Kleiner Perkins Heads To LA; Partners With USC And United Talent Agency For New Startup Accelerator

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is creating a new presence in L.A., announcing a partnership today with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering and United Talent Agency (UTA) to create a startup accelerator.

Called the Viterbi Startup Garage, the early-stage accelerator will provide financial and other strategic resources to a select group of USC student and alumni entrepreneurs. The accelerator will provide financial grants (which is different from the investment model), guidance and mentorship for 12 weeks to about 10 companies that will work out of the Viterbi Startup Garage facility in Marine Del Ray, Calif. The program begins at the end of May.

USC undergraduate and graduate students, as well as USC alumni who graduated within the last five years, are eligible to apply to the Viterbi Startup Garage, with the requirement that at least one member of the founding team is an enrolled student in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering or a USC Viterbi alumnus.

The goal of the program is not only to foster new ideas in technology at the student level, but also to keep engineers and startups in the L.A. region.

The partnership is interesting on a number of fronts. First, it validates the fact that compelling startups are coming out of the L.A. tech scene. And one of the things that will help continue this growth is more VC dollars and interest coming to the region.

It’s also good for the startup ecosystem to help students find capital to get their ideas off the ground during the early stage. We’re seeing more and more VC firms engage students through accelerators, fellowship programs and even student-run VC firms. By engaging students, VCs can find interesting ideas that could be the next Facebook or Google and keep an eye on promising talent.