Victoria Brodsky (’23): How the Venture Accelerator Enhanced My Anderson Experience
Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson
A year ago, I celebrated my 27th birthday alone in my apartment. I had started the year excited to begin my new journey as a female founder of my beverage startup, DrinkLyte Co. Having just launched the company, I had ordered 6,000 units of inventory that would expire by the end of the year. However, in March, as I was preparing for a trip to Las Vegas to pitch my product to distributors, a stay-at-home order was put in place. It seemed that my brand-new venture, which would rely heavily on the events/hospitality industry, was taken away in an instant. Like many successful founders, I had to pivot, and fast.
Today, I am finishing my first year in the UCLA Anderson Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program and participating in the exclusive Winter/Spring “Accelerate” cohort at the Anderson Venture Accelerator. As I reflect on how much has changed over the last year, I feel immense gratitude for the Accelerator community and the opportunity, resources and support it has provided to help me rebuild my business. The Venture Accelerator launched its formal program in 2018 as part of the Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and it is reaching new heights every day. The many resources associated with leveraging the Los Angeles startup and business ecosystems are irreplaceable, and they perfectly augment classroom theory with real-world experience so that I can continue to scale my company, even during a global pandemic.
Since I began the program in February, I have gained a number of pro bono expert advisors and received important legal and financial advice from esteemed entrepreneurs, lawyers and investors. These resources have provided access to the knowledge and skills that I need to make sure my company can both pivot and scale profitably. The Venture Accelerator team not only put together these resources, but they also run the program. I view them as an essential part of the Anderson experience, as they have taught me how to be accountable and productive. Beyond the resources offered, the Accelerator’s advisory team has extensive private sector experience and deep networks, which have allowed me to continue to push DrinkLyte forward. Most importantly, I have gained a small yet mighty group of advocates who believe in me and fight for me, and have been there to give me whatever I need to reach my goals. This advisory team has had a tremendous impact on every founder and has successfully launched us into the L.A. startup ecosystem. To date, Venture Accelerator startups have an 85% success rate post graduation, which is unusually high for an early-stage program. I have no doubt this is due to the hands-on, 24/7 program support offered by the advisory team.
UCLA is operating virtually due to COVID-19 guidelines, and even though I have not met the team in person, I feel like I know them personally through our numerous Zoom calls. This team has created a best-in-class program that is competitive with any other university or for-profit accelerator in Los Angeles. Their dedication to me has affected me, my team and my business in the best way possible. I have encouraged other students to apply, knowing they will be supported every step of the way by these incredible people. The Venture Accelerator can help elevate the UCLA Anderson brand so that the program can be even more competitive with other top MBA programs.
This past year presented challenges to everyone, and I am confident that those challenges will be used as valuable lessons for future cohort members to make the program even stronger. Last year, I started my DrinkLyte endeavor alone and uncertain. Although I still do not know what the future holds, I do know that I am no longer on this arduous journey alone because I have the continued support of the Venture Accelerator team. Thank you, UCLA Anderson, for giving me the opportunity to better myself and for equipping me with the tools to succeed. Attending UCLA Anderson is one of the best decisions I have made.
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