This week at Darden, we are celebrating all things entrepreneurship!

Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital (EVC) Week happens early in the year to help First Years learn more about nontraditional business recruiting paths. This introduction to entrepreneurship and venture capital at Darden generates a lot of excitement and encourages students to take advantage of the EVC resources available to them.

EVC Week kicked off with a Lumi Juice-sponsored First Coffee featuring the beverage company founded by Hillary Lewis Murray (MBA ’13).

Event highlights for the week also include:  

  • Female Entrepreneurship Panel: A  group of experienced female founders, including current students and alumni, share their entrepreneurial journeys during and after Darden.  
  • Acquiring Small Business With Broadtree PartnersAn information session with Broadtree Partners providing funding and support for MBA graduates to acquire and run small businesses. The team consists of a group of entrepreneurial investors focused on acquiring businesses where the owners are looking to transition from their current roles. 
  • Entrepreneurship through Acquisition With Halstatt Partners: An information session and networking event for all students interested in entrepreneurship through acquisition. Shannon Jones from Halstatt Partners, a family backed private equity fund, will present on the search fund model and how his firm helps students acquire businesses and become CEOs.   
  • The Venture Capitalist’s Playbook: Journeys into Venture: Venture capitalists fuel countless startups, and knowing how they operate is of vital interest to any business student or entrepreneur seeking funding. But what about business students who want to be on the VC side of the table? How does a new MBA learn about this space and chart a career path in venture?  
  • Brainstorming Session with Chic Thompson: Brainstorming is an essential tool for design thinking and innovation. Thompson is an internationally renowned speaker and author on creativity and will lead students through a lecture and workshop on how to improve brainstorming skills

We caught up with EVC Club President Cara Jankowski (Class of 2020), to learn more about the EVC community at Darden.  

Prior to pursuing her MBA, Cara worked in product management at HubSpot, in Boston. Cara’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurship was further fueled during her internship, where she was a Batten Technology Venture Fellow for Greenspring Associates. She worked across product, marketing and strategy for their portfolio company Bright Health. 

Q: Why is EVC something you’re passionate about?  

A: I love supporting the ecosystem of entrepreneurs, encouraging people to work for or help an early stage company, and I am interested in pursuing venture capital in the long term.

Q: What makes Darden a good fit for students interested in EVC? 

A: Darden has a wealth of resources, including the Batten Institute that support paths in entrepreneurship and VC, including the annual E-cup competition, Technology Venture Fellowship and Batten Venture internship program. The core curriculum also prepares students wear a lot of different hats in an early stage company as well as strong technical skills needed for a venture capital role. 

Q: How does EVC reach across industries? How does the EVC Club offer support? 

A: People start companies not just in tech, but in all sectors. The EVC Club doesn’t have an industry focus for entrepreneurship and we have tight relationships with VC naturally because of the entrepreneurial community. We also support people that are interested in startups and operating roles — not just founders. 

Q: What are you looking forward to with EVC Club this year? 

A: I am excited about growing the community around Darden’s entrepreneurs, VCs and students who are interested in operating at early stage companies. Our goals are to give our founders more visibility, provide more networking opportunities among different backgrounds and technical skills across UVA and support Darden students learning and engaged across entrepreneurship and venture capital spaces. 

Q: What advice do you have for prospective students about getting involved with clubs and the Darden community? 

A: Clubs at Darden are a great way to get involved in and build a network around the things you are most excited about with everything from wine and cuisine to industry and career clubs like Marketing.  For example, as part of EVC Week we sponsored a special First Coffee featuring current student founders. It allowed our founders to showcase their companies and for their classmates to ask questions and engage with their products and services.  

Keep an eye on the blog for even more entrepreneurship and venture capital posts. we’ll be sharing student stories from the Batten Venture Internship Program this week and throughout the fall.