UTA, Kleiner Perkins Launch Technology Accelerator at USC

The Viterbi Startup Garage aims to keep engineering talent in Southern California by providing financial and strategic resources to nurture startups.

In a move to stem the technology “brain drain” out of Southern California, United Talent Agency has partnered with the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers to launch a technology accelerator at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. The Viterbi Startup Garage is a 12-week program that will provide early-stage startup teams with $20,000 in capital, hands-on mentoring and access to investors, as well as working space at the Garage’s facility in Marina del Rey.

“We have been proudly advising technology startups for many years, and the Startup Garage will give us an opportunity to be even more hands-on with inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on groundbreaking ideas,” UTA head of digital media Brent Weinstein said in a statement. “So many early-stage companies are media-focused or media-adjacent that we feel Los Angeles is the ideal place to launch an accelerator in partnership with world-class partners like USC and KPCB.”

USC’s engineering school has about 1,800 undergraduate and 3,800 graduate students, most of whom leave Southern California for the greater number of entry-level and startup opportunities in other regions, such as the Bay Area. The Garage’s founding partners, who will receive 4 percent shared equity in each new startup, seek to nurture homegrown tech companies with the goal of fostering a local technology marketplace that can also better work hand-in-hand with the region’s media and entertainment base.

“We are very excited to provide our students world-class opportunities and resources by launching the first Los Angeles accelerator backed by a prominent university,” said Ashish Soni, executive director of digital innovation and founding director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute at USC, in a statement. “We believe that KPCB and UTA are ideal partners, given KPCB’s unparalleled track record in identifying and advising phenomenal entrepreneurs, and UTA’s track record in providing early-stage companies strategic assistance across a number of categories.”

Current USC students or alumni who graduated within the last five years are eligible to apply by April 22. Teams must be co-founded or headed by a USC Viterbi student or alumnus. Approximately 10 teams will be chosen for the program, which begins on May 28.

“Talent is global, and we are very impressed by the quality of engineers emerging from USC’s Viterbi School,” KPCB general partner Mike Abbott said in a statement. “The partnership with USC and UTA is an example of our intensifying efforts to identify and nurture the next generation of technology leaders wherever they are in the world, adding to our strong track record of organizing and supporting pioneering development programs to build scalable successful businesses.”

By the time the program concludes at the end of summer, Viterbi Startup Garage teams will be expected to have a working prototype or a detailed product development plan and to be prepared to meet with investors. KPCB and UTA will consider additional investment in any successful companies that come out of the program.