UVA Students Launch Businesses Before Graduating

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Helen Marks Helen Marks
Max Huc Max Huc
Jason Brewster Jason Brewster

Many people go to business school to learn how to start a business. But, at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, some students are getting their enterprises up and running long before they graduate.

Helen Marks, a second-year student at Darden, got the idea for Cara's Market, as she was moving to Charlottesville to start business school.

Marks needed to find a couch for her apartment, and a friend told her about chemicals that are added to furniture that can be detrimental to health.

After spending over 30 hours researching, Marks says she wanted to make it easier on people to find sustainable, healthy products.

"It's a huge shame if someone has harmful products to them and they don't even know about it," said Marks. "To me, the number one service we provide is raising awareness on what's in your home already."

Second-year students Sam Boochever and Max Huc started an app called 1Degree that connects people with those that influence their lives.

"You can essentially sign up to the app as an influencer,” said CEO Huc."Once you're approved by our team you can create auctions that consist of FaceTime slots."

"Influencers" can keep the money raised from auctions, or donate it to a charitable organization.

Students with start-ups before they leave school is a trend professors say they are seeing more.

"We see all types come into Darden. We have those who have done it several times - we call them serial entrepreneurs. Then, we have those who just have aspirations," said i.Lab Incubator Director, Jason Brewster.

"Maybe they've been in consulting, or worked at an ad agency or manufacturing, but they know they can do a business and start their own business with the right environment," Brewster said.

In school, entrepreneurs are gaining access to its network, influential instructors, and opportunities to win grants for their businesses.

"We help them with the incorporation process, and we start to bring them through an entrepreneurial framework," adds Brewster.

For Marks, Boochever, and Huc graduation is just the next step.

"The plan is to build it, and see how big it can get," Marks said.