An up-and-coming student group, inspired by a conversation among friends, wants to create a space for USC students to become more involved with the startup ecosystem in Los Angeles.
RISE Consulting, founded by juniors Jonathan Lu, Zach Mollo, Chloe Hsu, and John McCubbin, is a student organization that provides consulting services for startups.
The company first started when Jonathan Lu, the founder and president, got together with his then roommate, Zachary Mollo. By the second semester of Lu’s sophomore year, initial preparations were established and the first client engagement was locked in.
“RISE consists of rebels, startups, entrepreneurs, and innovators. We’re USC’s first startup consulting organization.” Says Mollo. “Our organization is half service and half development in the sense that we do pro-bono consulting, do outreach events to find startups ,and consulting professional development workshops like case competitions and guest speakers.”
RISE plans to solidify the group’s identity in the new academic year by working closely with four new start-ups over a 10 week period: Trustory, a literature debate and social network startup; Alpha Aerospace, a drone company run by a USC alum; We Strive, a fitness platform and Robust Choice, a win/loss analysis firm. RISE also plans to check in with former clients after their plans are implemented to evaluate the work and progress.
“Our work is not just challenging and interesting but the impact we have is more than any organization.” Says Mollo “We want to give back to our students by helping polish professional skills, learn something new, and do something with a universal impact.”
Currently, the four founders act as board members and engagement managers for individual consulting projects. Each group consists of 3-4 analysts and is assigned one project per semester. The group usually identifies and reaches out to clients via a combination of LinkedIn, social media, email pitches to founders, internships, and the organizations website.
A typical session in RISE usually consists of professional case workshops and speakers for the first two hours for new members to learn consulting skills such as presenting data, making a pitch deck, and data research. The last hour is reserved for working with individual engagement teams. Beyond these team, there is an extra time commitment of 2-3 hours to continue working closely with the startup client and provide high-quality, hands-on recommendations.
Last semester, the organization worked solely with M.Todd Architect, an architecture firm based in Brooklyn on aspects such as social media outreach, contract negotiation tactics and pricing methods, marketing and promotional strategies as well as a whole slew of tasks.
“When we got there, we not only did research on her industry, but we made an Excel tracking sheet, entire pieces of software to race data analytical problems and pricing procedure research.” Says Mollo. “By the end of, she said RISE consulting really helped her get a fresh eye. We, at RISE come in with a third perspective, third part view to see whats going on. When we followed up with her, there were significant improvements in the business and how she thinks.”
This semester, the organization has just finished accepting 20 new members.
“Between being on e-board as founding members, engagement managers, recruitment and classes, there is so much riding on us four especially when we’re all trying to handle logistic.” Says Mollo. “This semester, were not gonna be engagement managers anymore. That’ll be for our analysts because we want to inspire leadership.”
While RISE is still in its early stages, its founders have big plans to expand, hoping to eventually becoming the premier consulting group on campus