• Many new to Charlottesville are surprised to discover the abundance of entrepreneurial activity taking place. Companies such as Lending Tree and Reddit took their first breaths in Charlottesville and were founded by UVA alumni. Over the past fifteen years, the University of Virginia and the surrounding region have coalesced around a unique entrepreneurial experience which rivals the nation’s most prominent entrepreneurial hubs.

    Darden: A Top Entrepreneurship Program

    In 2000, the late Frank Batten Sr., UVA alumnus and co-founder of The Weather Channel, gave Darden a transformative philanthropic gift, and in the years since, Darden has built one of the world’s top entrepreneurship programs, ranked top 10 for the past four years and #5 in 2014 by The Princeton Review. Throughout this time, Darden and other University leaders have built a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem which spans the University and local community and serves as a major entrepreneurial force in the nation and the world.

    Innovation Laboratory (i.Lab)

    A recent example of Darden’s cross-Grounds and ecosystem-building ethos is the i.Lab at UVA, located on Darden Grounds. Expanded in 2013 thanks to the generosity of W.L. Lyons Brown III (MBA ’87) and other Darden alumni, the i.Lab is a collaborative effort of all 11 schools of the University and is the home to the i.Lab business incubator, the place to be for early stage start-ups. Under the guidance of talented mentors, and in the company of like-minded entrepreneurs, incubator participants thrive and receive the support they need to get to their business to the next level. Learn more about i.Lab and other incubator partnerships.

    Access to Capital

    Access to capital is another important component of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, and Charlottesville consistently ranks well as a good city for venture capital deals. Recently, Charlottesville ranked #13 in venture capital deals per capita, when compared to the national average. Additionally, in 2013, Charlottesville was ranked as one of the top cities in the nation in venture deals per 100,000 people, just behind Austin, Texas. Many venture capitalists, angels and companies that support Charlottesville entrepreneurs can be found at local coffee shops, University events, or Charlottesville's unique SXSW-type Tom Tom Founders Festival, a music, art, and innovative festival held each year. Such openness and accessibility is unique and unexpected.

    Learn more by reading this article: “Angels Among Us: How Charlottesville is Becoming a Hot Spot for Start-Ups.”

    Student Testimonial

    “On the first day that I walked into Darden, I knew that I was there to acquire the tools and education and be in an environment that would make me a better entrepreneur. What I didn’t know is that I would go on to build and sell a successful high-tech company in Charlottesville, a city that I love where a start-up like mine can thrive. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

    — Adam Healey (MBA ’05)