Darden Alum, by EILLY Founder Wins Kathryne Carr Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

By Molly Mitchell

Elizabeth Blankenship (MBA ’22) was honored this fall with the Kathryne Carr Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence in recognition of her outstanding work as an i.Lab UVA entrepreneur and founder of By Eilly.

The award, which includes a grant of $25,000, is presented annually by The W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab at UVA, an initiative of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. The i.Lab Incubator provides a goal-oriented, guided-learning program for student founders of innovative ventures.

"Kathy believed in startup founders."
Jason Brewster, iLab Incubator director, on Kathy Carr
Kathryne Carr headshot by Eilly founder wins Kathryne Carr Award

Kathryne Carr

The honor is named for Kathryne “Kathy” Carr, the first director of the i.Lab Incubator program. It is awarded to the i.Lab founder who best represents Kathy’s commitment to community and entrepreneurial excellence, as well as Kathy’s inspired generosity, passion, perseverance and moxie. “Kathy believed in startup founders,” said i.Lab Incubator director Jason Brewster. “She put her heart and soul into the incubator, and this award is a recognition of her dedication to the program and founders.”

By Eilly (formerly “Coton”) turns leftover textiles from luxury fashion brands into designer garments on-demand. Founded by Blankenship (also a founding member of the Darden KPI Club), her startup previously won the 2022 UVA Entrepreneurship Cup’s Launch Competition.

Blankenship was recognized at a ceremony, which included presentations by 2022 i.Lab ventures that presented their products, explained how they’ve progressed, and shared their vision for the future and next steps. The event featured:

  • Clarifi

Founded by Bradley Levergood (MBA ’23). Clarifi is a distraction free homework tool that encourages students to complete their homework in a timely manner. This digital workplace assembles big assignments into small, actionable tasks so students feel more accomplished, and therefore more motivated, to complete homework.

Founded by Emily Ashtiani (MBA ’22). Earnestly solves corporate employee & client gifting for busy leaders. Earnestly provide personalized, meaningful gifts, always aligned with our client’s needs and ethos.

Founded by Liana Lei (MBA ’22). LA FOI is a jewelry line focused on female empowerment, affordability, and sustainability. The dainty pieces include rings, necklaces, and earrings.

Founded by Jeremy Suh (SEAS ’24) and Aditya Kumar (SEAS ’24). Spot Social Fitness is an app for socially interacting with your friends as you work out. Spot motivates individuals to workout not only by having reminders, but also by seeing pictures of their friends complete certain exercises.

Founded by Cresta Campbell (Col ’23) and Trey Winn (Col/McIntire ’21). Vibez Music is a music sharing application that effectively and seamlessly decentralizes the aux. It allows multiple phones to sync wirelessly to build playlists on the host’s speaker-connected device.

Batten Institute executive director Omar Garriott commended the startup founders for braving a difficult and indirect route in their career aspirations. “We all know that there are direct routes in school. And then there’s the indirect path. It’s bumpier, takes longer and has unexpected curves – but it rewards you with the scenic view. I’m at a point now in my life and career where I can really admire people who choose the scenic view.”

By Eilly Founder Wins Kathryne Carr Award

Group shot with startup founders at Kathy Carr Award event.

Kathy Carr’s daughter, Maurie Carr, presented the award to Blankenship and shared a few words about her mother. “One of the things she loved more than anything was encouraging people on their entrepreneurial journeys and holding them accountable to the things they said they wanted to do. She was fierce in that way.”

MORE: UVA Darden Students Dominate UVA Entrepreneurship Cup’s Launch Competition

Blankenship earnestly explained how much the support meant to her personally and her business, especially since she learned of the award at a particularly challenging time for By Eilly. “I was thinking, ‘I just received the Kathy Carr award,’” she said. “I have the ability to take another chance, so let’s just do it.”

Taking the chance paid off. “I was able to save 147 yards of fabric that were going to a landfill otherwise. It was double the amount that I had done in a year, and I served 308 customers. It was just incredible. And I think that’s really what the award has meant for me – the ability to take those chances for success.”

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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