UVA Darden’s New Venture Lab Supports MBA Entrepreneurs

By Derry Wade

Student founders at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business have a new avenue of support. Darden Venture Lab, launched in September by Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, offers students of Darden’s full-time MBA program dedicated workspace, group meetings, mentorship, networking and financial assistance during the academic year.

“Entrepreneurs don’t want to put their ideas aside to go to school. Our student entrepreneurs want to advance their ideas and ventures while they are at Darden. That is why we established Darden Venture Lab,” said Jason Brewster, director of the incubator program at the W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab at UVA. “This program reinforces Darden’s commitment to student entrepreneurs — from those with startup aspirations to active founders with thriving startups.”

Darden Venture Lab fills an important need within Darden’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, particularly among MBA students unable to participate in the i.Lab’s flagship summer incubator program, which requires full-time participation at the i.Lab for 10 weeks (June-August).  This new, competitive program allows students to apply on a semester-basis for access to i.Lab resources. Applications are evaluated by a selection panel including i.Lab Incubator program mentors and Darden faculty.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing to scale Single Baked Sweets with the help of the Darden Venture Lab,” said Melissa Stefaniak (Class of 2019). “Our immediate goal is to move from direct-sales to e-commerce in early 2019. With the resources the Darden Venture Lab offers, from mentors to seed funding to collaborating with other ventures, we can now move even faster to realize that goal.”

Darden Venture Lab joins the robust suite of offerings for entrepreneurially minded students at Darden, which includes more than 35 courses plus workshops, competitions, internships, fellowships and career planning programs. The first cohort of Darden Venture Lab participants this fall includes:

Brock Endeavors LLC: The Hex Pin Board is a great alternative to a cork board with fun, playful color options that can decorate a room. Founder: Cameron Brock (Class of 2020)

Health Care Expert Solutions Inc. provides virtual assistants who can fill out physicians’ patient health records with them, making physicians more efficient. Founder: Aamir Imam (Class of 2020)

oneTILT makes organizations more diverse and inclusive, one manager at a time. Founder: Kimberly Diaz (Class of 2019)

Single Baked Sweets: Single-serve, bake-at-home desserts that come with the premeasured dry ingredients and bakeware needed to make a delicious treat for one! Founder: Melissa Stefaniak (Class of 2019)

Slay is the most affordable and flexible beauty membership ever. A ClassPass for beauty, consumers seamlessly book appointments at salons. Founders: Kelly Bonilla and Jade Palomino, both Class of 2020

Squirly LLC is a smart, concierge shopping service that ensures you never run out of your most frequently consumed products. Founder: Colin Leslie (Class of 2019)

Tall Order makes comfortable and stylish socks for men of all sizes and gives back to charity in honor of the founders’ dad, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Founder: Dan Friedman (Class of 2019)

Trauma Cap is a simple-yet-elegant medical device that will greatly improve treatment for head trauma and outcomes for life threatening injuries. Founders: David Waidelich and Chris Thomson (Class of 2019)

Applications for the spring 2019 Darden Venture Lab program will be made available to students in January.

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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