‘Undercover Boss’ highlights Auburn University Entrepreneurship Summit

Published: February 09, 2017
Updated: June 20, 2017
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BELFOR Holdings CEO Sheldon Yellen donned a disguise to learn more about everyday employees on the CBS show "Undercover Boss," but he won't be incognito when he speaks at the third annual Auburn University Entrepreneurship Summit March 30-31.

Yellen, who heads a $1.5 billion disaster recovery and restoration company employing 6,400 people in 30 countries, will deliver the keynote at the Top Tigers awards luncheon honoring the fastest-growing companies founded, owned or led by Auburn University alumni.

Hosted by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, the Auburn University Entrepreneurship Summit will also include an Entrepreneur Hall of Fame gala, as well as student and faculty business pitch competitions. All events will be held at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner and the Top Tigers luncheon can be purchased at http://harbert.auburn.edu/tickets.

The two-day summit will begin with the Hall of Fame awards program March 30 at 6 p.m.

Walter Woltosz, a 1969 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering graduate and the co-founder and CEO of Simulations Plus, will be inducted into the Auburn University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. The company develops software that enables pharmaceutical scientists to predict key potential drug dynamics, reducing multimillion dollar clinical trial failures and accelerating the time to market for effective medications.

Other individual award winners include:

  • Nix Investments owner Jack Nix, a 1967 business alum, will receive the Spirit of Auburn Family Entrepreneurship Award. Nix bought a small business in 1985 and sold it nearly 30 years later for $13.6 million. He converted a former skating rink into the Riverchase Antique Gallery, which became the state's largest antique mall. 
  • Muscle Up Marketing founder and president Jon Butts, a 2004 business graduate, will be honored as the Auburn University Entrepreneur of the Year. Butts started Muscle Up Marketing, a firm serving health and fitness clubs and other membership-based businesses, with $1,000 in savings and no outside investors. In four years, Butts had turned it into an $8 million firm. In 2015, Muscle Up Marketing landed the No. 40 spot on the Inc. 5,000 list of the nation's fastest-growing companies. 
  • The Mint Julep Boutique founder, owner and CEO Justin Lambert, a two-time Auburn graduate, will share Young Entrepreneur of the Year honors. Since establishing the Auburn-based women's fashion boutique in 2012, Lambert has led the company to triple-digit revenue growth each year.

The summit will conclude on March 31 with business pitch competitions and the Top Tigers luncheon. High school students will share their early-stage product and business concepts to a panel of judges in the Junior Tiger Cage competition at 8 a.m. Auburn University students will compete for a $10,000 grand prize in the Tiger Cage finals at 8:45 a.m. The AU LAUNCH Innovation Grant Program, featuring Auburn University faculty innovations, will begin at 10:15 a.m. All three events are free and open to the public.

The Top Tigers luncheon, presented in partnership with Business Alabama magazine and Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, will begin at 11:30 a.m. The event will honor 60 alumni-led companies for outstanding revenue growth.

Yellen, the event's keynote speaker, is known in executive circles for his unconventional management style. CNBC recently profiled Yellen in the story "Why the CEO of a $1.5 billion company doesn't use a smart phone." Yellen appeared on "Undercover Boss" in 2011, working in a variety of positions in disguise before surprising four employees with promotions, raises and relief of personal debts. The episode earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Program.