• Integrating a Social Mission with Your Business Model

    Addressing our most pressing issues is often associated with the work of nonprofits. Yet the philanthropic sector is so small, even the most effective programs in the world wouldn’t solve our global challenges across sectors such as food, water, health, and education. More and more, we’re seeing how business can serve as a tool for achieving social and environmental objectives. A common myth in the business world is that integrating a social or environmental mission is a burden on the bottom line. On the contrary, aligning mission and model presents significant market opportunities for both new businesses and established enterprises alike.

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  • Moonlighting Update: New Opportunities For Both Investors and Founders

    On August 23, 2018, Moonlighting LLC became the first Charlottesville based company (to my knowledge) to offer investments via Title III crowdfunding, on the crowdfunding portal Republic.  

    Intrigued by the offering, I met with CEO Jeff Tennery & COO Roy Slater for lunch.  Both Jeff & Roy updated me as to the status of prior and current financing offerings.  In case you were not aware, much has changed with Moonlighting since the Daily Progress’ June 17, 2018 article related to the company’s initial coin offering announcement of “Moonbit”.  

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  • A Startup Kind of Town

    From the Daily Progress Business Hall of Fame, Tracey Greene is featured in an article describing the past, present, and future of startups in Charlottesville.

    Among the many great parts of this article: "In 2017, securities filings showed area companies pulled in more than $39 million in venture funding in the first half of the year, according to Daily Progress news partner Charlottesville Tomorrow. And in the first quarter of this year, Virginia had the 12th-most venture capital activity in the nation, according to NVCA."

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  • Congratulations to the 2018 CBIC Award Winners

    CBIC would like to extend a very special thank you to everyone who attended the 20th Annual CBIC Awards. We want to thank Matthew Shields, for his inspirational keynote, and Jake Zarnegar for his entertaining facilitation. And not to be outdone, a very special 

    CBIC Business of the Year:

    CBIC Educator of the Year:

    CBIC Entrepreneur of the Year:

    CBIC Innovator of the Year:

    CBIC Startup of the Year:

    CBIC Student Entrepreneur of the Year: 

    CBIC Top Job Creator:

    CBIC Volunteer of the Year:

    CBIC Tech Tour Student Scholarships:

    CBIC Social Good of the Year:

    Learn more about The CBIC Awards Gala

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  • U.Va. Tapped To Lead $27.5 Million Effort to Reinvent Computing

    The University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science has been selected to establish a $27.5 million national center to remove a bottleneck built into computer systems 70 years ago that is increasingly hindering technological advances today.

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  • A New Year's Message

    Charlottesville's Tech and Entrepreneurial Scene Over The Past 20 Years...

    CBIC just celebrated its 20th year. Let's take a look at what's been happening in the Charlottesville entrepreneurial scene since then. To start, numerous startup companies have launched, many have successfully raised critical seed and follow-on funding, some have been acquired, and most are on their way to great success. 

    In 2016, the National Venture Capital Association ranked Charlottesville #1 in Venture Capital Funding Growth. It reported that between 2010 and 2015, venture funding in Charlottesville jumped from $250,000 to $27.7 million invested in local companies.

    In newer news, critical early-stage funding also increased for local startups. The Charlottesville Angel Network, established in 2015, now has a portfolio of 28 companies with 60% being local. Through CAN alone, 8 new deals closed representing $1.4MM in 2017, and, CAN has invested nearly $4.3MM total. 

    Established companies have also flourished providing jobs, recruiting talent to our region, and spreading economic diversity. But it's not just about the companies already here. Our region has grown in its attractiveness too. It boasts better startup and high-tech business infrastructure, including high-speed Internet options previously not available, more affordable wet lab space, and accessible collaborative and co-working spaces. 

    Our University and non-profits offer stellar entrepreneurial and other training and professional development, which facilitates better access to angel investment capital, tech talent, trained interns, and mentors. 

    Read about how Charlottesville is emerging as a mini-tech powerhouse here, and check out why entrepreneurs continue to choose Charlottesville as their home here

    Further, the community has rallied around consistent, recurring meet-ups and networking opportunities such as CBIC Tech on Taps, our co-hosted Charlottesville Entrepreneurs and Espresso events, Cville Women in Tech gatherings, and so much more. Want to learn about our region's myriad resources? Click here.

    Our community has pulled together to improve our collective ecosystem. Our best and brightest consistently speak out regarding crucial issues, including our faults. We use various CBIC Tech Night Takeover events sponsored by S&P Global and collaborative Tom Tom Festival happenings as platforms for voicing our concerns, disseminating crucial information to elected officials, and sharing ideas.

    It's working. How? You. That's how. And people like you:  

    • CBIC members breathe life into the innovations that fuel tomorrow.
    • Sponsors contribute to events that make this town one of the best in the country. 
    • Collaborators, partners, and volunteers perform crucial tasks and carry the water. 
    • Leaders sculpt our landscape and cultivate our next generation of innovators.

    For this, we applaud and thank you.

    As we ring in this new year, CBIC is alight with the excitement of things to come. Take a look around at your colleagues, mentors, and friends, and recognize how important our actions are in shaping the world around us. Realize that it is our sense of community, rather than any one particular focus, that makes us who we are. Let's stand together and celebrate the inclusivity, diversity, and strength that make Charlottesville so great.

    Thank you, all, for your contributions and may this be our best year yet!


    Tracey Greene, CBIC Executive Director

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  • AgroSpheres announces close of oversubscribed $750,000 seed round

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – AgroSpheres announces the successful close of an oversubscribed seed round of $750,000 from local and international angel investors. AgroSpheres is a biotechnology company developing novel nanotechnologies aiming to set a new standard for bio-based delivery of active ingredients. The funding will be used to broaden utility of the platform, build a strong intellectual property portfolio, and outfit the company’s facilities.
    AgroSpheres has made significant breakthroughs in the effective and precise delivery of high-value biomolecules and chemicals to a wide range of intended targets. Using next-generation bioengineering and industrial fermentation allow AgroSpheres to out scale competitors at a lower cost.
    The platform’s focal point is a nanoscale bioparticle created from environmentally friendly microbes that can be functionalized by immobilizing and/or encapsulating active ingredients. Although the applicability of the platform is extremely versatile, the company is focused on developing their technology to innovate the fields of agriculture and industrial enzymes.
     “We are excited to be developing our technology for precision agriculture applications - we want to help farmers maximize their yields while minimizing their exposure to dangerous chemicals and the off-target exposure of agrochemicals to the environment,” said Payam Pourtaheri, Co-Founder.
    Ameer Shakeel, Co-Founder, said, “It is opportune timing for us to be making a cost-effective delivery vehicle for enzymes. We see growing value in using industrial enzymes as environmentally friendly, efficient alternatives to synthetic chemicals in various manufacturing industries.”
    Prior to this round of funding, the company was funded by $174,000 from grants and awards from competitions, most notably Thought for Food, The Collegiate Inventor’s Competition, VentureWell, and the Virginia Wine Board.  The company continues to receive strong support from the Charlottesville community and the University of Virginia, including the iLab incubator program.
    “The founders of AgroSpheres have created a groundbreaking nano-delivery technology by working across disciplines and leveraging multiple departments at the University of Virginia. The AgroSpheres Interdisciplinary Model has set a new standard for translational research and development,” said Dr. Mark Kester, Co-Founder.

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  • Kim Wilkens RE: Technology's Bro Culture

    Kim Wilkens (aka TechKim) is passionate about transforming technology users into technology creators, collaborators & activists and proud to do this work with many collaborators and partners including Mozilla Network50, CS Educator @ St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Tech-Girls founder, Charlottesville Women in Tech outreach and CBIC Tech Tour chair. 

    Check out her podcast on technology's bro culture here!

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  • 1 Integrating a Social Mission with Your Business Model
  • 2 Moonlighting Update: New Opportunities For Both Investors and Founders
  • 3 A Startup Kind of Town
  • 4 Congratulations to the 2018 CBIC Award Winners
  • 5 U.Va. Tapped To Lead $27.5 Million Effort to Reinvent Computing
  • 6 A New Year's Message
  • 7 AgroSpheres announces close of oversubscribed $750,000 seed round
  • 8 Kim Wilkens RE: Technology's Bro Culture
  • Tech on Tap Banner November 2018

    Tech on Tap
    Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    Venue: Kardinal Hall

    Read more


Annual Partners

  • Batten Institute
  •  Blue Ridge Bank
  • CoshXLabs
  •  City of Charlottesville
  • Ting
  • Woods Rogers
  • Center for Innovative Technology
  • S&P Global

Gala Video

Recurring Events

  • CBIC Awards

    CBIC Awards

    The Charlottesville area is recognized for its exceptional high-tech community and entrepreneurial spirit. CBIC is proud to spotlight leadership in these areas annually through the highly anticipated CBIC Awards.
    Read More
  • Tech Tour

    Tech Tour

    CBIC's annual Tech Tour is all about igniting local students' interest in technology-related careers and showing the variety of opportunities available in our community to pursue their passions.
    Read More
  • TechOnTap


    This monthly event provides an opportunity for tech-minded people to network in a happy hour setting.
    Read More

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Blog Posts

  • All
  • Infrastructure
  • Investment
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Startups
  • Addressing our most pressing issues is often associated with the work of nonprofits. Yet the philanthropic sector is so small, even the most effective programs in the world wouldn’t solve our global challenges across sectors such as food, water, health,
    Read More
  • On August 23, 2018, Moonlighting LLC became the first Charlottesville based company (to my knowledge) to offer investments via Title III crowdfunding, on the crowdfunding portal Republic.   Intrigued by the offering, I met with CEO Jeff Tennery & COO
    Read More
    • Investment
    • Startups
  • A New Year's Message

    By Tracey Greene
    Charlottesville's Tech and Entrepreneurial Scene Over The Past 20 Years... CBIC just celebrated its 20th year. Let's take a look at what's been happening in the Charlottesville entrepreneurial scene since then. To start, numerous startup companies have launched, many have
    Read More
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You know what your startup does but how do you now tell that story to the world? And how do you do it on a budget?

The answer: PRIORITIZE

As a startup, you will need to get to the public quickly, and likely, cheaply. By prioritizing your needs to get out the door, you can save money up front. Logo? Yes. Branded mugs? Maybe not totally necessary out of the gate. Necessity is king, so do what you can on your own and then start appropriating your budget to the priorities as needed. Most branding firms will work with you a step at a time, as you are able. Over time, you can build the brand of your dreams without having blown it all in the first 5 minutes of your business when you need funding the most.

Here are ways you can prioritize and maximize your budget:

Things you can do on your own for FREE! 

Primary messaging:  

  • What do you do in 1-2 sentences? 
  • What is your sell? 
  • Why are you different? 
  • What is your story? 
  • Answer these questions and you will have a solid start to answering the question you will be asked a million times out of the gate - "What do you do?"

Your name: 
After you explore names that represent both your product and your attitude, make sure you get some feedback from outside sources. They may notice something you didn't. Also, it’s a good idea to check out the urban dictionary to make sure you aren't saying something unexpected. .

Then, GOOGLE - so many problems can be avoided by at least checking that your immediate area does not have another business with a naming conflict.

Your URL: 
Now that you have a name, and have completed some basic searches, choose a URL that is short, simple (memorable) and either includes your name or your service within it (hint: skip the dashes and other easily forgettable modifications, no one will remember to add that dash if you verbally mention your URL).

So far, you have started shaping your brand without dropping any dough. Now, you start investing a bit more in items that will last the life of your business. Start out strong so that you don't have to change later. 

The investment

Visual identity/Logo:
Why invest in your logo?

Your logo goes EVERYWHERE:  

  • Social Media (FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… should I go on?)
  • Press releases and proposals, invoices and business cards
  • Your Website, Marketing Collateral and Advertising
  • Signage, if you have a storefront, Merch if you have the need
  • and so many other places you can't even think of

The first perception is often the lasting one. In the example of Air B&B, they did not change their logo until 6 years after launch, when they were filthy rich and many aren't even sure it was the right move: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2014/07/22/airbnb-attempts-to-rebrand-accidentally-renames-ladyparts/. And we all know that Apple uses basically the same logo 30 years later, with slight refreshes, so invest in quality and something long-lasting. You won't be sorry, and you can wear it proudly when shopping for investors.

Trademark that mark!

You've made an investment, now protect it!

To save a little money until you can afford a trademark attorney, you can start with a basic Legalzoom trademark: http://www.legalzoom.com/trademarks/trademarks-overview.html. They will cover at least a basic search to confirm there are no conflicts with your new mark and wording. Or, you can try it FOR FREE here, but you have to figure out the Trademark Office's search first: http://tmsearch.uspto.gov.

Marketing Collateral:

Again, we recommend investing in the quality of the presentation, since you do not have a reputation to stand on yet, but you may be able to save on the execution.

Printing: Go local once you are rolling, go online until you are. Smaller items like postcards and business cards can be printed on the cheap at places like Clubflyers.com & 4by6.com. Once you take off, you can invest in the quality our local printers provide.

The exception to this depends on your delivery. Out of the gate, as a start-up 8 years ago, we invested heavily in our business cards. Why? Because we built our business on relationships. Before the dawn of social media, you actually had to talk to people (we still recommend this) and that business card made an impression with its silky paper, black on black foil stamp and metallic inks. It was money well spent and it was a priority for us. What are your priorities when going to market?

Social Media:

It's free, you can figure this out, you don't need to spend money to get rolling.

And finally, the Website:

While what we do at Watermark is completely custom, you can get off the ground with a pre-developed template. Keeping in mind that you will be working within the confines of something someone else developed, there are many nice-looking Wordpress templates out there in the world. First, only purchase a template from a well-known or reviewed company, as some templates don't work once purchased (there are millions out there, and many are free, but we suggest paying for something supported). Wordpress has a directory here: https://wordpress.org/themes/commercial/ Also, you will need someone to do some basic work setting up your host, loading on Wordpress and then you can pretty easily add the theme. Depending on the support for the theme, it is likely that anyone starting a tech company can figure out how to configure it or knows someone who does.

Then, once your theme is up, you can invest a little bit of time with a designer to do a few custom sliders or graphics to make it your own until you are able to invest in a totally custom site.

There are so many future pieces to the brand as you grow, but the above should get your brand up and on its feet in a way that should bring in the money.

Darcey Ohlin Lacy
Founder of Watermark Designs and Creative Director



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