Stetson School of Business and Economics to Host Inaugural Entrepreneurial Festival, Business Plan Competition with Keynote by Chip Perry


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Stetson School of Business and Economics will hold its inaugural Entrepreneurial Festival, May 3, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., on the Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta.

Among the festival's events, $10,000 in prize money will be awarded to the winners of a business plan competition among Mercer graduate students, and Chip Perry, architect and former CEO of AutoTrader Group, will speak at a luncheon where the winning students will be honored.

“This festival celebrates free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit and the business creativity of Mercer's outstanding students,” said Dr. Robert D. Perkins, associate professor of management in the Stetson School of Business and Economics.

The winning student, or team of students, receives $5,000, with $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third. The prize money, plus a package of services for each of the winners, will be provided by BB&T.

Perry became the first employee of (ATC) in August 1997 and was its president and CEO from inception until March 2013. He started the company from scratch for Cox Enterprises and grew it from zero to $1.4 billion in revenue and more than 3,500 employees.

After making a series of acquisitions beginning in 2010, the company was renamed the AutoTrader Group (ATG). Today, ATG is a top-10 worldwide Internet media company that includes ATC, Kelley Blue Book and several auto dealer software and data analytics companies such as vAuto, VIN Solutions, Automotive Information Systems, Auction Genius and Haystack Digital Marketing.

Prior to starting ATC, Perry was a vice president at The Times Mirror Company and the Los Angeles Times, where he launched one of the first major newspaper online sites in 1993. Earlier, he was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and an engineer and sales representative for Bechtel Group. He is a civil engineering graduate of the University of Virginia and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Perry has received several industry awards and accolades, including being named a 2001 and 2011 Automotive News All-Star; receiving an honorary doctorate from Northwood University, a renowned automotive college; and receiving the 2009 National Independent Automotive Dealers Association (NIADA) Ring of Honor, given annually to an industry executive who has contributed to the professionalism and growth of the automotive industry.

“We are pleased to recognize Chip Perry for his entrepreneurial contribution to the Atlanta business community,” said Dr. Perkins.

The Entrepreneurial Festival offers the opportunity for participants to build their management capabilities with insights into the entrepreneurial process and the development of a successful business plan; experience in transforming ideas into real business solutions; priceless feedback and personal advice on current business concepts; contacts through a network of people who can expand their business resources; and an educational experience that adds value to any resume.

The six finalists in the business plan competition and the location of the luncheon will be announced later in April. Tickets must be purchased for the luncheon. All other events are free and open to the public.

About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer's business school delivers career-focused business education programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer's business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review as No. 3 for “Greatest Opportunity for Women” and one of its “Best Business Schools.” In addition, it has been recognized among the “Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting.”

The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time MBA, Flexible MBA, Executive MBA and Virtual Professional MBA), Macon (Traditional BBA and Flexible MBA), Savannah (Virtual PMBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA).

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​