Each year, the Emory Entrepreneur Network recognizes outstanding members of the alumni community, spotlighting founders, entrepreneur advisors, and funders as well as a current student innovator.
The influence of entrepreneurs is all around us, showing the life-changing power of a good idea. From social media to the ride-sharing services that have redefined how we get around, turning an idea into a successful venture requires the right amount of creativity, determination, hard work, timing, and yes, even a bit a luck.
This year’s Emory Entrepreneur Award winners offer examples of innovation done right and illustrate how Emory alumni are leaving their mark on the world.
Faizan Bhatty 14BBA
Going Places: Ever get the feeling the screen on top of that car in the next lane is reading your mind? You’re not entirely wrong—thanks to Faizan Bhatty and his business partners. After graduation from Goizueta and a four-year immersion in advertising technology at Google, Bhatty moved on to pursue an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. That’s where he and three other Penn students hatched Halo Cars, a startup company that puts smart LED monitors on vehicle roofs and uses a real-time targeting algorithm to display the most relevant ads at every moment—factoring in the car’s precise location, the time and day of the week, and the weather. Halo was acquired by Lyft within a year, and Bhatty was one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Marketing and Advertising for North America. Lyft and Uber drivers win, too, since Halo set a new bar for the revenue split with rideshare drivers.
Lundyn Carter 17MBA
CEO and Co-Founder
No Need to Blush: Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Lundyn Carter decided to direct her new Goizueta MBA and skills toward an industry that doesn’t get a lot of repeat customers, even in the best of times: bridal wear. The standard business model—purchase an extravagant dress, wear it once, then store, sell, donate, or discard it—was long overdue for disruption, according to Lundyn and Tiffany Gaines, co-founders of Laine London. Based in Atlanta, Laine London is a first-of-its-kind, women-owned bridal shop, providing a chic, high-end rental experience at an affordable price. The business offers brides-to-be personal appointments, an evolving inventory, custom alterations, and a simple return process. Lundyn is proud to facilitate the emerging “sharing economy” while supporting others in the industry by mentoring and helping them survive the economic impact of the pandemic.
Renji Bijoy 14C
Founder and CEO
A Virtual World: The way we work is always evolving, but never more so than in the past year. In 2017, before anyone could predict the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of office workspaces, Renji Bijoy created Immersed, a company that partnered with Facebook to build virtual-reality offices. With more people than ever working from home, Immersed helps to enable more interactive collaboration and allows people to work side-by-side while not in the same physical location. The technology empowers users all around the world to engage in a portable, distraction-free workspace, ideally facilitating deeper focus and increased productivity. The company has raised $3.5 million in venture backing and anticipates significant growth as remote teams become more common. Bijoy is also a 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 honoree and was a part of the Techstars Accelerator program in 2017.
Kate Brodock 08MBA
CEO, Women 2.0
Founding Partner, W Fund
Excuse Me, Sir: Brodock’s 15-year career in tech startups has been shaped by her interest in diversity and representation, with a particular focus on women in technology. As president of the nonprofit Girls in Tech, Brodock helped to lead the organization’s expansion into more than 60 cities to increase the numbers of women in technology and entrepreneurship. In 2016, she took the helm of Women 2.0, a for-profit organization that has helped thousands of women start, grow, and capitalize on new companies. More recently, Brodock became a founding partner of the Women 2.0 venture capital arm, the W Fund, which invests in tech startups led by women and other underrepresented groups. She’s also an entrepreneur in residence at LaunchNY and a longtime mentor for Techstars. Brodock was recently chief marketing officer of of untapt, an AI-driven tech talent marketplace, and has served as adjunct professor of public relations and marketing at Syracuse University.
Sid Mookerji 04MBA
Founder and Managing Partner
Upping the Game: Sid Mookerji has been a player in Atlanta’s tech and innovation scene since the early 1990s. From 1994 to 2017, Mookerji grew SPI, an IT services business, from a concept to a global enterprise with more than 300 customers and 3,000 employees before steering the company to a successful merger with Cognizant. In 2019, Mookerji founded Silicon Road Ventures, an Atlanta-based, early-stage venture fund providing capital in the Atlanta ecosystem in commerce tech. Silicon Road provides capital, industry expertise, company-building coaching, and connections to C-suite executives through its proprietary Corporate Connect model. The organization is focused on growing the entrepreneurship ecosystem and making Atlanta the global hub of commerce tech. Mookerji also started the Mookerji Foundation, his family's philanthropic arm, and is president-elect of TiE Atlanta, a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs in all stages and industries through funding, mentoring, networking and education. Mookerji currently serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Emory’s Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
Jeff Kingsley 11MBA
Founder and CEO
Accelerated Research: Seeking imaginative solutions to the challenges that can stall clinical research, Dr. Jeff Kingsley founded IACT Health to revolutionize the research paradigm. A serial entrepreneur, Kingsley has grown IACT Health to include 18 wholly owned and integrated clinical research offices throughout the southeastern United States. IACT Health conducts phase I through IV clinical research in nearly every medical specialty; inpatient and outpatient, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device development. The company’s mission is to allow researchers to innovate faster and to deliver those new ideas to the patients who need them. Kingsley earned a bachelor of science with concentrations in biology, chemistry, history, and cultural anthropology; an MS in biochemistry; Kingsley finished medical school, and started IACT Health prior to his MBA from Goizueta. He currently holds faculty appointments with several medical schools and enjoys nurturing the next generation of leaders and physicians.
Cyril Berdugo 11BBA
No Place Like Home: After Cyril Berdugo's grandparents emigrated from Morocco to France, his father grew up in low-income housing relying on government subsidies. The hardships his family experienced fueled Berdugo's determination to help people achieve home ownership. Co-founded by Berdugo in 2017, Landis helps renters transition to homeownership, allowing them to select a rental home and purchase it at any point during the first 12 months. The company offers coaching and incentives to improve customers’ credit scores and build their down payment. In addition to his role at Landis, Berdugo is also a managing partner at real estate firm Berd Industries and was formerly a venture partner at Stanford-focused venture capital firm Spike Ventures. He holds an MBA from Stanford University and is a 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree.
Areanna Novaes Sabine 18C 23MBA
Taking Flight: Few people can say they received a patent at age 13. Areanna Sabine joined her father’s bird deterrent business in 2007, when she co-designed its first Tower Guard system. Since then, the two have worked together to grow Birdzoff, initially created as a solution to bird droppings on the tennis courts Sabine’s father was maintaining. His original No-Perch Wire System has been installed on more than 5,000 tennis court lights in the Los Angeles area. Sabine now serves as CEO of Birdzoff, one of the first businesses to address bird control problems in industries isuch as telecommunications, oil and gas, aviation, and ports. Working with both business owners and bird behavior experts, Birdzoff provides reliable, long-lasting products that eliminate perching and nesting locations on industrial and commercial structures—sending birds on their way without harm. Sabine holds two full patents and one provisional patent, and she now mentors other young women in the industry to inspire them to entrepreneurship.
Adam Freede 08BBA
Co-Founder and CEO
Fueling Fashion: After graduating from Goizueta in 2008, Adam Freede returned to California to join his family’s fashion business. Two years later at 24, he co-founded MadaLuxe Group, North America’s largest distributor of luxury fashion brands like Gucci, Fendi, Versace, and more. After leading the company for eight years as president, Adam assumed the role of CEO in 2018. Adam has spearheaded visionary initiatives during his tenure, growing MadaLuxe Group by 300 percent and expanding into the consumer-facing market with MadaLuxe Vault, a site that gives shoppers access to iconic brands at insider prices. He is also a board member and investor in multiple start-ups working toward circularity in fashion. “The future of fashion is sustainability. MadaLuxe Group must be part of a solution where fashion innovation meets the moral imperative to protect our planet.”
Chris Kennedy 90C 90G
Founder and Chief Investment Officer
Fortinbras Asset Management GmbH
Higher Net Yield: After completing joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at Emory, Chris Kennedy spent five years with Citibank in Germany and went on to earn an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2004, Kennedy became founding CEO of Fortinbras, a regulated asset management business based in Germany. Fortinbras creates structured investment products in the fixed income space using a systematic trading strategy for global pension funds. This innovative investment strategy offers a yield enhancement to otherwise low return-generating fixed income portfolios. The company has raised $3.2 billion in assets from investors based in Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Fortinbras sold its third-party asset management business in 2017 to a Chinese fintech company, generating a 77-times return on invested capital. Kennedy, who is fluent in German, currently has overall responsibility for the investment portfolios as well as the general management of the group.
Andrew Bate 01BBA
Co-Founder and CEO
Security System: As companies like Airbnb began giving the conventional hospital industry a run for its money, Andrew Bate recognized a need—and an opportunity. In 2015, he founded Safely, a company that provides insurance coverage and guest screening services to homeowners who rent their properties. Since then, Safely has covered more than $40 billion in homeowner liability. A common concern in the short-term home rental industry is guests who disturb neighbors and throw large parties. Safely uses AI to screen out criminals and guests who are more likely to cause damage and disruption. Bate also is an adjunct faculty member and a senior research associate at Goizueta Business School, where he teaches a BBA course he designed on applied strategy. In addition to his BBA from Goizueta, Bate earned an MBA from the London Business School and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.