University of Southern California

Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Announces Winners of New Venture Seed Competition
Enterprise Projects in Personal Mobility, Healthcare and Social Media at the Top
May 3, 2010 • by News at Marshall

Winners of USC Marshall School of Business' "New Venture Seed Competition," sponsored by the School's Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, were announced at the Marcia Israel 2010 Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 29th.

The annual competition, sponsored by one of the nation's top-ranked entrepreneurship programs, provides seed money to budding entrepreneurs. This year, USC Marshall opened the competition to undergraduates, graduates and even faculty and staff across the University who could bring a wide range of new ideas and pitch concepts to a panel of seasoned angel investors. Tech Coast Angels, Pasadena Angels and Maverick Angels -- organizations that specialize in funding early-stage companies, as well as investment bank Greif & Co., the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) and the law firm of Haynes and Boone, volunteered time and expertise.

Fifty-four teams competed for a prize pool of $55,000, which included $10,000 in seed money to first-place winners in each category, $2,500 in legal fees, and donated office space. In addition, computer product distributor Arbitech awarded $5,000 to the contest's technology winner.

Gene Miller, director of the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, associate professor of clinical entrepreneurship and consultant, said, "We are living in ‘interesting times.' We are seeing great shifts in how we conduct business as well as inefficiencies in the marketplaces of the world. These challenges to how we live, work and play spell opportunities for entrepreneurs. What entrepreneurs are struggling with is gaining traction, credibility and visibility for their enterprises. The purpose of the Seed Fund was to help them accomplish that, to build a prototype to demonstrate their concept or to reach out and capture their first customer."

Steven Mednick, Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies professor, director of the New Venture Seed Competition, and investor and consultant to over 100 early-stage businesses, added, "Monetary awards aside, the true value of this contest is to connect young entrepreneurs with experienced investors and venture capitalists who can offer guidance and be contacts for their entrepreneurial journeys."

The winners:

1st Place: University Supplements

Launched by two USC Marshall School of Business undergraduates, University Supplements sells a variety of sports nutrition products and vitamins at college bookstores for a fraction of the price offered by online retailers. Cofounders Andy Hayes (BS ‘11) and Adam Fried (BS ‘11) who had $48 dollars in their bank accounts at the time of the company’s launch, aim to sign with 4 more schools by the fall semester and eventually branch out to as many as 10 schools by the time they graduate in Spring 2011.

2nd Place: Solè Bicycles

Developed by Marshall School of Business students Jonathan Ross Shriftman (BS '10) and Jacob B. Medwell (BS '11), Solè Bicycles, is a socially responsible company that will be producing affordable fixed-gear bicycles known as "fixies"-the latest trend in bicycles. The company will be importing lightweight bikes directly and custom designs will be distributed from an online marketplace at less than half the price of their competitors'. With a strong belief in giving back, 5 percent of all profits will support the Fallen Heroes Charity.

1st Place: ConservatorshipHelp.Com, a site conceived by Paul Richard Del Piero (JD/MBA '12) and now in development, intends to be a resource for the relatives of the approximately 90,000 Californians each year who need loved ones to assume responsibility for their medical and financial decision-making. By creating a questionnaire that helps to generate all the legal documents necessary to file for conservatorship/adult guardianship, Del Piero hopes to help individuals with ailing spouses, children whose parents have Alzheimer's and parents of adult children with developmental disabilities. The site, to be fully launched in Summer 2010, will serve as a low-cost alternative to attorney fees, which in California, typically cost about $10,000.

2nd Place: Triptrotting Inc.

Triptrotting is an online platform where student travelers can connect to other university students, meet with like-minded individuals and avoid being "another clueless traveler." Developed by Rahul Dureja (USC Viterbi MS 2011), Salim Ali Khan (USC Viterbi MS '11) and Manpreet Bhasin (USC Viterbi MS '10) and lead by Aigerim Duiseneyeva (USC Marshall BS '07) and Shana Zheng (USC Marshall BS '07), Triptrotting allows travelers to experience everyday life from the eyes of locals and foster solid personal and professional networks across the globe.

Faculty and Staff
ACE Ventures Inc.

Founded by USC faculty member and USC Marshall School of Business alumnus, Jeff Kreshek (MBA '97), ACE Ventures Inc. is introducing "Med-A-Dial," a simple and easy-to-use device that tracks dosing intervals and will assist parents who dispense medicine to their children in the middle of the night. According to its makers, Med-A-Dial differs from competitive products on the market in that it fits any size prescription container and does not rely on electronics, which can render other devices prone to failure. In addition, the company plans on curbing costs by providing branding opportunities for chain stores directly on the device.

Arbitech Technology Award Winner
Intuitive Motion

Undergraduates from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Geoff Larson ('10) and Ben Forman ('09) developed a prototype for the Z Board, a personal-transportation device that is a hybrid of a motorized skateboard and a Segway. Responding to the rider's weight, the Z Board accelerates by leaning forward and brakes by leaning backward. Intuitive Motion is marketing the re-chargeable device to eco-conscious student commuters. With a long list of pre-orders, the Z Board has a much-anticipated debut this summer.

About the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies
The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is a pioneering program in entrepreneurship education and research. Its faculty—a diverse mix of academics and entrepreneur practitioners—offers undergraduate and graduate programs designed to help students acquire the tools, develop the skills and cultivate the mindset central to organizing, launching, and managing successful new ventures. Since its founding in 1971, the program has consistently ranked among the top programs in the nation and has been ranked #1 by Inc. Magazine, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine. BusinessWeek along with U.S. News and World Report labeled the Greif Center as "one of the best entrepreneurship programs" in the country."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.