5 Startups Chosen To Compete In 2017 JEDCO Challenge

AVONDALE, LA – The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) and First NBC Bank announced the five companies scheduled to compete in the fifth annual Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) presented by IBERIABANK, which is produced by The Idea Village in partnership with Solomon Group.

         JEDCO received more than 20 applications for the JEDCO Challenge powered by First NBC Bank from entrepreneurs with ties to Jefferson Parish. Through a rigorous review process, a selection committee of business leaders chose five companies to participate in the live pitch event at Southport Hall, event reps said. The JEDCO Challenge features a diverse group of startup companies with backgrounds in a variety of industries tied to Jefferson Parish:


BioAesthetics: Nicholas Pashos


         BioAesthetics was founded in 2015 as a Tulane University spin-out with the mission to improve reconstruction options for breast cancer patients after they undergo mastectomies. The BioAesthetics' initial product is a tissue-engineered nipple-areolar complex (NAC). This product will be provided to plastic and reconstructive surgeons as an off-the-shelf ready, acellular, NAC graft. During the breast reconstruction phase, after a mastectomy, the surgeon would engraft the NAC graft in position onto the patient's reconstructed breast. The patient's body would then use this NAC graft as a building frame to regenerate their own NAC. This patent-pending product is currently in the pre-clinical phase.



Chosen Diagnostics: Sunyoung Kim


         Chosen Diagnostics' core mission is to improve health care delivery for patients by providing diagnostic tests that personalize their treatment. The company is developing a biomarker test to diagnose a common and life-threatening gastrointestinal disease, called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), in preterm infants with low birth weight. Annually, over 6,000 preterm infants in the US acquire NEC, which incurs $3.2 billion in healthcare costs. In Louisiana alone, 1,400 preterm infants each year are at risk. For the last three decades, NEC diagnosis has relied on radiology, which identifies only 44 percent of affected infants. The rapid pace of disease progression usually results in bowel destruction and surgery. More than a quarter of the affected infants die and survivors are faced with long-term health complications. Accordingly, there is a critical need for a diagnostic test with better performance. Our solution is Neonatal DDx, a novel test that identifies 93 percent true positives and 95 percent true negatives. Such medical device advancement and adoption within hospitals in Jefferson Parish and the greater New Orleans area can spur earlier NEC treatment and improve outcomes in these fragile patients, as well as lower health care costs.



Drone Party Planet: Phil Taylor


         Drone Party Planet combines fun social gatherings with the thrill of flying a drone. Drone Party Planet brings drone flying virtually anywhere via its patent-pending DroneZone. The DroneZone is a modular enclosure, which can be easily set up without tools, and can be scaled from a small (1200 cu-ft.) demo size used in retail applications to a very large size (approx. 20,000 cu-ft.) used during festivals and conferences. The company offers onsite Drone Birthday Parties, engaging drone-build classes, and flight rentals at its Clearview Mall location.  It is the first company to offer existing party service companies a turnkey drone party product that will satisfy the ever-growing drone market.



Fresh Hands: Trey Green


         Fresh Hands is an online grocery service that shops and delivers from the best grocery and farmer markets in your area. The company's platform offers a wide range of retail accessibility, allowing them to transform the way consumers shop local. Every local grocery market is now within the touch of a finger, readily available for on-demand or scheduled delivery. Fresh Hands' purpose is to offer a friendly food tech service that will benefit many users, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.



Southern City Farm: Andrew Prat


         Southern City Farm is a local urban farm located in an 1,100 square foot, climate controlled warehouse in Elmwood, Louisiana. The company provides the freshest specialty produce available on a consistent basis to chefs, restaurants, and markets throughout the Jefferson and Orleans Parishes. Growing its products locally, Southern City Farm ensure freshness of product and personable service. The company currently produces microgreens, micro herbs, and edible flowers. Southern City Farm has achieved superb growth throughout 2016, increasing revenue by over eight times in 12 months, and plans to market through distributors and high-end retailers in 2017, further expanding their growth. The company plans to replicate this local urban farm concept in large cities across the United States.


         The finalists will compete during NOEW on Monday, March 20, at Southport Hall. The event starts at 1:30 p.m.

         Register to attend the event here

         "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," JEDCO President & CEO Jerry Bologna 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."

         Each company will have just seven minutes to present a live pitch in front of a panel of regional 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.

         JEDCO created the Challenge in 2013 to identify, engage with, and assist our up-and-coming innovators. The goal of the competition is to elevate 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, InnoGenomics Technologies, and Fresh Cane.

         "JEDCO has been such a strong partner to The Idea Village over the years, and we're glad to have them joining us again in 2017," Emily Madero, Acting CEO of The Idea Village, said. "Ranging from agriculture and healthcare to entertainment and app-based technologies, this year's finalists are an excellent representation of our region's growing economic diversity. We're eager to see them present their ideas during Pitch Local at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week."

         JEDCO Challenge Supporting Partners include: Jefferson Parish, The Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, The Idea Village, Elmwood Business Association, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Greater New Orleans, Inc., New Orleans BioInnovation Center, 504ward and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center.

         For more information


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