by Veronica McMillion
VividCortex and 501 Auctions — two
companies co-founded by graduates of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business — have achieved
significant milestones. This fall,VividCortex secured $2 million in
funding, for a total of $2.7 million, to continue its innovative work in the field of MySQL open
source database management and analysis tools. 501 Auctions,
developer of a platform that enables nonprofits to manage
fundraising events with online auctions and mobile bidding, reached
$3 million in charity transactions and was recently featured on
MSNBC's Your Business.
VividCortex was co-founded in August 2012 by Darden alumnus Kyle
Redinger (MBA `13) and U.Va. alumnus Baron Schwartz, software
engineer and MySQL expert. At the time, Redinger was a participant
in Darden's Business Incubator, which has since expanded to include all of U.Va. and the local community. The significantly expanded incubator and innovation laboratory has been renamed the W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory (i.Lab), housed at and operated by Darden's Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Redinger
previously co-founded technology and media consulting firm DeParis
Redinger. In March of that year, Schwartz released the trade manual
"High Performance MySQL."
An emerging force in its industry, VividCortex has coined the
term "Database Performance Management" to describe its
revolutionary improvements to MySQL functionality. Founders
Schwartz and Redinger say that recent investments of more than $2
million from Jaffray Woodriff, Battery Ventures, CIT and angel
investors will be used to bring talented engineers to its already
growing staff in the U.S. and Uruguay.
"Big data will experience 300 times growth between now and
2020," said Redinger, "and the big challenge from a people
perspective is that IT budgets will only grow 5 to 10 percent per
year." VividCortex aims to help companies "manage hundreds of
servers, and gain a competitive advantage by managing servers
The company maintains its headquarters in Charlottesville,
Virginia, while focusing on building infrastructure in the United
States and abroad. Its founders describe Charlottesville as the
"East Coast's best-kept sleeper tech hub secret," and Redinger
cites the proximity of the University of Virginia as
a driving factor in the entrepreneurial spirit of the
The entrepreneurship program at the Darden School was ranked No.
5 on The Princeton Review's list of "Top 25 Graduate
Entrepreneurship Programs for 2014." The distinction followed the
2013 expansion of the i.Lab, a university-wide initiative that
serves as a nexus for entrepreneurship and innovation education at
the University of Virginia.
501 Auctions was co-founded in the summer of 2011 by Darden
alumni Jon Carrier (MBA `12), Teddy Jones (MBA `12) and Ryal Tayloe
(MBA `12). The company was born of Carrier's own experience
planning fundraising events for Building Goodness in April, a
Darden student organization that works to rehabilitate area homes.
After purchasing event software that "didn't work," he began
designing the efficient platform that evolved into 501
Like Redinger, Jon Carrier spent a year in the incubator, a
program that he says "gave us a huge boost and a runway for our
business to take off. " Carrier praises the "entrepreneurial
ecosystem that Darden promotes through entrepreneurship classes and
alumni who want to keep in touch." 501 Auctions' first paying
customer was a fellow Darden alumnus.
The completely self-funded venture has raised $3 million for
nonprofits this year alone, and projects revenue to reach $5
million by January 2014. A variety of 501(c) organizations,
including the Parkinson Foundation, have seen an average of 40
percent growth in their fundraising efforts since adopting 501
Auctions' event management software.
Said Carrier, "As a startup we can offer a willingness and drive
to make events unique, and provide a superior level of
responsiveness and customer service."
501 Auctions leaders maintain that beyond its superior product,
the company sets itself apart from competitors with a commitment to
exceptional customer service. The team plans to expand its staff to
nine people by the end of the year, and has sent "auction SWAT
teams" to manage events in 17 states to date.
VividCortex and 501 Auctions have achieved success through
on-the-ground experience and conscious scaling of their respective
businesses. However, both ventures credit their accomplishments to
Darden with the School providing a safe environment to develop
their business plans and access to Darden professors and other
About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of
the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and
Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines
the case study method, top-ranked faculty whose research advances
global managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit
learning environment to develop responsible and complete leaders
who are ready to make an impact.
About the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and
The Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business improves
the world through entrepreneurship and innovation. The institute's
academic research center advances knowledge that addresses
real-world challenges and shapes Darden's curriculum, and the
Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers one of the world's top
entrepreneurship programs. The Batten Institute was established
with gifts now totaling more than $100 million from U.Va. alumnus
Frank Batten Sr., a media pioneer, visionary and founder of The
For questions or information, contact Matt Charles or
a member of the Communication team.
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