USC Marshall Venture Fund

The USC Marshall Venture Fund invests in and receives equity from ventures led by USC students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The Fund’s mission is to bridge the funding gap for early-stage and amplify the impact for later-stage USC-related companies; train students to evaluate, make, and manage venture investments; and engage alumni, advisors, experts, and other stakeholders in helping build the entrepreneurial ecosystem at USC and in Southern California.

How does it work?

  1. Under the guidance of USC faculty, staff, and venture experts, USC students interested in venture capital investing learn how to source deals, perform diligence, evaluate potential investments, write investment memos, and manage portfolio companies via the graduate Venture Lab Course.
  2. After applying, the companies are evaluated and selected to be part of the Venture Lab where the students perform due diligence and present their findings to the investment committee as their final project.
  3. A volunteer investment committee comprised of experienced investors from Southern California and Silicon Valley meet and make investment recommendations on the companies proposed by students enrolled in the graduate Venture Lab Course.
  4. The Fund provides capital in exchange for convertible debt, convertible equity, or equity pursuant to the deal documents. When an investment yields a profit (via liquidity event), the returns go back into the Fund for future investments, thereby helping make the Fund evergreen.
  5. Investment is not a guaranteed outcome of selection into or participation in the Venture Lab Course.

Check sizes range from $25,000 to $50,000 per investment. We make an effort to progress at least two investments per year, though numbers can vary.

Who can apply to be considered for funding?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for consideration by the spring and fall Venture Lab courses. Those selected for consideration:

  • are created by USC students, alumni, faculty, or staff. We require a direct relationship between the founding team and USC.
  • are most often early-stage. We participate in the first institutional round, for which we require a product and, ideally, some market traction. [For select opportunities, we will co-invest with angels or invest in more mature ventures.]
  • have a dedicated team. We look for those committed to immediate advancement of the venture.
  • have a clear use-of-funds plan. We require a clearly articulated plan to tackle milestones, prove out a concept, and attract further funding.

We are Industry Agnostic in our decision-makingWe aim to source the most competitive USC-related companies. We are also agnostic as to USC school (e.g., Marshall, Viterbi, Annenberg, etc.) and founder status (student, alum, faculty, or staff).

Meet our Fund Analysts

USC Marshall Venture Fund analysts are graduate students (from the Venture Lab course), drawn from a variety of different disciplines, who aid the Fund in making its investment decisions. Analysts receive course credit to source and curate deal flow, lead research and due diligence on innovative ventures, draft deal memos, and interact with the Investment Committee. To identify high-potential startups, analysts regularly interface with founders at all of USC’s schools and other USC entrepreneurship programs (for example, our USC Marshall Incubator and Blackstone Launchpad).

If you are interested in getting involved in the fund as an advisor or donor, please contact