University of Southern California

AIM 2013
Entrepreneurial Program Provides Expert Feedback and Seed Money to Promising Ventures
September 3, 2013 • by News at Marshall

For every Facebook or Twitter, there are countless other ventures that never become household names. What do you need to turn a great idea into a company that prospers? A select group of budding entrepreneurs took part in AIM 2013 (Accelerating, Incubating, Mentoring) to learn how to further their fledgling ventures. The second annual, 12-week intensive summer program was offered by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business. Eight teams, selected from a competitive field of 70 applicants, were given the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of experts, with six given access to collaborative office space on campus to hone their enterprises.

“This is the entrepreneurial generation. These are the kids who grew up believing that they could take a business created in their dorm room and become the next Facebook. There’s more entrepreneurial activity on the USC campus now than there has ever been,” said Patrick Henry, assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship, who headed up AIM 2013. “What students can do today with minimal effort, which would have taken herculean time and dollars even 10 or 15 years ago, is unbelievable. They can reach tens of thousands of people through social media at virtually no cost and outsource development with people around the world in an incredibly cost-effective way.”

A booming entrepreneurial culture and the availability of such tools, however, are not enough to succeed.

“In entrepreneurship, it’s not the quality of the idea, it’s the quality of the team and the execution,” said Henry. Weekly visits from experts, such as a panel of attorneys who offered advice on intellectual property and structural issues and a CFO who spoke about how to present financials to interested investors, helped AIM participants refine their business concepts and approach.

This year’s program culminated on campus on August 21, when six teams presented for an esteemed panel of 10 judges from the business, venture capital and legal communities. The four winning teams each received $2,500. Placing first was Pelv-ice, a patented pelvic support device for post-partum mothers. Second was SellBot, a multichannel e-commerce platform for online sellers, with HypeMkt, an online marketplace for individuals selling limited-edition street fashions placing third. Rounding out the list of winners was Project JellyVibes, an online music collaboration Web site that allows musicians to play together in real-time.

Michael Ahdoot ’14, co-creator of SellBot with his brother Payam MBA ’13, was inspired to take part in AIM again this year because of the inspiring environment it creates for participants.

“It’s amazing,” said Ahdoot. “Being immersed in an environment where everyone is focused on their startup, hungry to learn, improve and grow, it’s just invaluable.”

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.