The Entrepreneurial Fast TrackWriting
From idea to startup, UCLA provides support to help Bruins get their businesses off the ground.
Bruins are natural problem-solvers. They possess relentless curiosity, optimism, ingenuity and resolve, as well as a healthy skepticism of the status quo. It is no wonder that they make remarkably good entrepreneurs: When they see a need in the world, they have the perfect mindset and skills to address it.
In this issue of UCLA Magazine, we get a glimpse into the lives of several Bruin entrepreneurs and the diverse set of subjects — from West African fashion and cell therapies to stress-relieving slimes and women’s health technology — around which they built their ventures.
Startups like these are the brainchildren of inventive students, faculty and community members. But the university has a role in the equation, too, providing the structure and support that allow budding businesspeople to get their ideas off the ground. Over the past few decades, programs such as the Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson, Bruin Entrepreneurs, Startup UCLA, the California NanoSystems Institute’s Magnify Incubator, the UCLA Technology Development Group and the alumni-backed UCLA Ventures have spurred the creation of hundreds of Bruin businesses and helped generate billions of dollars in external funding.
While I am awed by the impact of this ecosystem on our society and economy, my interest in entrepreneurship is also deeply personal. Earlier in my academic career, after watching a frightening television segment on sudden infant death syndrome, I worked with a faculty colleague to create and patent a respiratory monitor that used the static charge on an infant’s chest to measure breathing movements, alerting parents when breathing ceased for a prolonged period. From that experience, I learned much about navigating the complex regulatory environment surrounding home medical monitoring. It gave me deep respect for faculty who are able to successfully bring their medical inventions to market.
Though a successful business may be the end goal for many founders, simply going through the process of building a product or service is worthwhile in its own right. It not only promotes creativity, critical thinking and personal empowerment, but it also fosters a healthy relationship with failure — as anyone who has constructed multiple prototypes knows. The entrepreneur must live by Samuel Beckett’s famous credo: “Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
As you read this Summer 2023 issue of the magazine, I hope you will join me in celebrating both the groundbreaking startups that emerge from UCLA and the systems our university has put in place to support business creation. Just as importantly, we celebrate the transformative journey on which every entrepreneur embarks. Whether a nascent venture becomes a full-fledged company or remains a learning experience, I can think of few better avenues for shaping one’s skills, abilities and competencies.