having just 60 seconds to ask members of a community to help you develop a
business idea. This is what members of the 2012 Darden Business Incubator and HackCville
had to do during a business-pitch forum held recently at the University of
Virginia Darden School of Business. The forum, held in Darden's Innovation Laboratory, or "i.Lab," allowed community members and budding entrepreneurs
to network and exchange ideas following the pitch presentations.
Sustainability, the great outdoors and even wedding planning are among the
areas in which the incubator entrepreneurs hope to hatch full-fledged ventures.
With their newfound contacts and some helpful advice, the students will
continue to grow their businesses throughout the summer. This year's incubator
includes both new and returning companies.
Incubator veteran Greg
Herrington (MBA '12) is taking his company Deal Stage to the next level this summer.
Incubator newcomer and rising Second Year MBA student Jeff Willis received
third place in the Darden
(U.Va.) Business Plan Competition, which encouraged him to pursue his
Sports, instead of a summer internship. Rising Second Year MBA student
Lauren Byrne, who is also new to the incubator, is already stirring interest
with her company Bridal
"This year's entrepreneurs encompass a wide range of
startup possibilities and each venture brings something unique to what is an
overall impressive group," said Philippe
Sommer, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial
Leadership. "It will be enjoyable watching them learn and grow through the
The 2012 Darden Business Incubator participants
- Isaac Blanton (Class of 2013), founder of
Legends Live Media Group-Legends Live Entertainment
Byrne (Class of 2013), founder of Bridal Brokerage
- Scott Caras (Class of 2013), founder of Cheeky Fly Fishing
- Jon Carrier (MBA '12), founder of 501
- Veneka Chagwedera (Class of 2013), founder of
- Matt George (Class of 2013), founder of
- Greg Harrington (MBA '12), founder of Deal
- Teddy Jones (MBA '12), founder of Job
- Owen Larkin (Class of 2013) &
Nathan Phalen (U.Va. Law Class of 2014), founders of Apollo
- Jordhy Ledesma (MBA '12), founder of Leslor
Margolis (Class of 2013), founder of Pentricity
Mehta (MBA '12), founder of MobilizeArt
O'Connor (Class of 2013), founder of Footprint Free
- Kyle Redinger (Class of 2013), founder of Pandia Capital
- Lucas Rogers (Class of 2013), founder of
Mobile Motions- Spat Nav
- Jeff Willis (Class
of 2013), founder of Chatter
Complete details about this year's student companies
appear on the Darden Business Incubator webpage.
Program coordinators for the incubator
are also looking to bigger and better things ahead. This year, three
nontraditional participants will pilot the incubator's program expansion to
include members of the greater Charlottesville, Virginia, community. Another
new feature is the creation of a special website to help participants engage
with a wider audience.
"Our new website
will hold videos of our participants discussing their ventures and includes
Facebook-like progress posts," says MJ Toms, associate director for the Center
for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Darden's Batten
Institute. "This is a great way for them to grow their networks and connect
with Darden alumni who operate in the entrepreneurial space or who work in
industries similar to those of the incubator ventures."
In addition to
the new features, the incubator will continue to provide incoming entrepreneurs
with approximately $13,000 in seed money, physical office space and expert
advice. Participants also attend workshops covering various business-related
topics and receive legal counsel through a partnership with the U.Va. School of
Law and the Woods
Rogers law firm. Past well-known incubator companies include, OpenQ, Husk Power
Systems and hotelicopter.
HackCville is a Charlottesville group that supports student entrepreneurship.
Its members who participated in the recent pitch session included U.Va.
students, who offered business concepts ranging from a device to help improve
sleep quality to an online collectible toy platform for hobbyists. Many of
these students also participated in the University of Virginia Venture Summit's
Venture Fair, which was held at Darden earlier this spring.
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