USC Viterbi is pleased to announce the 2018 Synchrotron Program, an 8-week evening workshop series hosted by the Viterbi Startup Garage accelerator in Marina Del Rey.

Synchrotron is designed to help early-stage technology startups address critical strategic, legal, people, finance and fundraising issues on the path to launch. The program will be led by Rob Schoeben, a former Apple executive and successful entrepreneur. Participants will be supported by business mentors, LA-based angels, VCs, lawyers and other service providers in a highly interactive workshop format. Participating teams will be eligible for residence in the Viterbi Startup Garage at the end of the program and will be considered for investment by the Viterbi Venture Fund.

What is it?

  • 8-week evening workshops starting on March 21, 2018, ending on May 9, 2018
  • Meets Wednesdays 6-8:30 pm at Viterbi Startup Garage in Marina del Rey
  • Includes light dinner

Why participate?

Selected teams are automatically considered for:

  • Viterbi Startup Garage residency program
  • Viterbi Venture Fund
  • $25,000 awards from IN-LA for customer discovery

Am I eligible?

  • Early stage technology teams (up to 3 team members may participate)
  • USC Affiliation or I-Corps affiliation preferred


  • Strategy: Learn how to use customer discovery, the lean startup method and strategic partnerships to find your optimal path to your beachhead market.
  • Legal: Get advice from the experts on managing corporate and intellectual property issues. Discover ways to avoid expensive (and potentially devastating) problems down the road.
  • People: Your long-term success relies on your ability to build the right team and culture. Learn how to hire and compensate employees, tap into the expertise of advisors/mentors, and keep key stakeholders in the loop.
  • Operations: As a fiscally responsible steward of your business, you’ll need to know what key metrics to track, how to manage cash flow, and what it takes to demonstrate “traction” and so much more.
  • Fundraising: When it comes to securing money to finance your venture, knowledge is power. Understand your options for raising capital, how much to raise and when, the mechanics of cap tables and term sheets, and the overall LA venture landscape.
  • Storytelling: The entrepreneur CEO is the Chief Storyteller, constantly needing to persuade others to follow his/her vision. Learn about story structure, the most important elements of a compelling story, and proven tips from the pros.
  • Pitch Prep: Roll up your sleeves and polish your pitch at this hands-on workshop. Get real-time feedback from other entrepreneurs, friendly VCs and other experienced presenters.
  • Final Pitches: Present your startup to a panel of early stage investors, field their questions, and get constructive feedback. The session will conclude with an panel discussion about how to excel in the fundraising process.


Rob Schoeben is currently a strategic advisor and mentor to tech startups and social entrepreneurs. He most recently held the dual role of Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Strategy Officer for a disruptive 3D printing startup, Carbon. In addition to guiding corporate strategy, he oversaw product management, marketing, business development and sales. Previously, Rob was VP of Worldwide Product Marketing for Apple, where he supported product development and marketing for applications including Aperture, Final Cut Studio, iLife, iWork, Logic Studio and Apple’s Internet service MobileMe (now iCloud). Before his time at Apple, Rob spent eight years with Microsoft, most recently as GM of the TV services division. Prior to Microsoft, he was a Senior Vice President at Ogilvy & Mather. He is also a cofounder of CASSY, a nonprofit agency that partners with local schools to support students’ social and emotional wellbeing. Rob holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Duke University.

Customer discovery

If you have not done so previously, you must conduct 20 customer interviews during this program.

New to customer discovery?  Sign up for customer discovery education programs with Innovation Node – Los Angeles.

Key Dates

Applications Open
Application Due Date
Acceptance Notifications
First Session
Pitch Night


Contact Us

Are you interested in joining the Synchotron program as a mentor? Email us at!