Unleashing Entrepreneurial Ideas


Darden School of Business First Year student Georgi Yanchev believes so strongly in the online sales potential of herbal teas that he convinced a panel of judges — all experienced entrepreneurs — on November 6 to select his project as the winner of Darden’s Entrepreneurial Concept Competition.

On Friday, November 20, Yanchev will go on to represent Darden at the first U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup, where he will pitch his concept KaioTeas.com, an online retailer of herbal tea and organic honey.

Competing against him will be graduate and undergraduate students from five other schools at the University of Virginia — the Curry School of Education, the McIntire School of Commerce and the schools of Law, Medicine and Engineering and Applied Science. The winner of the U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup will win a cash prize of $20,000, with $10,000 for second place and $5,000 for third. Among the proposals are a new type of life-preserver, a moving concierge service for young professionals and an ultrasound-based technology for improved food safety.

Open to the public, the event will be held on Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the McIntire School of Commerce, Rouss and Robertson Hall, room 120.

The event forms part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from November 16 to November 22. To celebrate the week, Darden and the Batten Institute will host its annual E-Conference on November 19 and 20, a series of events and panels for alumni and students with entrepreneurial interests to mingle and find inspiration from other entrepreneurs. Thursday’s events will feature the alumni panels “Entrepreneurship After Darden” and “Serial Entrepeneurs.”

On Friday, Tom Skalak, vice president for research at the University of Virginia, will address “The Transformation of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at U.Va” at Darden. Gerald S. Waldron, staff director and chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will then discuss “Legislation: Energy Bill Intended Outcomes.” A panel discussion on entrepreneurial opportunities and challenges in clean tech will follow.  

The U.Va. Cup on Friday afternoon will punctuate the two day E-Conference, whose goal is to unleash ideas.

“We decided to expand Darden’s Entrepreneurial Concept Competition this year to involve disciplines across the University,” said Philippe Sommer, director of entrepreneurship programs at Darden.  “Our message is that anyone — nurses, artists, educators, architects, doctors and lawyers — are innovators and entrepreneurs, not just engineers and business people. Our hope is that next year there will be more interschool teams competing, which is key to the innovation process and making this competition fun.”

The U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup is sponsored by the U.Va. Office of the Vice President for Research and the Darden School, with the generous support of Third Security LLC, a venture capital firm specializing in biotechnology and life sciences. Randal J. Kirk, chairman and CEO of Third Security, is a member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors.

A special cup, designed by members of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the sculpture program in the McIntire Department of Art, will also be presented to the winners.

“We are very excited about the cup, which is a collaboration of engineers and artists. Though we are keeping it under wraps until the event, it further reinforces the idea that innovation and entrepreneurship can be applied to anything, even the concept of what is a trophy,” said Sommer.

The students will have just 10 minutes to present their proposal to a panel of judges, followed by 10 minutes of questions. Here are the concepts that will compete on Friday:

• Moverang, which "simplifies the moving process for young professionals as an online, fee-based concierge." (Clinton D. Webb, Curry)

• KaioTeas.com,  "online retailer of herbal tea and organic honey, offering the biggest and most exciting selection of quality products from all over the world." (Georgi Yanchev, Darden)

• Rheo Logic, using ultrasound-based technology to make high-accuracy, in-line measurements to detail the structural properties of pharmaceutical products, foods and beverages, improving safety of consumer products. (Will Mauldin, Medicine)

• Life-Preserving Belt, using pressure-activated carbon dioxide cartridges to inflate a series of bladders once the belt is submerged under several inches of water, making life jackets less cumbersome and improving low life- preserver usage rates among recreational boaters. (Adam Malcom and Scott Kasen, Engineering)

• Petrohedge, a proposal to use derivatives markets to lock in gas prices and allow personal hedging. (Brian Coppola and Clinton Dockery, Law)

• Cspot, which enables drivers to find, reserve and pay for parking spaces in high-demand environments such as universities, large cities and major events. (Ashley Eidson and Taylor Burrow, McIntire)

Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.

For additional information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu.

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