UVA Darden Graduate’s Medical Venture Named One of the ‘Most Disruptive’ Startups of 2021

By Dave Hendrick

Ultra EM, a medical diagnostic company founded by University of Virginia Darden School of Business graduate Dr. C. Malcolm Roberson (MBA ’21), is one of the most disruptive MBA startups of 2021, according to Poets & Quants.

The publication included Roberson’s venture in its roundup of new ventures from MBA alumni in the Class of 2021 with the greatest potential to make impact and last beyond business school.

According to Roberson, Ultra EM is a “dynamic ultrasound simulator that teaches medical students to accurately capture and interpret FAST exams in a fun, game-like way.” The idea for the venture came to Roberson and his cofounders when their clinical experiences were significantly altered at the onset of the pandemic. The current options for ultrasound training were decidedly lacking, said Roberson, who pursued an MBA while earning his medical degree at the UVA School of Medicine.

With the help of Darden instructors, mentors and venture competitions, the venture began to form.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? In Effectual Entrepreneurship with Professor Saras Sarasvathy, I learned about the key elements of effectual entrepreneurship, and we have used them since our inception. From utilizing the bird in hand principle to take advantage of the contacts and resources we have available, to learning how to make the most out of any situation, effectuation has been a vital tool for operating efficiently.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Alex Cowan and Jason Brewster (director of venture programs at Darden’s Batten Institute) have made significant contributions to our venture’s founding and growth. Alex helped immensely with the design and development of our software from its earliest stages. Jason has been a powerful advocate and mentor, connecting us with entrepreneurs and mentors throughout the country, as well as inspiring new ideas and ways for us to impact medical education through our platform.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our long-term goal with Ultra EM is to build a comprehensive library of ultrasound cases in a variety of clinical scenarios, helping train people around the world in ultrasound image capturing, interpretation, and medical decision-making. We would like to partner with medical schools and residency programs in the US and internationally to guide this aspect of their education and prepare them for a future in clinical practice. We also want to inspire students of color to pursue medical education and entrepreneurship through our actions and efforts.

Read the full profile on Poets & Quants.

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 17,000 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.


Press Contact

David Hendrick
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia