10 tech start-ups, ideas coming from UCLA, USC students


In an overflowing, sweat-inducing auditorium two weeks ago, start-ups founded by UCLA students took turns at the front to explain how their app and website ideas would change the world. Across town, USC students made their own pitches last weekend.

Sports fans could connect better. Bikers wouldn’t have to deal with awkward balancing at stoplights. Communicating by voice, rather than text, could make a comeback.

The aspirations come from a UCLA program that gives start-ups led at least in part by students or recent alumni a summer stipend to polish their products, and a USC event designed to motivate students to dream ideas for a randomly selected industry in one afternoon.


What the students came up with offers a glimpse into what’s buzzing on college campuses. Hint: The dating app Tinder is popular.

Here’s some of what they pitched at Startup UCLA:

MintPak: A travel app that borrows on Tinder’s “hot or not” layout to help a person or a group of friends select a hotel. It asks users to rate promotional and social media images from several hotels and then lets the user know which one is the best match.

Enrou: Tapping into the “social good” push, this shopping website sells clothing, accessories and home goods made abroad by entrepreneurs and companies who express a consciousness about protecting worker health and the environment.

Hypun: This network of sports websites found its start with funny pictures and videos. Now, it’s branching to websites for individuals, teams and fans.

Talkly: Apple’s iOS 8 might have made this app, which sends self-destructing voice chats, obsolete by including a similar feature. Cord, a similar app, is already available.


TheDailyHunt: Building on the phenomenon of rewarding people for social media actions, this start-up tries to persuade people to post about products on social media by making them hunt for freebies hidden at specific locations.

Endvrs: A of sorts for helping entrepreneurs find students within their college networks who can be brought on as co-workers.

Over at USC Lava Lab’s Make-a-thon, some of the concepts that were pitched after six hours of thinking:

Trail Mix: A travel app that would borrow on Tinder’s “hot or not” layout to connect outdoors-loving adventurers with like-minded locals who want to show them treks off the beaten path.

Easy Stop: Taking advantage of the diminishing cost of sensors and cameras, this device for bicycles would automatically drop the kickstand when the bike comes to a stop.

Flo: Solving the pain of adjusting music volume when moving between locations with different ambient noises, this adapter to a phone’s headphone jack would have a microphone that measures surrounding noise and adjusts volume accordingly.

Feed LA: Another stab at “social good,” this app would create an online marketplace where restaurants and service organizations could link up to make use of extra food. Among the features would be making sign-up simple for restaurants by automatically pulling data from Yelp’s database.

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