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Tom Tom Founders Festival

The Batten Institute partners with the Tom Tom Founders Festival to bring world-class entrepreneurs and ideas to Charlottesville.
  • Ecosystem

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announces its expanded partnership with the Tom Tom Founders Festival, a weeklong celebration of local innovation, music, art and food in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Darden, through its Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the i.Lab at UVA, has been a key supporter of the festival since 2013. As part of the School’s ongoing commitment to cultivate a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem in Charlottesville, Darden has expanded its support in 2016.

Along the way, we’ve developed collaborations with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and the i.Lab has been instrumental in facilitating those connections.

“The Tom Tom Founders Festival serves as a powerful catalyst for entrepreneurship and creative expression,” said Sean Carr, executive director of the Batten Institute at the Darden School. “Our expanded partnership helps accelerate the festival’s impact, reach and contributions to the UVA and Charlottesville community. The Tom Tom Festival itself was a member of our first i.Lab Incubator cohort to include community-based ventures. We are very pleased to see the festival continue to grow and flourish, positively impacting our community and beyond.”

"We couldn’t be more excited to be expanding the partnership with Darden as we approach our fifth annual event,” said Paul Beyer, director of the Tom Tom Founders Festival. “Tom Tom developed its concept for entrepreneurial community building at Darden, and the fruits have been evident in each succeeding year. The festival has grown nearly 400 percent since its opening year, to 26,200 attendees in 2015. Along the way, we’ve developed collaborations with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and the i.Lab has been instrumental in facilitating those connections. We’re looking forward to the best festival yet."

This year, Darden will support four key events at the festival:

  1. Founders Summit and Innovation Panel: Darden will again sponsor the Founders Summit, to help bring together an inspiring group of successful entrepreneurs to share their stories. The i.Lab will host a panel on Building the Ecosystem: Startups, Capital and Community Ethos. The panel, moderated by Darden Professor and Chief Strategy Officer Mike Lenox, will dive into questions about the community context of building a startup, raising capital and developing an ecosystem of entrepreneurship. Panelists include Brendan Richardson, co-founder of PsiKick; Deb McMahon, co-founder of Scitent; and Noah Pittard, special counsel at law firm Cooley.
  2. UVA Entrepreneurship Cup: For the first time, UVA’s Entrepreneurship Cup Launch! Competition will be held at the Tom Tom Founders Festival. This event will showcase and provide seed capital to some of the most compelling ventures founded by UVA students. Finalists will perform a live pitch and get expert feedback. More than $50,000 in prizes and in-kind donations will be awarded.
  3. Crowdfunded Pitch Night: The i.Lab will co-host the Crowdfunded Pitch Night, one of the festival’s most popular events. Ten local entrepreneurs will have three minutes each to pitch their projects to the crowd. The winner will earn the coveted final spot in the 2016 i.Lab Incubator class, including a $5,000 expense budget provided by Darden’s Batten Institute.
  4. i.Lab Incubator Showcase: For the first time, Darden will sponsor an exhibit space at the Founders Summit for members of the i.Lab Incubator. Stop by to see 15 of the hottest startups coming out of UVA, Charlottesville and the country.