Forum discusses SoCal entrepreneurship

first_imgOn Saturday and Sunday, USC hosted the SoCal Innovation Forum’s fourth annual conference, which highlighted the rapid growth of entrepreneurship in Los Angeles and emphasized the city’s position as the third-best startup city in the world.The event presented an opportunity for attendees to hear from a variety of speakers, including founders, CEOs, venture capitalists and directors of major companies such as Mattel, Deloitte and 20th Century Fox. Attendees could also present their startup ideas to potential investors from the United States and China.To host the event, L.A.-based nonprofit PlusYoou partnered with Blackstone LaunchPad USC, WeStart Club, Zuma Ventures and the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. More than 500 students, alumni and professionals attended the event, some coming from as far away as China.“The business cooperation between the U.S. and China has enormous potential,” said Hua Liu, an opening speaker for the event. “The Chinese dream is about peace, development and cooperation, and is connected to the American Dream.”This marks the first year that SIF has taken place on campus, in a move that Blackstone LaunchPad USC Project Director James Bottom said will facilitate student involvement in entrepreneurship.“USC has the second-largest international student population of any university in the United States, and it speaks to the diversity that we have here to talk about what is happening in Los Angeles and Asia, and to bring these speakers together for an overall program,” Bottom said.Event organizers such as Jennifer Zhang, cofounder of PlusYoou, hope that the event can help to increase collaboration between industries in Southern California and China, according to the organization’s press release.“More China-based venture capital is getting into Southern California as Chinese investors are expanding their businesses here,” Zhang said in the release. “However, their information of local investment or development opportunities is limited. We are here to facilitate investments and make things easier for both sides of the table.”According to its website, PlusYoou promotes the growth of startups through business consulting, tech support, human resources, financing and public relations services. Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism alumna Peggie Li, master of entertainment management ’10, who works as an adviser for PlusYoou, said that the company’s vision for startup growth ties in to the University’s goals of fostering student innovation.“I jumped from traditional media to new media because of the education that I got at USC,” Li said. “It shaped my career from the beginning.”This spirit of technological innovation drives USC initiatives such as Blackstone, which, according to Bottom, provides students with an entrepreneurial environment that supports the growth of companies from the entertainment industry to the nonprofit sector. Blackstone currently plans to host more than 250 events this school year and supports more than 350 startups at USC.“If you’re a student looking to go join a startup, there are a lot of online resources that you can use and a number of different student clubs that are designed to get students integrated into the ecosystem,” Bottom said.The prevalence of organizations such as Blackstone, combined with the growth of the Los Angeles startup culture, makes SIF organizers such as Li hopeful that the event will inspire many to pursue their entrepreneurial goals. Li’s advice for students hoping to start their own businesses hinges around taking advantage of these opportunities.“Make mistakes as much as you can when you are young,” Li said. “Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself — be responsible for your future.”last_img

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