New Progressive Incubator To Nurture Students Award-Winning
6, 2000 -- Kareen Looi is convinced her business
idea is a good one.
of judges agreed when they awarded Looi and her partner Kiernan
Conn first place in Dardens Business Plan Competition for
their presentation of Setagon, a company they are creating to develop
and market a specialized medical device for the treatment of serious
cardiovascular disease. The two recent graduates of the University
of Virginias Darden Graduate School of Business Administration
won $10,000 and a spot in Dardens new Progressive Incubator™.
Progressive Incubator, one of several innovative programs run by
Dardens Batten Institute, provides students with the resources
needed to build strong foundations for their early-stage businesses
-- including six months of free office space, Internet access, business
advice, access to venture capital funding, and a summer stipend.
Fifteen Darden students are currently participating in the incubator
program. Unlike other incubator projects, the Batten Institutes
Progressive Incubator does not take an equity stake in the young
companies in payment for its services.
Batten Institute serves Darden by supporting research and other
programs that explore the ways in which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial
organizations create, lead and transform global enterprises. The
Institute was launched last winter with a $60 million gift, the
largest ever contributed to a business school, from Frank Batten
Sr., the retired chairman of Landmark Communications Inc., an international
media company with broad holdings in electronic and print media,
including The Weather Channel in Atlanta and The Virginian-Pilot
Looi, the question now is whether she can persuade others -- biomedical
engineers, cardiologists, insurers, venture capitalists, financial
analysts -- of the viability of her vision. She wants to develop
and sell an angioplasty stent -- a device used in cardiac surgery
to clear blocked arteries -- that can also deliver drugs. Shes
starting from scratch, without a medical background, entrepreneurial
experience, or financial backers. But her passion for her idea and
the boost from the Progressive Incubator should help her reach her
was trained as a lawyer in her native Singapore, a background she
believes helped her keep her cool while fielding questions during
her business plan presentation. It also didnt hurt that she
and her partner had been working on the idea for months -- starting
with a group of students in a venture capital class last fall --
and had thought through answers to many of the questions the judges
Darden students conducted research in the library, on foot and over
the phone. They studied the history and dynamics of their market.
They developed an organizational model for a startup company. They
talked to cardiologists and to purchasing managers in cardiology
departments about similar products, as well as products the professionals
wished they had but couldnt find. They explored industry trends
with health care and biotechnology consultants and asked about products
that failed. They spoke with financial analysts and venture capitalists
to learn how financial markets view investments in biotechnology
companies. They explored patenting issues.
short, they demonstrated to the judges that their idea was based
on a huge amount of research. And with Looi turning down lucrative
job offers to direct the fledgling company after graduation, they
demonstrated their commitment to seeing the idea through, a factor
in securing a spot in Dardens Progressive Incubator.
currently have several Internet ventures in the Progressive Incubator,
but we're interested in promising teams and ventures period.
So, we plan to include as broad a range of high-tech and 'new economy'
companies as possible," said
E. Dunn III, director of the Batten Institute. "Medical ventures,
such as Setagon, are typical of the kinds of enterprises spinning
out from major research universities like U.Va."
addition to Loois and Conns victory in Darden's Business
Plan Competition 2000, which was sponsored by the Batten Institute
and the Darden Entrepreneurs Club, other finalists -- all of whom
received invitations to join the Progressive Incubator -- included:
Networks -- a company that designs and manufactures digital home
network portals; Krishnan Srinivasan, Andy Bubala, and Mike McMahon;
Return Solutions -- a dot.com company based on a software program
that provides a liquidation service for returned goods; David
Ellis, Steve Dennen, Karl Hartmann, Josh Larson, Bill Stevens;
e4dex -- service linking small business professionals via mobile
phone; Chris Duffus, Gavin Daniels, Jose Zertuche.
competition judges were: Laura Lukaczyk, New Enterprise Associates;
E. Rogers Novak, Novak Biddle Venture Partners; Jeffrey Nuechterlein,
National Gypsum Pension Fund; and Kyp Sirinakis, Women Angels Network.
also recently ran a Business Concept Competition for students with
business ideas at an earlier stage of development. The business
concepts selected for Dardens Progressive Incubator are:
Data Services -- remote processing of retail data; Michael Smoot,
Mahboob Hossain, Brian Lacey;
Blue Ridge Surgery Systems -- surgical protocols; J. Forrest Calland,
Reemba.com -- e-marketplace for independent retailers in the hardware
and lumber industries; Steve Maiden, Juan Jose Ortiz, Marco Vega;
BeatStreet.net -- securities markets intelligence and modeling;
Ryan Ridges, David Murphy, Andy Burt.
more information, call Chris Allerton in Dardens news office
at (804) 924-7673.
Chris Allerton, (804) 924-7673