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USC Marshall / Greif Incubator

Because entrepreneurship is serious business.

The Incubator application is openThe Summer 2020 Incubator is virtual, with program activities delivered via Zoom and phone -- facilitating, for the first time, work with member companies based outside of Los Angeles. The general program is delivered in weekly group meetings, weekly workshops, mentor visits, and individual office hours. The program will run from June 15 - August 14.

The USC Marshall Greif Incubator accelerates the development of USC’s entrepreneurs through experiential education, mentorship, and community. Each year, we work with founders on everything from feasibility and product development, to customer acquisition, testing business models, gaining distribution, team development, investment preparation, and raising funding. We provide additional support in the form of legal assistance, potential financial grants, and access to mentors. Our companies have won competitions, run successful crowdfunding campaigns, raised angel or VC money, received government grants, and, of course, shipped product to customers. In a typical month, Incubator startups meet with the Incubator’s director, experts and mentors, and other startups to share concerns, get advice, and make decisions.

Eligibility Requirements

At least one team member must be a USC student, alumna/alumnus, faculty member, or staff member (from any USC school). In evaluating applicants, we assess:

  • Coachability: Is your team open to take outside advice and potentially change direction?
  • Capability to Build: Entering Incubatees should have most of the ability to build what their business requires, with small exceptions that fall outside the core of the business.
  • Commitment and Drive: Is your team creative, resourceful, and patient, particularly when you hit bumps in the road?
  • Engagement: Will your team be an active, interested part of our Incubator community, taking advantage of our events and resources, and helping out others?
  • Readiness: This program is for teams already at prototype stage. Even better if you have customers. (Do not apply if you are at concept stage.)

We will work with any university department or external group that can help those in the Incubator. Our founders have come from almost every school at USC.

What We Believe

  • Great businesses are built by teams with a mix of skills, including tech, design, business, marketing, and more. Founder backgrounds can be atypical.
  • Diverse business and founder types need customized, not standardized programming.
  • Entrepreneurship is broader than tech. We have a broad mix of companies – from machine learning, robotics, VR, SaaS, and industrial equipment, to consumer products, apparel, and food and beverage.
  • Continuity is more helpful than singular events and is driven by open and frequent conversations.
  • Challenging, encouraging, and pushing have their place as we help our founders do more faster.
  • We are here to help you, not profit from you. We take no fees or equity in Incubator businesses. We may, however, help provide you grants, access to free resources, and meetings with potential investors.
  • Those who join us remain important even after they leave us. We often continue to work with companies that joined in earlier cohorts.

We want our founders and teams to learn how to build businesses. If you change direction completely or even take a break and return to entrepreneurship later, that’s fine. We provide an experience that will be valuable no matter where your path takes you.

We Build Skills

  • Bootstrapping. The skills to get people to pay you and learning to build a sustainable business will carry you through any economic climate. Bootstrapping also allows you to get started immediately, rather than waiting to raise capital.
  • Experimenting and Validating. This includes variations on tools like the Minimum Viable Product as a way to test hypotheses, collect primary data, draw conclusions, and learn what to build.
  • Presenting and Pitching. These skills are essential, but take time to acquire, alongside someone who can give actionable feedback. We believe in giving feedback and then practicing again and again. It takes months (at least) to become good.

To apply to be a part of the Incubator, click here.