$20K At Stake For 2016 JEDCO Challenge Finalists

NEW ORLEANS – The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO), the economic development organization for the parish, announced the names of the 5 startup companies that will compete in the 2016 JEDCO Challenge powered by First NBC Bank during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) presented by IBERIABANK, which is produced by The Idea Village.

         The 4th annual Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition will take place on Monday, March 14, 2016, at Southport Hall, 200 Monticello Ave., in New Orleans, from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

         JEDCO received nearly 30 applications from entrepreneurs with ties to Jefferson Parish for the JEDCO Challenge, and 10 startup companies were interviewed last month.

         A selection committee of business leaders chose 5 companies to move on to the final round of the competition:



AxoSim Technologies: J. Lowry Curley, PhD; Michael J. Moore, PhD

         AxoSim's mission is to leverage its nerve-on-a-chip technology to revolutionize drug development. Pioneered by J. Lowry Curley, PhD and Michael J. Moore, PhD, AxoSim was developed at Tulane University to tackle critical problems in pharmaceutical development by offering the industry's most advanced, clinically-relevant models of neural tissue.

         The company developed a 3D cell-based platform that looks and acts like a real nerve, serving as an alternative to costly animal testing and ineffective 2D models.

         Currently, the company is working on a screening tool for pharmaceutical companies developing next-generation therapies for Multiple Sclerosis, adding to its growing portfolio of services.

         Company reps said AxoSim's platform technology will advance the safety and efficacy of novel therapeutics, while helping manage the costs of bringing critical drugs to market, ultimately accelerating medical breakthroughs and improving people's health.








FreshCane: Arpit Bhopalkar; Shreyas Oak; Tushar Khosla

         FreshCane was founded to make people aware of the benefits of natural, unprocessed Cane Water. The company's aim is to serve people with a functional beverage, which is healthy, raw, unaltered and uncompromised on its taste. In its natural form, Cane Water has many essential nutrients, such as abundance of potassium and fibers and a low glycemic index. FreshCane reps said Cane Water, as a natural hydrate, provides a sustained source of energy. With an investment in domestic and sustainable economy, FreshCane is a minimal waste business, which recycles Cane waste, called “Bagasse,” via compost facilities.






Kudoboard: Aaron Rubens

         Kudoboard is an online service designed to replace the greeting card that gets passed around a group and signed. Users start an online board on Kudoboard for a recipient, add text, photos and videos and then invite other contributors to do the same. Once everyone contributes and the board is ready, it is delivered to the recipient online. It can also be printed. 

         Based in New Orleans and launched in July of 2015, Kudoboard reps said thousands of users have sent messages of appreciation using the service, sending some love on birthdays, holidays, or any day.







MashBall, LLC: Todd Mashburn

         Company reps said MashBall is the ultimate beach, tailgate, anywhere game, that combines the best features of the most popular toss games such as Cornhole, Washer Toss, Horseshoes and others, while eliminating the flaws.

         What started out as a simple idea meant solely for the enjoyment of 22-year-old founder Todd Mashburn and his closest friends, has evolved into a floatable, wind resistant, portable and family friendly product that offers six fun games in one compact box.

         MashBall's reps said its unique design offers excellent versatility, and the game can be played indoors, outdoors and even in the swimming pool.







Scandy: Charles Carriere; Cole Wiley

         With the proliferation of virtual reality and 360° video, the demand for printing and displaying 360° content is greater than ever. The team behind Scandy recognized this trend.

         Founded in Jefferson Parish in late 2014, Scandy developed an app that allows users to easily create 360° 3D content, and then order full-color 3D prints simply and efficiently.

         Scandy 0.1 launched for the iPad in March 2015. It allows users to scan objects in 3D with an iPad and attached Occipital Sensor. Scandy 1.0 will be released in early 2016 allowing users to capture spherical panoramic pictures with a smartphone and order full-color 3D-printed Scandy Spheres.

         When Scandy 2.0 releases in Spring 2016, users of the Scandy App will be able to scan both objects and their environment and order 3D prints from their smartphones without any additional hardware.







         “The JEDCO Challenge has become a premier event for the entrepreneurial community in Jefferson Parish, and it is due in large part to the caliber of the companies that participate in this competition each year,” Jerry Bologna, JEDCO Executive Director, said. “The entrepreneurs behind these five diverse startups represent the talent, ingenuity and dedication to excellence that we value in the Jefferson Parish business community. We believe their entrance into the Challenge this year is indicative of the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and offerings for startup companies in our community. JEDCO looks forward to watching all of these companies grow and find success locally.”

         JEDCO created the Challenge in 2013 to identify, engage with and assist up-and-coming innovators. The goal of the competition is to create opportunities for local entrepreneurs in the area through direct capital, business services, increased visibility and mentorship. Previous winners include Be Well Nutrition (ICONIC), PortaVision Medical, and InnoGenomics Technologies, which recently received an SBIR Phase I contract from the NIH/ National Cancer Institute (NCI) to further develop its blood test to monitor and detect cancer. That contract provides funding to enhance the test and evaluate its success with cancer patient samples obtained through the company's partnership with the Ochsner Health System Clinical Trials Unit.

         At the 2016 JEDCO Challenge, each of the 5 companies will have just 7 minutes to present a live pitch in front of a panel of Jefferson Parish business leaders.

         Entrepreneurs will be scored based upon the live pitch, a condensed business plan submitted in advance of the competition and a crowd vote. JEDCO will give every person in the crowd an opportunity to choose their favorite startup after all five have pitched. A small number of points will be awarded to the crowd favorite and added to that company's overall score.

         The entrepreneur with the winning pitch will receive $20,000 in direct capital and additional in-kind services such as marketing, accounting and legal assistance.

         Register to attend the 2016 JEDCO Challenge here




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