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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Startup St. Bernard Accepting Entries for Annual Business Pitch Competition

By Todd Ragusa

The entry period is open for the seventh 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. The entry period closes at 11:59 p.m. (Central Time) on June 10, 2021.

Three finalists will be selected to “pitch” their business to a panel of judges on Aug. 7. This year’s prize package is still being developed and will be announced soon. All three finalists will receive a cash prize of at least $5,000. The 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.

The Startup St. Bernard Challenge is open to any business that will:

Locate their base of operations to St. Bernard Parish for at least two years

Improve St. Bernard Parish

Actively participate in the St. Bernard Parish entrepreneur ecosystem

To qualify, entrants must be in business for five years or less or be an existing business creating a new division or entity, have yearly revenue under $1 million and have five employees or less. Past Startup St. Bernard cash winners and nonprofit organizations are not eligible to enter.

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 been 40 Arpent Brewing Company, Christie’s Dreams Seafood, Reactive Digital Systems, LLC, Clean Course Meals, Schmelly’s Dirt Farm, and CORE Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center.

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 June 10, 2021.
    2.  Committee Selects Finalists. An independent selection committee with business expertise will review the submissions and choose three finalists that will be selected to “pitch.”
  2. 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 on Aug. 7, 2021.

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

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 the founding organizer of Startup St. Bernard and its presenting sponsor.

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