Mengdie Chen Vlad Saveljeus
Two Auburn University MBA students are among the entrepreneurs competing for a $10,000 grand prize in the Mach 31 Tiger Cage business pitch competition finals.
MBA student Mengdie Chen partnered with industrial engineering graduate students Robert Granzow and Rong Huangfu to form BioErgo Solutions, a platform focusing on the prevention of occupational injuries. Also vying for top honors are MBA student Vlad Saveljeus and chemical engineering doctoral candidate Michael Minkler, who formed Honey Do to create a peer-to-peer mobile app concept that enables individuals engaged in custom projects to find talent locally and nationally.
Rounding out the top four teams are Senior Solutions, an online platform focused on retirement community entertainment developed by sophomore finance and piano performance major Trent Briden, and Sole Line, a patent-pending storage and display solution for collectibles developed by sophomore software engineering major Gibson Wang, junior electrical engineering major Berk Anadur and junior business administration major Frank Nguyen.
These four teams advanced from the semifinals held March 3. The final round of Tiger Cage highlights the second day of the Auburn University Entrepreneurship Summit and begins at 8:45 a.m. in The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
Presented by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Tiger Cage rewards the best early-stage products, services or business concepts developed by Auburn students. The four finalists will make 5-minute pitches and answer questions from a panel of judges. More than $25,000 in funding and services will be awarded to the finalists.
“I believe this group of finalists is our strongest yet,” said LaKami Baker, Managing Director of the Lowder Center for Family Business and Entrepreneurship in the Harbert College, who directs the Tiger Cage competition.
Hosted by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, the summit includes a ticketed black-tie Hall of Fame gala honoring top alumni entrepreneurs on Thursday, March 30. The honorees include Auburn University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductee Walter Woltosz, a 1969 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering graduate and the co-founder and CEO of technology company Simulations Plus; Spirit of Auburn Family Entrepreneur Award winner Jack Nix, a 1967 business alum who converted a former skating rink into the state’s largest antique mall; Entrepreneur of the Year Jon Butts, a 2004 business graduate who founded fast-growing Atlanta-based firm Muscle Up Marketing; and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Justin Lambert, a two-time Auburn graduate (engineering and MBA) who is the founder, owner and CEO of fast-growing women’s fashion boutique The Mint Julep.
The summit will feature the Junior Tiger Cage, a business pitch competition for high school students at 8 a.m., the Tiger Cage finals at 8:45, the AU LAUNCH Innovation Grant Program faculty pitch competition at 10:15 a.m., and the Top Tigers firm-recognition luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Top Tigers recognizes 60 of the fastest-growing companies founded, owned or led by Auburn University alumni.
Belfor Holdings CEO Sheldon Yellen, who appeared on the TV show “Undercover Boss” and who leads a $1.5 billion disaster relief and property restoration company, will be the keynote speaker at the event.
Tickets for the Hall of Fame gala and Top Tigers are available at: harbert.auburn.edu/tickets.