Startup St. Bernard Accepting Entries for Annual Business Pitch Competition

St. Bernard Parish, La. (January 3, 2019) – The entry period is open for the fifth annual Startup St. Bernard competition, presented by the Meraux Foundation and the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. Startup St. Bernard seeks out dedicated, enthusiastic entrepreneurs who want to grow their business to the next level. Entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week on March 28, 2019. The entry period will close at 11:59 PM (Central Time) on February 9, 2019.

"Each year we are thrilled with the quality of the finalists that make it to the live pitch event.  I'm glad I'm not one of the judges who has to make the tough decision of picking a winner!" said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. "We started this competition five years ago to showcase what St. Bernard Parish has to offer startups and to support economic development. We were especially pleased to recently celebrate the grand opening of Clean Course Meals, last year's Startup St. Bernard winner. And we're looking forward to helping this year's winner grow right here in St. Bernard too."

Three finalists will be selected to "pitch" their business to a panel of judges and a live audience. The prize packages in previous years have each been valued at more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind services, and this year's prize package is still being developed and will be announced soon. All finalists will receive a cash prize of at least $5,000. The Startup St. Bernard winner will receive the grand prize package including a mix of cash and in-kind donations. In the past, in-kind donations have included services ranging from legal and accounting to marketing and public relations.

“Startup St. Bernard has discovered so many talented entrepreneurs and unique business concepts, but only one finalist has taken home a prize in years past,” said Andrew Jacques, Executive Director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation.  “This year, we’re excited to jumpstart triple the amount of ideas with prizes for all three finalists as we enter our fifth year of the annual competition.”

The Startup St. Bernard Challenge is open to any business that will:
1.       Locate their base of operations to St. Bernard Parish for at least 2 years
2.       Improve St. Bernard Parish
3.       Actively participate in the St. Bernard Parish entrepreneur ecosystem  

To qualify, entrants must be in business for 5 years or less or be an existing business creating a new division or entity; have yearly revenue under $1,000,000; have 5 employees or less; and cannot be a non-profit.

The “Shark Tank” style public event is open to any business that meets the entry criteria and is passionate about joining St. Bernard Parish’s growing business community. Previous winners have included 40 Arpent Brewing Company, Christie’s Dreams Seafood, Reactive Digital Systems, LLC, and Clean Course Meals.

Judges will score entries based on the quality of the business plans and how the startups will improve St. Bernard by creating jobs, investing capital into the parish, providing needed products or services to the region, and/or contributing to the growth of the core Startup St. Bernard sectors: creative digital media, cultural arts/cultural economy, health and wellness, advanced manufacturing/value-added manufacturing, logistics, and the seafood industry.

HOW IT WORKS

1. Submit Your Business Plan Online
Entrepreneurs must complete the entry form and submit a business plan at www.startupstbernard.com by 11:59 PM on February 9, 2019.

2.  Committee Select Finalists
A selection committee with business expertise will review the submissions and score the entries. The three highest-scoring businesses will be selected to “pitch” the judges at the Startup St. Bernard entrepreneur challenge.

3. Finalists Pitch for a Chance to Win
Finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges in a TED Talks-style presentation format. The live public event will take place during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March 2019.

Questions about the competition or entry criteria can be directed to contact@sbedf.org.

About the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation
The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard. The Meraux Foundation is a founding sponsor and organizer of Startup St. Bernard.

About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation
St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to retain and create jobs, build prosperity, and improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. The Board of Directors consists of 29 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. SBEDF's work is made possible through the general support of St. Bernard Parish Government and its donors the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation and Port of New Orleans at the Lead Investors Level, St. Bernard Port, Harbor, and Terminal District, Cox Communications, Chalmette Refining, and Valero at the Impact Champion Level, the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III, Associated Terminals, Ochsner Health Systems, Gulf Coast Bank and Trust at the Pillars Level, and Atmos Energy, Palmisano Group, Boasso Global, Park Investments LLC, Adams and Reese LLP, and Capital One at the Community Leaders Level.        

About New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) is an annual festival celebrating the best of business innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the Southeast. Produced by The Idea Village, in partnership with Solomon Group, NOEW brings together a unique community of thought leaders, influencers, and rising talent to engage in a dialogue surrounding the future of business, technology, and 21st century skill set. One part conference and one part festival, NOEW’s keynote speakers, summits, panels, and hands-on workshops are designed to spark inspiration and new thinking.