Carey Smith is a tireless innovator who is contrarian to the core. He bootstrapped ceiling fan manufacturer Big Ass Fans from $0 to a $500 million sale. As a CEO, Carey paid 30% above the national average and gave loyal employees a stake in his profits. When he sold his company, 100+ workers split a payout of $50 million, including 15 who became millionaires. Carey then moved to Austin and launched Unorthodox Ventures to breathe new life into the entrepreneurial domain. Unorthodox Ventures funds small companies with big potential, partnering with founders who demonstrate disruption and discipline. Carey has won numerous awards for leadership, including Inc. Magazine’s Economy Hero for refusing to lay anyone off during the Great Recession. He was a regular contributor to Inc. Magazine and is frequently interviewed as an expert on starting and running a business, including outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
In 1998, Jeff founded his first company, Spunlogic, with Raj, and after adding two more partners along the way and working their asses off for ten years, they were acquired by Engauge in March of 2008. He served as President and Chief Digital Officer of Engauge until he sold to Publicists Groupe in August 2013. He then immediately started his next company, Dragon Army, originally based in the amazing Atlanta Tech Village.
Hulet Smith is the co-founder and CEO of RehabMart, LLC, where his primary objective has been to create a customer-focused, education-oriented, purpose-driven company. In 1998 he founded RehabMart with long-time friend and fellow Occupational Therapist, Mike Price, which has now become a leading provider of online durable medical equipment and health awareness content services
Mr. George Vincent West founded Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. in 2000 and served as CEO from 2000 to 2002. Mr. West served as co-CEO of Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. from 2008 to 2010 and CEO from 2010 to 2012. He has been the Vice Chairman of the Board of FDO Holdings, Inc. since December 2012 and its Director since 2000. Mr. West began his business career starting a successful retail glassware business in Atlanta. He was eventually recruited to work for his family building materials business, West Building Materials, which operated in five southeastern states and eventually became its President. Mr. West also developed and sold a multistate billboard company and has developed several real estate projects across the state of Georgia, the most recent being Utana Bluffs, a boutique mountain home community in the north Georgia Mountains. Mr. West graduated from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia in 1977.
Billy Boughey is a nationally recognized host and speaker who has led events for Delta, Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, FIFA, The John Maxwell Company and many other notable organizations. He is the Founder and President of the Atlanta based company: Elevate Experiences.
The ideal candidates would be teams who have gone through the UGA Idea Accelerator or any other student team that is ready to actively launch their business between semesters. Teams will meet once a week to discuss obstacles and how to overcome common problems with experienced entrepreneurs.
Lowery serves as the Executive Director for Selous Venture Society in Nashville and for the AIM Growth Fund. He is a graduate of The University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business where he was also a member of the UGA Men’s Golf Team. Prior to AIM Group, Lowery received extensive experience in financial services where he worked with entrepreneurs and early stage companies from his past tenures with A. Logan Brokerage in New York City, and Rhodes Risk Advisors in Atlanta.
Cofounder of Great American Cookie Company and former CEO of Caribou Coffee, Michael J. Coles is a business expert, serial entrepreneur, education advocate, and well-known public speaker. From starting three businesses, setting transcontinental world cycling records, making two bids for U.S. Congress, and writing legislation for Georgia film tax credit that changed an industry, Coles’ story is one of true grit and perseverance. In his recently-released memoir, Time to Get Tough: How Cookies, Coffee, and a Crash Led to Success in Business in Life, Coles’ reflects on his notable life and shares a wealth of knowledge and tips that he has gathered over the years as a business leader. In the memoir, he recounts the failures and successes that led him from poverty and a near-fatal motorcycle accident to founding a $100-million company and becoming the namesake of the business school at Georgia’s third largest university—despite never having attended college himself.
Come listen to Brandon speak on his entrepreneurial journey with Starboard Inv. and becoming a Jimmy Johns franchisee.
As President and CEO of Landmark Properties, Wes Rogers has overseen the design, financing, development, and operations of over $4 Billion worth of new construction student housing. With over $2 Billion of student housing currently under construction, Landmark has been consistently ranked the most active student housing developer and largest student housing general contractor in the country.