Notable graduates: Kavi Turnbull — MBA entrepreneur, winner of UW Green Venture Award
With an unshakeable passion for entrepreneurship, master of business administration student and CEO Kavi Turnbull will graduate this spring.
“The feeling of seeing your idea that’s solving a problem being validated is a really good feeling.”
A veteran entrepreneur of three startup companies and a Weinert intern at the UW–Madison Office of Corporate Relations, Turnbull is currently the founder and CEO of DriveAlternatives.com, an online guide to alternative fuel stations where drivers can search by location to find the nearest e85, biodiesel, compressed natural gas stations and more.
Turnbull, who started the company in March 2008, had worked on political campaigns in which he noticed there were state government mandates to fill up on alternative fuel, but the lists of stations and locations were nearly always wrong or incomplete.
The solution, he thought, was to make “a system where we could turn it over to the people who use the stations,” he says.
DriveAlternatives.com allows users to update information themselves. The site currently archives about 7,500 alternative-fuel stations. Now, in addition to creating a DriveAlternatives iPhone application, Turnbull is looking to add lists and user reviews of car shares to the site.
“We’re building a system to connect consumers who are looking to go green and find them options,” he says. “The No. 1 thing you can do as a consumer for the environment is drive less, and that’s what we’re teaching people to do — keep the environment in mind when they’re driving.”
DriveAlternatives.com was named the 2008 winner of the UW Green Venture Award. He also earned a spot in In Business magazine’s “40 under 40” last August.
“The feeling of seeing your idea that’s solving a problem being validated is a really good feeling,” Turnbull says.
Although Turnbull will return to his hometown of Minneapolis after graduation, where he will continue to run the business, he is grateful for his experiences in Madison, where he was met with ample community and faculty support.
“They help you flush (your idea) out, make it into a business plan that’s fundable,” he says.