Darden Business Incubator Students Building Innovative Businesses, Choosing Entrepreneurship Over Traditional Career Paths

- Each Venture Receives Over $13,000 in Non-Dilutive Funding and Multiple Additional Resources -

- Incubator Celebrates 10 Years of Success, with a Diverse and Record Number of 18 Companies Selected in 2010 -

Jun 16, 2010, 10:26 ET from The Batten Institute at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Darden School of Business and its Entrepreneurship Program today announced the latest entrepreneurship ventures participating in the Darden Business Incubator, which is being held in Darden's new i.Lab.  

"The Incubator is not about theoretical or textbook businesses, it's about creating them in the real world," says Philippe Sommer, director of Darden's Entrepreneurship Program.  "We supply each venture with physical office space, more than $13,000 to cover expenses, and a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and network. With over 18 companies selected, this is the largest, most diverse group we've had since we launched the Incubator program ten years ago. There is a strong and continued interest in entrepreneurship at Darden and UVA, and we believe we are providing a great opportunity for students who are really committed to starting a successful business."

While each venture must involve a Darden student, the Incubator is also open to members of the wider University of Virginia community. The 18 participants in this year's Incubator include:

  • Yebofund, created by Darden First Year student Joe Andrasko and his team: a "socially impactful private equity and economic development fund" based in Africa. The fund purchased a farm in Swaziland in the spring of 2009, generated 125 local full-time jobs and has increased exports from one ton per week to six over the past year.

  • Dobro Media, founded by Darden MBA executive program student John Dowd and first-year student Brianne Warner. The business ultimately seeks to produce individualized print newspapers for consumers. Their first product, Precision Ads, generates advertisements targeted to local consumers that are delivered with the local newspaper. Dobro Media won third place in the Darden-UVA Business Plan Competition in April.

  • The Third Space, founded by first-year student Trevor Thomas, aims to bring an "interactive art-house lounge" to Los Angeles' LAX airport, offering frequently traveling professionals and others a stress-free environment to unwind. The Third Space model calls for the exhibition and sale of art, access to vintage and modern video games, as well as drinks and snacks.  

  • Other ventures include an online medical supplies company, a geriatric consulting business, an event-based social networking website, and a wholesale plant nursery, to name a few.

The Incubator has enjoyed an impressive success rate, with nearly 50 percent of the ventures surviving the five year mark. One example, Global Cell Solutions, headquartered in Charlottesville, was co-founded in 2004 by Uday Gupta (MBA '04) and Robin Felder, Ph.D., University Professor and Director of the Medical Automation Research Center at UVA. Felder and Gupta launched the company, which markets ground-breaking cell culturing techniques, while in the Incubator.  In 2009, BioLevitator, a technology invented at the UVA School of Medicine and commercialized by Global Cell, was named one of the 10 "most exciting tools to hit the life sciences" by The Scientist magazine.

Funding for the Incubator and Darden's Entrepreneurship program is provided by a generous grant from the Batten family to support entrepreneurship and innovation at Darden.    

About Darden's Entrepreneurship Program

The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business provides an extensive array of resources for MBA students interested in entrepreneurship. These resources, which collectively comprise the Entrepreneurship Program, include top-ranked entrepreneurship faculty, dozens of rigorous entrepreneurship courses, full-time internships with start-up firms, business plan and concept competitions, workshops, scholarships, networking, and a host of hands-on learning opportunities.

About the Batten Institute

The Batten Institute at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business is an academic research center dedicated to advancing knowledge about entrepreneurship and innovation.  Modeled after the world's leading research organizations, the Institute generates high-impact and practical insights for both scholars and managers. To achieve this objective, the Institute provides funding and other support for faculty research, research fellows, research assistants, and a wide array of outreach and publishing activities.

About the Darden School of Business

Founded in 1954, the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders in the world of practical affairs. For questions or information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu.  

SOURCE The Batten Institute at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business