Social media influencers are increasingly appearing in digital advertising on YouTube, Twitch, TikTok and other online platforms as businesses look for new ways to reach an increasingly fragmented audience. However, brands using these influencers have difficulty getting real-time analytics on the effectiveness of their specific advertising campaigns. Influencers now often collect their own data and share it with brands, which takes time. Additionally, influencers have been known to occasionally use Photoshop to fake numbers in order to appear more popular than they actually are.
Advertising agencies face similar problems. Like brands, they too have difficulty gathering demographic, gender, and other data about who viewed posts made by the influencers they represent. Again, agencies often have to rely on data analytics provided by influencers. Sometimes it’s just a mobile phone screenshot of a like or share.
By using social influencers, members of startup Pickle believe they have found a solution to this and several other problems brands and agencies experience. Pickle has developed software that automatically analyzes important data such as user location, gender and age breakdown. Additionally, Pickle offers an online platform that allows negotiations between influencers, brands and agencies to take place on their platform instead of email.
“We created software that automates a lot of the time-consuming steps and provides more accurate and transparent data in the process,” says Nick Hensel, Co-Founder and Advanced Economics Major at Pickle. says Mr.
On Friday, April 28, the vision was great enough for Pickle to win USC Viterbi’s best business model competition, the 13th Annual Massey Entrepreneurship Awards Competition (MEPC). The team member also took home his $50,000 grand prize, which Pickle plans to use to hire software engineers to accelerate the development of its next generation software.
“The value of the MEPC is that it provides an opportunity for students to learn how companies operate in the real world and prepare them for the next step in their entrepreneurial journey,” said Hensel. Pickle added that it also won the 2022 New Venture Seed competition, another prominent USC business model competition.
This year’s MEPC will open in December 2022 with 64 teams applying and 18 teams selected for the competition. Each group received a $250 grant from USC Viterbi’s Office of Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship for customer discovery, including conference attendance and transportation.
The field was narrowed down to seven finalists on April 6th. Each team competed for $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in free legal and business services provided by DLA Piper. $20,000 for the MEPC champion, $15,000 for second, $10,000 for third, and $5,000 for fourth. .
“MEPC is USC Viterbi’s premier business model competition,” said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos.
Ralph Lin, Managing Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department, added: “The Massey Entrepreneurship Awards competition plays an important role in the innovation ecosystem at USC. , develop the skills essential to creating and financing a business, and, perhaps most importantly, learn from our customers how to build products that address today’s toughest problems.”
MEPC was founded in 2010 thanks to a $1 million endowment from entrepreneur Faliborz Massy, who was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is a renowned expert in the field of micro-electromechanical systems. . To bring even more business education to the competition, USC Viterbi has partnered with the Lloyd Grief Entrepreneurship Research Center at USC Marshall Business School.
The 2023 MEPC winners are:
2nd place: Kenko: Dedicated to transforming the physical therapy industry, Kenko’s SaaS platform connects physical therapists and patients to create a more seamless and engaging experience that ultimately improves adherence and outcomes.
3rd place: OSEM has developed a 3D nanotechnology that can easily and quickly create tiny particles called nanodrugs to deliver drugs to specific parts of the body. This allows for better treatment with fewer side effects compared to conventional treatments.
4th: Thumbo: Audience engagement software for sports teams and venues, Thumbo syncs mobile phones directly to video boards during game breaks, allowing all attendees to participate in event-wide contests such as trivia and cheerleading. Collect a ton of fan data by allowing them to participate. .
Other finalists include:
Novamite: A data analytics solution designed for remote sensing applications. Its cutting-edge technology harnesses the power of graph signal processing to seamlessly combine and enhance imagery from multiple satellite and terrain sources to unlock unparalleled insights and help customers make informed decisions. help you do it.
Roman Aerospace: Manufacturer of machine vision software that enables drones to fly safely and autonomously through any complex airspace.
eye: An easy-to-access retinal scanning kiosk combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning analytics software to deliver fast, safe, non-invasive eye scans that enable early detection of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease is a health checkup platform for consumers. , kidney disease, and certain cancers.
Over the past five months, USC Viterbi’s student-led MEPC team worked with mentors who provided guidance and advice to perfect their business model. Team members also participated in sessions on topics such as customer discovery, intellectual property, and pitching to investors. The workshop curriculum is based on the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (“I-Corps”) program, which emphasizes the “Lean Startup Model”.
The session was led by MEPC Principal Instructor Dennis McKenzie. He’s Dave Eastman, Director of Viterbi Startup Garage and he’s a MEPC Instructor. Lecturer Hovig Charian is Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Grief Entrepreneurship Center at USC Marshall University.
Last year’s MEPC workshop was forced to be held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year’s sessions were all held face-to-face, which was a huge benefit to attendees, Mackenzie said. said Mr. “This year has been very dynamic,” she said. “We really got involved with the team, and I think the students got a lot more out of it.”
Eastman said he was most impressed by the team’s constant commitment to improving ideas.
“Almost all companies have narrowed down their target customer profile, and many have pivoted to different customer segments or different product offerings to meet new customer needs,” said investment banks, private equity and ventures. Eastman, who has worked at Capital, said. his career.
Chalian said the diverse backgrounds of MEPC participants, instructors and mentors enriched the competition. “MEPC provides a rare opportunity for teams from different disciplines to come together, collaborate and learn from each other,” he said.
MEPC participants said that they learned the basics of company formation from this competition.
“From defining our business canvas model to honing our presentation skills, we’ve learned a lot. It’s a must-have skill that every entrepreneur needs to master,” said Novamite founder and Ph.D. says Joanna Garcia Cardona. She is a student at the University of Southern California Viterbi. “Thanks to the guidance and tools we received, we are well-equipped to continue our entrepreneurial endeavors.”
James Crohan, technical director at Roman Aerospace and a University of Southern California Viterbi Ph.D. He said he gained valuable insight through “Our products have applications in logistics, intelligence gathering and a wide range of military applications,” he said. “MEPC helped determine the unique requirements, costs and terms of trade for each of these sectors.”
Over the past decade, MEPC has launched several promising companies. Last year’s champions, Playbook, won for their vision to simplify augmented and virtual reality development. The 2021 MEPC winner, WaterShield, is made of a silicone-based polymer that adheres to the skin without any chemical irritants to provide a more comfortable and infection-free shower experience for cancer patients. , developed a water barrier inspired by living things.
2020 MEPC winner GrayMatter Robotics uses AI to create smart, rapidly deployable robotic assistants to automate high-mix manufacturing tasks, improve the quality of life of industrial workers, and improve productivity. improve. 2019 winner AIRBOND, now called Apogee Composites, designs cheaper and more efficient ways to manufacture carbon fiber composites for the aviation and other industries.
2016 runner-up AesculaTech develops and manufactures a platform of temperature-responsive smart materials for use in medical devices such as dry eye treatment. After MEPC, AesculaTech received an invitation from Y Combinator, his incubator for a well-known Bay Area business.
2013 winner Second Spectrum analyzes big data for insights into sports performance, including what constitutes superior defense and offense in basketball. NBA teams are now receiving Second Spectrum optical tracking data that powers next-generation analytics.
Veronica Falzone, Thumbo co-founder and USC MBA student, said she and her teammates are thrilled to be joining MEPC.
“Being part of a community of entrepreneurial instructors, executives, venture capitalists, and like-minded founders has given us a lot,” she said.
Published May 9, 2023
Last updated: May 17, 2023