The goal of the Viterbi Startup Garage is to keep early-stage engineering companies and their entrepreneurs spawned from USC‘s engineering program in the region via the first LA-based accelerator backed by a big university. It’s the latest move from UTA to work with early-stage companies in media and entertainment as well as other business sectors. Among its initiatives, the agency recently incubated ShopHers, an e-commerce business focused on high-end designer fashion brands, and it also has equity stakes in and has provided advisory services for companies like AwesomenessTV, Andover Games, Playcast, Gold Run, Media Morph and Kevita. It also has an equity position in an as yet unannounced denim company. “We have been proudly advising technology startups for many years, and the Startup Garage will give us an opportunity to be even more hands-on with inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on groundbreaking ideas,” said Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media, UTA. “So many early-stage companies are media-focused or media-adjacent, that we feel Los Angeles is the ideal place to launch an accelerator in partnership with world class partners like USC and KPCB.”
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed more than 500 ventures including, famously, media companies like Amazon and Google.
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has about 1800 undergraduate and 3800 graduate students and attracts top students from around the world, but post-school opportunities here are limited, forcing alums that launch their own startups to do so outside Southern California. “We believe that KPCB and UTA are ideal partners, given KPCB’s unparalleled track record in identifying and advising phenomenal entrepreneurs, and UTA’s track record in providing early-stage companies strategic assistance across a number of categories”, said Ashish Soni, Executive Director of Digital Innovation and Founding Director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute at Viterbi.
The accelerator will provide financial grants, strategic guidance and mentorship to approximately 10 companies who will work out of the Viterbi Startup Garage facility, housed in USC’s Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey for 12 weeks beginning May 28. USC undergraduate or graduate students or USC alumni who graduated in the past five years are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted through April 22.