SoCal Startup Mill Launches with Los Angeles Venture Association, 10 Research Partners

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Program matches high-potential university startups with experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders

The Los Angeles Venture Association (LAVA) is partnering with 10 universities and innovation research centers to launch the SoCal Startup Mill, a new initiative to boost high-potential technologies by linking them with experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders.

The participating universities and research centers include Arizona State University, California State University Los Angeles, Caltech, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles BioMed, University of California Irvine, University of California Los Angeles, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Southern California and University of Hawai’i.

“Faculty and innovators at major research institutions produce some of the most cutting-edge solutions to major societal challenges, but even the best ideas need more than funding to succeed,” said Len Lanzi, LAVA’s executive director. “The SoCal Startup Mill will match high-potential startups with experienced entrepreneurs who understand the pitfalls young companies face – and the means to overcome them.”

The SoCal Startup Mill launches with five confirmed mentors in place, with plans to grow to 25 mentors and 12 participating companies within two years.

The first opportunity for potential mentors to evaluate university startups took place in June at First Look LA, a 250-attendee investor showcase hosted by LAVA. Presenters attended from each of the partnering SoCal Startup Mill universities. Experienced entrepreneurs interested in becoming SoCal Startup Mill mentors also attended.

The Startup Mill program itself is based on a successful model pioneered in Arizona by ASU’s technology transfer arm, AzTE. ASU has launched more than 100 faculty startups, and the most successful have had three pieces in place:
1.    High-potential, well-protected intellectual property.
2.    An accomplished and visionary management team.
3.    Successful fundraising, which is usually only possible when the first two pieces already exist.

“Many startup founders believe they just need money to succeed,” said Charlie Lewis, AzTE’s senior vice president of venture development. “The truth is that experienced management is just as – if not more – important, and the Startup Mill helps make that connection possible.”

The ASU California Center in Santa Monica will serve as the home base for the SoCal Startup Mill, a hosting area for startup co-working activities, and a physical hub for Startup Mill Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs).

LAVA kicks-off the SoCal Startup Mill on Thursday evening, October 5, 2017 at the ASU California Center in Santa Monica.

About LAVA
Since 1985 the Los Angeles Venture Association has been providing forums where entrepreneurs and executives of start-up, emerging growth and late stage venture funded companies actively meet and learn from fellow executives, investors, bankers, financial advisors and other providers of professional services. Our extensive slate of monthly Strategic Interest Group meetings and panel discussions feature exceptional presentations by prominent members of our investment, entrepreneurial, business and academic communities. Our annual Meet the VC conference, First Look LA and the LAVA Awards Dinner are our region's premiere forums on investment capital. We also co-produce events with many of our affiliated organizations. Visit us at:

About Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE)
AzTE is an Arizona limited liability company that operates as the exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization for ASU and its research enterprise. Comprising industry and university veterans, AzTE brings together ASU's researchers and industry partners to transform discoveries into marketable products and services, taking innovation out of the lab and into the commercial marketplace. More than 100 companies have been launched based on ASU technologies. AzTE currently offers for licensing more than 300 novel technologies in the life and physical sciences. For more information:

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Leonard Lanzi

Leonard Lanzi
since: 10/2012
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