Taj Ahmad Eldridge serves as the Director for the ExCITE Riverside Incubator + Accelerator under the Office of Technology Partnerships (OTP) at the University of California at Riverside in Riverside, California. ExCITE is a collaboration between the County and City of Riverside and the University of California Riverside.
Eldridge spearheads a division geared towards facilitating the successful growth of startup companies engaged in entrepreneurial research and development of advanced technologies with the intent to create high tech jobs in the county of Riverside, California.
After high school, Eldridge graduated from Texas A&M University, majoring in Literature and Poetry in 1997 and served as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Eldridge moved to Las Vegas, Nevada as a banker with Wells Fargo (formerly First Interstate Bank), before relocating to Los Angeles, California a year later.
Banking and Investments
Eldridge began his career in the late 1990’s as a Corporate Banker for tech companies & others businesses with Wells Fargo US Corporate Banking Division. Eldridge completed his Master of Business Administration from the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and studied abroad in Santiago, Chile at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez.
in 2006, Eldridge moved towards the Asset Management industry as an Investment Manager with UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) in Beverly Hills, California, working with startup founders, ultra high net worth individuals, and other high profile clients. During this time, Eldridge began his Ph.D. studies in Geopolitical Economics from the School of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.
In the late 2000's, Eldridge served as Chief Economist of TRW Investments, an alternative investment firm based in Los Angeles, California. Eldridge served as a Judge for the UCLA.+Knapp Venture Capital Competition, the Big Ideas Berkeley Competition, and the California Dreamin’ startup competition at Chapman University’s Launch Labs. During his tenure at Launch Labs as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Eldridge was an advisor to Voter, a Chapman University startup founded by Hunter Scarborough that was recently acquired by Brigade.
Chief Operating Officer at WBA
In 2013, Eldridge partnered with famed fashion designer Waraire Boswell to create an online delivery fashion brand called WBA with products made in the United States and worn by celebrities such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Oliver Stone,Ryan Gosling, and Lawrence Kasdan. Waraire Boswell was recently tapped to bring a new hip redesign to the entire uniforms of McDonald's, providing a modern look to match the designer's style.
Eldridge served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the brand from 2013-2015, helping the apparel company transition from custom apparel to online sales and in select high profile stores in the United States and in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.
Chief Executive Officer at ILTG Media
After leaving WBA, Eldridge was an equity partner and interim CEO startup of ILTG Media, with properties such as ilikethisgrape.com, partnering with some of the largest wine producers in Napa and Sonoma.
ILTG Media, co-founded by Naushad Huda, created media and content to expand the focus of the consumption of wine by pairing the product with movies, music, and film. ILTG worked with various winemakers to begin branding personalities in the wine industry, working with a number of entertainment agencies to create platforms make winemakers the new celebrity chefs.
Director at ExCITE
ExCITE, founded over 2 years ago as the Center for Innovation Technology & Entrepreneurship, focuses on accelerating new startups by providing a location for the growing advanced tech startup community, mentorship by successful entrepreneurs and venture partners who have been down the same path, and creating access to financial resources, partnerships, and information to help entrepreneurs succeed. ExCITE is unique in the University Accelerator startup space because of the direct collaboration with both the City of Riverside and the County of Riverside. Startups that have been residents at ExCITE include Sutro, founded by University of California Riverside graduate Ravi Kurani and Zyante, with products such as Zybooks, founded by University of California Riverside faculty Dr. Frank Vahid.
In addition to working with the strong local community resources and partners in Riverside, Eldridge assembled national partnerships in legal services, IP, accounting, banking, and creative services to help streamline startups in the region, modeled after the QB3 program at the University of California San Francisco. Eldridge recently partnered withBoulder, Colorado-based SendGrid founded by University of California Riverside graduates Tim Jenkins, Isaac Saldana, Jose Lopez. The partnership with SendGrid allows the company’s highly successful SendGrid Accelerate program to be available for ExCITE resident startups. Eldridge also recently created a strategic partnership with Stripe's new legal offering Atlas and is currently negotiating with a large auto service provide to allow for entrepreneurs at UC Riverside to have access to travel to ExCITE.
ExCITE, and the newly created Highlander Venture Fund, will help startups from the university thrive as well as help Riverside become an emerging innovation center to attract research-based startups in the areas of biotech, agtech, logistic tech, energy, and enterprise IT.