The Venture Accelerator at the UCLA Anderson School of Management announced its summer 2022 Activate cohort, which includes startup companies in a variety of industries including technology, health care and banking.
The Westwood-based accelerator runs four programs per year. The Activate program is a two-month summer incubator that supports founders at the idea stage or prototype stage of their entrepreneurial journey.
The goal is to help first-time founders validate problem solutions, determine customer segments and competition and test how their product will fit in the overall market.
The 2022 summer cohort consists of 40 companies, which was narrowed down from a field of 350 applicants.
Companies founded by traditionally underrepresented groups make up 63% of the cohort, while women-founded companies make up 51%.
“Diversity is definitely important to us and to Anderson,” said Trish Halamandaris, director of the accelerator. “In the U.S., about 2.5% of the venture funding has gone to minorities, be it females or people of color, and we definitely believe that it is our opportunity and responsibility to provide access to people who are credible and capable.”
The goal of the summer program is to achieve product-market fit.
“Is there a market opportunity? If so, how big is [it]? Who are the competitors? What is their value proposition and is it a true differentiator? Why is now the time to create this solution,” Halamandaris said of questions asked during the program.
Upon completion, founders develop a viable product and will be eligible to apply to a six-month Accelerate program, which runs from January to June.
The goal is to boost the companies from pre-seed to the seed stage of funding and, in some instances, Series A.
Next is the two-month Showcase program running from September through October where founders are taught how to do fast pitches.
The program also connects founders with investors and hosts an advisory program designed to set up entrepreneurs with mentors for ongoing advising.
The UCLA Anderson’s Venture Accelerator is located at the Rosenfeld Library at UCLA. One of the participants, Shelkie Tao, founded San Jose-based Water Efficient Gardens, an online landscape company focused on sustainable gardens.
As part of the summer program, Tao and other business owners have been able to learn from entrepreneurs from across several sectors including UCLA entrepreneur-in-residence Rob Kurtz, TikTok influencer and business owner Kendall Tichner, and Brooke Levin, an investment associate at Nextwave X Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm.