Made by the Bulldog Nation

UGA unveils 2015 Bulldog 100 rankings; Kabbage Inc. tops list

On February 7, the UGA Alumni Association recognized the 100 fastest-growing companies owned or operated by UGA alumni at the sixth annual Bulldog 100 Celebration.

The 2015 fastest-growing business was Kabbage Inc., an Atlanta-based firm co-founded by 1995 UGA graduate Marc Gorlin. Kabbage pioneered the first financial services data and technology platform to provide small businesses with financing. The company uses data, such as shipping history, business volume, and social media activity to extend short-term cash advances to small- and medium-sizes businesses online. Since Kabbage was founded in 2009, it has raised more than $100 million in venture capital. It offers more than $3 million in loans each day and employs more than 80 individuals and serves more than 20,000 customers. Gorlin is the first Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication graduate to lead the fastest-growing business since the Bulldog 100 program began in 2010.

Left to right: Executive Director of Alumni Relations Meredith G. Johnson (BSFCS ’00), Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) and UGA Alumni Association President Tim Keadle (BBA ’78)

“Journalists are natural storytellers,” Gorlin said. “I credit Grady with a lot of my early abilities to communicate and tell stories. When you are starting a company—whether it’s an accounting firm, a pool-cleaning business, a digital agency or a financial services firm—you’re telling a story to your customers; you’re solving a problem for them. The more effectively you tell that story, the better you’re going to do.”

This year’s Bulldog 100 top ten was dominated by Georgia-based businesses:

1. Kabbage Inc., Atlanta
2. Onward Reserve, Atlanta
3. Kevin Aycock Homes, Atlanta
4. The Ansley Group, Atlanta
5. Agora, Athens
6. Palmer & Cay LLC, Atlanta
7. EvoShield, Athens
8. One Love Organics Inc., St. Simons Island
9. Social Empowerment Center, Lawrenceville
10. Networked Insights, Chicago

Visit www.alumni.uga.edu/b100 to view the complete ranked list.

Nominations for the 2016 Bulldog 100 are open until Monday, June 1.

UGA alumni named to Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta 2014

Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta is self-described as Atlanta’s annual roundup of “everything spectacular, exceptional, riveting, entertaining, stylish, and delicious.” Several UGA alumni were named to the 2014 list as exceptional Atlanta businesses. Read on to learn more about these businesses and the outstanding individuals that run them.

Men’s Prep Shop: Onward Reserve

TJ Callaway (BBA ’07)

Founded in Athens in 2011, Onward Reserve, a men’s gifts, apparel and home goods retailer with an online store and locations in Athens, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C, was cofounded by UGA alumnus and former 40 Under 40 honoree TJ Callaway (BBA ’07). Most recently, Onward Reserve was named to the Bulldog 100 Class of 2015. To learn more about Onward Reserve, click here.

Sommelier: Steven Grubbs

Steven Grubbs (AB ’00)

Steven Grubbs (AB ’00) is the man behind the excellent wine selections at Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South and Five & Ten restaurants. As wine director for both restaurants, Grubbs’ expertise is the reason why Five & Ten was a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine Service at the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards.

All-Around Animal Health Care: Briarcliff Animal Clinic

Dr. Elizabeth Busch (BS ’01, DVM ’04) and Dr. Peter Muller (DVM ’84)

It’s comforting to know that the medical team that gives your kitten booster shots is also available if curiosity leads him into harm’s way. Briarcliff Animal Clinic, founded in 1958, operates three clinics and a 24-hour emergency hospital and offers specialty surgery services like laparoscopy and orthopedics. The team at Briarcliff Animal Clinic boasts an impressive list of UGA alumni:

  • Peter Muller (DVM ’84)
  • Elizabeth Busch (BS ’01, DVM ’04)
  • Sandy Hedge (DVM ’72)
  • Mandy Reeve (DVM ’79)
  • Andrea Powell (BSA ’03)
  • Shannon Turner (DVM ’08)
  • Clay Phillips (BSA ’07, DVM ’12)
  • Shannon Day (DVM ’13)
  • Siomara Acevedo (BSA ’03, DVM ’09)

To learn more about Briarcliff Animal Clinic, click here.

Brothers make business a family affair

How do two brothers from tiny Hopeful, Georgia, manage to take Atlanta’s entrepreneurial spirit to a new level? Well, ask the Shirah brothers, Benjie (BSFR ’07, MFR ’10) and Jamey (BBA ’10). Since leaving Athens, the business-savvy brothers have embarked on a number of successful endeavors, including The Ivy Buckhead and Atlanta-based companies Kill Cliff – The Recovery Drink™ and Vida-Flo: The Hydration Station. Now, the brothers are heading in a new direction – your feet.

This fall, Benjie and Jamey launched their latest project, JL The Brand, a flair-filled sock company. Together with friends, the brothers are working to add a little jazz to the mundane black and blue men’s suit with top-notch socks.

Designed with unique patterns and colors, JL The Brand offers affordable high quality socks that add a subtle yet sophisticated pop to any outfit. JL The Brand socks are the perfect gift for any guy this holiday season!

With the Shirah brothers’ keen eye for business development, these young alumni are sure make a lasting mark on Atlanta’s entrepreneurial scene.

Keep up with the Shirah’s businesses on social media:

@theivybuckhead
@govidaflo
@jlthebrand

Spotlight on a Bulldog Business: FotoIN

Class of 2014 40 Under 40 honoree Sly Barisic (MBA ’04) and his brother, James Gates (AB ’01, MPA ’04), founded FotoIN in 2012, an automated mobile and management solution for capturing, documenting and filing site photos to a customer’s storage repositories.

The startup is located in Atlanta and Zagreb, Croatia, Sly’s native country. It serves an array of industries, including construction, real estate and property management.

James Gate


Sly Barisic

The company has seen growth in the construction industry,  managing projects for Brasfield and Gorrie, the lead company in the development of the new Atlanta Braves baseball stadium. Barisic was also invited to speak at tech conferences in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco last year.

The UGA Alumni Association is proud to showcase the success of hardworking alumni! For more information about startups founded by UGA alumni, click here. If you have an alumni-owned or -operated startup that you would like featured on this blog, please email Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12) at jelewis@uga.edu.

Alumna Spotlight: Cheri Leavy (BSED ’97)

After a childhood of frequent visits to Athens, Cheri Harden Leavy (BSED ’97) couldn’t resist the pull of the Classic City. During college, she transferred to UGA from Ole Miss and has been bleeding red and black ever since. Today, she is the founder of Bulldawg IllustratedGuide2Athens and The Southern Coterie, three publications that cover the modern South.

UGA Alumni Association Assistant Director of Communications Jamie Lewis (AB ’12, AB ’12) spoke with Cheri about her experiences at the university that helped shape her career:

You started college at Ole Miss. What are your connections to UGA and what made you return to Georgia?

My father, Mac Harden (BBA ’77), graduated from UGA and his mother grew up in Watkinsville. We spent a lot of time on the family farm in Oconee County when I was growing up, so I have always loved the area and cheered for the Bulldogs. Generations of our family bleed red and black. I loved my time at Ole Miss; my father says I built my resume on classes that were interesting, but didn’t fit a degree (like “Anthropology of the Blues” and “Faulkner Studies”). I transferred to UGA and got serious. I stayed on the Dean’s List until I graduated from the College of Education, where I participated in the pilot year of the Collaborative Inquiry Teacher Education Program. I taught high school for several years, then joined The Brunswick News where I launched a Newspaper in Education program to showcase local student writing.

Along with your husband Vance (AB ’94), you’ve started Bulldawg Illustrated, Guide2Athens and The Southern Coterie. Explain a little bit about what those are, the inspiration behind them and how your time at UGA prepared you for an entrepreneurial career.

Vance and I created Bulldawg Illustrated, a print newspaper and website that covers UGA sports and the Bulldog lifestyle. Now in its 12th year covering the South’s beloved tailgating and football, it is still a ton of fun. Six years ago, we created Guide2Athens. The pocket-sized square book and blog captures the people and businesses that make America’s best college town so culturally rich. We have loved getting involved in the Athens community and have had a home here for the last five years. When Athens isn’t beckoning, you can find us at home in St. Simons with our two golden retrievers.

I founded The Southern Coterie with my friend Whitney Long; it is a resource for the entrepreneurial South. Designed to offer a community of passionate business owners the opportunity to connect, collaborate and create, the “Southern C” network is capturing the South’s entrepreneurial renaissance one post at a time. The Southern C Summit brings the online content to life with a unique multi-day conference where attendees network and connect with the best and brightest names in Southern business and branding.

What is your most memorable UGA experience? Favorite UGA sports experience?

Meeting Herschel Walker for the first time at Vince Dooley’s home was pretty surreal. The Leavy Family/Brunswick News Publishing endowed a scholarship and we had brunch at the Dooley’s before the game. Vance, his brother, his brother’s wife and I went on the field that day to be recognized. Since we are all UGA graduates, that whole experience was pretty incredible. Herschel was on our Christmas card that year!

Since graduating, you and Vance have stayed involved with the university. Why do you think it’s important for alumni to stay connected to UGA once they’ve graduated?

Staying involved with the university provides you with an invaluable resource of connections to continue to support your growth personally and professionally. Vance and I enjoy supporting the philanthropic side of UGA. I attended the UGA Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy, and now serve on the Georgia Museum of Art friend’s board. We also support our vibrant athletics programs.

I give back to students that are up-and-coming at the university. We have 15 interns from Grady. They bring me a tremendous amount of joy and I learn from them as much as I hope they do from me. I give them a great deal of responsibility and I have high expectations, but if they work hard, they can count on me after graduation.

I traveled recently to the West Coast and to Memphis, where I spent time with former interns. One even visited on her “engagement tour,” where she was introducing her future groom to family. We felt honored to be a stop on her travels. They turn into amazing friends as they get older and I couldn’t be prouder of their successes. The internships certainly feed the teacher side of me that was fostered while studying at UGA. I may not formally be in education any longer, but I am still using that skill set.

Can you give us a hint of what’s next for you?

Oh my goodness, there is no telling.

Vance and Cheri Leavy with Uga IX