UCLA Venture Capital Fund Selects KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals CEO Keith Leonard for First Annual Entrepreneurial Achievement Award

Other honorees include SmartestK12 as “Most Promising Startup Company,” Chair Emeritus of the UCLA VC Fund Josh Green, and the inaugural UCLA VC Fund Summer Fellows.

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Silicon Valley, CA (PRWEB) November 12, 2013

The UCLA Venture Capital Fund announced today that Keith Leonard, president and CEO of KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:KYTH), has been presented with the 2013 UCLA Venture Capital Fund Entrepreneurial Achievement Award for his outstanding success as a UCLA-affiliated entrepreneur. The award was presented to Keith Leonard by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UCLA Venture Capital Fund Executive Chair Michael Silton during the Fund’s annual dinner held on November 6, 2013.

The mission of the UCLA VC Fund is to support and promote entrepreneurship at UCLA. The VC Fund mentors faculty and students, fosters the growth of UCLA companies, and connects entrepreneurs and venture capitalists with an interest in UCLA.

“UCLA is at the strongest point in its 94 year history. It is rich with intellectual prowess from its professors, possesses strong roots in entrepreneurial achievement with its alumni and greater community, and is educating the best and the brightest in its history,” said Josh Green, who received a Recognition Award for his past service as Chair of the VC Fund. “And the best part is all these forces are joining together to mentor and build a powerful entrepreneurial community committed to helping each other succeed.”

UCLA Venture Capital Fund Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
“We are so pleased to name Keith as our winner because he epitomizes what it means to be an outstanding entrepreneur and an outstanding member of the UCLA community,” said Silton. “He has successfully nurtured technology first created at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and worked closely with the UCLA faculty in continued research, even locating a company research lab in UCLA’s California Nano Systems Institute. He has created fantastic returns for early investors. In addition, he has mentored several UCLA students, both undergraduates and graduates, through internships. We were lucky enough to invest in KYTHERA in 2006 and Keith has reciprocated with investments into the UCLA VC Fund that will continue to move the mission of the Fund forward.”

KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel prescription products for the aesthetic medicine market. Leonard co-founded the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company after a successful career at Amgen that culminated with him leading Amgen’s business in Europe. He received both his B.S. and his M.B.A. degrees from UCLA.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award and for the opportunity to contribute to the development of UCLA entrepreneurship. UCLA is an intellectually vibrant place, where ideas are currency. I felt this not only during my formative time at UCLA but still now, when I visit our labs on campus or meet with aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Leonard. “Fostering entrepreneurship is central to solving many of the business and social problems we face today, and I’m very pleased to be part of a fund that helps connect bright UCLA minds with invaluable resources, funds and guidance.”

SmartestK12 -- Most Promising Startup Company
During the annual awards dinner, SmartestK12 was named the “Most Promising UCLA Startup Company.” The UCLA startup was co-founded by UCLA Anderson School of Management classmates and M.B.A. candidates Craig Jones and Kevin McFarland, in connection with the Startup UCLA accelerator program where they first caught the attention of UCLA VC Fund members. SmartestK12.com develops software that transforms classroom interactions to better understand the educational needs of each student. Based on an analysis of students’ work, SmartestK12 will direct students to free online resources such as the Khan Academy to strengthen their academic needs. Founded in 2013, SmartestK12 is approved to pilot with four Los Angeles district schools in January 2014. Nearly 100 teachers have privately tested the program to date.

“Craig and Kevin have demonstrated dedication and passion to moving their business further,” said Silton. “We want to invest in a market that has a need and is growing, plus has a passionate and accomplished team that can take that idea to fruition. We believe we have all that and more in SmartestK12.”

UCLA VC Fund Fellows Program
Omar Hilmy, a UCLA undergraduate for the class of 2014 double majoring in International Development Studies and Middle East African Studies, and Timothy Yu, a UCLA undergraduate student for the class of 2015 majoring in Cognitive Science, were also both honored as the first UCLA VC Fund Fellows. After a competitive application process, Omar and Tim were selected and participated in a paid, full-time summer program at their host companies –BitTorrent and NeuroSky, respectively, both based in Northern California. The VC Fund provided an additional stipend to the Fellows, and members of the Fund also served as mentors to Omar and Tim to help them maximize their experience and build their business networks.

“The Fellowship Program was a tremendous success for Omar and Tim, as well as the host companies,” said Jeff Suto, UCLA VC Fund executive committee member. “The students received an unrivaled opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience with top companies while the companies were able to connect with the upcoming generation of entrepreneurs. We are confident that our investment in Omar and Tim will result in a lifelong involvement with the UCLA entrepreneurial community and the VC Fund.

Liquidity Event Recognition Awards
Finally, 10 VC Fund members who donated pre-IPO stock to the Fund and subsequently had liquidity events were recognized for their significant donations. The Fund is unique in this philanthropic model, allowing membership to donate illiquid shares of a company, in addition to the traditional models of cash and publicly traded shares of stock. This enables entrepreneurs to make donations that may become more sizeable over time, while also fostering community and networking as other members now have an even more vested interest in helping with the success of these young companies.

The honored Fund members were:

  •     Michael Howse, Bigfoot Networks
  •     Keith Leonard, KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals
  •     Treb Ryan, OpSource
  •     John C. Kohler, Redleaf Group
  •     David Arfin, SolarCity
  •     Robert Baltera, Amira Pharmaceuticals
  •     Craig Carpenter, Recommind
  •     Tim Draper, Reva
  •     James Lanzone, Clicker Media
  •     Venky Harinarayan, Kosmix

About the UCLA Venture Capital Fund
The UCLA Venture Capital Fund is a community of UCLA alumni and friends whose core purpose is to support and promote entrepreneurship at UCLA. The VC Fund mentors faculty and students, fosters the growth of UCLA companies, and connects entrepreneurs with an interest in UCLA. Members have the opportunity to advise campus entrepreneurship initiatives, raise funds for UCLA startups, and ultimately to advance UCLA as one of the top entrepreneurial universities in the nation. More information about the VC Fund and how to join it is available at http://venturecapital.ucla.edu/.


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