University of Southern California

Entrepreneurs, Get Ready!
USC Marshall Students and Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Host Startup Weekend
September 13, 2011 • by News at Marshall

For a prime example of what participants stand to gain from Startup Weekend, look no further than the budding entrepreneurs who helped organize USC Startup Weekend, which will be held Sept. 23-25. Marshall School of Business seniors Anna Sergeeva and Fei Xiao found the seeds of their own startup at LA Startup Weekend last February and are in the process of launching trueRSVP.com.

"Startup Weekend was the catalyst of why I got involved in tech entrepreneurship," said Sergeeva, a student in the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

"For those who have not experienced tech startups, I think it's a great foundation in terms of what opportunities are available on the Web."

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that brings together software developers, graphic designers and business people to build Web or mobile applications and create business strategies to make them viable. On the Friday that the weekend starts, participants pitch ideas and teams are built around the 10 best ideas determined by popular vote. Participants spend Saturday and Sunday working on those applications, guided by mentors and guest speakers. After a preliminary round on Sunday, the top five teams present to a judging panel.

Sergeeva said the USC event, the first hosted by a Southern California university, quickly sold out. Eighty people registered: about 80 percent are USC undergraduates, graduate students or alumni, and the rest come from the Los Angeles tech community. With 70 people on the waiting list, more tickets may be released to satisfy student demand. Another way to experience this event is to purchase a ticket for the demo on Sunday when the five finalists will give presentations.

Tommy Knapp, associate director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Marshall, jumped on board to help organize the event, seeing the event as an extension of what he teaches in his entrepreneurship classes at the Greif center and a valuable learning experience that brings together students from various schools within the University, including the Viterbi School of Engineering and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, in addition to those students from Marshall.

"USC Startup Weekend will give students the tools and insights needed to evaluate the high-tech startup model," said Knapp. "And collaboration by students from different disciplines fosters teamwork while showing the value of each member's contribution."One of the judges, Scott Sangster, is president of LA Tech Coast Angels (TCA), the largest and most active investment group in Southern California, organized of nearly 300 early-stage investors and including 170 startups in its portfolio.

"I am very excited to see Startup Weekend coming to USC," said Sangster, who said that TCA has a strong relationship with USC and Marshall. "I see fabulous entrepreneurial talent on campus. I think this is a great event for helping students realize it's fun to do a startup, and from the investor's perspective, it's a great way to see entrepreneurs in action."

Besides testing an idea, networking and getting face time with thought leaders, participants could leave with a bona fide business. According to the Startup Weekend Web site, "more than 36 percent of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after three months."

"In addition to meeting different people at USC and doing something unique and cool together, we also hope that some of these businesses could be nuggets that inspire growth, like Fei and I went through with LA Startup Weekend," Sergeeva said.

For more information or to purchase tickets ($10) for Sunday's demo, visit http://usc.startupweekend.org/.


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.