Startup St. Bernard Goes Virtual

MERAUX, La. The Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation are presenting the sixth annual Startup St. Bernard Competition as a livestream event. Anyone can watch the live “Shark Tank” style competition online at startupstbernard.com or here starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6.

“As one of our cornerstone events, we couldn’t be more excited to have Startup St. Bernard this year to highlight the immense amount of innovative energy in the area,” said Meaghan McCormack, executive director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. “As many businesses in our Parish have seen, adaptation to the COVID landscape is necessary for survival and prosperity. We’re excited to see how these compelling startups can continue to grow into the future.”

Three finalists – CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center LLC, Green Street and Jessie – will pitch their businesses to a virtual panel of judges for a chance to win part of the $100,000 prize package.

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Judging the pitches will be Emily Egan of Tulane University’s Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Kimberley Singletary of Biz New Orleans, Allen Square of Square Button, Jason Waggenspack of The Ranch Film Studios and Desiree Young with VentureWalk Partners. Tom Gregory – the multiple Emmy-winning host, writer, producer, and reporter – will return to emcee the event.

Startup St. Bernard was open to any business less than five years old that agreed to locate its base of operations to 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 from a pool of entries based on the quality of their business plans:

CORE: Louisiana Counseling & Recovery Center, LLC (CORE) is a substance use and mental health practice in St. Bernard Parish. CORE offers specialized preventative, diagnostic, rehabilitative and recovery-oriented services including counseling, assessments, anger management groups, domestic violence intervention programs and psycho-educational classes. CORE’s licensed clinicians promote the normalization of mental health and recovery services in St. Bernard.

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Green Street is a development division of Austin Construction LLC that wants to build highly-efficient, sustainable, smart neighborhoods. Green Street homes will use technology to enhance each home’s performance and functionality. The houses will be the new standard for the residential construction industry in Louisiana while showcasing the expanding real estate market of St. Bernard Parish.

Jessie aims to make it easy to get answers and peace of mind—from anywhere and at any time. Jessie delivers a network of virtual care vendors, doctors and services to provide advice, prescriptions, and labs around the clock—often for less than the cost of a copay or deductible. More at hellojessie.com.

Previous Startup St. Bernard winners include Reactive Digital Systems LLC (2017), which had sales

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of more than $500,000 last year; Clean Course Meals (2018), which opened a storefront in Chalmette; and Schmelly’s Dirt Farm, which is close to opening a new composting facility in the parish (2019). Many of the competition’s finalists have gone on to see success, too, including Coast Roast, The Coffee House, Girls Gone Vegan, and Kayak-iti-Yat, among others.

The prize package is made up of nearly $60,000 in cash and nearly $40,000 in in-kind professional services. Each of the two runners up will receive $5,000, and the remainder of the cash prize and all the professional services will be awarded to the grand prize winner selected by the judges.

The Meraux Foundation is the presenting sponsor, and other cash sponsors include Park Investments, Associated Terminals, Valero Meraux Refinery, Palms Truck Stop, Chalmette Refining, Sidney Torres, III, Sherman Strategies, St. Bernard Tourism Commission, Southern Insurance Agency, The Ranch Studios, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, Palmisano Contractors, BERG Services, Reactive Digital Systems, Sheriff Jimmy Pohlman, State Senator Sharon Hewitt, Deborah Keller, and Terry and Daryl Tedesco.

In-kind sponsors include Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Sherman Strategies, LLC, Ragusa Consulting, Bernard Franks- A Corporation of Certified Accountants, Biz New Orleans, evanSchmidt Design, Shine Productions, Park Investments, Outfront Media, Meraux Foundation, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, Crave, and Zack Smith Photography.

“We’re delighted to have the continued support of our sponsors in this virtual event,” said McCormack. “Their commitment to the development of opportunity in our Parish shows now more than ever.”

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