This year marks JEDCO’s 30th anniversary. As our team looks back on many years of success and milestones, we are honored to hear about the ways in which our organization truly influenced our local businesses. One such business success story starts in 1991 out of the JEDCO Enterprise Center, our first incubator space for startup companies.
Dr. Sudhir Sinha joined the JEDCO incubator to start his first business, a DNA testing laboratory. The first few months were a bit rocky for the entrepreneur. Dr. Sinha recalled, “I was trying to raise some money and after two or three months of effort, I went to the [incubator] manager. I told him I couldn’t raise the money, so I would return the [office] key.”
The office manager at the time had other plans for Dr. Sinha. “He told me, ‘the room is empty. Keep the key and try. If you don’t succeed, give me the key back later.’ That was the turning point.”
Dr. Sinha’s company, ReliaGene Technologies, took off. It went on to become an accredited business venture with over 85 employees. Orchid Cellmark acquired ReliaGene in 2007, but Dr. Sinha wasn’t finished with his entrepreneurial endeavors.
A few years later, Dr. Sinha established InnoGenomics Technologies, a startup dedicated to the development of genetic testing solutions that solve crimes and save lives. The company’s patented technology, packaged in small DNA testing kits, has multiple applications, including forensic and missing person identification, relationship and ancestral ethno-geographic establishment, and molecular diagnostics.
In 2015, the InnoGenomics team came across the application for the JEDCO Challenge, a Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Established in 2013, JEDCO designed the Challenge to elevate opportunities for entrepreneurs and provide a few key startups with a platform to promote their ventures. Each year, the company that delivers the winning pitch receives $20,000 in cash and additional business-boosting professional services.
Dr. Sinha remembered his first experience with JEDCO. He felt the JEDCO Challenge was the right platform for InnoGenomics…and he was correct! The startup won the 2015 JEDCO Challenge, taking $20,000 home to move the company to the next level of success.
“The JEDCO Challenge was a big win for us,” Jonathan Tabak, InnoGenomics Vice President of Commercialization said. “Not only did it help to fund essential R&D activities in our lab, but it also dramatically increased our visibility throughout the community.”
Dr. Sinha and his team continue to grow and thrive in the Greater New Orleans region, but they never forget how they got their start and the role JEDCO played in helping the team to achieve their vision.
“We couldn’t be where we are without our partnership with JEDCO,” Tabak said.