Poets & Quants recently featured Adam Healey (MBA ’05) and his wife Christin, entrepreneurs and founders of wedding concierge website Borrowed & Blue. Read more about Adam’s journey moving from management consulting to technology entrepreneurship in the Poets & Quants article, “MBA Startups: A Darden MBA Returned To School To Start A Company.”
Tag Archive for 'Incubator'
This week, UVA Today featured Thomas Giedgowd (MBA ’12), founder and CEO of TeeGee, a company specializing in toys that assist with childhood education and development. TeeGee is a smart-stuffed animal powered by an iPhone or iPod Touch, capable of playing games, telling stories, teaching concepts, and interacting with children through smart accessories and speech recognition.
Giedgowd started TeeGee in Darden’s Business Incubator in 2011. The Darden Business Incubator provides support to MBA student entrepreneurs who are interested in developing early-stage business ventures by providing them with $13,000 in funding, free office space, access to technological expertise and free legal services. This summer, 15 students and recent graduates developed their businesses with support from the Incubator.
Watch this video to learn more about TeeGee and how the Darden Business Incubator contributed to its success:
This summer the Darden Business Incubator is supporting 15 new businesses of Darden students and graduates. The Incubator supplies each entrepreneur with $13,000 in funding to support the development of these early-stage ventures, as well as expert advice from legal, marketing and technological communities. This is a great opportunity for MBA students interested in becoming entrepreneurs during their time at Darden.
Brief descriptions of each of the ventures in the Incubator this summer can be found below.
- Pentricity: A service for municipal utilities and electric co-ops that designs and implements residential energy efficiency programming.
- Cheeky Fly Fishing, LLC: Develops, manufactures, markets and sells fly fishing reels specifically designed for an emerging demographic of progressive fly fishermen.
- 501 Auctions: Helps non-profits run fundraising auctions.
- Footprint Free: A service that helps restaurant and retail businesses go green and capitalize on the associated benefits.
- Leslor: An internet consumer products company to help in solving global societal problems like information overload management, internet search and automated software development.
- Bridal Brokerage: A company that will be re-selling cancelled weddings to couples looking for a wedding at a discounted price.
- Apollo Water: Developing a low cost, easy-to-use water purification and desalinization system for use primarily in the developing world.
- Legends Live Media Group-Legends Live Entertainment: A one stop shop virtual music store for users of computers and Android tablets and smartphones.
- MobilizeArt: A website on which students (art, fashion, architecture, design, etc) and community artists can display and sell their original artwork at affordable prices.
- Deal Stage: Provides “virtual closing list” software for law firms whose clients are primarily transactional in nature: investment banks, private equity firms, venture capital firms and commercial banks.
- Pandia Capital: Seeks to acquire and operate a target business based on the established “search fund” model.
- Job Simple: A software-as-a-service platform, Job Simple aids job seekers in organizing and executing throughout a job search process.
- Mobile Motions: Developing a new product called SpatNav, which will allow users to control their phones through motion.
- Aislert: Developing a web application to help brand managers at CPG companies build deeper relationships with their customers.
- One2One: A social enterprise and organic snack food company that provides a sustainable business solution to the social problem of child hunger.
For more information, visit www.darden.virginia.edu/Incubator.
Bloomberg Businessweek recently came out with an article, “B-School Entrepreneurship,” highlighting “top MBA programs with startup resources to spare.”
The Darden School of Business is noted for having awarded over $285,000 for startups at the University of Virginia each year. The Darden Business Incubator, Innovation Laboratory, $1 million in annual entrepreneurship scholarships, and entrepreneurship clubs are also noted. Read more.
Guest post by Jacqueline Wilde, Darden Class of 2012:
Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I knew my experience in Corporate America would be short-lived. After spending a few years at UBS Financial Services, I came to Darden to focus on shifting my career path towards starting a business. Moving in this direction seemed like a daunting leap, but there are fantastic resources at Darden to help budding entrepreneurs.
One resource that has been particularly helpful in providing me insight and skills is the student-run Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club (the “EVC”), of which I am currently the President. Throughout the year, we bring in guest speakers, host workshops and run competitions to give students relevant training and information related to entrepreneurship and venture capital. A couple of highlights from last year include a presentation by the two women who started Rent the Runway and an open pitch session where students could practice pitching their business ideas in less than 2-minutes. The open pitch session was especially helpful for me because it taught me how to pitch a compelling business idea in a succinct way.
The business concept competition (actually coming up this month) and business plan competition (spring semester) are also exciting. For the business concept competition, students submit short write-ups of their ideas and compete against one another to see whose is the most convincing, and finalists are selected by a panel of experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. What is especially great about these competitions is that even if you are not a winner, you still get detailed feedback on your ideas. This underscores the fact that the EVC club is a collaborative and supportive network, and we work to encourage each other to continue developing and evolving our ideas.
Another major highlight of EVC’s year is our annual “E-Conference,” where we bring in guest speakers ranging from venture capital investors to established entrepreneurs. This year’s theme is “Innovate. Effectuate,” which plays off of the cornerstone of Darden’s entrepreneurial curriculum. Darden uniquely focuses on the philosophy of effectuation, which encourages entrepreneurs to learn by doing instead of just thinking. Darden professor Saras Sarasvathy is the pioneering researcher in the space of effectuation. This philosophy, along with the many other entrepreneurial resources at Darden, is a major driver behind our recent jump in the Entrepreneur Magazine/Princeton Review rankings from #7 to #3 in entrepreneurship.
On a personal level, my involvement in the EVC during my First Year helped prepare me for my summer experience in the Darden Business Incubator, one of Darden’s most impressive resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. For students who are serious about launching a business, the Incubator offers $13,000 of seed funding and numerous resources, including a support network of fellow incubators and access to lawyers, accountants and established entrepreneurs. I spent the summer launching a business called Pop Up Yoga, which brings affordable, accessible yoga to people in the Charlottesville area by leveraging open spaces around town. Now, as a Second Year student, I am continuing to run Pop Up Yoga while juggling my coursework and extracurricular involvement. Check us out at www.popupyogacville.com.
The bottom line is that the resources for aspiring entrepreneurs at Darden are fantastic, and I encourage those of you with the entrepreneurial spirit to be bold and follow your dreams of starting a company. It’s a whole lot of fun being your own boss.
In a recent U.S. News & World Report article, “MBA Degree Programs Can Assist Prospective Entrepreneurs,” the Darden Business Incubator was featured as one example of entrepreneurial resources offered at the Darden School. The article notes,
students can spend the summer creating their own companies with support from the school’s incubator program, The Daily Progress recently reported. At this institution, students are provided with work space, a $13,000 stipend and the chance to attend discussion groups and a speaker series. The participants are then free to launch their own ventures with these resources.”
This summer the Darden Business Incubator is supporting 12 new businesses of Darden students and graduates. The Incubator supplies each entrepreneur with $13,000 in funding to support the development of these early stage ventures, as well as expert advice from legal, marketing and technological communities.
For descriptions of each of the 12 companies and further details about the Darden Business Incubator, read this article, “Darden Incubator Helping 12 Start-Up Companies Emerge.”
You can also learn more about one of the companies, Nomuda, by watching this video of Joe Chard (Darden MBA ’11) talking about his experiences in the Incubator:
This summer, while most of my classmates jetted away from Charlottesville to crunch numbers in New York, strategize about the future of energy in Texas, or tackle marketing in the Twin Cities, I stayed put. I had applied for the Darden Business Incubator program, a summer-long support system for students dreaming of their own businesses.
My reasoning: The summer between school is the perfect time for a trial run. The risks were low; the support system was strong. When else will you have 3 months (with financial support!) to sniff out an idea?
I was a journalist in my past life, and the media world today is reinventing itself regularly. The survivors must know how to innovate, whether in a nimble startup or a legendary company.
Plus, the set-up was awfully tempting. For each company, Darden provided an $8,000 expense fund, a $5,100 ($1,700 monthly x 3) stipend for one student, office space and supplies and weekly lunches with speakers. The director of entrepreneurship, Philippe Sommer, and assistant director, M.J. Toms, checked in frequently and offered leads on connections and alumni support, too.
This summer’s program incubated a record 18 companies. Each applied in January with a business plan and a rough idea (i.e., a Gantt chart) on what would be accomplished during the summer.
Some classmates spent the summer refining their business ideas, with the thought of launching a company following graduation. Others were up and running, had hired programmers and were building out websites or mobile phone apps. Still others did a u-turn or two before settling into a concept. The size of the companies varied from a solo student to several students who had hired freelance help or interns.
One of my classmates, Joe Chard, co-founded a mobile gaming company, Nomuda Games. His concept is cool: developing an episodic story, so that once you wrap up the first game in a series, a cliffhanger will compel you (ideally) to run out and buy the next “episode.”
Think interactive “Lost” — addicting tales in your phone.
Joe tapped talent in the undergrad UVA programming community and actually got their first “episode” into production and scheduled for a November launch.
He told me, “we were able to use the time in the incubator – and of course the funding – to move our business concept into reality. During the Second Year we can see if our products will be a success on the marketplace, and I’ll either leave Darden with a revenue-generating, growing company, or I’ll have given it my best shot and will have a great story to pitch recruiters while I look for a traditional MBA job.”
You can see screenshots, contact Joe, and watch the initial buzz unfold here: www.nomudagames.com.
Another classmate, Kyle Hawke, launched a virtual consulting firm based on the premise of crowdsourcing, which he dubbed Whinot. Think “Fortune 500 consulting at small business prices.” The idea is to harness the “wisdom of the crowd” to provide solutions to small businesses who might not be able to afford the big players.
The payment is split among those contributors with the best ideas. Kyle refined his pitch, launched the online portal and landed his first clients. He even snagged a mention in the local Daily Progress newspaper and on the prominent tech blog ZDNet.com.
And what about me?
I teamed up with a classmate in the executive MBA program, John Dowd, who had founded Dobro Media. We both are fascinated by the idea of personalized print publications — how targeted advertising and content can create a vastly more valuable experience for both advertisers and readers.
Dobro has already started down that path with a targeted advertising product for newspapers, called Precision Ads. As a former newspaper editor, I brought a content eye to the endeavor and worked on developing prototypes of what such a publication could be.
John worked from Virginia Beach, while I was in the Incubator in Charlottesville and our freelance designer was traveling all around Europe. (Thank goodness for Skype!)
Each day is different when you are your own boss. Some days I worked on compiling the content and drawing up budgets for the prototypes. One day, we drove up to D.C. to pitch our idea to a big media institute. Another week we were in Denver for the Individuated News Conference. The Incubator made those connections possible.
What happens next? Will all 18 companies flourish? (Doubtful.) Will all 18 of us go to traditional consulting or management positions within corporations? (Also doubtful.)
Each of us incubatees, now starting our Second Year of full-time classes, has to answer that for ourselves.
To be continued …
Brianne Warner, MBA Class of 2011
Sdemane Farm in Swaziland grows fresh baby vegetables such as squash and cabbage. Now, the farm is also growing its business, thanks to Darden School of Business Second Year student Joe Andrasko and the partners of Yebo Fund.
In 2007, Andrasko teamed up with two friends to create, a private equity fund that provides capital and business support to high-potential entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa.
“My partners returned from a consulting project in South Africa where they realized that access to capital is a major roadblock for small- and medium-sized businesses in the region,” said Andrasko. “To address this financing gap, we decided to create a for-profit fund that seeks to make socially-impactful investments in developing economies.”
Learn more about Yebo Fund and the Darden Business Incubator by reading the full article.
Charlottesville’s Daily Progress just featured an article, “Darden Incubator Uses Crowdsourcing to Consult,” about Kyle Hawke, a Darden Class of 2011 student, who is part of the Darden Business Incubator (DBI) this summer. Kyle’s company Whinot — a consulting firm for small businesses that matches clients with a team of consultants to answer marketing questions — is one of eighteen companies in the DBI this summer. The DBI provides students with entrepreneurship support, as well as office space and $13,000 in seed funding.