In Great Company, an all-inclusive media startup community, aims to help women become entrepreneurs of the future. Founded by Caitlin Tran, a senior studying arts, technology and the business of innovation, the organization chartered in Fall 2017 at USC to serve the needs of female student and alumni innovators. IGC currently has a USC chapter, which is exclusive to the Trojan family, and an additional online community of 450 people in its Facebook group.
The group’s mission was inspired by Tran’s realization of the disparity between male and female entrepreneurs, especially in the tech industry. IGC aims to provide members with opportunities to review pitches, strategies for venture capital funding and entrepreneurship-related resources via a weekly newsletter. In addition, the community will host a consistent speaker series to feature female entrepreneurs.
“I’ve noticed most of the guest speakers we had on campus were white males, which isn’t a problem,” Tran said. “But it is a problem when the only perspective or role models you’re constantly seeing are the same group of people. I think it’s really important for everyone — not just young women, but also people of color and different sexual orientations — to have someone to look up to that reminds themselves that the model of success doesn’t have to look like this every time.”
Annie Oh, a freshman majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation, leads In Great Company as its founding member and chapter president. Oh found the gender disparities in the technology industry alarming and jumped at the opportunity to make a difference.
“The tech industry is just not a level place in terms of gender equality,” Oh said. “And that is one of the problems that In Great Company tries to solve on a micro-scale. Ultimately, when you have diversity with founders and diversity in startups, you have diversity in solutions and the solutions you create are more inclusive.”
IGC aims to stand apart from other clubs on campus by catering to a specific group of students. According to Oh, the club’s motto is “Helping Women Start the Next Billion-Dollar Startup.”
“There is an archetype venture capitalists used to look for: the college dropout guy in the hoodie who later founds Facebook,” Tran said. “But when they’re doing that, they’re really underestimating a large group of young founders.”
In Great Company is chiefly concerned with entrepreneurship and venture capital funding for startups, which is considered a different culture than the “classic entrepreneurship” that comes to mind; it is in many ways considered a niche scene.
Oh highlighted the club’s ongoing female speaker series and its importance for aspiring female innovators that have begun since last semester. Some previous speakers include Talia Goldstein of matchmaking and dating website Three Day Rule and CEO and Co-Founder Beatrice Fischel-Bock of the augmented reality interior design app Hutch.
“When you hear women come in and give tangible experiences … it’s so real,” Oh said. “When you hear them say it in front of you, it becomes so tangible.”
Additionally, the depth of what In Great Company provides for members and participants varies.
“[IGC offers] very specific instructions and resources for women who are very serious about starting up,” Oh said. “This is for women who have an idea and want to get into the scene, but don’t know how. That’s where IGC comes in.”
While the club focuses on women in the entrepreneurial realm, it tries to remain as inclusive and accessible as possible for students of all genders, Oh says. In exchange, In Great Company asks that the members are allies of female empowerment and female entrepreneurship.
“Female empowerment is not just women working, it’s men adapting,” Oh said. “You can’t achieve change unless men also realize [they] have subconscious biases.”
In addition to the speaker series, In Great Company offers office hours or working times with founding members and a “Pitch and Catch” event where members can practice their pitches and receive criticism and advice.
The next upcoming event for In Great Company will be a collaborative panel with another club on campus called Girls in Tech. Taking place next month, it will feature female entrepreneurs on their experiences and accomplishments.