Vicarious Ventures: Virtually Transporting Adventurers To National Parks

In 1916, the National Park Service was signed into existence by President Woodrow Wilson to coalesce the protection and management of national parks and monuments under a single federal organization. One hundred years later in 2016, Darius Nabors and Trevor Kemp visited their 59th national park, the last stop on their journey to visit all 59 national parks in 59 weeks. Their adventure captured national attention along the way. “As I was on this trip, I was taking 360 degree photos and writing blog posts for fun. I never imagined how much news coverage I would be getting -- NPRPBSAmerican Airlines -- the whole nine yards,” says Darius, founder of Vicarious Ventures.

Shakti Apparel: Empowering Women In Rural India And Powering Ethical Clothing Consumption

For years now, major clothing manufacturers and retailers have been outsourcing production to regions with cheap labor and minimal labor laws, mainly in regions located within South America, Africa, and Asia. It seems like every year a new labor exploitation scandal is revealed, linking a huge retailer like U.S.-based Gap or Sweden’s H&M to worker abuse in factories and sweatshops. Shakti Apparel is working to provide not only fair wages and a safe working environment to employees, but to get work out into the rural villages of India. “I’m from a tiny country in South Asia called Bangladesh that is being exploited by fashion companies every day,” says Shafat Khan, Chief Marketing Officer and a co-founder of Shakti Apparel. “I grew up in the problem, I partook in the problem when I bought clothes produced in this messed up system, and then I finally said, ‘This is not okay.’”

HeatSight Founder Alexander Sarris Designing A More Sophisticated Night Vision System

Thermal imaging is in use across a myriad of professions, from the work with more direct linked uses such as firefighting and law enforcement to less obvious jobs. From contractors trying to improve heat efficiency in houses to electrical engineers pinpointing heat problems in wiring and circuitry, the practical uses of thermal imaging are spread across industries of all kinds.

PurPics: Connecting Companies, Consumers, and Causes

Corporate Social Responsibility, commonly referred to by the acronym CSR, is a policy for corporations to enact ethical and sustainable business practices, as well as being involved in the public, specifically through interaction with causes for social good, examples being charities or environmental sustainability NGOs (non-government organizations). iLab team PurPics is enabling efficient and effective CSR between businesses and Generation Z consumers, who are young adults who have grown up in the digital age. The goal of PurPics, in the words of co-founder Victor Layne, is “to make fundraising as easy as posting a picture for students as well as providing brands with a valuable way to connect with young consumers.”

Tsampa Tsnacks: Introducing Tibetan Food and Meditation To A Larger Audience

Tsampa is a roasted barley flour that is the staple ingredient in Tibetan cuisine. The team behind the aptly named Tsampa Tsnacks (the T in “Tsnacks” is silent, just like the T in “tsampa”) is bringing their own take on tsampa-based Tibetan morsels to the U.S. “We wanted to work with the main ingredient of our Tibetan culture, tsampa,” says Chenam Barshee, co-founder of Tsampa Tsnacks. “Traditionally, Tibetans eat tsampa mixed with butter tea, but we were searching for our own twist on that.” 

MIST Founders Developing A Cutting-Edge Method of Scoliosis Treatment

Every year, around three million cases of scoliosis are diagnosed each year in the United States, with the majority of these cases being idiopathic scoliosis manifesting in children between 10 and 12 years old. (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, approximately 38,000 surgeries for scoliosis are administered every year. A specific kind of scoliosis named adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, or AIS, is “a fancy term for an extreme curvature of the spine in children that has no known source,” says Alexander Singh, CEO of Minimally Invasive Spinal Technology, LLC. 

i.Lab Alums Relish and Totem in the News

Sarah Rumbaugh is all of 30 years old, and part of a generation that, as she puts it, “will struggle to do as well as our parents, no matter how well-educated or how hard-working we are.”

So, at the helm of her own tech startup, Relish (operator of, she’s taken Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to “lean in” under advisement, but with her own set of internal reservations.

Last week, in between work trips to New Orleans and Miami, Rumbaugh closed on the acquisition of a competitor of sorts, Chicago-based

“If anything, I envisioned us being acquired by somebody,” Rumbaugh said in a quick interview before she raced off to Miami. “Never did I think we would acquire another company.”

MAP Sports: Developing a Measurable System of Motivation for Players, Coaches, And Beyond

A search online for a “measurable system of motivation” will bring up research papers with dense psychology terminology and vague phrases like “a general theory of measurable systems” or “circumstances… which may help distinguish between different dimensions of motivation.”That’s something that the team behind the Mindset Assessment Project for Sports, or MAP Sports for short, is hoping to change. “What’s the recipe that optimally motivates people in general? I can’t give you a recipe or formula [for motivation] that will fit on a Post-It note. And that’s why we’re here,”  co-founder Kenn Barron states decisively.

Kenn is a professor of psychology at James Madison University, where he is a co-director of the Motivation Research Institute along with Chris Hulleman, another co-founder of MAP Sports. Right now, he is collaborating with the four other members of MAP Sports to develop a simple and effective method to quantitatively measuring motivation, starting with the field of sports psychology. 

Reimagining Science Education: DataClassroom

In classrooms across the United States, science experiments are often the core experience through which middle and high school students gain experience with the scientific method, experimental processes, and recording data. However, an accessible data analysis tool for teachers and students to simplify data collection and get students familiar with basic data analysis has yet to be widely implemented in schools.

“In all of my experiences working with teachers, I saw the piece that they were really missing was that they didn’t have a tool for students to analyze this data… and the role of data analysis is going to become increasingly larger in solving the world’s most pressing problems,” explains Aaron Reedy.

Beanstalk Wins i.Lab Kathryne Carr Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence

The W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab at UVA is pleased to announce the 2018 winner of the Kathryne Carr Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Beanstalk, a 2017 i.Lab company, was recognized for its strong business performance and commercial potential, its entrepreneurial community impact, and for the selfless leadership demonstrated by its founders, brothers Jack (Engr '17) and Mike Ross. Read more about Beanstalk here

Beanstalk was one of four finalists that included Babylon Micro-Farms, Nuna Med, and Brandefy. The final decision was very difficult. Each of the finalist teams are clearly dedicated to their cause, making forward progress on their ventures and are strong contributors to the community of founders on Nash drive.

The annual award, which includes a grant of at least $25,000, was created in 2016 in memory of Kathryne “Kathy” Carr — the first director of the i.Lab Incubator program. Read more about the award here


Fox News On Rhoback Supporting Shelter To Service Program

Jesse Walters of Fox News' "The Five" highlights Rhoback's work with American Humane's Shelter to Service Program. 

For the last four months Rhoback has been donating a portion of every sale to this great cause and will continue to do so until they raise enough funds to rescue and train a service dog for a veteran in need.  Click here for more information on Rhoback working with Shelter to Service. Click here watch the Fox News highlight. 

UVA Darden Named Among Best in U.S. For Entrepreneurship

Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine has ranked the University of Virginia Darden School of Business the No. 7 graduate business school in the U.S. for entrepreneurship.

This Top 10 recognition marks the third straight year Darden has improved in the entrepreneurship ranking, moving up from No. 11 in 2016.  Read more here. 

i.Lab alum Agrospheres Participates in House Small Business Subcommittee Meeting on High-Tech Agriculture

The hearing examined rapid development of the agricultural technology (agtech) industry driven by the private sector.  Entrepreneurs are tackling industry challenges and facilitating technology transfer from the lab to the farm to the table.  Agricultural regions are competing to be the next great innovation hub, which has spurred rural revitalization.  The discussion explored issues beyond the headlines to understand the role of small businesses and the perspective of small family farmers. Click here to watch the entire hearing. 

501 Auctions Makes Inc 5000 List of The Fastest-Growing Private Companies In America

501 Auctions is a former i.Lab company and Darden alum (MBA '12).  The company helps fund the growth of nonprofits with its easy-to-use mobile bidding software and auction management service. Additionally, it automates many of the time-consuming manual tasks associated with holding an event, and opens charities' silent auctions to supporters who otherwise could not participate. Read here for more information on 501 Auctions. 

PAKA nearing $60,000 in Kickstarter campaign- 3x their initial goal!

UPDATE 9/27: PAKA raises close to $110,000 with 26 days still left to go!

i.Lab company PAKA is not just any apparel company; they have a sustainable-impact approach dedicated to improving the lives of the Peruvian women weaving some of the softest and warmest material on earth: alpaca wool. Founder Kris Cody brings this unique material to the global market in his first ever crowdfunding campaign, and since the launch of the Kickstarter on Tuesday, September 19, PAKA has raised nearly $60,000- 3x the initial goal of $20K!  Read more about Kris Cody and PAKA here.

 The public still has 32 days left to back this campaign.  Please click here to support PAKA. 

On Knowing When It’s Right with Alissa Micciulla

“How can we wear a ton of stuff all the time without owning it?” is the question Alissa Micciulla tells me started her business, over a holiday brunch visit with an old friend during Alissa’s first year at Darden School of Business. She was back home in New York City, and the two friends were lamenting the fact that their mutual love of fashion (and love-hate relationship with fashion’s inherent trends and one-and-done mentality) meant that they were always searching for a new special outfit to wear to the numerous NYC engagements popping up on their calendars. I can instantly relate – some derivation of that question has been plaguing me for years. Similarly, I can almost guarantee that somewhere, across town, two women were having a related but opposite conversation about how they could profitably lighten the load of their bulging wardrobes of once-worn designer duds. And that’s the beauty of this idea, it solves a problem that women from all backgrounds have frequently pondered. As Alissa’s effectuation studies at Darden have taught her, despite startup lore, not being the only one in the world with your idea is not a bad thing, it’s actually the best validation you can get.