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USC Marshall School of Business Summer Accelerator Hosts 20 Startups

marshallCould a piece of chewing gum help Type 2 diabetics monitor their glucose levels? Will you soon see camel milk for sale alongside cow’s milk at your local grocery store? These are just a few of the ideas students and alumni of the USC Marshall School of Business are working on as part of the school’s startup accelerator this summer.

Housed at Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the program is called AIM (Accelerate + Incubate + Mentor), and 20 student- and alumni-led startups will spend 10 weeks developing ventures ranging from customizable chocolate shops to custom charm jewelry for moms based on their children’s drawings. “The Greif Center accelerator is a really exciting program to help push startups to the next level,” Albert Napoli, lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Greif Center, said in a press release.

What the “next level” means varies from startup to startup. Some may move from beta to launch, while some may be looking to access capital to purchase equipment or resources to increase sales.

Since its launch in 2012, AIM has been connecting entrepreneurs within USC with resources within the Greif Center to help better their odds of success. Among the Greif Center’s offerings are instruction on business models, growth strategies, branding and marketing and legal infrastructure and financial strategy.

Greif Center faculty are available to all teams within the AIM accelerator for consultation on key business issues. Throughout the program’s 10 weeks, each team will also meet with USC alumni, supporters and industry experts for mentoring and guidance, as well as resources and strategic development.

The Greif Center also has partnered with the Pasadena City College Small Business Development Center (PCC SBDC) to provide one-on-one training on running the back office. “AIM teams have direct access to consultants—at no cost—to help guide and align them to proper resources, including funding, accounting, graphic artists and marketing experts, to name a few,” Salvatrice Cummo, director of PCC SBDC, said in a statement. “This partnership speaks volumes on USC Marshall’s commitment to cultivating and empowering the entrepreneurial-minded,” Cummo added.

Napoli notes that the AIM accelerator is different from more traditional accelerators because it provides participating startups with access to capital through outside sources, rather than providing capital infusion itself of taking an equity stake in the companies.

The Greif Center accelerator is also industry agnostic. “This year our teams, selected from a pool of 55 applicants, represent a wide range of innovative ideas from a patented knee brace to an online digital music platform,” Napoli said.

Learn more about USC’s Greif Center AIM Program and all 20 of its 2014 participating startups.