The University of Virginia Darden School of Business welcomed 20 venture teams to the 2019 i.Lab Incubator program, which has been in operation for 20 years. This year’s companies are developing products and services ranging from French crepes to designer Italian clothing to virtual reality exoskeletons. The cohort includes 13 ventures founded by UVA students, representing six schools including Darden, two ventures founded by UVA alumni and five ventures founded by local Charlottesville, Virginia, area community members.
The incubator program, an initiative of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs across Grounds and beyond. Currently housed at the W.L. Lyons Brown III Innovation Laboratory (i.Lab at UVA), it is one of the few UVA-funded programs that supports ventures independent of University connections.
Participants in the immersive 10-week program receive workspace and an initial $5,000 grant, with the opportunity to apply for up to an additional $5,000. Each venture team advances its ideas through workshops, new venture curriculum, and mentorship from experienced founders and industry professionals. Incubator ventures also gain access to networking opportunities, pro bono legal advice and other expertise.
The program’s core curriculum draws extensively from the work of Darden Professor Saras Sarasvathy on effectuation, a logic of thinking used by expert entrepreneurs. This framework relies on principles gleaned from studying the habits of successful entrepreneurs, such as working within existing resources and co-creating solutions with others. One key principle of effectuation taught in the program is the “effectual ask,” intended to encourage founders to engage with the wider community, including mentors and founders.
“Initially, we set expectations for entrepreneurs to just make the ask,” said i.Lab Incubator Director Jason Brewster. “Once the founders gain confidence, we shift toward how these asks can create greater impact, both for founders and those being asked.”
As part of its economic commitment to the Charlottesville area, the i.Lab prioritizes providing resources to startups based in the local community. Since its launch in 2000, the program has allocated over $1.5 million in grant funding to more than 275 companies, supporting nearly 450 founders. “This year alone, we will support over 40 entrepreneurs who are choosing to start their new companies in Charlottesville,” said i.Lab at UVA Senior Director David Touve.
2019 Summer Incubator Program Ventures
BEATDiabetes, founded by Susan Blank, decreases the burden of Type 2 diabetes through innovative, text message-based patient engagement.
BraveX, founded by William Kodama (Engr ’21), Dhyey Parikh (Engr ’21) and Yaman Shrestha (Engr ’21), offers virtual reality simulating real-life physical interactions using biomechanically restrictive augmented/virtual exoskeleton technology.
CardBoard Live, founded by Wilson Hunter and James Hsu, is a Twitch for hobby games with a marketplace — for example, Amazon plus YouTube with an emphasis on live content.
Division 1-On-1 Trainers, founded by Jared Vishno (Grad ’20) and Grant Sirlin (Grad ’20), is the only NCAA-approved platform that connects college athletes to young athletes for in-person personal sports training sessions.
Dr. Eva SkinCare, founded by Dr. Eva King and Avery Chenoweth (Grad ’91), creates products that work with the skin, not against it. The products revolutionize skin care with integrity, empathy and science.
Flexadyne, founded by Alexa Guittari (Engr ’20), Alison Orr and Peter Apollo, uses precision and technology for athletes to get back to their best by 3D printing custom smart ACL braces.
Heartbeat, founded by Tomeka Carroll (Engr ’22), helps busy, distracted and tired parents feel like they have additional support in remembering their toddler is in the car.
Lotta, founded by Muhammad Ahmad (Com ’20) and Naseerullah Khan (Col ’20), is a portable bidet that allows users to clean themselves using a familiarly designed product while traveling abroad.
Lusitano, founded by Edward Monteiro de Barros (Grad ’19), makes handmade beautiful Italian suits and sport coats with professional sports jerseys as the linings.
MedLock, founded by Roy Jad (Engr ’22), Rishub Handa (Engr ’22), and Sahil Parikh (Col ’22), combats the opioid crisis by developing a pill dispenser that tracks consumption to enforce regimen adherence and prevent diversion.
MetaCTF, founded by Roman Bohuk (Engr ’20), Jacob Smith (Engr ’20), Marina Sanusi (Engr ’20) and Mariah Kenny (Engr’19), makes cybersecurity education accessible and fun by creating hands-on, interactive and learning-based competitions and training events.
My K-12 Advisor, founded by Carlos Bortoni (MBA/M.Ed.’19), is an online platform that connects K–12 schools with the companies, nonprofits and individuals who serve them.
Northshea, founded by Charity Dinko (Grad ’18) and Felix Sam, is an all-natural and sustainable Shea butter-based cosmetic line that functions to relieve dry skin while alleviating poverty.
Pingus, founded by Stephen Ramon (Med ’21) and Shockley Nunnery (Med ’21), is a wearable doppler ultrasound that monitors distal intra operative blood flow and alerts physicians of emerging graft failure.
Riley, founded by Elizabeth Tikoyan (Educ ’18), is a social network for the disability, ill and caretaker community, connecting people with the same disability or chronic illness to each other with 1-to-1 connections.
Savvy Sage, founded by Kelly Barnett, is a post-death navigational tool created to ensure a credible and safe marketplace for a surviving spouse.
Solène’s, founded by Solène De Clippeleir (Col ’18), is a food truck that sells sweet and savory French crêpes on UVA Grounds. It offers authentic recipes made with local products.
Trulli, founded by Amanda Joseph (MBA’19), is a platform to search, share and build travel plans based on recommendations from the people you trust most: your friends.
Tunari, founded by Mijail Espinoza, is a company that develops software that helps small cities gather and manage data in the waste management field.