Inaugural INNO Conference Gives Startups a Chance to Share their Ideas


NEW ORLEANS – During INNO’s Hackathon competition, which began on Monday morning, teams comprised of bright minds from around the country were given 24-hours to find technological solutions for Baton Rouge’s most pressing problems: blighted properties, public safety, economic inequality, crime, and, of course, infamous traffic.

On Wednesday, five members of Kleen-Up Baton Rouge walked away with the winning idea. 

“We worked as a team to try to come up with a solution for the city of Baton Rouge, but I think the solution we came up with can work in any city,” said Stephen Holland, a realtor and the team leader of Kleen-Up Baton Rouge.

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Details on their business plan are forthcoming.

The Hackathon event kicked off the inaugural INNO conference. It was hosted by Amazon Web Services and Loyola University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. 

Holland said his team formed the concept for Kleen-Up Baton Rouge within a few hours; each member contributed their individual strengths to put together the final product.

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The City of Baton Rouge will eventually decide whether or not they’ll collaborate with Kleen-Up Baton Rouge, but for now, the team members can enjoy the rest of the INNO Conference.

“We’ll get to relax a little bit, take some notes and learn more,” said Holland.

The INNO conference gives entrepreneurs, along with business and technology professionals, a chance create meaningful connections, collaborate, and find the services, tools, and resources they need to grow their company.

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The first three days of the INNO conference featured interactive discussions from the brightest minds in business, including Ryan Freitas, the director of product design for Facebook; Anuradha Gali, the engineering lead of business insights for Uber; Jennifer Schwartz, the vice president of digital product for Fender; and Tom LaForge, the former global director of human and cultural insights for Coca Cola.

They covered such topics as venture capital and impact investing; developing opportunity zones; growing a startup; the future of music; digital transformation; and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

In addition to featuring presentations, INNO and Startup of the Year hosted a Startup Night NOLA Showcase on Tuesday night, where five startups competed for the Startup of the Year semifinals this fall. 

Enlivity, an organization aiming to improve the oral and digestive health of patients enduring cancer treatment, came in first place.

INNO's closing party happens tonight, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at the New Orleans Jazz Market. Participants are also welcome to join Launch Pad’s 10th anniversary celebration, tomorrow at 10:30 p.m., at the Launch Pad offices.


By Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur, associate news editor of

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