i.Lab Company Rise 4 Real Change Creates Ripples in the Education System

When Gina and Bryan Christ moved to Virginia two years ago, the mother and son duo thought that their days of working together were over.  Fortunately for the Charlottesville educational community, that notion didn’t last for long, and their venture Rise 4 Real Change, an evolving and adaptive teen mentoring program is now an integral part of the curriculum at Western Albemarle High School (with two more Charlottesville schools to be rolled out this fall).  Bryan, a UVA First Year at the time, and Gina, newly enjoying a well-earned schedule sans a regular 9-5, had recently left behind a beloved mentorship program that they had created and fostered in their North Carolina hometown.  Although in theory they had now shifted focus to other things, they couldn’t shake the feeling that they were called to do more.

A family vacation in Virginia Beach served as a needed catalyst to reopen the discussion.  Gina and Bryan recall a particular moment during that trip as a pivotal point in the creation of their venture – staring out at the vast ocean and watching the waves ripple to the shore, they agreed that their mutual goal to inspire and support kids throughout their academic journeys was far from complete.

Gina had spent over 25 years working as a school counselor in both New York and North Carolina and, through her tenure, she had touched the lives of countless students who came through the ranks of the private school at which she worked and Bryan studied.  One day, a student who had been heavily involved in the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter, came into her office dismayed that the county had unexpectedly dropped the program.  He wondered aloud what would happen to the child whom he had mentored for three years and was clearly devastated that he “didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.”  Gina and Bryan felt compelled to help fill the void that had been left in their county and to do their part to ensure that no children felt excluded from the traditional constructs of the system.  They turned their “social and moral obligation” into action and began a program that connected their high school student community to area public elementary schools in need.  Thus, in 2011, “Big Buddy Teen Mentors” was born.  

Read the complete story here.

Suz Somersall- founder of Kira Kira and i.Lab alumna- selected by Fast Company as one of the Top 100 Creative People for 2017.

Business magazine Fast Company lists Suz Somersall as one of the most creative people in business 2017.  For her role in getting young girls excited about digital design, she joins Fast Company's top-100 list of inspiring leaders shaping the future of business in a creative way.  For more information read here. 

Husk Brings electricity to Power-hungry Indian Villages

If you start a new business, how many would think of starting in one of the most troubled parts of the country? Yet in 2007, it was one of the first villages Husk (earlier called Husk Power Systems) decided to light up through its gasification technology that could generate electricity from agricultural waste such as rice husk, mustard seeds or corn cob. Manoj Sinha, now 39, finished his master’s in electrical engineering in the United States, worked with Intel for five years and then did his MBA (again in the US) and was set on the usual path of investment banking, an oft-treaded, safe path with rich pickings. Read More...

Wildrock Lets Children's Imaginations Run Wild!

Wildrock, a nonprofit and former i.Lab company, is now open for reservations after more than two years of work by founder Carolyn Schuyler.  Thanks to Schuyler’s family and scores of volunteers, the three-acre play area, located next to Albemarle County’s Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Park, hopes to encourage children to use their imaginations and inspire a lifelong enjoyment of nature! Read more here

Big Month for Darden Students’ Startup 1Degree

It’s been quite a run for Second Years Sam Boochever and Max Huc and their startup, 1Degree, which they founded as students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business with support from the W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab Incubator program. The 1Degree app allows users to bid on opportunities to speak to celebrity influencers face-to-face via Facetime. Read more here. 

Agrospheres Takes 1st Place at 2017 ACC Inventure Competition.

Current i.Lab Company, Agrospheres, battled it out Shark Tank-style and took home the Gold at this year's Atlantic Coast (ACC) InVenture competition. Agrospheres, founded by UVA students, is a biotech company that gives farmers precise control over their harvesting schedule by degrading excess pesticides into a non-toxic derivative, allowing the farmer to harvest their produce on-demand while complying with the Pre-Harvest Intervals set by the EPA.  Read more here.  



From Idea to Startup in a Year: Rhoback — Activewear for Men

The founders of Rhoback didn't wait until graduation from the Darden School of Business to start their company. Instead, they used the assets of the School and the i.Lab at UVA to launch their “Under Armour meets Vineyard Vines” line of high-end active wear right away. Here's there story of how they want from idea to activewear startup over the course of the year.

Watch the video here.

Zach Mayo (RelishMBA) on Taking a Project From Idea to Tested Business Model

In this interview for the Interdisciplinarian at Darden, you'll hear how RelishMBA co-founder Zach Mayo took his project from idea to tested business model. If you have a new idea and you're just dying to get some software built, don't listen to this interview because that's not what happened. Zach and his co-founder put their idea through the paces with minimum viable product (MVP) vehicles like PowerPoint and curated emails. Their idea changed substantially during the process and so did (ultimately) their software.

Listen to the podcast here.

KiraKira's Suz Somersall on Closing The Gender Gap in STEAM And 3D Printing.

When Suz had the opportunity to participate in an incubator program at UVA's Darden School of Business, she had so many undergrad female UVA interns coming to her, with an excitement to learn 3D modeling. The problem was that she truly did not have time to teach them, so instead she went to the head of the Mechanical Engineering Lab to ask if the undergrads could go on campus and take classes.   Read complete article here &  learn more about Kira Kira here.  

2017 i.Lab Summer Accelerator Application Live on January 3rd

Today the i.Lab announced the 2017 i.Lab Summer Accelerator Application will go live on January 3rd.  A community-oriented application workshop designed to answer basic questions about the application process will be held on December 5th, 2016, from 6pm-730pm at the i.Lab.  Space is limited and registration is required.  Read more and register here

i.Lab Alum DreamWakers Featured in Forbes

DreamWakers is a nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of free video technologies like Skype and Google Hangout to bring exceptional career speakers into high need classrooms, inspiring students across America. They work with 4-12th grade students in schools with greater than 50% free and reduced lunch and/or in exceptionally rural districts.  Read more about DreamWakers here. 


i.Lab Venture AgroSpheres Wins VA Velocity Pitch Competition

Last week's Tomtoberfest included the Charlottesville stop on the Virginia Velocity Tour, a statewide tour and startup competition representing a partnership between Village Capital and the Office of the Governor, in which $125,000 in awards were split between five themed competitions in five cities. Charlottesville's theme was "Food and Agriculture," and tour participants gathered in the i.Lab as part of their day-long visit to the area. i.Lab venture AgroSpheres was awarded first place in the competition. Learn More

Here's My Story Founder and i.Lab Alumnus, Avery Chenoweth, Featured in The New York Times

Older Entrepreneurs Take On the ‘Concrete Ceiling’

"Mr. Chenoweth, with a 65-year-old partner, recently started a business called Here’s My Story, whose gaming app brings history alive through location-based role-playing.

"It works with Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where users participate in the lives of historical figures. Slaves, soldiers and nurses are depicted through an interactive process that takes the oral storytelling of Mr. Chenoweth’s childhood beyond the front porch.

"It wasn’t easy to become an entrepreneur later in life. Originally a novelist, Mr. Chenoweth had a major heart attack that left him too fatigued to write. He had to look elsewhere to pay the bills..." Read More

Darden News: "i.Lab Startups in Focus: 1Degree and 1787fp"

"The summer of 2016 marked another successful session for the i.Lab at UVA Incubator, with 23 ventures graduating from the 10-week program.

"Two promising app-based startups emerged from the summer program, energized by the opportunity before them and with their respective founders eager to see their apps take up residence on smartphones around the world...." Learn More