2021 Startup St. Bernard Finalists Announced
CHALMETTE, La. — The Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation will present the seventh annual Startup St. Bernard on Aug. 5 at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm. The live event, which is free to attend, is a “Shark Tank” style pitch-competition, where three entrepreneurs will compete for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes.
“As one of our cornerstone events, Startup St. Bernard highlights the immense amount of innovative energy we have in the parish,” said Meaghan McCormack, executive director of St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. “We are ecstatic to have this event in person once again after last year’s virtual edition; having engaged community members, regional entrepreneurs, and our esteemed judges together once again will be one of the highlights of our year.”
Three finalists, Glass Half Full, Nice Plants Good Pots, and St. Bernard EcoTourism, will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges for a chance to win part of the $101,140 prize package. The three finalists were chosen from a larger pool of applicants through rigorous consideration by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Delgado Community College, which made its decisions based on criterion including strength of business plan, experience of management, ability to positively impact St. Bernard Parish, and more. Startup St. Bernard was open to any business under five years old that agrees to locate their base of operations in St. Bernard Parish and participate in its entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Judging the pitches will be Andrea Chen with Propeller, Allen Square with the Square Button Group, Jason Waggenspack with The Ranch Film Studios, Kevin Wilkins with trepwise, and Desiree Young with VentureWalk Business Partners. Tom Gregory, the multiple Emmy award-winning host, writer, producer, and reporter, will return to emcee the event.
Glass Half Full is a New Orleans-based glass recycling initiative located in Gentilly with the mission to “collect NOLA’s glass and convert it into beach-like sand and glass cullet that’s used for disaster relief, eco-construction, new glass products, and so much more.” Started by two Tulane students in the Spring of 2020, the company recycles almost 50,000 pounds of glass a week through both free drop-offs and paid pick-ups from residences and businesses. Glass Half Full’s founders also operate Glassroots, a nonprofit that “expands the accessibility of recycling through education, outreach, and the creative reuse of traditional waste.”
Nice Plants Good Pots is a commercial plant nursery headquartered in Arabi that specializes in the collection and propagation of rare and endangered tropical and arid plants, with an emphasis on conservation and education. The company opened in the Fall of 2019 with a small $4,000 investment and two friends who had a passion for growing plants and educating others about how to grow them. All pots and ceramic accompaniments are handmade, as well. The company currently functions fully through e-commerce and pop-up locations around New Orleans and hopes to expand into St. Bernard with a full greenhouse, retail location, and event/education space.
St. Bernard EcoTourism (SBET) is a local eco-tourism destination in St. Bernard for both tourists and locals alike. SBET offers guests the opportunity to experience local wetlands firsthand via air and pontoon boats, an outdoor event venue, and family events and parties. Open since 2019 but shut down due to the pandemic, the company reopened in May of 2021 to provide a fully immersive ecotour experience that educates and entertains all ages, giving everyone a taste of the wetlands. SBET also hopes to expand in the near future with a restaurant and lounge on the water.
The Startup St. Bernard finalists will pitch to win a prize package made up of almost $54,000 in cash and over $46,000 in in-kind professional services. Each of the two runners-up will receive $5,000 in cash, with the remainder of the cash prize and all professional services awarded to the grand prize winner selected by the judges.
The Meraux Foundation is the presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include Associated Terminals, Bernard Franks – A Corporation of Certified Accountants, Biz New Orleans, CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center, Ditto’s Printing & Copy Center, evanschmidt design, the Frederick J. Sigur Investment Company, the Ganon Group, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Mr. Floyd Gue, Mrs. Rita Gue, Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Joey Nieto, Financial Advisor | Edward Jones, Leadership St. Bernard, the Nunez Community College Foundation, OUTFRONT Media, Park Investments Ltd., Ragusa Consulting, Senator Sharon Hewitt, Sherman Strategies, Shine Productions, Sidney Torres Law Firm, Southern Insurance Agency, the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, the St. Bernard Parish Assessor, St. Bernard Parish Government, the St. Bernard Tourist Commission, The Palms too, The Ranch Film Studios, and Valero Meraux Refinery.
“We’re delighted to have the continued support of our sponsors in this endeavor, making the prize package the largest in the entire Gulf South region,” said McCormack. “Their commitment to the development of opportunity in our parish is ever-present.”
Previous Startup St. Bernard winners have been 40 Arpent Brewing Company (2015); Christie’s Dreams Seafood (2016); Reactive Digital Systems, LLC (2017), Clean Course Meals (2018), Schmelly’s Dirt Farm (2019), and most recently, CORE: Louisiana Counseling and Recovery Center (2020). Many of the competition’s finalists have gone on to see success, too, including Coast Roast, The Coffee House, Girls Gone Vegan, and Kayak-iti-Yat, among others.
Learn more about the event at www.startupstbernard.com.