Startup Feature: Speakeasy Briefs

WHO THEY ARE

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.”

HOW SPEAKEASY WAS BORN

“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.”

RECENT SUCCESS

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

MOST REWARDING STARTUP EXPERIENCE  

“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.”

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

“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.”

ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS

“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.”

 

 

Startup Feature: Fulfilling Catering

WHAT THEY DO

“Fulfilling is revolutionizing how food is consumed in America—for every meal purchased, we donate one meal to someone in need. Operating in every major US Market, Fulfilling books food trucks for private events and schedules trucks at corporate office parks that lack food amenities.”

HOW FULFILLING WAS BORN  

“After studying entrepreneurship at USC, I spent several years in the food truck industry managing events, attending food truck festivals and sampling various cuisines. While the food truck industry temporarily satisfied my palate for an exciting, innovative career, I again grew hungry. Looking to fill this void, I sought to develop a business built on a sense of purpose.

It was during this time that I met the founder of ‘Mary’s Meals’ and learned about their mission to solve world hunger as documented in Child 31. I was struck by the staggering problem of childhood hunger against the backdrop of plenty that surrounded me. Inspired by the vision, I devised the foundation for a new business venture: one meal donated for each meal sold.”

RECENT SUCCESSES

“Fulfilling recently donated our 75,000th meal, and reached a milestone of managing 50 events per week.”

MOST REWARDING PART OF BUILDING A STARTUP  Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 2.36.20 PM

“Creating a culture.

Having experienced the confinement of working for organizations that lack a clearly defined purpose or direction, I have a thorough understanding of the importance of company culture.

Combining this passion with my natural disposition as big picture thinker has made engineering the culture, vision and purpose of Fulfilling very enjoyable.”

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES 

“Our website application took much longer to build than expected.

About 1 year after launching the business, we were growing quickly and didn’t have the infrastructure to handle the amount of events we were managing. I mapped out an application that organizes the data and automates the processes involved in scheduling events. I was anxious to get the application built and jumped the gun on hiring a development team. Unfortunately, “It takes twice as long as costs twice as much” held true. The company I hired overpromised and under delivered, and 4 months after the expected delivery date, we were still without a functional product.

We ended up hiring a new developer to pick up where to old one left. In the meanwhile I improvised, hiring an admin assistant to help with the overload in work.”

ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS

“Build a team of people who share your vision and start window-shopping immediately. Anticipate potential needs and start talking with potential partners—marketing companies, web development companies, business partners, etc—long before you’re ready to bring them aboard. Finding the right people to work with takes longer than expected. Get the conversations going early so that when the time comes to utilize their services, the research phase is already handled and you just need to pull the trigger. startupsecrets_share

Careers are too short to learn everything through trial and error, which is why it’s important to surround yourself with a team of mentors. This is as true for business as it is for life. In terms of business, develop a network of advisors with diverse backgrounds. Ideally, have a separate mentor for each of the following areas—marketing strategy, technology/logistics management, tax/accounting, law, fundraising, and management. Obviously that won’t be possible when you’re first starting off, but as your network grows, the variety of industries you’re tied to will follow.”

 

 

 

 

Startup Feature: 121C Boards

WHAT THEY DO

“121C collects waste carbon fiber from companies in the aerospace industry and upcycles the material to make the highest quality skateboards on the market. Our boards are light, incredibly strong and a blast to  ride.”

HOW 121C WAS BORN

“At first I wanted to make carbon fiber skateboards with the scrap that the rocket lab was generating, and when I realized how big of a problem carbon waste was for the industry, I knew I had to start a business.”

MOST REWARDING STARTUP EXPERIENCE

“We recently had a successful Kickstarter campaign for $44,000 and have been signing on new companies to collect material from. We’ve also been featured in articles on USC’s website.”

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

“Half way through our kickstarter campaign, our manufacturer bailed on us and we had to lease a facility and bring everything in house. At first, this was a challenge, but it ended up being a blessing. “

ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS

“Be prepared to work a ton.”

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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.

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Wavii

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.


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Blendspace

(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

VirtualTourist.com and Onetime.com

Founder: J.R. Johnson ’93

Acquired by TripAdvisor, a property of Expedia, in 2008

VirtualTourist.com is a free online community with user-generated travel guides, reviews and online forums for traveling. OneTime.com is a price comparison tool for booking flights and hotels.


embark-Twitter-icon

Embark

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.


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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 http://stevens.usc.edu/events/student-innovator-showcase 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!

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Startup Feature: Y Athletics

WHAT THEY DO

“Y Athletics is a men’s premium activewear brand. We spend most of our time on developing new products by incorporating the latest technology and innovations in material sciences. Once we’re satisfied with our products, we usually kick off a crowdfunding campaign to bring the products to life. This helps us gauge the demand for the products and of course also provides us with the funding to manufacture them.”

HOW Y ATHLETICS WAS BORN

“My partner, Sam, who also happens to be a trojan alum, came up with the idea when he was trying to buy a new workout shirt. He was confused by all the options provided by the existing retailers and no single product seemed to stand out from the crowd in terms of quality and functionality. So, that’s what led him to start exploring different avenues to build the best workout shirt himself.”

RECENT SUCCESSES

“In our first crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, we raised $250k in pre-orders for our shirts. Since then, we’ve launched our own online store and launched two more campaigns on Kickstarter. In total, we’ve sold about $1.3 million worth of activewear over the past 24 months.”

MOST REWARDING STARTUP EXPERIENCE

“The fact that people genuinely love the products we make. The satisfaction of running into someone wearing a Y Athletics product and talking about how much they love it… or a friend telling me how much his father loves his YA gear. Our core community of backers on Kickstarter usually write back to us to tell us how much they love our products. So that experience overall has been amazing.”

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES 

“We’ve faced obstacles in the past where larger manufacturers have tried to cut off our supply chain. That led to a few months of confusion, legal battles and of course letting our customers down since our shipments were delayed. Our current obstacles are mainly around trying to scale the current operations. Unlike something that’s purely software, it’s much harder to scale the physical infrastructure required to scale our operations.”

ADVICE TO ENTREPRENEURS

“Amongst students, you usually run into two types of people – people who think that they’d never be able to pull off starting their own business because “they’re just not the type,” and then those that are so in love with their ideas that they lose touch with reality and refuse to test out whether there’s actually a market, need or demand for the product they’re building. So, the only advice I would give is to think from a problem-first mentality, and then work backwards to figure out the best solution. Most of the time, people fall in love with a solution rather than a problem.”

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2016 Innovation Coast Competition

USC Marshall’s Innovation Coast Competition is seeking applicants to present their product or service innovations in consumer products, media, software and medical devices. Up to $45,000 in cash awards will be presented to the winners at this year’s competition, which will take place on May 17th on USC’s campus. Applications will be accepted through March 31st.

This is not an angel or venture capital pitch competition, so typical questions regarding financial forecasts and cash needs will not be asked. Judges will have deep product and service innovation track records from companies of all sizes.

Learn more about the competition: http://usccompetition2016.startupcompete.co/

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SoGal Marketing Special: Your Startup Deserves More Traction

Are you an early-stage startup? Do you need a low-cost marketing plan? SoGal will help you overcome these obstacles and more during their panel, mixer and workshop event this weekend that aims to support budding entrepreneurs with crucial marketing insights. You’ll learn how to build traffic, foster brand awareness and acquire customers.
Speakers will include:
  • Julie Thorne Engels, Founder and CEO of Tribement (a creative marketing company)
  • Linsey Heisser, Partner and Managing Director of Tribement
  • Audrey Bellis, Founder of Worthy Women and StartupDTLA
  • Eric Rice, CEO Of TrepScore
  • Ann Wang, CEO & Co-Founder Of Enrou
  • Ron Miller, Partner At StartEngine and CEO Of Disability Group, Inc.

When: Saturday, March 26th from 1-5PM

Where: Waite Philips Hall at USC

More about speaker lineup and event website: https://sogalmarketing.splashthat.com/

MentorMint Wins Startup of the Year at SXSW

Trojan startup MentorMint won ‘Startup of the Year’ at Tech.Co’s seventh annual SXSW pitch competition. MentorMint offers its users the opportunity to connect with expert mentors for career coaching in users’ fields of interest.

MentorMint was one among three winners that received an invitation to Tech.Co’s global startup competition, the Celebrate Conference. In addition to the invite, they’ll also receive the following prizes:

  • AA Business Extra Points from American Airlines;
  • Copies of Steve Case’s new book The Third Wave;
  • Hosting credits for 12 months from IBM;
  • Routers from Belkin; and
  • An invitation to join Salesforce’s Salesforce for Startups.

Congratulations to MentorMint on their success at SXSW!

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 www.RECESSPITCH.com ***

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 www.capitalchampionship.com

MORE DETAILS:
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>> CAMPUS QUALIFIER:
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)*

==========================================
>> REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
April 28th | Club Bahia

Startups pitch on stage before a free concert

feat: TBA
Doors: 7pm
RSVP: www.recess.is
**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*

==========================================
>> MORE INFO

Applications end March 28th
Apply at www.recesspitch.com

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Quesitons? Email info@recess.is

SPONSORS

Southwest Airlines
Fiverr
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The Capital Championship