UB’s Fast 46 celebrates fast-growing companies and the alumni who lead them
By Matthew Biddle
Before Gábor Somogyi, MD, MBA ’03, visited UB last fall, it had been nearly 20 years since he had set foot on campus.
These days, Somogyi serves as CEO of Eveliqure Biotechnologies, an innovative startup that’s developing vaccines for diarrheal diseases.
Diarrheal diseases — especially those caused by Shigella and enterotoxigenic E. coli — are a leading cause of death among children in the developing world. Each year, the condition also affects millions of travelers and service members stationed in endemic regions.
So far, the company has received a $20.6 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to fund its vaccine development — with promising results. The startup successfully completed phase 1 trials with adults in Europe and, this year, will conduct phase 2 trials in the U.S., as well as additional clinical trials with children in Bangladesh. Somogyi hopes to bring the vaccine to market in five to seven years.
“Our mission is two-fold: to save millions of children worldwide and to develop a vaccine for adults, mostly for travelers and the military,” Somogyi explains. “Therefore, we have a high social impact potential, while also having a strong business case with blockbuster potential.”
That blockbuster potential is what brought Somogyi back to UB for the Fast 46 celebration last year. Fast 46 recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or led by a UB alumnus or former student — and Eveliqure Biotechnologies topped the list for 2022.
“It was an honor to receive such a prestigious distinction,” Somogyi says. “It was a great feeling to return to my alma mater after 20 years, and to reevaluate the impact that the time I spent in Buffalo and in the MBA program had on my life.”
More than 350 companies were nominated for UB’s Fast 46 competition in 2022. And, of the 46 that made the final list, more than half are led by alumni from the School of Management or Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL). These companies — and the alumni who lead them — contribute much to the economic vitality of the communities they serve. Here are two more of their stories.
Jennifer Murphy, CEL ’12, is the fifth generation to lead her family’s business, whose winding history dates to 1885 when William Nolan established a machine shop in Lockport, New York. From there, the company went through several name changes and acquisitions before Murphy’s father, Daniel Judge, MBA ’69, formed their current business in 2002.
Murphy came on board a few years later and, today, serves as president of NetPlus Alliance, a buying group that helps industrial distributors achieve above-market growth and profitability. The company has a robust network of more than 400 distributors and nearly 200 suppliers, and achieves $62 billion in annual sales.
“During the pandemic, all of our members had to continue operating, so we were considered essential and worked remotely to support them,” Murphy says. “Since then, business has not slowed down, and interest in joining a buying group continues to increase. We are almost at 30% growth this year over last year.”
Murphy attributes the company’s success to her passionate team — several of whom are UB grads as well. In fact, Murphy’s first hire more than a decade ago was an intern named Zachary Brado, BS ’11, MBA ’13, who is now vice president of supplier development.
“It’s truly humbling,” Murphy says of the Fast 46 recognition. “I feel very proud to be part of this group of alumni and companies from all over the world.”
Audrey Hall, BS ’12, MWEE ’15, CEL ’20, also grew up around her family business, Eco Serve Pest Services.
“I would go out on Saturdays with my dad to make a few extra dollars,” she recalls. “I really fell in love with the relationships we had with our customers and saw how rewarding it is to help solve problems for people.”
Armed with the lessons and network she gained from the School of Management, Hall joined the business part time in 2012 and progressed quickly from there. She took ownership of Eco Serve Pest Services the next year and soon hired her first employee. Today, her company provides pest control services for commercial and residential customers in three counties.
“When I started, my cellphone was the Eco Serve line, so I’d be out in the field talking with customers and would then go back to my car, jot down messages and start returning calls,” Hall says. “Now, we have 21 employees, a fully integrated software system with route optimization, and a strong brand that defines who we are and what’s important to us.”
With her Fast 46 award, Hall was able to reflect on how far the company has come.
“This honor was a nice reminder of the work we’ve put in — and motivation to continue to push the envelope and expand,” she says.
Learn more about the Fast 46 initiative at buffalo.edu/alumni/fast46.
School of Management alumni crushed it in last year’s Fast 46 competition. Congratulations to the following alumni and companies who made the list: