Luthier to the Stars Also Behind Board Game Startup      

Brian Calhoun, the local creator of the national board game craze Chickapig, will be the featured Inspirational Innovator at the 19th Annual CBIC Awards at the Boar's Head Inn honoring Central Virginia's most innovative organizations, startups, and individuals. Calhoun is also the co-founder of Rockbridge Guitars headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia.

While famous hands such as Dave Matthews, Keith Urban, Ray LaMontagne and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi – all customers of Rockbridge Guitars – have all cradled his guitars, Calhoun is equally as excited about his newest startup company, Chickapig – a board game he invented that took off nationwide. After the initial success of Calhoun’s game, Dave Matthews and two other friends, helped Calhoun co-found the business, which launched in Charlottesville.

Brian Calhoun spent years perfecting Chickapig, a board game where you move your chicken/pig hybrids from one side to the other, carefully avoiding cow poops and other hazards. It sounds silly and simple and it is! It's also great fun! That's why this old-fashioned style board game is so popular that drinking establishments are sponsoring Chickapig Nights for fans of the game.

An intriguing new board game with hordes of fans flocking to play Chicapig, it is also grabbing the attention of entire school systems with the support of parents and students. Chicapig has even been adopted by the Virginia Institute of Autism for its easy-to-learn, fun-to-play capabilities with the added benefit of being highly social and a helpful tool to teach kids. As many as eight Charlottesville independent schools have instituted Chickapig clubs and recently competed in an intra-school tournament hosted by Charlottesville Catholic School.

Chickapig passed its Kickstarter goal of $30,000 within 12 hours, with a final tally of more than $86,000. Within the last year, the company has sold more than 5,000 games.

Calhoun recently talked about the difficulties of growing businesses you are passionate about. "In starting Chickapig, I was constantly reminded of the early years with Rockbridge Guitars. These two businesses are vastly different from each other, but the similarities in getting them off the ground were striking to me."

Innovation and entrepreneurship must run in the family. Calhoun's brother, Dr. Ben Calhoun, is co-founder of PsiKick, a technology startup that is a 2017 CBIC Business of the Year award finalist, and Ben is a 2017 CBIC Innovator of the Year finalist as well.

The CBIC Awards honor Central Virginia's most innovative organizations, startups and individuals and highlight technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial excellence. A list of all the 2017 CBIC Award finalists is below. Award recipients will be announced live at the 2017 CBIC Awards Gala on Thursday, May 18, at the Boar's Head Inn, where upwards of 400 local businesses, government, and education leaders will mingle together in an evening of entertainment and celebration.

CBIC Executive Director Tracey Greene, co-chair of the gala, explains the importance of the CBIC Awards to central Virginia: "This annual gathering seeks to inspire and inform as well as to further the creation of a community where we celebrate each other's accomplishments and recognize individual contributions to our innovation-based ecosystem. The gala also encourages attendees to develop relationships that create a fertile future for growth and expansion."

Tickets for the 2017 CBIC Awards Gala, including cocktail reception featuring Innovators Row – a showcase of innovative startups – and the celebratory champagne ceremony, are available for purchase online from the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council.

2017 CBIC Award Finalists

CBIC Business of the Year


CBIC Educator of the Year

  • Jamee Freitag, Second Grade Teacher, Albemarle County Public Schools
  • Stephanie Passman, Gifted Resource Teacher, Albemarle County Public Schools
  • Matt Shields, Science Teacher at Charlottesville High School


CBIC Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Mark Kester, multi company co-founder
  • Baron Schwartz, Co-founder and CEO of VividCortex
  • Jeff Tennery, Co-founder and CEO of Moonlighting


CBIC Innovator of the Year


CBIC Social Good


CBIC Startup of the Year


CBIC Student Entrepreneur/Student Startup Venture of the Year


CBIC Top Job Creator of the Year

Event FAQs:

Date: Thursday, May 18, 2017

Time: 5:15 - 7 p.m. Cocktail Reception; 7 - 9:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony

Location: Boar's Head Inn, 200 Ednam Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22903

Advance Tickets available until May 13:

Tickets to the gala are NOT available at the door.

Other: Cocktail and business dressy attire is appropriate. A cash bar is available.

ABOUT CBIC: Educate, Advocate and Celebrate

As the region's technology council, CBIC promotes innovation and entrepreneurship and supports growth and success among the Charlottesville region's technology-focused organizations. CBIC provides a forum for ideas and a collective voice on behalf of the technology sector. Through collaborative partnerships, educational resources and strategic relationships, CBIC enhances, publicizes, and champions technology initiatives that strengthen economic and social vitality in our area.

For more information, please visit our website at, follow us on Twitter at @CBICouncil, and follow the 2017 CBIC Awards Gala at #CBICGala #CVilleTech.


Tracey Greene

CBIC Executive Director

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(434) 242-5886