Startup St. Bernard Finalists Announced

CHALMETTE, LA— Organizers of Startup St. Bernard announced the five finalists who will go on to compete for a prize package valued at $110,000. The package of cash and in-kind services is designed to help propel the winner’s business to the next level.

         The finalists will go on to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges at a live event on Monday, March 14, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm at 5128 E. St. Bernard Hwy. in Violet.

         The event is free and open to the public.

         Startup St. Bernard was open to any business that agreed to locate their base of operations to St. Bernard Parish, help improve St. Bernard Parish, and become part of the St. Bernard Parish entrepreneur ecosystem. Five finalists were identified by an independent scoring committee based on the criteria published on the entry form, including the quality of their business plan and impact on St. Bernard Parish.

         The challenge is being organized by the Meraux Foundation, the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation and The Idea Village™. Supporting partners include Nunez Community College, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, and Leadership St. Bernard.

         “We are thrilled with the diversity and caliber of talent that applied for this year’s Startup St. Bernard,” said Andrew Jacques, the executive director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. “Startup St. Bernard is just another way that we’re working to position St. Bernard as an ideal place for starting and growing a business.”

         “I would like to congratulate all of the finalists. We are looking forward to hearing them pitch their business ideas, and I encourage everyone to join us at Docville to cheer them on!” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation, which created Startup St. Bernard last year to help promote the Parish.


STARTUP ST. BERNARD FINALISTS (In alphabetical order):


• Atlas Mechanical Design LLC

         The 3D printing revolution has begun. This disruptive technology is growing at a remarkable rate. Atlas Mechanical Design LLC is a new business focused on providing 3D solutions in St. Bernard Parish. AMD has over 25 years of mechanical engineering and design experience, including ten years of associative experience with 3D printing services. AMD is poised to be a one-stop-shop for 3D model creation and 3D printing.


• Christie's Dreams Seafood

         Christie's Dreams Seafood is an existing local business that entered Startup St. Bernard to help launch a new product line — St. Bernard Parish branded seafood. The company plans to freeze and package fresh shrimp and soft shell crabs locally caught in St. Bernard Parish waters using a flash freezing method that guarantees premium quality. In the initial stages the business plans to sell the product at local farmers markets throughout Louisiana and to their existing wholesale customers in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Long term, Christie's Dreams Seafood will create a web site to sell St. Bernard branded seafood throughout the United States.


• Girls Gone Vegan

         Girls Gone Vegan is a bakery that specializes in gluten free and vegan desserts, pastries and breads as well as low sugar and sugar free, gluten free, vegan options. The bakery utilizes local products and businesses. Girls Gone Vegan plans to expand to a full service bakery and sell to restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores throughout the state. Since there is only one other gluten free and vegan bakery in the New Orleans area, there is a huge opportunity for Girls Gone Vegan to take advantage of the untapped market.


• Kayak-iti-Yat

         Kayak-iti-Yat is envisioned as a multi-purpose share company set to open in St. Bernard in 2016. The eco-tourism business will offer fishing-kayak rentals as well as an ecology and seafood industry-centered guided kayak tours. The “shared” business is designed to bring money-making opportunities to many St. Bernard residents using shared resources. The basic resources being fishing- kayaks, a central website, and a shuttle van.


• The Coffee House

         The Coffee House opened over six months ago as a drive-through coffee shop in Arabi and has already garnered a large and loyal client base. The Coffee House plans to expand operations to include an indoor cafe where food will be served and the community can gather. The Coffee House is working with local vendors, including Flour Power for breads and Coast Roast for coffee.


STARTUP ST. BERNARD JUDGES (in alphabetical order):


• Peter Bodenheimer, COO of Plantbid, partner in Flatstack and Launch Pad

• Joel Dondis, Founder of Sucré

• Robbie Showalter, Chief Financial Officer of Boasso America Corporation

• Allen Square Jr., Founder of Square Button, member of New Orleans Startup Fund

• Ann Tuennerman, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail®


         WYES-TV’s Tom Gregory will emcee the event.




•   $33,800 in startup funding

•   $15,000 donated by the Meraux Foundation

•   $5,000 donated by Park Investments, Ltd.

•   $2,500 donated by Palms Truck Stop

•   $2,500 donated by Sidney Torres, III

•   $1,000 donated by Mrs. Rita Gue

•   $1,000 donated by Mr. Floyd Gue

•   $1,000 donated by Nunez Community College Foundation

•   $1,000 donated by Southern Insurance Agency LLC

•   $1,000 donated by Taurus Properties

•   $500 donation by Palmisano Contractors

•   $500 donated by Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann

•   $500 donated by Mr. Terry and Mrs. Daryl Tedesco

•   $500 donated by BERG Services

•   $500 donated by Senator JP Morrell

•   $500 donated by Casey Hunnicutt

•   $500 donated by 40 Arpent Brewing

•   $200 donated by Caraway LeBlanc

•   $100 donated by Coast Roast

•   Business mentoring services by Park Investments, Ltd. | Valued at $20,000

•   Office space at the Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company St. Bernard Entrepreneurial Center | Valued at $10,000

•   Website build and corporate identity design services by evanSchmidt Design, LLC I VALUED AT $7,500

•   Marketing Consulting by Ragusa Consulting | Valued at $5,500

•   Legal services by John Brian White, Esq., InHouse Consultants, Inc., and AdamsIP, LLC | Valued at $5,000

•   Legal services by Sherman Strategies, LLC | Valued at $5,000

•   Legal services by Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer, LLC | Valued at $5,000

•   Accounting services by Person Huff CPA Group for one year by | Valued at $4,500

•   Brand starter kit printing services by Ditto's | Valued at $2,500

•   Copywriting by Shine Productions | Valued at $2,500

•   Digital billboard spot on Judge Perez for one month by Outfront Media | Valued at $2,100

•   Advertising in St. Bernard newspapers | Valued at $1,500

•   St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce membership benefits | Valued at $1,425

•   Promotion & Advertisement by St. Bernard Tourist Commission | Valued at $1000

•   Event Staffing Services by Global Staffing Solutions | Valued at $1000

•   Original photography by Bill Haines | Valued at $600

•   Catering by Crave | Valued at $500

•   Business card printing by Printers Wholesale Group | Valued at $500

•   Tap Room Venue Rental by 40 Arpent Brewing | Valued at $500


         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.

         St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to promote economic development and commercial growth of St. Bernard Parish and to lead the initiation of partnering organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for St. Bernard Parish citizens. To achieve this mission, SBEDF primarily engages in business attraction, retention, and expansion. Additionally, workforce development and policy development are pursued as key initiatives to drive economic development activities. The Board of Directors consists of 28 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 its investors, St. Bernard Parish Government, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation and Cox Communications at the Champion Level and the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III and Associated Terminals at the Pillars Level.

         New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) is the annual festival celebrating business, innovation, and advanced thinking in New Orleans. Produced by The Idea Village, NOEW engages a dynamic global network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, nonprofits, students, and professionals to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial success through eight days of discussion, debate, education, competition and celebration. This year, the event will take place March 11-18, 2016, and 10,000+ are expected to be engaged through over 75 different events.

         To attend the “Shark Tank-style” business competition register here



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