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/


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

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: 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*


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


Quesitons? Email info@recess.is


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 www.teamsixthirty.org/conference.

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 www.teamsixthirty.org.

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

Startup Feature: Cropsticks


Interview with co-founder Jay Chang


“Cropsticks are eco-friendly, “mind-blowing” disposable chopsticks. It’s the utensil you’ve always known, made better.”



“Chopsticks were invented in ancient China as early as the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 BCE) and possibly even earlier during the Xia dynasty. In nearly 4000 years, no one has truly innovated the way we use chopsticks. The idea for Cropsticks first came to inventor Mylen Fe Yamamoto as she was on a flight to Asia in April 2015 and her chopsticks kept rolling off the dirty tray table. She thought that there must be an easier way to keep her chopsticks in place.

Then the horizontal breakaway holder was born! After doing more research, she found out that over 20 millions trees go into production to create the wooden disposable utensil. So it became a goal to produce it sustainably from fast growing bamboo. Mylen and Jay met in 2013 when Jay was producing the DiscoverMe conference. Jay’s family background has been in manufacturing bamboo housewares for the past 15+ years through TotallyBamboo.”


“Seeing thoughts become reality and it helps when you like the people you work with.”


“We’ve been working on Cropsticks since April last year. So when the chopstick meme of our similar idea went viral last month and challenged our product, we knew it was important to launch fast.”


“Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid to get out there and talk to your first customers. Don’t be afraid that people will steal your idea. Don’t be afraid someone else is better than you or will beat you to market. Be cognizant of all of those things and use them to your advantage to clearly articulate your unique value proposition, and build the best product you can to solve your customer’s pain.”




– Kickstarter at 40% in 5 days

– Interest from angel investors potential distribution partners and major restaurant chains

– Featured on NBC, NextShark, Hawaii Magazine, KITV4 ABC, Hawaii News Now and Folic Hawaii 

Download a PDF Version of this Feature

Startup Success Spotlight: HexCare CEO Alex Wormuth


alex2USC and Blackstone Launchpad alumnus Alex Wormuth, founder and CEO of HexCare, was one among a select group of top-tier finalists who made it to the closing rounds of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA).

After winning the regional competition, HexCare advanced to the national finals in Miami, Florida.

Alex shared details about his experience at the GSEA. He said, “going through this process has taught me a lot about communicating my ideas and passions.”

The competition required business pitches from contending student founders and CEOs. While pitching is common practice at most startup competitions, the value of the exercise extends beyond its business utility.

Alex said, “pitching isn’t just about competition or money, it’s about sharing your ideas and passions with others. It’s a chance to connect others to your vision and excite them about it.”

Student entrepreneurs and startup founders enjoyed the opportunity to interact with one another throughout the course of the competition. Alex: “I was excited to meet other young entrepreneurs who are taking risks and making their ideas a reality.”

Congratulations to Alex and HexCare on their successful journey at the GSEA.

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 RSVPBixel@lachamber.com.

More Event Info: http://www.bixelexchange.com/bixel_exchange_and_ups_open_house



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 (www.cloudddm.com) and ZYCI CNC Machining (www.zyci.com).  Mitch also founded MFG.com 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 MFG.com 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!

Global Recon Lecture 1: Swim in the Deep Water

If you didn’t surf today, you’re not the best surfer. Global Recon, Machine Shop Ventures’ 5-week lecture series at USC, kicked off with this wisdom from brand strategist Josh Madden. Madden has colored the brand histories of some of the biggest names in business and media, and on Tuesday night he offered students a one-of-a-kind crash course in the craft of building big ideas.

Here were Madden’s pro tips:

Tip #1: “If you Didn’t Surf Today, you’re Not the Best Surfer”

Madden made it clear: if you’re not working diligently at your craft every day, you’re not the best in the business today. He said, “If you do business every day, you know what business is.” The key to success in any venture is to actively pursue success and practice your craft daily. There are competitors around every corner, and the best barrier to their entry is competitive diligence. Madden says, “swim in the deep water.”

Business diligence also sustains the heartbeat of your network. “All the time you spend working on your company is how you become the person who knows everyone. That’s how you become linked. Because you’re surfing.” Persistence and repetition are key.


Tip #2: Support the Newcomers

You should network with creators before they get big. Madden said, “if you like something and you think it’s going to be huge, invest yourself in it.” This applies to your own venture, but also to the ideas of others in the startup ecosystem. It’s important to “support people that are new in business,” Madden said. You never know whose idea will take off; make connections early and invest in your long-term network.

Tip #3: “Apathy is Bad for Business”

There’s no value in working without passion. Madden talked about today’s bummer of business: “It’s a hand-me-down of bum-outs in business right now.” He called out the sunken disinterest of creators who’ve grown too comfortable and detached from the energy of creativity.

Tip #4: Curiosity is Key

Be a curious entrepreneur. Madden said, “It’s usually free to discover stuff. Go out there and meet people. Network, get in early and make friendships with people who are successful.” There’s value in expanding your friendships and channeling new perspectives. The experiences of those around you will only broaden your own. “Find something you like and do it all the time. Do something a lot and do it well. Do it often and build a job for yourself.”

Tip #5: Understand Social Media  

Your social media use must have purpose and context. Madden commented, “social media: if it’s not social, and it’s not media… what are you doing?” It’s important to understand the dynamics of social networks in order to post relevant and meaningful content. There’s a desperate attempt by brands to break through the noise, and posting memes isn’t an end-all social strategy. Madden asks an important question: “what are memes even for?”

Tip #6: Insights, Insights, Insights

Every idea should be rooted in insight. Madden said, “strategies come from insights. If you can present a strategy built on insights, you can convince anyone of anything. Giving insights is the way you get to where you want to go.” You can’t force an idea if it’s not intuitive. Find reasons for why you want to build your idea, and “make sure your idea satisfies those reasons.”

Startup Feature: Stunt Players

Stunt Players

Interview with CEO Hunter Crowder


“Stunt Players allows stunt performers to promote themselves to coordinators, directors, and producers to be hired for work in the film and television industry.  By signing up for the service, members are placed in an online database made easily accessible and searchable by industry professionals.  Many of the stunt performers seen in films like Fast and the Furious and Pirates of the Caribbean have been hired through Stunt Players.”INC


“My father, Wally Crowder, a stunt coordinator and director, originally founded the company two decades ago.  He helped advance the stunt industry by providing coordinators with a hardcopy directory allowing them to browse through stunt performers and hire them based on stats and abilities.

This altered the way stunt people would go about getting work – typically crashing sets and hustling coordinators with their headshots and resumes.  However, due to the work my father was taking on as a coordinator, he decided to shut down the business.  As an actor, I was lucky enough to score a national commercial campaign and purchase the company from him.  I took over as CEO to revitalize Stunt Players as a contemporary web platform.”


“Contributing to an industry that has become my life.  I am obsessed with the film industry and find it my duty to give back in any way I can.  I grew up around stunt people and it only made sense that I help build something useful for those I believe to be the hardest working, most under-appreciated heroes in entertainment.”


“I am a film-lover and cinephile more so than I am an entrepreneur.  While I have a sharp focus on what Stunt Players must innovate and execute, the biggest obstacles are technical ones.  Fortunately, I work with an incredible development team that has become my “pit crew.”  No production succeeds without a reliable cast and crew, even behind the scenes.”


Build something that you are passionate about, something that you are obsessed with.  If you aren’t obsessed, don’t waste the time.  And then you must love it more than anything else.  I get to work with performers who crash cars, light themselves on fire, and jump from buildings.  It’s full throttle… but I love it.

stunt_players_shareSTARTUP VICTORIES

“The launch of our new website: stuntplayers.com
I won 1st Place in the Regional Los Angeles GSEA (Global Student Entrepreneur Awards) Competition.  We are also proud to have hosted two events in the past year that have brought together a total of over one-thousand stunt performers to mix, mingle, and make connections with working coordinators.  Many of which have gone on to book work on movies and television shows.”