Nuleep : Job Searching Made Easy

Our featured startup for the week is Nuleep, an online job search company designed for millennials. The company was founded by Grace Park, who began the company with a group of friends. 

“Companies like LinkedIn are like Blockbuster, they’re very static” says Park. “We are more like Netflix, we keep building on.” The app considers salary, life-style commute and travel, what you do in your weekends, company culture, apartment locations, and other features of a good work-life balance. These are all highlighted in a visually appealing way to help customers make the best decisions. 

The Market

Nuleep has two platforms. One is for customers, the other is for business-business side. In the US, the online job search industry is worth 200 billion dollars. Nuleep’s target markets are college graduates looking for a job, with a projected total of 5000 users by fall, 2019. The company is especially active in Los Angeles and Phoenix, large cities where the founders are from and have a big population of the target market.

For the B2B side, Nuleep is also partnering with a lot of student groups and ambassadors in these cities. The team is currently in agreement with 100 small companies in Phoenix and Los Angeles who are interested in being sponsored in the app to potential applicants, while developing a full HR tool set for said companies to use for referrals and recommendations.

The Team

The company has four co-founders and two outsourced developers. By the summer of 2019, the Nuleep plans to hire three marketing interns. “We’re bootstrapped,” says Park. “We’ve been so busy doing beta-testing since July and we plan to launch this August.”

Sources of funding

The company is currently in a pre-seed round and are planning on releasing a friends-and-family round by fall. The company makes money via business-to-business transactions. Companies who want to be featured pay a monthly subscription fee. The company also supplies organic ad content. “For example, when we ask users about referred dress code, we also sponsor ads from companies like H&M.” Says Park 


The company focuses on three things: user-friendly graphics, efficiency and a visually appealing guide to careers. For users, the first step in answering four questions: Whether your a student, what kind of industries you’re interested in, what your lifestyle is, what your goal is. 

The user will then be directed to a dashboard showing which job fits the best for the user, which cities and neighborhoods match your personality and preferred lifestyle, what kind of rental apartments are nearby. It’s basically an online mentorship. 

Furthermore, the app considers the future of the user. “For many people your lifestyle interests will change.” says Park “When your young, you’re looking for a cheap apartment. When you have a family, you’re looking for a good school. These are all factored into Nuleep’s software.” For a lot of competing online job boards, most users apply for a single job posting and then leave. For Nuleep, users come back at different stages of your life and different career paths.

“Usually its not simply starting out as an analysts and ultimately retiring as a senior analyst or a director.” says Park “There is no straight path anymore in today’s workforce.” The app prides itself on mapping out where you want to be in 2-5 years and give recommendations on what company to apply for if you want to shift jobs.”


The Suitcase of a Green New World

The latest up-and-coming USC startup product is the Cork Duffel Suitcase. Created by Mi Terro Global,  the Cork Duffel Suitcase is a lightweight, waterproof, scratch-proof accessory made entirely of high quality Portuguese cork, the same material that protects NASA’s space rockets from re-entry into the atmosphere, and recycled ocean plastics. 

“At Mi Terro, we believe that fashion doesn’t have to be fast, disposable, or temporary. We believe it should begin and end with a classic collection of well-designed essentials. And we’re starting that collection with a premium, simple duffle suitcase,” says Mi Terro CEO Robert Luo.

The suitcase’s main raw materials, cork, comes from the bark of cork oaks. Since it does from bark which is easily harvested, less trees are cut down in order to produce this bag. Due tot he honeycomb cell structure of the cork, it is more durable, lighter and requires much less maintenance compared to a leather bag. The company also applies a waterproof coating to the bag, allowing it to better resist outdoor weather, unlike regular leather bags. 

Another important feature of the company and product is sustainability. Luo explains this, “We collect the plastic from the ocean and recycle them into usable material. First, we wash and sort them. Then we grind them into a powder and heat it up to pellets we can roll into a yarn. That yarn them ends up in your CDS as part of the zipper and inner lining. For each bag, we remove 2 pounds of plastic from our oceans and transform them into fashion pieces.”

The spacious design of the bar is complemented by several convenient features and utility pockets that allow for easy storage. “Whenever you are traveling for business or hitting the gym, Mi Terro CDS has enough room to hold laptops, spare clothes for 5 days, and your document.” 


Spend a quality afternoon with you Mi Terro Cork Duffel Suitcase and with your best friend 

Hype And Vice : The Best Game Day Gear You Will Find Next Season

This week’s featured company is Hype and Vice, a clothing brand that’s looking to change the way college students look at sportswear. The idea behind the company was developed by USC Alumni Kim Robles and Cecelia Gonzales. “Our goal is to fill the gap between traditional style of Game Day clothing that you normally buy at the bookstore and self-made clothes created by girls who cropped, snipped, and printed their own outfit” says Gonzales. 

This sports wear clothing brand is especially designed for the female segment of the market. “We see potential in the whole industry” says Robles. “I was in a sorority and saw how many girls wanted something completely different. So what they did was buy clothes from the bookstore and either cut it up to fit their personal style right before Game Day or made their own from second hand clothes. I saw an opportunity to change this problem”

The pair also want to create a powerful brand presence. In college bookstores, there is almost zero brand recognition. Most people only bought merchandise because of the college logo label. According to Robles, ” In this era,  people want to emotionally identify with the product, and so we’re creating a brand that can capture that via an edgy, innovative, modern style of clothing.”

The Market 

The pair’s main target are female college students. Furthermore, because the business in an online brand, Hype and Vice can connect with high school students and young alumni. “We’re actually extending the lifetime value of the customer, “ Gonzales explains. 

Robles and Gonzales estimate the sports merchandise licensing industry to be worth $14.5 billion in total. However for female college students alone, it is worth $2.6 billion nationally. The pair is highly optimistic about this market. “Aside from college students, we see opportunities in other license ports industries like the NCBA, NFL which we can potentially tap into.” explains Robles. 

The Team 

Robles and Gonzales are recent alumni of USC WITH Robles graduating with a degree in Business Entrepreneurship and Gonzales graduating with an Associate degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise and a Bachelor Degree in Business from Marshall.

The pair were roommates for four years and were greatly involved in USC Greek Life before going into the Business together. Of the pair, Robles handles the Finance and Operation systems while Gonzales handles the Marketing and Design. “We are complete opposites but we work well together,” says Robles. 

The Product

With regards to how the process works, it is very simple. All you need to do is go on the website and build a unique outfit by mixing and matching the product lines. This includes tops, skirts, accessories, chokers, glasses, and once you click on the Shop button, you can see the products available for your purchase.

In terms of how the product stands out compared to competitors, the product stands out because of the brand.  “We’re trying to create a brand students will recognize and identify with. We use students to model the product. We spread it on social media etc” Robles explains. “Furthermore, since we started, we saw the whole industry has traditionally been very male-oriented with Jerseys, T-shirts, oversized sweats with little apparel for women”


The pair’s dream is to have an e-commerce website available to every University in every state across the country. Currently, the company has contract manufacturers in the Greater Los Angeles Area but as the business grows in scale, the pair plan to vertically integrate the supply chain.

For funding,  Gonzales explains the company is seeking more investments to expand and grow “We’ve been in business for three years and have money raised from self funding but we are now currently looking for angel investors in a pre-seed round.”



Founders Kim Robles and Cecelia Gonzales at USC Demo Day

Rheya Beauty : Designing A World For You

Our Startup of the Week is Rheya Beauty, a digital startup that aims to disrupt the makeup industry as we know it by providing makeup and cosmetic products personalized for the 21st-century woman.

The idea behind Rheya Beauty was developed by Junyi Wu and Sahar Rohani as part of the LavaLab incubator project in the fall of 2018. Rohani recounts her experience of the problem, “Essentially, I am always busy with everything in school, extra-curricular activities. I always find myself running out of makeup. In high school and my freshman year, I had more time to run errands, but as I entered into my sophomore year, found that I genuinely did not have time to keep buying makeup”

The pair also want to focus on sustainability. “Junyi and I are really interested in using this project to give back to the environment. The makeup industry is massive, yet there has been zero effort to make it more sustainable in terms of the packaging and product which we at Rheya do by making the plastic containers and equipment long-lasting.”


“Our target market is Gen-Z College Women. We also target working moms who have to juggle taking care of their kids and advancing their career. We recognize and admire these amazing people and we wish to provide them with the better, affordable, and personalized cosmetics so they can focus on making themselves successful,” Rohani explains.

Rohani and Wu estimate the cosmetics industry to be worth 500 billion dollars today with the potential to grow to 700 billion over the next few years. “It’s definitely a hot topic with products like Kylie cosmetics and makeup artists on Youtube. People literally make a living putting on makeup so it’s much more ingrained in our society nowadays and deserves our attention

Wu added “Beauty is important but we want to pay more attention to mascara. In terms of mascara, the immediate market is 10 billion. That is not to say we are only focused on mascara. If we show traction, we plan to take refillable products to a broader view.”


Rohani and Wu are current students at USC with Wu majoring in Business Administration and Rohani majoring in Computational Neuroscience. Other members of the team include Aidan Maddox, majoring in USC Iovine and Young Academy, Ali Malamud and Emily Lu, majoring in Media Arts and Practice, Praneeth Batte and Leigh Rubin, majoring in Computer Science, and Glory Kanes, majoring in Computer Science and Business Administration.

Rohani’s role is being the visionary. “I’ve had experience using makeup as a consumer since I was 14. I’ve been exposed to this world at a very young age, yet few questions have been asked on how to improve the industry. In Lavalab, I was given the platform to address these flaws.” Wu adds “Sahar is the product vision. It was her idea, and her vision on how to revamp her experience.”

Meanwhile, Wu’s contribution lies in operations and marketing strategy. “I’ve previously worked in beauty and marketing at Johnson & Johnson on the Neutrogena and Clean & Clear businesses. I’ve been getting myself involved in the world of beauty by trying out the product, interviewing potential customers. So from my end, that brings out an unbiased point of view.” Wu’s partner, Rohani agrees with this. “Junyi is extremely proactive and hands-on. He handles all the operation and administrative side: setting up interviews with potential customers, setting up meetings, doing a ton of research.”


Rohani explained how the product works, “On our website, there are a series of simple steps. First, you pick your case which comes in a range of different colors. Then you pick your brush. We’ll let you know which brush is healthier for your eyelash. Next, you pick your mascara formula whether that be lengthening, volumizing, curling etc. Then you pick your time. If you wear mascara a lot, I would recommend you refill your pots and cartridges every two months. So there are four options and once you click okay then you never have to think about it again.”

In terms of how the product stands out compared to other products, Wu explains the brand’s competitive advantage, “When we researched people’s habits, a lot of them switch products because they like the brush on one mascara or the ingredients of another. So this personalization is one thing that is not currently offered in the standard beauty industry.”


For Rheya Beauty, the potential for growth is huge. Rohani explains, “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from customers, angel investors, venture capitalists and there’s a lot of hype in our company because we are entering a niche market with a simple solution.”

Wu talks about the current plans for the business. “When we launch in the market soon, the business will be all online. We are currently in talks with different kinds of manufacturers on the molds for production, mascara formula. For future products, we want to involve the consumer and so, if there’s interest in refillable mascara there’s a customer base we can listen to and crowdsource other products”


On the basis of money, Wu and Rohani are entertaining a lot of possible sources “We have invested a lot of our own personal savings. We’ve raised an initial investment from an angel investor, and have recently expanded our pre-seed financing round to $150,000. We have just begun our search to raise the remaining amount. Based on the angel investors were dealing with, and our soft launch.

Sahar Rohani                                                                                    Junyi Wu

Adway: A New Way Of Democratizing Advertising

Adway, an LA-based company,  presents revolutionary technology to make outdoor advertisement platforms more accountable, efficient, and affordable.

Adway is a disruptive, digital, on-car advertisement platform that enables drivers to earn extra cash by displaying ads on the sides of their cars via digital projection. It provides the driver with two, easily attachable projecting devices designed for the car’s side mirrors. As a digital ad, it provides real-time metrics, flexible spending, instant launch and more precise customer targeting.

Adway was founded by USC Alumni Sasha Krylov and his partner, Trexton Todd. “In the past decade, out-of-home advertisement platforms have seen little advancement along with issues such as outdated mediums, poor accountability, poor targeting and high running costs are. Moreover, outdoor display platforms are difficult to scale due to the city’s regulations and obstructive nature of display structures.”

“Adway technology promotes a vision of a symbiotic relationship between the driver community and advertisers, making it easy to post and display OOH (out-of-home) ads in real time,” explained Krylov.  All the drivers have to do is download the app, insert the device and earn as they drive. Advertisers have to create an account, a campaign and monitor its metrics.

Once attached, these devices project media content onto the vehicle’s door. Furthermore, Adway’s projectors are designed in a way that enables drivers to put them on and take them off at their earliest convenience.

“Our drivers can take their dates for dinner without showing them how they pay for it,” said Krylov. The drivers are no longer married to a wrap, magnet, or digital taxi top, which creates unparalleled access to unlimited distribution. Large distribution opportunity or more participating cars yield more impressions, which is exactly what brands/advertisers are looking for.

According to Krylov, “For clients, Adway has created a real-time activated online portal, where they can purchase ad space in bite-sized quantities, create and launch campaigns in minutes, as well as monitor and edit them in real time.”

“Adway’s mission is to democratize out-of-home advertisement for both clients and drivers.” The technology combines the creativity of online ads with the ubiquity of out-of-home advertising platforms making the company at the forefront of advanced digital out-of-home media with an unrivaled opportunity for scalability.

Compared to the competition, Adway is much more efficient and comparatively inexpensive. While other on-car advertisement platforms would charge their clients the minimal cost of 10,000 dollars with no real-time customer data, Adway’s minimal purchase while in Beta is only 2,000 dollars providing both historical and real-time data.

The Team

Adway currently has founders Sasha Krylov and Trexton Todd, Software director Serge Shakhov and hardware director Xavier Jaregui. Having worked with such reputable brands as Aragon Holdings, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Rolls-Royce, SpaceX, Perkins and Will, and Gensler, these individuals have years of combined experience in engineering, business development, finance, and design. Their unique and versatile skills create a perfect combination necessary for building a futuristic state-of-the-art digital media platform for the next generation.




LoanBuddy Exhibits at 3rd Annual USC Demo Day

Los Angeles – The University of Southern California hosted  USC Troy Labs’ 3rd Annual Demo Day, on February 8th, 2019. The single day event provides student and alumni founded companies with the opportunity to participate in an exposition of technologies through speakers and networking. USC Demo Day has featured companies such as URB-E , Fund3 and Lucky Day App in the past two years and has had sponsors such as  HR Cloud.

LoanBuddy  Co-Founder, Alex Bottom Dornsife Economics 2003 and member of the Economics Leadership Council joined the day to support his brother James Bottom Dornsife International Relations 2004, the creator of Demo Day and Director of USC’s Blackstone Launchpad. The Launchpad, housed at USC’s  Marshall School of Business, is the leading program on campus that has advised Trojan Founded companies which have raised over $50,000,000 over the past several years.

“I appreciate any opportunity to be back on campus and was thrilled to be asked to come back to USC for this event.” said Alex Bottom “I personally take satisfaction in seeing all of the student-founded companies who are taking full advantage of their time here while in college. And at LoanBuddy we will always participate in a productive program that we can add value to.” “It’s also a pleasure to see the great work my brother (James Bottom) is doing here at USC, his dedication to the students at the University is inspiring.”

LoanBuddy, the Manhattan Beach-based technology maker with satellite development in Croatia, has been credited with formulating a scalable process for recent graduates to understand the effects of their student loans with the help of a financial planner.

Student loan debt is, unfortunately, the fastest growing form of debt in the United States, outpacing auto, credit and mortgage debt. The student loan debt conversation is quickly becoming the initial conversation a financial planner has with a client, as it is likely the biggest part of their financial plan. Tens of thousands of postgrads can easily accumulate over $500,000 of student loan debt, a problem that Trojans know all too well. High debt amounts require diligent planning to offset high interest rates to prevent delays in goals such as purchasing a home, negatively impacting savings and lifestyle.

LoanBuddy empowers Financial Planners with tools to help their clients manage, track and refinance their private and federal student loan debt. It automatically generates client-facing reports based on their NSLDS file. Also, its features include a calculator with repayment strategies and corresponding income-based federal repayment programs in addition to downstream tax implications. LoanBuddy is useful for planners who work with graduates of any amounts of student debt and helps their clients enrolled in public service loan forgiveness most commonly known as PSLF manage this process. Historically a major portion of financial advisors has been focused on selling products and spending 100% of their time with assets under management or retirement strategies. LoanBuddy is shifting this paradigm for younger financial planners who are building up their practices and looking for lifetime clients.

There is currently over $1.5 Trillion of federal student loan debt in the USA. Certified Financial Planners (CFP’s) are uniquely positioned to help borrowers manage their financial health with LoanBuddy tools. LoanBuddy now has over 200 Financial Planners utilizing their software to track over $80,000,000 of client student loan debt and growing.

LoanBuddy also offers ongoing education on student loans and helps independent financial planning firms grow by delivering new clients prospects that need help with their student debt. There are currently over 10,000 independent financial planners in the USA. LoanBuddy has partnered with Australia based Credible, Ohio based Maurer Law and San Diego based The College Investor and is Co-Founded by Ryan Inman at Physician Wealth Services & Financial Residency.. It was also a finalist in the XY Planning Network FinTech Competition, a network of over 800 Independent “Fee-Only” Financial Planners and works closely with the Financial Planning Association (FPA) . LoanBuddy offers financial technology as a monthly software as a service subscription for $60 with no annual contracts.

LoanBuddy was asked in 2018 to participate in the newly minted Rossier EdVentures Accelerator and has made market leading strides since its May 2018 founding.  “We are excited that LoanBuddy is part of the EdVentures cohort; its focus, among other things, on helping borrowers understand the ins and out of forgiveness for service is important to students in medicine, education, and other social services. Like our other cohort members, we believe that LoanBuddy will do good and do well! We are excited to watch them grow.” said Doug Lynch, one of the country’s leading experts in education technology and part of the faculty at Rossier School of Education at USC and a Co-Founder of USC EdVentures.

LoanBuddy is hiring, interested applicants can reach out on their career page here.

Innovators of USC: Doctors have an eye on GIBLIB, the ‘Netflix of medical education’

USC alums create an online library of studio-quality, on-demand educational videos in 4K or 360 virtual reality

By Emily Chu | January 4, 2019

GIBLIB founders aim to build the “Netflix of medical education.” Photos courtesy of Brian Conyer, GIBLIB

IMAGINE A SURGEON BEING ABLE TO WATCH multiple surgical procedures in 360 virtual reality in order to determine the best way to operate on their current patient. In the past, surgical videos were difficult to locate and often of poor quality, with many being filmed on a cellphone or through a surgical instrument’s video feed. Believing that medical professionals would be interested in studio-quality educational videos, USC alums Brian Conyer and co-founder Jihye Shin created GIBLIB, an online library of curated, on-demand educational videos in 4K or 360 virtual reality. Building the “Netflix of medical education”: Two initiatives GIBLIB is quickly establishing itself as the “Netflix of medical education.” GIBLIB is focused on two initiatives: to build the largest library of Continuing Medical Education (CME)-accredited medical lectures in the world, and to build the largest library of surgical procedures in 4K and 360VR in the world. The first initiative provides physicians a modern alternative to traveling to conferences around the world to earn their CMEs. Many medical professionals who used to struggle with finding the time and funding to fly to various conferences can now access videos of the conference from their phones or computers. The second initiative will help provide a resource for medical students, trainees, or even practicing surgeons.

Co-Founders Brian Conyer and Jihye Shin

GIBLIB founders believe that in the future, all medical students are going to wear a VR headset as part of their training; GIBLIB’s goal is to provide the content for that headset. Growing demand for the “Netflix of medical education” One of GIBLIB’s major challenges is to supply enough videos to keep up with the demands of its growing subscriber base. Its focus had primarily been on general surgery, but GIBLIB has received many requests for specialty procedures, including orthopedic surgeries and other specialties. To target one of these needs, GIBLIB announced a partnership with CedarsSinai Medical Center on a course called “Cedars-Sinai: The Essential GI Surgeries.” GIBLIB deliberately attempts to film the same procedures in different ways. For example, for gastrointestinal (GI) surgeries, they might film one performed through laparoscopy and another performed with the assistance of a robot. The small team works hard to balance producing quality videos with keeping up with the demands for videos. GIBLIB offers some advice to other startups. Conyer, co-founder and CEO, tells startups to “make sure your business model helps you generate cash.” “Don’t run out of cash,” Conyer says. “Cash flow matters. Cash is a real thing, so monitor that because without it you’re not a business and you can’t innovate and you can’t move forward.” The other advice that he offers is to find the right team. First, Conyer emphasizes the importance of finding a co-founder or partner that you have chemistry with and is dedicated and committed to the company. Then, he describes his team as fast, smart, and resilient. He describes how his team has “always been able to quickly reevaluate things and keep moving.” The team started out with many who were highly skilled in technology in order to build the streaming platform and all the features. However, after they realized that people were more interested in the content, their team shifted from focusing on innovation and technology to depth of content. Their leadership has also had to shift priorities in order to support and cultivate the creative environment of the team. USC: A great start for the “Netflix of medical education” Conyer emphasizes his good fortune that his alma mater, USC, was the first to take a chance on his company. To create its first video at USC, GIBLIB had to spend a full year getting everyone at the hospital on board, including executives, the legal department, the media department, and the department of surgery. After filming their first surgery at the USC Keck School of Medicine, they approached another hospital and asked them to partner with GIBLIB. This time, because they had tested the buy-in process already and because they had a successful video to show for it, the process only took two weeks. GIBLIB now films regularly with six of the top 10 hospitals in the United States. They don’t have to look for new partners; instead, new partners reach out them.

RateMyInvestor Tackles Transparency in the VC Landscape


Most students on USC’s campus have heard of RateMyProfessors. But for many student entrepreneurs, finding the right investor is just as important as finding the right professor. This is something that Anthony Zhang experienced first-hand in his time at USC. As a student, Zhang founded EnvoyNow, a food delivery startup that received over $1.5 million in funding ($100,000 of which came from Mark Cuban) and was later acquired. Now Chief Growth Officer at RateMyInvestor, Zhang is looking to use his experiences to help other entrepreneurs find the right investors.

Zhang joined founders Austin Stofer and Bennett Quintard to launch RateMyInvestor – a platform for founders to rate and discover investors. By providing honest information, RateMyInvestor celebrates ethical investors and helps entrepreneurs avoid those who may be less principled. The team hopes that this will give founders the tools to decide who they should trust with their business.

“My goal is to have RateMyInvestor be top of mind when entrepreneurs are looking for funding and have it be the first place they visit when starting their search,” explains Stofer, CEO. They believe due-diligence should be a two-way street. Quintard, COO, asks, “With so much focus on the investor’s due-diligence process, why aren’t founders doing the same? Performing your own due-diligence on an investor is just as important.”

This is a lesson that Stofer and Quintard learned the hard way, after having “the rug pulled out from under them” while seeking funding for another startup. After hearing similar stories from other founders, they realized the need for entrepreneurs to access honest information about investors. However, the team is quick to clarify that RateMyInvestor is intended to benefit both sides of the table. “This is not a revenge platform, but a place where founders and investors can come together to break down the fundraising barrier,” says Stofer.

The shared passion of using transparency to break the funding barrier is what originally brought Zhang, Stofer, and Quintard together. Zhang founded Know Your VC in the wake of the sexual harassment scandals that shook the VC community in 2017. He soon connected with Stofer and Quintard. All three officially joined forces earlier this year after RateMyInvestor acquired Know Your VC. “It became clear that we were a perfect match and that an acquisition would help both of us achieve our shared mission faster,” explained Zhang.

In the wake of RateMyInvestor’s launch, it seems that Zhang, Stofer, and Quintard are well on their way. Hopefully, student entrepreneurs will now be able to find investors just as easily as they choose professors.

To rate and discover investors, visit

Source: Katy Arkell

The Big Short: USC Marshall Alumna’s Startup Focuses on Fashion for Small Women, Wins National Grant


Every element of an e-commerce business, particularly in the close-margin world of retail fashion, must be leveraged to tell the right story to prospective customers.

In the case of women’s fashion startup Petitas Los Angeles, a retailer focusing on the needs of young, petite women, founder Chelsea LaFerla ’18, gets right to the “short” of it:

“Petitas Los Angeles is a clothing brand made by and for petite women,” said LaFerla. “The brand empowers petites to be clothed in confidence through uniquely tailored, high-end garments; our Signature Label is made ethically and sustainably in the USA using premium, hand-sourced fabrics.”

Petitas was selected in early December as part of the newly created Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars”LaunchPad Lift” program.

“I’m so excited to be a part of LaunchPad Lift’s inaugural cohort. A huge thanks goes to USC’s Blackstone LaunchPad and its Director, James Bottom, for investing in me.” — Chelsea LaFerla ’18, founder of Petitas Los Angeles

According to Blackstone’s press release, LaunchPad Lift ventures will each receive a $10,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support strategic efforts that grow and scale their ventures.

The seven selected ventures for the 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort were selected from across the LaunchPad global network, representing seven schools in four states and two countries.

Petitas is hardly alone in the cohort as a woman-founded business; more than half of the chosen startups are run by women.

This new program is a continuation of Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s commitment to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, a mission that it has invested more than $25 million philanthropic dollars in to date.

The ventures accepted to the 2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort include:

  • CALM, Temple University: CALM is a small device that uses vibration pulses to influence the brain and de-escalate rising stress levels and anxiety attacks.
  • Combplex, Cornell University: Combplex provides an IoT solution to beekeepers’ number one problem: eliminating the parasites killing their bees.
  • Lazarus, Texas A&M University: Lazarus is a specialty ammunition that can minimize blood lost post-penetration in order to preserve life.
  • MyWellBeing, New York University: MyWellBeing connects therapy-seekers to compatible therapist and coach matches in NYC.
  • Shower Stream, University of Texas at Austin: The Shower Stream is a smart shower head adapter that installs as easy as a light bulb, saves the waste, proves the savings via web and is completely unobtrusive to the user.
  • SteriCISION, National University of Ireland Galway: SteriCISION is developing a novel medical device to make caesarean delivery a safer experience.

Being among this group could prove a huge boost to Petitas.

“I’m so excited to be a part of LaunchPad Lift’s inaugural cohort,” said LaFerla. “A huge thanks goes to USC’s Blackstone LaunchPad and Director, James Bottom, for investing in me.”

LaFerla comes from a long line of Italian tailors and seamstresses, she said. “I grew up making clothes with my Grandma, a wedding dress designer. We spent hours shopping for fabric, trim and lining. I’d sew, she’d inspect, and I’d inevitably re-sew each garment several times. She taught me that every stitch mattered and showed me how to create quality garments that last. It’s that same care that we bring to Petitas Los Angeles.”

Source: USC Marshall

Highkey Reaches Over Half The Undergraduate Student Population


A constant struggle for students has remained the inability to adapt to an eventful university environment due to the lack of a singular platform that informs all students of events and parties that take place on campus. Having faced that issue as an exchange student from Finland himself, Vili Vaananen along with his CTO Max Prokopenko and Frontend Developer Jesse Takkinen came up with an app to end their problems – Highkey.

Inspired by their previously launched app in Finland as students at Aalto-University, Populic, Highkey was inspired by the same principle – a medium for all students on campus to be engaged and informed about events that can be mapped and updated in real time. With an existing, running app in Finland that was trending #1, Highkey was launched for students of USC last August and soon tracked the same popularity with now over 10000 users that post and advertise their events on the app to reach a larger base of students.

Vili expressed optimism for the future of Highkey with plans to expand to bigger party schools such as University of Alabama. “We’ll continue to make college life funnier in the whole nation.” Vili also revealed that Blackstone Launchpad has been one of the most helpful resources on campus; in terms of conversing and interacting with other entrepreneurial-minded students. Highkeys team is confident moving forward as the ultimate platform for all campus events information and live updating.  

Written by- Mehak Arya