Female Founders’ ‘KPI Club’ Builds Collective Venture Support

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Darden’s entrepreneurial ecosystem seems to be really hitting its stride. Among the numerous formal resources available to both full-time and Executive MBA students, there are also a number of student-led groups that lend peer support and function as a type of guild to help advance each other’s ventures. Just a few of the formal entrepreneurship resources available to students include: The Batten Institute (which plays a key role in harnessing Darden’s entrepreneurial spirit and developing resources for and with founders), Startup Academy, the Batten Scholarship Program, UVA’s E-Cup competition, the Darden Pitch Competition and a host of MBA classes. The full-time MBA Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, Executive MBA Entrepreneurship Club, Executive MBA Venture Capital Club, and the newly minted KPI Club are also just a handful of the student-led groups that serve as a hub for MBA founders.

Class of 2022 students Elizabeth Blankenship, Megan Nash, Jing Xu, Cecilia Rios Murrieta and Megan McGee were all named finalists in the Darden Pitch Competition, and the KPI Club was born shortly thereafter.

To Blankenship, the most remarkable thing was not that all finalists were women. The surprise to her was that they all became one another’s biggest cheerleaders. “We met that night, and we became fast friends,” recalled Blankenship. “We were direct competitors, but we were on each other’s team. We wanted to be successful collectively, rather than pitted against each other. That’s something that has never happened to me before.”
Professor Damon DeVito teaches the popular “Venture Velocity” course at Darden, has also been an instrumental coach for student founders.

The idea of having key performance indicators was planted by DeVito, who encourages student founders to identify a specific problem to overcome or goal to reach to move their ventures forward, then drill down to identify the steps to get there. “Before I focused on KPIs,” said Nash, “I’d feel like I was working hard, because I spent a lot of time on the venture. But I was just doing undirected research; I wasn’t moving any specific part of the business forward in a measurable way.”
Read the full story on the Darden Report to learn how the KPI Club has become a launchpad for these female founders, accelerating several of the students’ businesses to the final stages of UVA’s E-Cup competition, and becoming eligible for a $20,000 prize.

Blankenship, who won the Discovery stage of the UVA E-Cup, sees the KPI Club as instrumental to her venture’s progress. “The purpose of our meetings is accountability,” said Blankenship, “because having those strong competing priorities is difficult. You know you have to prepare your cases for class, but you also know that if don’t do the next step on your venture, nobody else will. The club kept me on track, but it also accelerated me more than I’d expected.
Darden Female Founders’ Startup Snapshot


Cobouchy produces coffee kombucha beverages, providing a much-needed boost of energy to get you through the day.
Founder: Jing Xu (Class of 2022)
Website: www.cobouchy.com
Instagram: @cobouchy

Coton is a fully sustainable luxury fashion brand focused on utilizing existing textiles. It connects cause-conscious consumers with stylish, zero-waste clothing.
Founders: Elizabeth Blankenship (Class of 2022), Alyssa Blankenship
Website: www.thecoton.com
Instagram: @cotonclothiers

Hummingbyrd offers sports bras designed for limitless activity, giving women athletes better, more functional sports bras. Through its unique design, women can stash their phones and other essentials in a comfortable, accessible pocket so they can feel safer on runs and enjoy activity hands free.
Founder: Colby “Coco” Woeltz (Class of 2021)
Website: www.runwithhumm.com
Instagram: @runwithhumm

The Rayna Trimmer is an electric trimmer for hair down there, made for women, by women. Developed specifically for women’s pubic hair, the Rayna Trimmer has an ergonomic design for hard to reach areas and safe nick-free blades that won’t cause irritations or ingrowns.
Founders: Megan Nash (Class of 2022), Katie Burke, Max Berg
Website: www.shoprayna.com
Instagram: @rayna.trimmer

Joie de Sans is an alcohol-free cocktail company that is inclusive, empowering and sophisticated.
Founder: Cecilia Rios Murrieta (Class of 2022)
Website: www.joiedesans.com
Instagram: @joiedesans

Featured in header image: Darden student Jing Xu (Class of 2022) founded coffee kombucha beverage company Cobouchy and is one of several female founders thriving at Darden.

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The post Female Founders' 'KPI Club' Builds Collective Venture Support first appeared on Discover Darden.

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