Painter Gena Milanesi On Working With The NBA, Meeting Jerry West And Celebrating Female Pioneers

Artist Gena Milanesi models one of the custom hand-painted jackets she does for the NBA.  PATRICK HOELCK

L.A.-based artist Gena Milanesi is a fascinating interview subject. Sometimes soft spoken and reserved, she is  equally full of compelling stories and facts and not what you expect at all. A passionate Lakers and soccer fan, she teared up at meeting the legendary Jerry West, also known to many NBA fans as “The Logo.”

On her website,, under collectors, there are photos of Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Ronda Rousey, Manny Pacquio and more. She was selected through a licensing partnership, with JH Design Group, to be the only artist to hand paint exclusive team jackets for both the NBA and MLB. Her jackets sell online on the NBA store website for $2,000 and everyone is one of a kind.

A fan of Leroy Neiman growing up, she has become in her own right one of the hottest and most in-demand sports artists working right now. But when we met up recently it is at the Werkartz Gallery in Downtown L.A., where her current show is running through August 12.

The show, part of Milanesi’s monochromatic period as she calls it, centers on female pioneers who have not been given credit for accomplishments such as inventing the fire escape and The Landlord’s Game, the original version of Monopoly that predated the game we all grew up on by three decades.

Like I said, she has a lot of stories. I spoke with Milanesi about how the ESPY awards led to her art career, working with people like rapper the Game and “lifer” sports fans, as she calls them, and how her subject matters have evolved as her interests grow.

Steve Baltin: This has been a busy time for you as you were telling me

Gena Milanesi: I have back to back shows, I’ve never done that before. The March show was great. I was really proud of that work, then this kind of fell into my lap. I’ve been juggling this with my other work — my commissions, my NBA/MLB stuff. It’s all coming together.

Baltin: This NBA off season has been so crazy. How do the fans you work with get affected by all of the players constantly switching teams?

Milanesi: I get the mega fans, so they’re lifers more or less, which speaks dear to my heart because I am Lakers through and through. I’ve been fortunate with the work I make because I truly get the lifers and that’s very special to me. For instance, I had this one client who is a massive Boston fan. It was fantastic – he and his dad are true Bostonians, which is hilarious as a Lakers fan. He had all this sports paraphernalia from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and he’s like, “Can you make some paintings for me?” I did a Larry Bird one with all these historical cutouts and I collaged them as a backdrop and then I rendered the player as the focal point. Then, I put a smaller sketch of Magic guarding him because it felt like the right call.

Baltin: As a Lakers fan didn’t you meet Jerry West after you painted a portrait of him?

Milanesi: That was a huge career point for me, I cried that day. It was really special. He got choked up. He said, “Gena, I don’t get emotional, but this is beautiful.”

Baltin: How did you get started with the sports stuff?

Milanesi: I graduated college from USC and I was making art on the side, but I thought I wanted to get in the fashion game. I was a buyer for a couple of years and I wasn’t really happy. But I had a great job and I was learning a lot. I was at the point in my career where I’d have to relocate to Arkansas to move up in the company since Dillard’s is based there. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that and this opportunity came up. My friend worked at ESPN and she asked me if I wanted to put my paintings in the gifting suite for the athletes at the ESPYs. I was like, “Yeah.” I was painting whatever I could, friends’ shoes, denim jackets, whatever, just to do it. I gravitated towards sports because I played soccer my whole life and I was surrounded by talented athletes – it was all I knew. Leroy Neiman and Ronnie Wood were inspirational at the time and it was interesting to see how they processed color on a canvas.

Baltin: What year was the ESPYs you did?

Milanesi: This was 2013. It was rad. I had some pieces up and then from that I got a couple of clients. I made the decision to pursue art not long after that.

Baltin: What were the paintings you supplied that year?

Milanesi: That year there was a heavy emphasis on football and boxing. I think I had one Laker in there, Magic [Johnson].  It was the gifting suite, so it was kind of like a “let’s test it and see” kind of thing. It fell into my lap and then I got my first big commission from the rapper, the Game.

Baltin: What did you do for him?

Milanesi: He was moving into his new house at the time and he asked me to do one room. He’s a Lakers fan as well, so we did an evolution of the his favorite players. That was a cool project to do. We did all the eras, we started with Jerry and the Forum behind them, then Magic, Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], Shaq [O’Neal] and Kobe [Bryant] with Staples behind him. From there, it led to other commissions of athletes and even collaborations with incredible players, like Landon Donovan and Chris Paul.

Baltin: Having done back to back shows for the first time do you have perspective on it? Or you won’t have that until after the shows are over?

Milanesi: You have no clue. I don’t think you do when you’re in the trenches. And that’s one thing painting taught me too, you have to start something without having answers. It’s not until you step back where you know what’s going on and can see that big picture. When I started on monochromatic two years ago, now I’m like, “Whoa, I have a period of work. I didn’t know I’d have a transition like that.” You start finding the confidence to explore unchartered terrain and experiment more. I was doing heavy sports stuff and I was coming away from that and experimenting more and  have done this unit now.

Baltin: What led to the transition?

Milanesi: The sports became more of a business thing. I still work with the NBA and MLB of course and do the jackets. And I’ll get amazing commissions from mega-fans like I mentioned, but I’ve come away from it more.

Balrin: Also as anyone gets older their interests broaden and you become curious about more things. This show currently is women pioneers, correct?

Milanesi: During my Bergamot Station show two years ago, I was so broke I couldn’t even afford paint.  An opportunity to do a show came about and it was essentially in my backyard in Santa Monica. I had no money, but this was my dream as a kid to have a show there. I was doing research on subject matter and I became captivated with British inventions because of my roots. I was doing the research and found this color, Payne’s Gray. The artist behind it, William Payne was a watercolorist and he invented this pigment to replace black since it was making his paintings look flat. It made them pop all the better. I was experimenting with it and found a comfort in it.  And it’s only one color, so I could afford it (laughs).  I did British inventions for that show and carried forward that style into the March show with World War II imagery.  I was seeing all these stories of these females doing all these random objects like the fire escape and chocolate chip cookies and Monopoly. There are all these stories of these fearless women that were getting their patents taken away and all this controversy during the time and it was fascinating to me. One of the most interesting stories was the Monopoly game. So there was this amazing woman, Elizabeth Magie. She created The Landlord’s Game and it was initially to educate students on the economics going on, at the time. She made this board game and it was well received in universities and played throughout America. Then three decades later this dude [Charles Darrow] comes along and he’s like, “I made this game in my basement called Monopoly.” Exact same rules and everything except the name. He brought it to Parker Brothers and they started selling it. And she came forward saying “Guys, I did this decades ago.” There was controversy and they ended up compensating her with $500. It’s very interesting but in all of these paintings, there is a similar story with these objects and I just couldn’t look away from it. I had to find ways to translate it on canvas.

Credit: Forbes – Steve Baltin

With Love Cards : Spreading The Message Of Good Times


Our startup for this week is With Love Cards, a business that aims to streamline the greeting card industry. The company was founded and launched in the August of 2018 by Kathleen Quinn, a 2nd year master of social entrepreneurship with the mission of enhancing grater human interaction through the written word. “We think having something to hold with a physical presence is getting lost among our generation,” says Quinn “The word os so powerful in making your day when you see it.” 

Quinn was inspired by a challenge she presented herself a few years ago for the season of Lent. “I wanted to do something positive for the people in my orbit for a few weeks like my doorman, my gym buddy and the feedback was so inspirational because it put a positive spin on the day.” 

The company also ties in mental health by partnering with mental health organization and supplying these partners with cards that address the stigma of suicide and depression. “Right now were measuring the impact of these cards by market surveys but were looking to increase the impact in the future.” Says Quinn. While people with mental health problems are complex, these cards reach out to people personally and talks them through their journey of struggling. 


The company is selling to millennial and organizations that work with millennial all over the United States and around the world. “The greeting card industry is 7.5 billion dollars.” Says Quinn. “Five years ago, the market dropped and now its picked back up by becoming a cool, trendy, gift.”

The company mainly uses social media marketing and word-of-mouth around USC students. Three weeks ago, the company launched an e-commerce website to sell the cards with prices ranging from five to seven dollars. 


Thee business is a team of six graduate students, coming from a big, diverse background with multiple perspectives. 

Michael – Web Designer and Developer

Myra – Product Designer

Janice – Strategist for future initiatives

Romero – Marketing

Kevin – Social Impact 


The company is currently in friends-and-family stage funding and is currently planning to register for competitions and entrepreneurship grands over the next few years to push the company forward. 

Imagine I’m a customer

Th first step is to go online to the website and choosing a card theme. You would the type your message to be handwritten by company employees. “Some people have problems coming up with content.” Says Quinn. “We’d love to help ideate and come up with a meaningful message.” We have some recommendations on the content. We would love to help you ideate and come up with a meaningful message.

Compared to other greeting card companies, With Love shaves off the inconvenience of buying postage or going to the mailbox, making it faster, easier and more streamlined. 


“Now that were graduating, were just getting started.” Says Quinn. “We’re all in and so are my teammates.” Our future plans include stepping up in sustainability and transitioning to recyclable paper and partnering to sell with retail stores. 

If you want to learn more head over to\

Overlooked : Watching the End of Fake News


Our startup for the week is Overlooked, a online news company dedicated to the fight against fake news. 

The company was founded in November 2017 by George Sehremelis, a senior majoring in Business Administration. “In high school I was suspiciously addicted to watching CNN, Fox, MS-NBC for hours everyday,” says Sehremelis everyday. “My family’s village in Greece was home to the one of the largest percentage massacre by the Nazis in World War 2 and the sad fact was that it was based on false reports.”

Overlooked is dedicated to the spread of accurate information on current issues unlike social media sites. The problem with Facebook and Twitter is that the users could get away with lying on the site with the information spreading faster than it could be stopped. “In the US we see fake news as a matter of politics.” says Sehremelis “For the rest of the world, misinformation is a matter of life and death.”

Target Market

Overlooked’s target market include college students from places like USC, Harvard, Georgetown, Stanford any anyone who use but don’t completely trust social media. “Currently, Overlooked has ambassadors at other colleges to raise awareness on what it is we do.” says Sehremelis.

The Team 

Overlooked currently has a core team of seven members but that number is growing. In the USC Spring Startup Career Fair, Overlooked received over 600 resumes from students looking for a spring internship. From that batch, the company hopes to hire promising interns for machine learning, development, journalists, social media marketing, administrative duties, etc. 


Currently, Overlooked has raised over 110,000 dollars from angel investors. Because usage for the site is free, most of the companies revenue comes from advertisements. “It’s actually more profitable as a news site than a feed based site since people click on news articles more.” Says Sehremelis “Our CPM does down a lot so we’re a lot more capable of being profitable in the future.”

How to Use

Overlooked is unique from other social news site in the sense that it prevents people from posting. Every article from the site is web scraped from a reputable news organization and every two hours, the company scrapes the latest news article for people to get news in real time. 

Once customers log in to the site, they’ll see their personal profile. On the profile, you can see which articles you’ve read and for each one, users can vote whether an article leans to the left, the right or is neutral. The company also has an algorithm that checks the content of the article and gives it a score that determines whether it is opinionated or not. 

“The goal of the company is to stay ahead of fake news and make all info free and public.” says Sehremelis “There’s a real fear that in countries where news are fake or censored that nobody will know anything, and that in my eyes is unacceptable.”

Long term goals

  1. Becoming an information booth for the 2020 election that people can trust
  2. A youtube channel to complement the website on raising awareness on current events
  3. Fund raise a couple million dollars to increase growth
  4. Further develop the website in response to customer usage and feedback

To check out the site go to

Also, check out their social media:





Uncensored: A Conversation with Gary Vaynerchuk

Disclaimer: He swears. A lot. And if you’re wondering why he has a pretty damn good reason: “I use the f-bomb to vet people. I react to the way you react. Here’s the deal: If you’re a person who gets thrown off by my use of bad language in a keynote, it becomes clear to me that you’re not looking at the big picture. At that point, you’re not judging me half as much as I’m judging you. If you’re incapable of getting over my words and seeing the bigger picture I’m trying to communicate, then you’re just not someone I want to do business with. You’re operating on a micro level, and that’s just not somewhere I want to play… so f*** you.”

Unless you’ve been living your life under a rock, you’re bound to have heard of Gary Vee. Last night, USC had the pleasure of hosting him to speak to us. Needless to say, fans were excited, with several shouting “I love you Gary!” as he sat down on stage with the host of the night, Professor David Belasco, Executive Director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Gary reciprocated the love, shouting back “I love you too!”

He explained his excitement revealing that, “I disproportionately enjoy human beings. I actually secretly dislike animals because so many people like animals more than humans.”

Throughout the night, Gary continued to foster excitement and awe as he took selfies with students that eagerly ran up to the stage, tried to extend the talk to answer more questions, and he even kissed a fan on the cheek to spread the message of positivity and love.

Who is Gary?

I’m sitting here feeling a bit stupid writing this introduction. For no one tells his story better than the man himself, whose mantra of putting family first is followed by an accomplished history of being an entrepreneur (he’s now the CEO of VaynerMedia), angel investor (with early investments in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Uber), New York Times best-selling author, disruptor, social media phenomenon, and a man whose goal is to buy the New York Jets.

The Greatest Era of Fake Entrepreneurship

While fake news is something that people are distinctly aware of, the rise of entrepreneurship reaching “rock-star status” is hardly ever mentioned. The aftermath of this lack of awareness has caused us to be living through the greatest era of fake entrepreneurship.

He warned the audience that: “We’re living in the greatest era of financial arbitrage machines, not actual businesses.” As a result, “Everyone is about hitting metrics to get their next fundraising round. It has nothing to do with the end consumer.”

Gary also crushed the currently rosy picture of entrepreneurship with sarcasm, “That’s why everybody’s building financial arbitrage machines, starting something so they can flip. Everybody wants to be 26 and a trillionaire, and have a jet and a f***ing baby giraffe.”

Instead he urged the crowd to follow what they were passionate about, and he hoped to convey a message that could redefine the path of a successful entrepreneur, “Like if you make $130,000 a year on a business that you run and you like doing it around something you like, and you can live that lifestyle, that is a remarkable feat. But that is not the picture that we’re painting of a successful entrepreneur. We’re painting private jets, islands and all sorts of ludicrous shit. You know?”

“I’m unbelievably passionate about over-communicating the shortcomings of an environment where entrepreneurship is cool. It’s the same that being a professional athlete and rapper is cool. Very few people can actually achieve it at a high level of success,” Gary said.

He further touched on the current state of venture capital, stating that, “Raising capital is a piece of cake today at a level that we’ve never seen. It’s ludicrous.” He used that to caution the crowd about entrepreneurship, “When I see entrepreneurs failing in this environment, with how much capital and how little it costs to get in the game with the internet at full scale. Like, if you’re an entrepreneur that’s failing right now that’s a year or two in, you suck. I mean it. You suck at entrepreneurship.”

Why He Thinks Entrepreneurship Can’t Be Taught

He also spoke about his previous time speaking in USC, clarifying the statement, “I don’t think entrepreneurship can be taught.” To which Professor Belasco humorously quipped, “So that’s awkward.”

“I refine that message. I think of entrepreneurship so much like sports,” Gary said “I can be better at basketball. I could play every day. I could be substantially better in a year and half, but I will have substantially no shot at going to the League.”

He compared entrepreneurship to a “craft” and a form of innate “talent” similar to sports and art. That is why he believes that going to school to study entrepreneurship isn’t going to work out. “Its natural talent, it’s not even in it to win it. The SAT perfect kids would be in it to win it, but it’s talent. Like I’ll be in it to win it to be a f***ing pro football quarterback. I’m f***ing in it to win it. It’s not going to happen.”

The Importance of Being Self-Aware

Gary also emphasized that people should be self-aware of their strengths. “I don’t think you get the same returns by overwhelmingly working on your weaknesses as you do on tripling down on your strengths,” Gary said.

He recommended students to focus on their strengths and to hire around their weakness, rather than dwell on their weaknesses and “waste their time on something they’ll never be.”

Gary also dived deep, speaking from his heart about things that he felt still lacked conversation, “There’s a lot of things that we have not addressed. There are a lot of people right now who are all sitting around 

Instagram as entrepreneurs, who are going into deep depression and even suicide when they take a massive L (loss) on the next correction in our economy, and that’s going to be tough.”

The Right Mindset: Humble Beginnings and Hustle.

“I grew up really lucky, in the fact that I had disproportionate adversity in the first decade of my life. I was born in Belarus, came to the US when I was 3 and lived in a studio apartment with 8 family members. It was super immigrant,” Gary said, as he spoke about his early life. “I went on two family vacations in my entire life, both in Disney world in Orlando and staying at the Holiday Inn. We kept it humble. We didn’t buy dumb shit. I basically wore liquor T-shirts my whole life through High School because they were free from the liquor store.”

He gave credit to his upbringing as the catalyst for his natural ability to hustle, saying that “A lot of my ability to not worry about others was predicated on circumstance… Those lucky circumstances in my life was that I was never handed anything ever.”

“When people think that trust fund babies are lucky, I just don’t see the world that way. I actually think that they’re disproportionately unlucky,” Gary joked. Professor Belasco then pointed to Gary’s success, stating that “That’s going to be a challenge in the next part of your life, raising affluent kids.” But Gary was quick to respond, “Oh that’s a piece of cake, I’m not giving them any f***ing money.”

Success, Risk and Failure

Gary defined success as “waking up, being happy and being able to do what you want to do at all times.”

“Freedom is what everybody is chasing, but they’re confused about what it actually looks like. It’s not how much you make it’s how much you spend,” Gary asserted. “There is a lot of people who would be way more free if they didn’t over-expend themselves on what they were buying. Keeping up the Joneses – it’s the poison of our society.”

He also encouraged the audience to take more risk especially while they were still young, saying that “It is never more practical to be disproportionately risky than from 20 to 30. Yet everybody goes the other way because now they’re in the real world and it’s time to prove something, to their parents, to themselves, to everybody else, and everybody goes conservative. It’s a huge mistake. We need to flip it upside down. Everybody should go ham when they’re 20 to 30 and get in a ton of ridiculous shit before digging themselves out.”

He added, “You should go and be rouge and get to know yourself and taste shit from 20 to 30, but you have to live by the ramifications of doing that. And the cost of entry for that is living in a studio apartment with four people, eating dog shit food and not having fancy shit. When you don’t do that, and you live in a subsidized environment sponsored by your parents, then you’re living in a fake environment, and you’re super f***ed.”

Gary shared his thoughts on failure, stating how he likes “micro-failure” but not “macro-failure”, like the death of the business.

“I like failure because I think I deserve it. I hate when people don’t respect the game. When I fail, it means I f***ed up. And I like that because people get audacious,” Gary said.

Gary further clarified his view on failure, stating that entrepreneurship can occur when “you can love it (the game) so much that you were never able to do anything else and just the process of playing the game is success itself,” or “you love it so much that you actually don’t give a f*** about the trophies aka the money that comes along with it, it’s just that you really won’t know how to breathe otherwise if you weren’t in the process of entrepreneurship itself.”

Gary declared, “I will never fail because there is no failure. If I lost all my money because I did 37 ridiciously bad decisions, the ability to go back to zero, and try to buy shit at the dollar store and flip it on eBay and build the back up weirdly excites me more than where I am right now. I swear on my children’s health.”

“The thought of going to zero, having all of you judge me like, ‘See, he wasn’t as good as you thought,’ and then rising back like a phoenix and sticking it in your f***ing face. That right there is the definition of entrepreneurship: It’s when you love the game more than what the game gives you. That’s why I like losing; n the game told me I lost. Respect to the game. That’s why I like playing,” Gary elaborated. “I did this when it wasn’t cool. I’d do now while it’s cool, and I’ll do it again in 15 years when it’s not cool again because the economy will collapse and because we don’t like to be accountable, we like blaming things, so we’re going to blame entrepreneurship not the fact that you weren’t self-aware and that you weren’t a f***ing entrepreneur.”

Personal Philosophy

When asked what his personal philosophy was, Gary said that he wanted to give more than he took, “because I don’t want to owe anybody anything and I want to pay back the gifts that I was naturally given because my parents had sex at the right moment.”

“I love that everybody is so into math, big data and quant, and have not deployed the level of gratitude around the math of 400 trillion to 1 which is the odds of being a f***ing human being,” said Gary. “There’s nothing more remarkable that you can accomplish than that you have a chance to accomplish something.”

He recommended students to lean into gratitude and happiness to allow good to happen. “The internet is remarkable…if we could just tweak it around happiness instead of around success from others, it can get really, really good.”

Staying true to his word, Gary made a video filled with positivity with a fan.

When Gary Vee gives kisses you IN BOVARD

Posted by Raj Jain on Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Anikiú Co : The company that will Carry you to the Future

Our startup for the week is Anikiú Co, a backpack accessory startup with a goal of pushing their message of social justice. The business was founded in 2015 ago by Annika Pašeta, a political economy major with a minor in environmental studies and theatre, who started out by making tie-dyed distressed shorts.

The company slogan is Carry the Future, and this is actively seen in the cultural and social messages sewed onto the product. “Everyday as consumers we decide what to buy and what we represent.” says Pašeta “When we wear a product with a social message like a backpack or a pouch, other people will see it just by walking around.”  For instance, one of Anikiú’s products, a pouch with the slogan “Protect the Earth” helps remind customers to recycle everyday. 

Target Market

The product lineup for the business is backpacks, pouches and other clothing accessories. While the target is young girls, the product fits for anyone and any audience. The products are made in Peru, using organic and natural materials and processes,but are primarily sold in California and Los Angeles in places like Silver Lake and Expo Park. “One of the organizations we work with is Girl Up, a UN group that supports Women Education.” says Pašeta “When walking down the street, other people see it which starts up a conversation about issue.”

Most of the sales are online with social media sites like Instagram, the main promotionally tool for Anikiú. The startup does not have any retail stores yet but that is a main goal.

Future goals

“Our main goal is definitely to get into retail” says Pašeta. Right now, the startup is small and sells only at a few events throughout Los Angeles, but the goal is to scale up, develop new products end sell across country to places like Colorado, San Francisco, New York, etc. 

While the business is currently self-founded, Pašeta plans to focus more on outreach and advertising in order to get more investments and awareness of the brand. 

For customer orders, Anikiú’s link is

Anikiu Backpacks : Carrying the future together

Our startup for the week is Anikiu Co, a backpack accessory startup with a goal of pushing their message of social justice. The business was founded five years ago by Annika Paesta, a political economy major with a minor in environmental studies and theatre. 

The company slogan is Carry the Future.“Everyday as consumers we decide what to buy and what we represent” says Paesta “When we wear a product with a social message like a backpack or a pouch, other people will see it just by walking around.” For instance, one of Anikiu’s products, a pouch with the slogan “Protect the Earth” helps remind customers to recycle everyday. 

Target Market

The product lineup for the business is backpacks, pouches and other clothing accessories. While the target is young girls, the product fits for anyone and any audience. The products are made in Peru, but are primarily sold in California and Los Angeles in places like Silver Lake and Expo Park. “One of the organizations we work with is Girl Up, a UN group that supports Women Education” says Paesta “When walking down the street, other people see it which starts up a conversation about issue” 

Most of the sales are online with social media sites like Instagram, the main promotionally tool for Anikiu. The startup does not have any retail stores yet but that is a main goal 

Future goals

“Our main goal is definitely to get into retail” says Paesta Right now, the startup is small and sells only at a few events throughout Los Angeles, but the goal is to scale up, develop new products end sell across country to places like Colorado, San Francisco, New York, etc. 

Right now, my real problem is I need a mentor” says Paesta “Sometimes, I don’t know where to start and it takes a bit more time and money to figure it all out and learn as I go.” While the business is currently self-founded, Paesta plans to focus more on outreach and advertising in order to get more investments and awareness of the brand. 

The Dairy Revolution : Bringing Camel Milk To The Global World

Our Product of the Week is Desert Farms, a dairy farm founded in 2014 that boasts nature’s most health beverage: camel milk. “At Desert Farms, our mission is to promote camel milk as nature’s most wholesome dairy beverage, so you can get over the hump, when you need, naturally.” 

The company began when founder Walid visited his family in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,. There,, a friend offered camel milk, a beverage you could only buy from local Bedouin Nomads and merchants. Walid was inspired by this product and knew he could use it to make an impact on the health of people around the world. 

Walid moved to California, a place where people valued a healthy lifestyle and were crazy on the latest health trends, to start a camel milk companyAfter selling camel milk at mosques and ethnic food festivals, Walid’s business plan won the Marcia Israel Award from USC. 

In the Midwest, Walid came upon a small, hardworking Amish community and was immediately hooked. “Networking through social media just isn’t the same as teaming up with neighbors to build a barn,” he says. “If you ask an Amish farmer why they’re successful, don’t expect a lot of soul-searching or reflection on what they do right—the Amish will likely pin the praise on anyone else but themselves.”

The Manufacturers

Camel farming traditionally is trending in places like Germany, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and so many more places. Early US demand came form people who wanted to use camel milk to help boost their immune system, through the creation of ‘good bacteria” in the digestive system. 

Desert Farms is committed to local farming communities and families across America. All camels are pasture-raised, and specifically designed to highlight the proud heritage of American farmer families and meant to support local farms, with an average of 6 camels per herd. Some examples of suppliers include Noah and Rebecca’s Farm, the Lakeview Family farm, Dallas’s Camel Dairy, Aaron and Katie’s family farm etc. 

“Each bottle is milked, bottled and packaged at the farm to ensure the delicate camel milk is not exposed to contamination.” Says Walid. “Our camel milk is not and will never be shipped to a third-party contractor for bottling. We try to limit the number of people dealing with your products to ensure freshness and purity.

With Desert Farms’ help, farmers don’t have to worry about sales and marketing, so they can spend more time in the field, creating more milk production, better tasting milk and a high income level.

‘It’s also nice to know that the farmers treat their camels very well, often living very close to them and spending hours per day on their care.” Says Walid  ‘We observe and encourage humane animal treatment, and are glad to help preserve our country’s natural resources and biodiversity.”

The Product

The product line includes frozen camel milk, camel milk power, camel milk kefir (a middle-eastern beverage), hump fat, and camel milk soaps..

The milk contains no added hormones and comes from grass-fed hormones with GMO feed. No rBST, rBGH, and GMO free. This results in fresh, natural, and healthy milk that many families want for their dinner table. The milks pasteurized at a low temperature to maintain the fabulous flavor of camel milk, as well as destroy any harmful pathogens, while leaving valuable enzymes untouched. The milk is also non-homogenized to allow a natural sweet flavor, a sweet texture and to make better fairy based foods. 

The end result is a beverage that has been found to be rich in vitamin B, E, Zinc, Potassium, Protein, Phosphorous, Calcium. In many cases, Camel Milk tastes like regular milk: smooth, light, sweet and clean. The milk itself is great for cooking and baking, as a complement to coffee, with a meal to help control your appetite, before workout to build stamina and as a low-calorie, tasty desert.


Since there are less camels in the United States than cows, as well as less camel breeding technology, the price of camel milk is a bit higher than the price of cow milk. Milking camels produce around 5-6 liters a day. Taking into account farm rent, pasture, veterinary care, workers, expenses are quick to add up. 

Frozen Camel Milk (16 oz) – 18 dollars

Camel Milk Powder (200 grams) – 74 dollars

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Studioso : A company that plays the right tunes


Our startup of the week is Studioso, an online app that aims to bring the field of music education into the 21st century. Founder of the company, Ocean Salazar, explains how he developed the idea for the app: “For 14 years I have always has a passion in playing the violin. The problem is that when you start very young you don’t have maturity and discipline to be methodical and do research. I was slow in progress because most of my time in practice is outside the classroom without instruction.”

Studioso solves the info gap by helping students practice more efficiently though a streamlined guided practice, progress tracking and connections with teachers. “As soon as you leave practice, you can go back into notes and be guided from home.” Says Salazar

Studioso’s has been beta trialed by over 300 teachers and has over 160 institutions interested in purchasing. Studioso recently won the 1st place of the Minnesota Cup youth division and is part of the USC Rossier Entrepreneur accelerator. 

The team 

Studioso is managed by a six person team. The founder and CEO of the company is Ocean Salazar, a freshman at the university of Southern California, who has experience working at an investment firm and in playing the violin for 14 years. The IT expert, Charles Porth, has over 6 years of programming and IT consulting experience, specializing in back-end development, cybersecurity, and project management.

The Market

Studioso’s total addressable market in the US is worth $954 million. The brand is focused on the 32 million students who participate in in both school and private music programs. For students, the yearly subscription price is 45 dollars while for institutions the price is 200 dollars.  

The Product

The company is primarily a B2B platform, functioning as a learning management system for music education. 

Studioso optimizes music education by allowing teachers to communicate assigned practice objectives, tracks practice progress in real time to motivate students and comes with a timer, a collection of efficient practice techniques, a by-hour practice target and visible teacher instructions. 

When students start a new practice session, they choose the length of the session, the repertoire and a warm up. The first quarter of practice is warmup. Once the warmup is over, students go to the main repertoire of pieces to study, what to focus on and special techniques. Students keep track of this via an in-app timer.

“What’s cool is that students can access the technique library of the app which sorts all the special techniques and methods.” Says Salazar. “It’s like going to the gym where if you randomly swing weights you’re not going to make much progress. “ 

Once students finishes a session, the app records the time and puts it in the progress tracker on the dashboard of your weekly target, for teachers to to check.

In the technique library itself, all the techniques are written by teachers. “Music teacher have always taught students their practice methods verbally.” Says Salazar. “This app changes that by creating a single place to access the practice method so it no longer has to be accessed from teacher to to student and teacher to teacher with the risk of miscommunication.”


6 Months – Market the product and get feedback for the pilot program to improve usability and user interface.

1 year – Introduce more features and expand on a web platform. Right now its on Android and IOS but in one year we hope to expand to web to have more universality on who can use the app.

5 years – Use the data to create a music education AI algorithm to give live feedback on practice at home, while also helping teachers design a tailored curriculum. 


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