Startup St. Bernard 2023 Finalists Announced

Startup St Bernard GraphicCHALMETTE, La. — The St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation is presenting the 9th annual Startup St. Bernard on August 3 at the Shop at CAC. The live event, which is free to attend, is a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition during which three entrepreneurs will compete for cash and in-kind services.

“Startup St. Bernard has grown to become one of the most highlighted entrepreneurial events in our region,” said Meaghan McCormack, CEO of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation in a press release. “This program gives entrepreneurs from our parish and region a chance to engage with our vibrant community members, esteemed judges and generous sponsors making for a wonderful platform to expand their businesses in St. Bernard.”

Three finalists — All Tails Wagging, Utopian Gaming and the Safety Pouch — will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges for a chance to win part of what could be a $100,000 prize package. The three finalists were chosen from a larger pool of applicants by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Delgado Community College, which made its decisions based on the strength of the business plan, management experience and potential positive impact on St. Bernard Parish. 

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Startup St. Bernard was open to any business under five years old that agrees to locate its base of operations in St. Bernard Parish and participate in its entrepreneurial ecosystem.

All Tails Wagging is a dog daycare and boarding facility located in the parish. Owner Jamie LeBlanc says that, while at the daycare, “our four-legged clients will be free to roam in a supervised, safe environment to play and socialize with other dogs. With a focus on reducing anxiety through specialized enrichment, All Tails Wagging is hoping to create a safe space for pups while creating jobs and filling a need for pet owners in St. Bernard.”

The Safety Pouch is a removable pouch that stores and presents essential driving credentials needed for traffic stops. Created by founder David Price, the pouch was designed to help facilitate safer interactions for both law enforcement and drivers during traffic stops. Price hopes to establish a warehouse and fulfillment center in St. Bernard that would create jobs and bring positive media attention to the St. Bernard community as a place of budding entrepreneurship and change. 

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Utopian Gaming is a gaming retailer that provides affordable games, collectibles, apparel and accessories related to gaming, anime and pop culture. Utopian Gaming’s mission is to “meet customers’ needs by providing them with the latest and most popular merchandise in store and online at affordable prices,” according to founder Gene Dixon. He hopes to expand the business to include online retail, a family entertainment center (FEC), e-sports/tournament hosting, gaming event space, and recording studios. 

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 legal and accounting services along with marketing and public relations.

 “Because of our generous sponsors, many of whom continue show support year-after-year, Startup St. Bernard has one of the largest non-dilutive prize packages in the Gulf South Region,” said McCormack. “Their investment in St. Bernard Parish is inspiring and a testament to their undeniable commitment here.” 

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Previous Startup St. Bernard winners are 40 Arpent Brewing Company (2015), Christie’s Dreams Seafood (2016), Reactive Digital Systems (2017), Clean Course Meals (2018), Schmelly’s Dirt Farm (2019), CORE: Louisiana Counseling and Recovery Center (2020), Glass Half Full (2021) abd Ceres Plant Protein Cereal (2022). 

Learn more about the event at www.startupstbernard.com.

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