UVA Darden’s Batten Institute Partners With Tom Tom Founders Festival, Brings World-Class Entrepreneurs and Ideas to Charlottesville

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announces its expanded partnership with the Tom Tom Founders Festival, a weeklong celebration of local innovation, music, art and food in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Darden, through its Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the i.Lab at UVA, has been a key supporter of the festival since 2013. As part of the School’s ongoing commitment to cultivate a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem in Charlottesville, Darden has expanded its support in 2016.

“The Tom Tom Founders Festival serves as a powerful catalyst for entrepreneurship and creative expression,” said Sean Carr, executive director of the Batten Institute at the Darden School. “Our expanded partnership helps accelerate the festival’s impact, reach and contributions to the UVA and Charlottesville community. The Tom Tom Festival itself was a member of our first i.Lab Incubator cohort to include community-based ventures. We are very pleased to see the festival continue to grow and flourish, positively impacting our community and beyond.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to be expanding the partnership with Darden as we approach our fifth annual event,” said Paul Beyer, director of the Tom Tom Founders Festival. “Tom Tom developed its concept for entrepreneurial community building at Darden, and the fruits have been evident in each succeeding year. The festival has grown nearly 400 percent since its opening year, to 26,200 attendees in 2015. Along the way, we’ve developed collaborations with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and the i.Lab has been instrumental in facilitating those connections. We’re looking forward to the best festival yet.”

This year, Darden will support four key events at the festival:

  • Founders Summit and Innovation Panel: Darden will again sponsor the Founders Summit, to help bring together an inspiring group of successful entrepreneurs to share their stories. The i.Lab will host a panel on Building the Ecosystem: Startups, Capital and Community Ethos. The panel, moderated by Darden Professor and Chief Strategy Officer Mike Lenox, will dive into questions about the community context of building a startup, raising capital and developing an ecosystem of entrepreneurship. Panelists include Brendan Richardson, co-founder of PsiKick; Deb McMahon, co-founder of Scitent; and Noah Pittard, special counsel at law firm Cooley.
  • UVA Entrepreneurship Cup: For the first time, UVA’s Entrepreneurship Cup Launch! Competition will be held at the Tom Tom Founders Festival. This event will showcase and provide seed capital to some of the most compelling ventures founded by UVA students. Finalists will perform a live pitch and get expert feedback. More than $50,000 in prizes and in-kind donations will be awarded.
  • Crowdfunded Pitch Night: The i.Lab will co-host the Crowdfunded Pitch Night, one of the festival’s most popular events. Ten local entrepreneurs will have three minutes each to pitch their projects to the crowd. The winner will earn the coveted final spot in the 2016 i.Lab Incubator class, including a $5,000 expense budget provided by Darden’s Batten Institute.
  • i.Lab Incubator Showcase: For the first time, Darden will sponsor an exhibit space at the Founders Summit for members of the i.Lab Incubator. Stop by to see 15 of the hottest startups coming out of UVA, Charlottesville and the country.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

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. 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.

About the Batten Institute

The Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business improves the world through entrepreneurship and innovation. The Institute’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies advances knowledge that addresses real-world challenges and shapes Darden’s curriculum, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers one of the world’s top entrepreneurship programs. The Batten Institute was established with gifts now totaling over $130 million from UVA alumnus Frank Batten Sr., a media pioneer, visionary and co-founder of The Weather Channel.

About the i.Lab at UVA

The i.Lab is a UVA-wide initiative that creates a nexus for entrepreneurship and innovation education. Its mission is to foster deep cross-collaboration with no boundaries, across disciplines, schools or ways of thinking. The i.Lab provides coaching, courses and incubation to students, faculty and community members innovating the future. The i.Lab is a collaborative effort of 11 schools of the University, the Provost’s Office, and UVA’s Licensing & Ventures Group. The i.Lab is operated by the Batten Institute at UVA’s Darden School of Business.

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About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia