Entrepreneurs of the Year

TeleSign founders Stacy Stubblefield, Ryan Disraeli and Darren Berkovitz are the Greif Center's 2018 Alumni Entrepreneurs of the Year.

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Celebrating achievement: The Greif Center spotlights excellence with two annual awards: Entrepreneur of the Year and Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. The recipients celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and its power to transform society. 

TeleSign FoundersTeleSign founders Ryan Disraeli, Stacy Stubblefield and Darren Berkovitz were awarded the Greif Center's 2018 Alumni Entrepreneurs of the year at the Center's Marcia Israel Awards Banquet.

In 2005, two years before the first iPhone was released, internet fraud was still a theoretical problem and not the headline grabbing crisis it is today.  Working together in an incubator, three USC alumni, Ryan Disraeli, Stacy Stubblefield, and Darren Berkovitz, had the foresight that online identity would be critical to the success of businesses around the world. With a mission to create a more secure online experience, they designed the system that today we all take for granted - when a website needs to confirm your identity, they simply send a voice call or SMS to your phone with a pin code that you must enter into the website.

Like any other startup, the path at first was difficult. After struggling for years, they had their first breakthrough in 2007 with an online classified site that used TeleSign’s solutions to cut fraud by 97%. After that, the TeleSign founders knew they were on something. They set out broadening the product offering to data and decision-making tools to help business stay ahead of evolving fraudsters and better authenticate and verify their users.
 
Since that time, TeleSign has grown rapidly from 3 to 300 employees around the globe and topped $100 Million in yearly revenue. Counting 21 of the 25 largest internet companies as clients, the company has appeared on several prestigious awards lists such as the Inc. 5000, Deloitte Fast 500, and Forbes Most Promising Companies. In 2017 the company launched into a new industry, Communications Platform as-a-Service, and was purchased by BICS, one of the largest telcos in the world, for $300+ million dollars.
 
TeleSign today helps businesses around the world connect with their customers with the right message, in the right way, at the right time, and ultimately deliver on the promise of a better and more secure customer experience.
 

Katie Rodan & Kathy FieldsKatie Rodan and Kathy Fields, Co-Founders of Rodan + Fields and Proactive, were awarded the Greif Center's 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the inaugural ATHENA: Women's Entrepreneurship Summit in November. 

Stanford-trained dermatologists, Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, first joined forces to create a comprehensive solution for patients with acne. The result was the Proactiv skincare system.  Instead of distributing products through pharmacies and department stores, they partnered with Guthy-Renker to market and sell directly to customers via infomercials.  Proactiv went on to become the most successful acne skin care line in the world and has been endorsed by the likes of Jessica Simpson, Justin Bieber, and Vanessa Williams.
 
In 2002, the Doctors founded Rodan + Fields® with the belief that clear, healthy skin brings confidence. With clinic-quality skincare regimens and a powerful community of independent consultants, Rodan + Fields has made their unique brand of skincare available throughout the United States. The Doctors continue to practice and see patients, as well as teach at Stanford University. Dr. Katie Rodan received her undergraduate degree with high honors in history from the University of Virginia and her medical degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine. Dr. Kathy Fields earned her undergraduate degree with honors in neurobiological chemistry from the University of Florida before attending the University of Miami for medical school.

Greif alumnus Jonathan Hirshberg ('94) received the 2017 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award in recognition of his entrepreneurial career and accomplishments. Hirshberg’s company JR286, and its affiliated group of companies, is a global leader in the design, development, manufacturing and distribution of branded and licensed sports equipment and accessories. Historically, JR286 has worked with top brands such as Under Armour, Fila, Speedo, K-Swiss and Red Bull. Hirshberg’s primary company, ENI-JR286, is a global licensing partner with NIKE responsible for a broad range of product categories developed under the NIKE brand. Headquartered in Torrance, California, with operations in Canada, China, Southeast Asia and Europe, JR286 is well-positioned to expand its impact as a global sports equipment and accessories company with a team of dedicated employees who “Enjoy the Journey” along the way. For more information about his company, please visit www.jr286.com.
 
An active philanthropist, Hirshberg founded the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research after losing his father to the disease. With high-profile events like the Cancer Challenge, a Westside walk/run, and the Tour de Pier, a Manhattan Beach spin cycling event, the foundation has raised more than $95 million to fight pancreatic cancer.  

In accepting his award at this year's Marcia Israel Awards Banquet, Hirshberg recalled the day he sat in on an entrepreneurship class at USC and immediately changed his major and never looked back. You can watch Hirshberg's remarks here.

A select list of past honorees:

Alumni Entrepreneurs of the Year

Stacy Stubblefield, Ryan Disraeli and Darren Berkovitz, TeleSign
Jonathan Hirshberg, ENI-JR286
Brandon Beck, Mark Merrill, Riot Games
Marc Benioff, Salesforce
Christopher Cabrera, Xactly
Kim Camarella-Khanbeigi, Kiyonna
Chris DeWolfe, MySpace, Jam City
Shannon Gans, New Deal Studios
Anthony Geisler, LA Boxing, Club Pilates
Marco Giannini, Dogswell
James Hart, Star Software, Senn Delaney
Girish Jhunjhnuwala, Hind Group
Thomas Knapp, Club Sportswear
Aaron Levie, Box
Paul Orfalea, Kinko's
Craig Pollard, Cancer for College
Michael Singer, Cherokee Uniforms
Fred and Michael Uytengsu, Alaska Milk, Brookstone Holdings

Entrepreneur of the Year

Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, Rodan + Fields, Proactiv
Thomas Barrack, Colony Capital
Janice Bryant-Howroyd, Act 1
Scott Cook, Intuit
Mark Cuban, Broadcast.com, Dallas Mavericks
Sky Dayton, Earthlink
Robert Greenberg, Skechers USA
Lloyd Greif, Greif & Co.
Wayne Huizenga, Waste Management, Blockbuster, AutoNation
Marcia Israel, Judy's 
Steve Jobs, Apple, Pixar
Ray Kroc, McDonald's
Pamela Lopker, QAD
George Rathmann, Amgen
Fred Rosen, Ticketmaster
Howard Schultz, Starbucks

 

 

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Shannon Gans, CEO & Co-Founder, New Deal Studios - Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year 2000

Shannon Gans ('95) wrote the business plan for New Deal Studios while a senior at USC and launched it after graduation with her partners. New Deal has become a leader in special effects and virtual reality, involved in such high-profile films as Inception, The Departed, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar, which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

 

Best advice for entrepreneurs? Never doubt yourself. Your gut is stronger and more reliable than you think. Trust it. What moves you? Helping, empowering, and inspiring others and, in the process, doing the same for myself. Critical skill? Being adaptive, willing to change. When our industry made a seismic shift, we adjusted and huge opportunities came our way. What lesson did you take from USC? Think big and go after your dreams. Have the courage to be bold.