves an important problem and want to move it into the market, consider applying to our E-Team Grant Program.

The E-Team Program cultivates opportunities for collegiate entrepreneurs like yourself by providing early-stage funding, training, coaching, and investment.

See what Greenlight Planet, EcoTech Marine and Kaleo have to say about their experiences in the E-Team Program. These and many other student-led companies got their earliest funding from us. You can too!

The E-Team Program offers:

  • Up to $25k in grant funding
  • $50k matching investment opportunity for select teams
  • Experiential training and coaching on how to develop your venture
  • Initial validation of your venture
  • Entry into a network of like-minded student entrepreneurs
  • Access to mentors
  • Opportunity to participate in our Open Minds event, a national showcase of student innovation


USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center and David Belasco are honored by Junior Achievement

This article was originally posted by News at Marshall

Onstage at the inaugural Junior Achievement Spirit of Achievement awards luncheon on Nov. 4, a fourth-grader from Barack Obama Charter School, Los Angeles, asked honoree David Belasco, “What advice would you give a kid like me that wants to be an entrepreneur?”

Belasco, executive director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business, said, “The short answer is to come to USC and study entrepreneurship.” The crowd at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles burst into cheers and applause.

“The more serious answer is, don’t be realistic in your dreams,” Belasco continued. “Be really, really unrealistic. Think of big things, and don’t let anybody tell you they’re impossible…and I’ll see you in a few years. ”

Belasco knows what he’s talking about. At 29, he gave up a lucrative career with Latham & Watkins — the world’s largest law firm by revenue — for the uncertain path of entrepreneurship, and went on to launch, build and sell companies in environmental services and manufacturing.

He was one of four honorees, including Frank Mottek, business journalist with CBS/KNX Radio, Holly Robinson Peete, co-founder of the HollyRod Foundation, and Tom Penn, co-owner of the LA Football Club, at the JA event.

“Since 1919, Junior Achievement’s pillars have been workforce readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship,” said Monica Farrell, fellow Trojan and director of development at Junior Achievement of Southern California. “At our heart, we’re an organization founded on teaching entrepreneurship. As a leader at the Lloyd Greif Center at USC Marshall, Dave Belasco represents a school that has helped us in a major way over the past decade or more.”

According to Farrell, USC Marshall part-time and full-time MBAs have volunteer-taught JA programs to thousands of K-12 students in local schools for more than 10 years, making them the largest grad school contributor to JA worldwide.

JA works in more than 120 countries, serving over 10 million students annually. Eighty percent of those students are at schools in low- or middle-income neighborhoods.

Marshall MBAs volunteer hours and raise money for JA through the Challenge 4 Charity, a 32-year-old nonprofit organization that pits eight elite West Coast business schools against each other in a year-long volunteer, fundraising and athletic competition. In 2015, Marshall MBAs won the C4C for the sixth year in a row.

Belasco has served as a mentor to and MC of the annual high school JA Student Entrepreneurship Challenge. JASEC is a student version of “Shark Tank,” in which the winning team is given the resources to make their business concept a reality. This year’s winning team, from Crenshaw High School, had a booth at the JA networking reception with brochures and samples from their new business, Pillow Tunez, a memory foam pillow with an embedded speaker.

Belasco said the Lloyd Greif Center looks to Junior Achievement as a pipeline delivering talented entrepreneurial young people into the community and higher education.

“With 60 courses and 30 professors, as well as incubators, accelerators, contests, funding, angels and mentors, we have everything entrepreneurs need to take their concept to the market,” Belasco said. “The Lloyd Greif Center is the oldest integrated college entrepreneurship program, founded in 1971, but JA was teaching entrepreneurship 20 years earlier in Southern California, starting in 1954.

“I’m thrilled to be receiving this award on behalf of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s Marshall School of Business,” Belasco added. “Getting to be around young, inspired, driven, curious minds, whether it’s at JA or at USC, is the greatest feeling there is.”

How Do You Split up Equity Between Founders? – The Founders’ Pie Calculator

The Founders’ Pie Calculator

By Frank Demmler

Several weeks ago, we took a look at the founders’ pie. I noted that frequently the founding team divides 100% by the number of founders.

I also cautioned that this is the WRONG WAY!

I then went on to identify the factors that should be considered when making these decisions.

Since then, I have had several people tell me that while what I wrote certainly made sense, it wasn’t very helpful.  They said that when it came to “rug cutting time,” absent an alternative method, equal shares was the only method that seemed to be “fair.”

As a public service, I have “invented” a Founders’ Pie Calculator. As you will soon see, this calculator is not particularly profound.  In fact, I’m sure I haven’t “invented” it, but, at the same time, I have never seen it before. [Caution: perhaps there’s a fatal flaw that I haven’t considered.]

Its primary benefits are that it provides a way to quantify the elements of the decision making process, and that it appears to be logical and fair.

Download the Template Excel File here

Elements of the Decision Making Process

Let’s revisit the factors that should be considered.


The company wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the original idea, and that is certainly worth something, BUT there’s a lot of truth in the saying, “A successful business is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”

Business Plan Preparation

The development of an initial business plan is a surprisingly difficult and time-consuming effort. To pull together and organize all the thoughts of the founding team, filling in the blanks, identifying and reconciling the differences, and producing a document that captures the essence of the business and helps persuade banks, investors, board members, and others to support the company is a mammoth undertaking, as anyone who has done it will attest.  

Again, the plan is a necessary element of starting the business, BUT execution against the plan is where the real value lies.

Domain Expertise

To what degree do you and your partners have meaningful experience in the business of your business? Knowing the industry, having relevant experience, and having a Rolodex full of accessible contacts can greatly improve the company’s probability of success and speed its growth rate. Otherwise, it will take longer to get commercial traction and you’ll have to pay for these assets, usually by hiring someone and including equity in their compensation package.

Commitment and Risk

You’ve probably heard the old saying that “a chicken is involved with breakfast, but a pig is committed.” Similarly, the founders who join the company full time and are committed to making it a success are much more valuable than founders who are going to sit on the sideline and be cheerleaders. In addition, the opportunity cost for those who join the company instead of pursuing a career is not trivial.


Who is going to do what? Who is going to go stay up at night when you can’t make tomorrow’s payroll? Where does the “buck stop”?

Relative Importance of the Elements

For each company, the relative importance of these elements is likely to be very different than that for another company.  A company based upon new technology is highly dependent upon the “idea.”  On the other hand, a new restaurant is not likely to be so unique that the “idea” is a major contributor to the restaurant’s ultimate success. If we were to evaluate the ideas on a scale of 0-to-10, the technology company’s idea might be a 7 or 8,  while the restaurant may be only 2 or 3.

Similarly, the relative importance of the business plan will vary.  A company that has to raise external financing will need a plan that will assist fund raising efforts.  If the founders are providing the start up capital, then the plan will be relatively less important.

I believe the same analysis can be productively applied to the other elements.  Not only can the absolute evaluations be made (0-to-10), but they can be compared to one another for make sure that their relative values are reasonable as well.

Relative Contributions of the Founders

Each of the founders can be evaluated on these elements as well.  Who did what to come up with the idea? Who contributed what to the business plan? Who has the industry connections? Who is joining the company? Who is accepting responsibility for raising investment capital? Who is responsible for bringing the product to market?

An Example

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Assume that we have a high technology start up spinning out of a university with four members of the founding team.

  1. The inventor who is recognized as the technology leader in his domain.
  2. The “business guy” who is bringing business and industry knowledge to the company.
  3. The technologist who has been the inventor’s “right hand man.”
  4. The research team member who happened to be at the right place at the right time, but hasn’t and won’t contribute much to the technology or the company.

If these were all first-time entrepreneurs, it’s likely that they would each get 25% of the company’s stock, because “it’s fair.”

Let’s take a look at what the Founders’ Pie Calculator says. First we evaluate each of the factors on their relative importance and each of the founding team members contribution to each on a scale of 0-to-10.


Next, we multiply each of the founder’s values by the factor’s value to calculate weighted scores. Add up the numbers for each founder, sum those totals and determine the relative percentages. Do a sanity check to see if those numbers seem to make sense, and adjust them accordingly.

Advice to Entrepreneurs

  • Splitting up the founders’ pie is not a trivial undertaking.
  • Rarely should it be split evenly, even though that’s what many start-ups do.
  • Consider the past, current, and future relative contributions of the founding team members to the ultimate success of the company.
  • Employ the Founders’ Pie Calculator to create a quantified scenario of how the pie might be divided based upon these elements.
  • Caution: while I have convinced myself that this is brilliant tool, and that the scenarios that I’ve run through it have had logical outcomes, use this tool for guidance only.  Do not depend upon it exclusively.

Frank Demmler is Associate Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously he was president & CEO of the Future Fund, general partner of the Pittsburgh Seed Fund, co-founder & investment advisor to the Western Pennsylvania Adventure Capital Fund, as well as vice president, venture development, for The Enterprise Corporation of Pittsburgh.

USC Incubator Call for Applications – Deadline November 24th

USC Incubator call for applications
The USC Incubator takes founders from feasibility and development work, on to customers, a tested business model, getting distribution, building a team, bootstrapping and investment preparation. We also provide access to other supporting resources, such as industry experts, investors and legal assistance. Incubator companies have gone on to raise investment, win competitions and build sustainable businesses.
The program is run by Paul Orlando, who is Incubator Venture Partner and an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship.
Application deadline for the next cohort is November 24th.
More details and the application link is at:

You should expect to develop these skills in the Incubator.

  • Bootstrapping. The skills to get people to pay you and learning to build a sustainable business will carry you through any economic climate. Bootstrapping also allows you to get started immediately, rather than waiting to raise capital (often before it is a good use of your time). This is key for current students.
  • How to run experiments that help validate your business. This includes variations on tools like the Minimum Viable Product as a way to test hypotheses, collect primary data, draw conclusions and learn what to build.
  • Presenting and pitching. These skills are essential but take time to acquire, alongside someone who can give actionable feedback. We believe in giving feedback and then practicing again and again with the presenters. It takes months (at least) to become good.

What we look for in Incubator companies.

  • Coachability. This is good for the company as it shows that the founders will be engaged, will do the work required and will be flexible when required to change direction.
  • Capability to build. Capability is determined by the type of business being built. There are some businesses that have high technical requirements and others that are marketing-driven. Entering Incubatees should have the ability to build what their business requires, with small exceptions that fall outside the core of the business.
  • Commitment and Drive. Founders that are committed and driven — especially about a problem or target customer — will stick with and be creative and resourceful.
  • Those who will be engaged members of the Incubator. They will share with and help out Incubator companies. They will also engage with the opportunities offered by the Incubator.