The USC Marshall/Greif Incubator, which accelerates the development of the University of Southern California’s top student and alumni entrepreneurs, has opened applications for its virtual Summer 2021 program.
The program, set to be held from June 1 to August 15, is open to founders based outside of the Los Angeles area as well and is supported by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s Marshall School.
Companies that apply must be at least at prototype stage and include a team member who is a USC student, alumna or alumnus, faculty member, or staff member from any USC school.
The initiative takes founders from feasibility and development work on to customers, helping them learn how to devise a tested business model, get distribution, build a team, bootstrap, and prepare to raise investment.
The incubator, which has worked with over 140 companies so far, also offers access to supporting resources such as legal and financial assistance without taking any fee or equity in the business.
It has supported a broad mix of startups, ranging from machine learning, robotics, virtual reality, software as a service known as SaaS, and industrial equipment, to consumer products, apparel, and food and beverage.
Participating companies have been acquired, raised money, run successful Kickstarter campaigns, received grants from the National Science Foundation, and shipped product to customers.
In addition, the USC Marshall/Greif Incubator have had winners in recent USC competitions, including the New Seed Venture Competition, Stevens Student Innovator Showcase, Silicon Beach, the Min Family Challenge, and the Maseeh Prize.
In recent months, it has had a participant accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator, a $200K Indiegogo, a $50M Series B round, and more.
For its summer program, the incubator is looking for creative startups who are open to take outside advice and potentially change direction, have most of the capability to build what their business requires, are resourceful and patient, and are ready to engage actively with other members of the USC Marshall/Greif Incubator community.
In a typical month, the startup founders meet with the incubator’s director, experts and mentors, and other startups to share concerns, get advice, and make decisions.
One of the main focus areas of the program is development of skills related to bootstrapping because the organizers believe “the skills to get people to pay you and learning to build a sustainable business will carry you through any economic climate.”
They also maintain that bootstrapping allows companies to get started immediately, rather than waiting to raise capital.
Experimenting and validating is another important aspect of the program, which 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.
Another tenet of the initiative is an emphasis on 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,” says the team behind the program.
The USC Marshall/Greif Incubator says they often continue to work with companies that joined in earlier cohorts and argues that the experience will prove valuable even if founders change direction completely or take a break and return to entrepreneurship later.
Startups interested in getting support, guidance, and community while growing their business can apply to the incubator’s Summer 2021 program here. Applications close on May 23.