Various USC student-led start-ups presented at TechDay LA, one of the largest start-up events on the West Coast last week. The event helped new entrepreneurs expand their network with various technology communities and consumers interested in their work.
“An event like TechDay LA brings firms of all sizes into a smaller atmosphere without having to have any sort of separation between,” said Lucas Huberman, a Class of 2017 alumnus.
Huberman co-founded startup Bee Technologies, Inc., a marketing platform that aims to transcend traditional advertising strategies by using social media to connect individuals to like-minded brands.
As the chief operations officer of the company, Huberman believes that face-to-face exposure is key to the startup’s expansion at events like TechDay LA.
“We’re obviously facing a lot of people,” he said. “In-person exposure is always a lot better than over the phone or via email. That has engagement [and] it’s something that we’re very excited about working with.”
Tech Day LA was free and open to the public, with 12,000 attendees, 300 startups and 600 job postings.
In addition to providing exposure to the start-up community, industry leaders also had an opportunity to engage in the tech space. Blackstone Launchpad, a campus-based entrepreneurship program with a branch at USC, was at the event. On campus, the program serves as a resource for college entrepreneurs looking to develop their ideas and offers coaching and ideation support for students.
“We’re trying to do a celebration of the different types of entrepreneurship and startups that are coming from downtown,” said James Bottom, director of Blackstone Launchpad USC.
Blackstone Launchpad worked with Incubate USC to gather resources for startups that would represent USC at TechDay LA. This included acquiring the means to obtain the USC startups a free table at TechDay LA, saving them hundreds of dollars. This way, the student groups can focus on presenting their product to the masses.
“We were reaching out to some of our partners to see if we could secure resources for our students to have a free table at TechDay LA,” Bottom said. “Most students are trying to bootstrap their startups. Not having to come [up with] out of pocket $500 to talk about their product is always a good thing.”
David Maliglowka, who graduated from USC in 2017, believes the exposure at TechDay LA was key for his startup Drops. Drops has a charity incentive, allowing users to round up any credit card purchase and donate the extra change to a selected charity.
“[The Drops team] thought it’d be a really great opportunity to connect with the larger entrepreneurs in Los Angeles [to] inform people about what we’re doing and try to inspire people to give back,” Maliglowka said.
Maliglowka believed presenting Drops to a diverse tech audience could mobilize them to make a difference through an easy-to-use app.
With tech companies covering a range of topics, the event provided USC startups a chance to see what is working for other companies and learn from them.
Rustin Sotoodeh, a senior majoring in business administration, has a startup in the esports market called E-Colosseum, which attempts to engage the gaming community through customized events and tournaments in Los Angeles.
Sotoodeh attended TechDay LA to survey what is happening in the niche he operates in and how it informs other aspects of the tech community.
“I think, on the one hand, it’s an advantage for us being in the minority because then we stand out in a crowd,” Sotoodeh said. “On the other side, it will be really interesting to see what other opportunities lie in this space. [It’s] really figuring out how what we’re doing in the esports sector that provides value for other sectors at TechDay LA.”