Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation Announce 5th Annual Startup St. Bernard Finalists

ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. – Startup St. Bernard organizers, The Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation have announced the three finalists selected to compete for nearly $90,000 in prizes in the yearly competition: Breathing Waters, Da Parish Kayaks, and Schmelly’s.  The 5th Annual Startup St. Bernard competition is being held in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week on Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Details were shared in a press release.

“We are thrilled to be hosting Startup St. Bernard for the 5th year,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation, which helped create Startup St. Bernard to attract and grow businesses in the parish. “I look forward to seeing the finalists pitch their businesses at the live event, and encourage everyone to attend.”

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Startup St. Bernard was open to any business under five years old that agreed to locate their base of operations in St. Bernard Parish and participate in its entrepreneurial ecosystem. An independent scoring committee from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University chose the three finalists based on business viability criteria and the quality of their business plans.

Breathing Waters has been operating for the past two years as an urban farm and shared studio. The startup’s goal is to revitalize its facilities to include larger studio and workspaces, a new event space, a small commissary kitchen, and a small store front to be able to sell goods made by the artists, farmers and craftspeople who work there.

DaParish Kayaks is loosely based on the shared economy business model. The startup intends to use high-end fishing kayaks and a web-based system to promote health, community, and opportunity.

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Schmelly’s is a compost collection and processing company that is offering Greater New Orleans another option than the landfill. According to the startup, going green is in their nature, but the real work takes place with values-based job creation. Schmelly’s mission is to transform food and organic waste into healthy soil and natural fertilizer while generating meaningful work opportunities and removing barriers of workplace marginalization.

“We are eager to see this diverse group of finalists make their pitch on March 28th,” said Andrew Jacques, executive director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. “I am especially excited that our new format will allow all finalists to leave with seed money to help establish or grow their business.”  

The finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges and a live audience at the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center at Docville Farm (5128 E. St. Bernard Highway, Violet, La.) for a chance to win a grand prize package of cash and in-kind services. All finalists will receive at least $5,000 in seed money to grow their business. Should a tie occur between the four judges, an audience vote will determine the winner of the grand prize.

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The event is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending the “Shark Tank-style” business competition is asked to register at

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