Why Virginia Tech Should Be On Your Radar

October 21, 2015

8:00 am

We first reported on Virginia Tech’s entrepreneurial scene back in 2013. We knew back then that Blacksburg was becoming a hub of innovation and things have only gotten bigger and better for the university and town (err…city) since then.

The university recently launched the Innovate Venture Lab with support from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. The main goal is to lure students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship to Virginia Tech and prove they have as much to offer as powerhouses like MIT and Stanford.

The lab is the newest component of the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) which was founded in 2014. The Apex Systems CIE was started as an experiential, university campus-based community focused on entrepreneurship and innovation at the undergraduate level.

“The venture lab is student run and focused on students,” said Derick Maggard, the executive director at Apex told DC Inno. “It fits into our slogan of learn, launch, lead.

In addition to the new Venture Lab, the Apex Systems CIE has accomplished a lot in its first year, including:

  • The Innovate Living-Learning Community (LLC) which offers students in a wide variety of majors to gain insights into the entrepreneurial process, interact with successful entrepreneurs, and learn from Virginia Tech faculty and community partners with expertise in areas related to innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • An Entrepreneur-in-residence program (EIR) that provides daily interactions and engagement with notable entrepreneurs for students to expand their networks and get feedback on their ventures.
  • Entrepreneur Treks that provide students with the opportunity to visit progressive international companies and network with venture capitalists.
  • VT Catalyst Fellowship Program (CFP) that places students with startup companies, and entrepreneurial and intra-preneurial ventures.
  • The VT Investor Network (VTIN) of Hokies funding Hokies, comprised of alumni dedicated to funding high potential startups across the country, with a beginning focus on southwest Virginia and the National Capital Region.

Innovation at Virginia Tech certainly did not start with the launch of the Apex Systems CIE or the Innovate Venture Lab. Student and faculty founded startups have been calling Blacksburg home for years. Here are just a few startups based in Hokie Country.

VirtualU – They pivoted from a shopping app to creating a 3D scanner to model, measure and track a user’s fitness program. The company closed a $625,000 seed round fund in 2014 and has partnered with Whole Foods as well as several gyms.

Koofers – It originally started as a platform to help students get up-to-date study materials. In 2013, they expanded to include a way for students to find jobs more easily with its Campus Recruiter service. They now offer a professor rating service as well.

Aeroprobe – Aeroprobe designs and builds tools to measure and analyze airflow. Their designs have been used by car and airplane makers, wind turbine designers and by NASA for rockets tested by the agency. .

Smart College Visit – Helps students and parents people search and plan those all important college visits. It includes aid in arranging visits as well as a mobile app and website with information on what colleges and universities are like.

Riff Digital – Riff is an app for iOS and Android that allows users to send music to friends. If they send it to someone else with Riff it can be opened directly, or other wise it is sent as a text message with a link to open in a browser.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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