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Start it up: USC entrepreneurs receive seed funding for innovative ventures

Annual competition rewards young entrepreneurs who have bright ideas

glassware falling
A company that uses a treatment process to harden glassware took first place in the New Venture Seed Competition.

The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has awarded $50,000 to six student startups — winners of the annual New Venture Seed Competition at the Marcia Israel Award banquet on April 30.

This year’s event drew 148 teams of students and faculty from across USC. Sixty-two teams reached the semifinals, but only six made the final cut. Those six teams presented their business pitches on April 22 to a panel of investors, including Lloyd Greif, Greif & Co. president and CEO and founding donor of the Greif Center based at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Taking first place and winning $15,000 was The Steel Glass Co., which uses a treatment process to harden glassware, making it more resistant to breakage, which in turn saves money for restaurants and hospitality companies, according to its founders.

In second place was Aescula Tech, which won $10,000. The startup has developed a single-use application for sustained release of glaucoma medication, which is designed to reduce medical complications due to non-compliance or incorrect application.

Third place was split by Ryde, a scalable college student bike share service, and Whipp, a parking app that the founder said makes finding and paying for parking spots easier. Both startups won $7,500.

Fourth place also resulted in a tie, with $5,000 going to Gold Key, a startup describing itself as a concierge service for high-end home stays, and Nuli, which applies 3-D printing technology to create gifts for retail outlets.

We look forward to representing USC as Trojan entrepreneurs.

Inaki Pedroarena-Leal

“We have been fortunate to have the support of USC and the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies from the beginning of our venture’s journey,” said Inaki Pedroarena-Leal, co-founder of The Steel Glass Co. “We appreciate all that it has done for us, and we look forward to representing USC as Trojan entrepreneurs and showing the community what we can do with The Steel Glass.”

That’s the spirit

Greif presented the Marcia Israel Awards to one undergraduate and one graduate student who best demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit embraced by the award’s namesake.

Armand Farrokh won the undergraduate award for SuppNow, which places vending machines filled with nutritional supplements in gyms and health centers.

The graduate award went to Pocket Sun, who launched the SoGal Summit, a conference for female entrepreneurs.

Israel was the founder of Judy’s Boutiques, the first retail outlet that specifically catered to young women. She died in 2004, leaving a bequest to endow an annual banquet to celebrate entrepreneurship among students.

“Marcia Israel was a retail innovator and serial entrepreneur in an era — just after World War II — when there were very few women doing so,” Greif said. “She embodied the vision and the drive we try to instill in our entrepreneurship students. Many are deserving, but only one is chosen from each class.”

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Start it up: USC entrepreneurs receive seed funding for innovative ventures

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