Meet The UCLA Venture Accelerator’s 2022 Cohort

The 2022 cohort of the UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator

By 2027, the global protein bar industry is expected to grow by more than two billion dollars. The bars, which contain anywhere from a few grams of protein to more than 20, typically come in a variation of a dessert item, such as chocolate, peanut butter, or cookie dough, or in a berry flavor, such as blueberry.

Alan Spindel, a recent graduate of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, thinks the limited flavors are boring. So he’s on a mission to change that by bringing authentic Mexican flavors to the market. At the beginning of March he plans to launch plant-based protein bars that come in the flavors of hibiscus, passion fruit, and coconut guava.

Originally from Mexico, Spindel was driven by a desire to show that Mexican food can be healthy and that there’s more than just burritos and tacos. Thus, Vamos Foods, a healthy snack company that makes Mexican inspired foods was born.


Trish Halamandaris, director of the UCLA Venture Accelerator

To help bring his product to market, Spindel will work with the Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson, a six-month immersive and extensive program designed to help startup founders scale their business. He and 11 other diverse entrepreneurs were just accepted into the program’s 2022 cohort.

Diversity is a calling card of the program, and something UCLA Anderson prides itself on. But this year the demographics of the 2022 Accelerator cohort are far more diverse than even UCLA Anderson itself. Within the UCLA Anderson class of 2023, 32% of students are minorities and 42% are women; in comparison, in this year’s Venture Accelerator cohort, 70% are minorities and 50% are women. Additionally, several participants are community members that aren’t affiliated with UCLA Anderson at all.

“We are in the venture capital and startup ecosystem that has been traditionally male and Caucasian. Hopefully by helping this next generation and these founders be successful we shed light on that and create equal access,” Trish Halamandaris, a 1992 graduate of UCLA and the director of Venture Accelerator, says.

“It’s about giving back and really elevating and helping the next generation,” Halamandaris says. “It’s just a massive intrinsic reward. And then when the companies do well on top of that, it’s a real win.”


The Venture Accelerator was started in 2018. Since then they have supported more than 165 companies, which, combined, have raised more than $150 million in venture capital. The success rate of the accelerator is 85%, which is much higher than the average success rate of a startup, Halamandaris says. A company is considered successful if they sell their technology, get funded by angels or an early stage venture capitalist, participate in an equity investing accelerator, or launch and continue operating purely off of profits.

Halamandaris attributes the success of the program to its immersive nature, access to the whole UCLA network, and that they are industry-agnostic — they work with companies across industries.

This year’s cohort includes companies in real estate, food, clothing, finance, and more.
Alan Spindel says, “I’m really looking forward to working with a mentor that is going to be in charge of my team and project to really be able to define the optimal sales go-to-market strategy for the company.”

After doing a full time MBA, Spindel graduated in June of 2021. Between high school and his time in the MBA he says there was an explosion of Mexican flavors and products in grocery stores, but that he could never find a healthy product that reminded him of home.

“I saw a huge mismatch in a lack of not only Mexican flavors but of Latino flavors in the good-for-you space,” he says.

Now, there’s Vamos Foods.


Participants don’t have to be recent alumni to participate in the program.

Liliana Reasor is a 1996 Anderson alumna. Since graduating she has worked in finance, before recently starting SupraFin, “the first smart platform to help people invest in cryptocurrencies,” she says. In the last few months they’ve launched two apps, one for the iPhone and another for Androids.

“Having worked in finance, I know the future of finance is fintech really,” she says.

Fintech is an emerging sector that combines technology and finance. The purpose of Reasor’s company is to help consumers enter the complex cryptocurrency world with automated processes. It also helps people with small amounts of investments to invest in a smarter way, she says.

“Instead of using my know-how to continue working for large financial institutions, I figure my capabilities could be better utilized by creating a company that caters to consumers, and gives them the chance to use this analytics,” she says.

“It was perfect timing for us to leverage an accelerator that focuses on companies that have launched, but are just really getting ready,” she says. Reasor is looking forward to the connections and mentorship from the program, to help with customer service, retention, and engagement.


Ksenia Yudina

This year’s cohort also includes several community members, such as Reitium, a company that democratizes real estate investing and allows anyone to invest with just $100. Wild Captives is another community organization that is offering products and courses to people to make them more in touch with their surroundings.

For Ksenia Yudina, a 2018 Accelerator participant and 2014 graduate of UCLA Anderson, the accelerator program was transformational.

“I’m definitely very grateful for that experience,” she says.

After graduating from UCLA she worked in private wealth for a corporation, where she realized the number one thing clients wanted to save and invest in was their children. To make it easier for parents, Yudina created UNest, an app that helps people invest in their childrens’ education.

She was interested in the Accelerator because she wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and how venture capital works, which she says she wasn’t exposed to while she was earning her MBA.

“The accelerator just gives a very unique opportunity to get exposed to a lot of bright people and a lot of bright talent in a very short period of time,” she says. “The network is pretty incredible.”

The accelerator helped her with everything from fundraising to product development to marketing. Through participating in the accelerator she gained two investors in the seed round of investing, a fintech advisor, and even met the person that she would hire to be the president of her company.

“It’s all built on connections and relationships. You just never know where it can go,” she says.

See the next page for a list of the UCLA Venture Accelerator companies in 2022.

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