The University of Virginia is defined by a commitment to the ideals of its founder. Concepts like ‘innovation’ and ‘free thinking’ and most importantly, self-governance figure prominently in the day to day lives of our students.
What Mr. Jefferson might have called ‘enlightened’ thought, we call entrepreneurship. Like Jefferson, we celebrate the magic of new ideas, but elevate effective performance as our ultimate aim. We crave the ability to determine our own fate. And we seek the company of others, similarly motivated.
As the author of the most entrepreneurial document in this nation’s history, it is no wonder that a community of innovation might find welcome inside Mr. Jefferson’s university.
This is the premise that guides the efforts of the Darden EVC; that such a community, though loosely bound, does exist at UVA. As members of the EVC, we have assumed a mandate to strengthen those bonds by contributing to the education and nurturing of each segment of that community.
This ‘ecosystem’ is composed of entrepreneurs, managers, advisors and financiers. Recognizing how vitally important these groups are to one another, EVC exists to prepare our members to be successful business builders in a ‘real world’ context, well beyond their time here at Darden.
By joining these constituencies and encouraging their collaboration, our approach stands in stark contrast to that of peer schools. We embrace this distinction! EVC feels strongly that entrepreneurs must understand the motivations of their capital partners. The reverse is also true.
Recognizing the enormity of these tasks and the long range impact of success, we, the members of the EVC, dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the ideals stated here through deliberate and distinct actions. To that end we commit to the following:
Our vision is for the University of Virginia to be recognized as the preeminent institution of entrepreneurial and venture capital activity in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Within the University, the Darden School will be the center of gravity for this activity, drawing academics, practitioners, technologists, students and alumni together to increase the number and quality of ventures launched from within the school.
“Make no small plans, for they have no power to stir men’s blood and will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble and logical plan never dies, but long after we are gone will be a living thing."
Encourage. We must encourage would-be entrepreneurs to make big plans and, if necessary, take big risks to pursue their dreams.
Support. In the face of their own fears and the doubts of others, EVC must be a safe place for entrepreneurs to vet ideas and move them toward viability.
Connect. EVC must be the ‘go-to’ organization for students who are attempting to start new ventures. Beyond answering questions, EVC must enlist every resource imaginable to support committed entrepreneurs. This includes connecting our members with faculty, alumni and other friends of the university who might offer assistance in their pursuits.
Celebrate. We must celebrate the successes of our members, and at the same time bring the lessons hidden in losses back to the community for future growth.