Each year a group of up-and-coming entrepreneurs with great promise are admitted into the i.Lab at UVA, an incubator housed in the Darden School of Business established to help guide the development of seed- and early-stage ventures. A diverse mix of Darden MBA students, established members of the Charlottesville community, and outstanding undergrads, the incubator is always home to impressive talent with this year’s i.Lab class of 2013 being no different.
The fact that half of the ventures accepted (63 out of 126) into the i.Lab since 2000 have remained active speaks wonders for the lot at UVA, a rate that exceeds the national average. But it’s really not that surprising seeing as their brands have such great access to a wide range of resources including experts and funding opportunities.
“The program is a 12-month program now,” explained Kathryne Carr, the Venture mentor charged with leading the business incubator. It’s “divided into two sections: an accelerator phase, which is ongoing during the summer months, followed by an academic year phase, which allows a deeper dive into the subject matter addressed in the summer program.”
For the startups, the lessons they learn and the advice they receive is truly invaluable as they groom their businesses in hopes of finding success.
“It has been so rewarding to lead Nouri through this incredible stage of growth,” Darden graduate Veneka Chagwedera said of her venture. “Over the last 10 months since we founded the business, we have grown from just a concept to having our bars carried by natural food stores and cafes in more than four states.”
“My goal this summer is to take Nouri to the next level as a sustainable company. We plan to focus on both internal and external growth, which is essential in building a successful venture.”
Nouri is just one of 25 startups on the path toward a bright future. David Marriott, a second-year student in the Darden School of Business, is well known around i.Lab for creating the world’s thinnest mobile bluetooth speaker to date in cooperation with his company, CoverPlay Audio. He spoke very fondly of the i.Lab back at the beginning of April when we interviewed him while he was competing in the University of Maryland’s Cupid’s Cup, a nationally recognized business competition.
“The entrepreneurship program at the University of Virginia is truly phenomenal,” he explained. “The business incubator gave me a $5,000 living stipend and $8,000 for my business, coaching me, and giving me the resources necessary to help me start CoverPlay.”
Clearly there are many benefits associated with i.Lab acceptance, which include learning sessions held all summer long like:
- Financial Management: Basic rules for budgeting, reporting and valuation
- Customer Acquisition: How to identify, contact and close
- Communicating Your Company’s Message and Building Your Brand
- The Market: What is it telling you?
- IP: Taking Care of the Asset
- Growing Your Business
- Positioning Your Company for an Institutional Investor
- Are They Really Angels?: What investors look for
It’s not easy to get into the i.Lab, but once you do, you’re pretty much in your own little startup dream world. With that said, here are a couple of the Charlottesville startups working with the i.Lab to create something truly unique, innovative, and valuable for our modern day society, the i.Lab class of 2013:
And here’s the full list (You can read more about them here):
- Avrist Trucking
- Branch basics
- CoverPlay Audio
- EDesign LLC
- Hungry Flats
- Leftover Luxuries
- Mad Hatter Foods
- Open Form Foundation
- Performance Diagnostics
- Sana Study
- Tom Tom Founders Festival
- XMT Solutions
Congratulations to all!