VividCortex Raises $2M in Funding and 501 Auctions Reaches $3M in Charity Transactions: Latest Stories From UVA Darden School Entrepreneurs
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 UVA 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 UVA 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 well.”
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 community.
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 Auctions.
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 entrepreneurship experts.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia