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New Venture Seed Competition 2018


Do you have a great idea? Do you want to launch your company? Then you should participate in the New Venture Seed Competition.



New ventures can be from any industry. Entering teams must have at least one of the following:

  • Current USC student (graduate or undergraduate),
  • Current USC faculty member or staff
  • USC alum less than 5 years from graduation.

Please note, prior NVSC winners are not eligible to compete.



Significant cash prizes will be awarded to the top 6 teams: First Place: $30,000, Second Place: $15,000, Third Place: $10,000, Fourth Place: $10,000. Fifth Place: $5,000. Six Place: $5,000.

This year will be an award for a social enterprise team. The Marcil Prize in Social Innovation will award $ 10,000 to the team(s) that have the ability to make the greatest social impact with a for-profit or non-profit idea.



  1. Apply to the New Venture Seed Competition by submitting a completed application packet (using the application form), Applications must be completed no later than 11:59 PM PDT February 9, 2018. Teams may make changes to/resubmit the application until the deadline. The form can be found at nvsc2018.startupcompete.co.
  2. Two information sessions will be scheduled on January 31 from noon to 1 pm in JFF 414 and another on February 7 from 6 to 7 in HOH Edison. The information session will include details on the semi-finals and provide additional materials for teams in the competition.
  3. Mandatory Training. All teams that submit an application and are approved to move onto the semi-finals will be required to send at least one member of their team to a mandatory training on February 20. Failure to attend this session will automatically disqualify a team.
  4. Quarter-finals. All eligible applicants will compete in a preliminary judging round on February 28. Finalists will be chosen following this round and will be notified no later than March 2.
  5. Coaching sessions. Finalists will be required to work with the Greif Center to perform customer discovery. These meetings will be held on six Saturdays in March and April. These teams will be mentored and be provided resources in order to hone their business idea so that they are prepared for the finals. At least one member from each team must attend these meetings which are scheduled for March 3, March 10, March 24, April 7 and April 14. These dates are subject to change to accommodate schedules. Failure to attend these sessions will automatically disqualify a team.
  6. Semi-Finals. Eligible teams will compete on April 14 at 9 am for a spot in the NVSC finals.
  7. The New Venture Seed Competition finals will be held on April 18 at 6 pm. in RTCC Ballroom. This will take place during Professor David Belasco's The Leap class.
  8. New Venture Seed Competition Awards. Winners will be announced at the Marsha Israel Awards Dinner on April 26 hosted by the Greif Center. To be eligible to win, all finalists must have at least one member in attendance.
  9. Resources. For teams that need help honing their idea prior to the submission date, you may use the Blackstone LaunchPad USC program. This program provides students and alumni free and confidential mentorship for individuals or startups at any stage and industry. Their venture coaches are a diverse group of faculty, staff, alumni and students that have extensive experience with creating, growing and/or scaling startup ventures. Their diverse and unique skills vary and there are over 100 mentors on the platform. Best of all, this resource is free simply by  going to their platform



  1. The pitch must be for a new and independent venture in the seed, start-up, or early-growth stages. Plans that include proposals for buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, spin-outs from existing corporations, and other consulting projects or analyses are not eligible. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been commercialized previously. The business may assume a technology or product/service that has been licensed from another company, private inventor, or university with their written approval. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
  2. Previous efforts to establish the business or participating in business-like activities which include, but are not limited to the following: attempts to raise capital, developing and presenting the business plan to potential investors, and conducting substantial market research outside of the 2017-2018 academic year will be disqualified.
  3. The business should not have received more than $100,000 in equity-related capital (such as seed capital or institutional funding), or generated more than $10,000 in gross revenue prior to the current academic year. Revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be excluded from this provision.
  4. The pitch must represent the original work of each contestant. Each submission indicates that the pitch is the original work of the author(s). Any team submitting a plagiarized submission will be disqualified. The author(s) will retain all rights to the submission regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition, except as stated elsewhere in these rules.
  5. The pitch may not contain fabricated information about (but not limited to) the following: backgrounds, experience and educational levels of members of the management team, stage of product development, product performance claims, or market survey results.



  1. Due to the nature of the Competition, no one involved (judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience) will be subject to confidentiality. By participating in the Competition, competitors agree that USC, nor members of the judging panels; sponsors, nor their designate organizations; assume any liability for any disclosures of business plan information which may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member, or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the competition.
  2. By participating in the Competition, competitors acknowledge and agree to filming, recording, and public posting of the Competition agree to allow USC, and organizations designated by them, the unlimited right to videotape, photograph, audiotape, transcribe, or otherwise record all public sessions of the competition; including, but not limited to, oral presentations and question-and-answer sessions. Competitors also agree that USC and/or their designate organizations may use any such transcriptions and/or recording(s) (in whole or part) for such publicity and marketing purposes as their organizations may see fit, including those which may result in remuneration.
  3. The final round of the Competition is open to the public. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by competitors should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm (including print or broadcast through media, including the Internet), and competitors should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions. Neither USC, judges, sponsors, nor their designate organizations, assume any duty to screen or otherwise control the identity of those attending, viewing or hearing all or part of these public sessions. Competitors agree that, by entering the Competition, they have been made aware that such attendees, viewers and recipients may include members of the media and potential competitors in addition to members of the business, education, and financial communities, students, and faculty.
  4. Not every circumstance can be anticipated. USC  and participating institutions reserve the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations, or the spirit of the Competition.
  5. The Competition is presented by USC. USC is not liable for the contest, rules, prizes, events, or any decisions made by the judges or as part of the competition

By submitting an application to compete, participants hereby agree to all rules and requirements.



Professor Albert Napoli: anapoli@marshall.usc.edu