Finalists and judges in Startup St. Bernard $110K Pitch Competition announced

The five finalist of Startup St. Bernard have been announced by the pitch competition’s organizers, the Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation.  The live pitch competition, held in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, offers finalist the opportunity to compete for a prize package valued at $110,000 including cash and in-kind services.

The finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on March 20, 2017 at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm at 5128 E. St. Bernard Highway in Violet. The event is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending the “Shark Tank-style” business competition should register at

Startup St. Bernard was open to any business that agreed to locate their base of operations in St. Bernard Parish and help improve its entrepreneur ecosystem. An independent scoring committee chose the following five finalists based on the criteria that included the quality of their business plan and impact on St. Bernard Parish.

  • Crescent City Seafood Connection (CCSC) is a local seafood distribution/wholesale company selling and delivering seafood to multiple restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area, and it is working to develop out-of-state business. CCSC is proposing to open an Oyster Bar/Fish Market in Historic Old Arabi.
  • Da Parish Kayaks looks to open fishing kayak rentals and guide services in St Bernard Parish, collaborating with other local small businesses. The plan comes from the owners and operators of Kayak-iti-Yat, a New Orleans-based eco-tourism company.
  • Functional Health and Wellness LLC (FHW), currently operating as Girls Gone Buff, improves the overall quality of life for members living in and near St. Bernard Parish. FHW encourages clients to live healthier lifestyles through exercise, proper nutrition, education, and fun.
  • Leduc Entertainment is a full-fledged creative-based production company striving to set its customers above the competition with quality video production.  Whether it’s a commercial, web video or a feature-length film, they believe that every project has the power to move someone. 
  • Reactive Digital Systems, LLC is a small business on the forefront of augmented reality education. Augmented reality reacts to user input, engaging learners of all ages in a wide field of studies, and it is the new frontier of interactive education.

Judges for 2017 Startup St. Bernard are: Jimmy Roussel, CEO of the New Orleans Startup Fund; Cleveland Spears, President and CEO of Spears Group; David Fennelly, Director of Associated Terminals LLC and President of Turn Services LLC; Aaron Dirks, Founder and CEO of Deluxe Shuttle, Chairman and Co-Founder of Posigen, and Director of Business Development at Limosine Livery; and Erica Larkin Gaudet, sculptor and owner of Larkin Gaudet LLC.

Tom Gregory, multiple regional Emmy Award winner and WYES producer, will emcee the event. 

Details on the events prize package will be announced soon.

About New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW)

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), presented by IBERIABANK, is an annual festival celebrating innovation, entrepreneurship, and new thinking in New Orleans. Produced by The Idea Village in partnership with Solomon Group, NOEW engages a dynamic network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, non-profits, students, and professionals to support growing companies, spark conversation, and applaud the entrepreneurial spirit in a city like no other. In 2017, NOEW will take place at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.

About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation  

St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to retain and create jobs, build prosperity, and improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. The Board of Directors consist of 28 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. SBEDF’s work is made possible through the general support of its investors, St. Bernard Parish Government, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, Cox Communications, Chalmette Refining, and Valero at the Impact Champion Level, the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III and Associated Terminals at the Pillars Level, and Palmisano Group and Meyer Engineers at the Community Leaders Level.

 About The Meraux Foundation   

 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 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.