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JEDCO announces panel of judges for 2016 pitch competition

We’re just 18 days away from the 2016 JEDCO Challenge powered by First NBC Bank! This exciting Jefferson-Parish based competition features five innovative startup companies pitching for a chance to win $20,000 in direct capital and additional in-kind services to help grow their business. Emceed by Ronnie Slone, President of The Slone Group, the JEDCO Challenge is scheduled for March 14th at Southport Hall from 2-5 PM.

JEDCO sought out five business leaders with expertise in entrepreneurship to help determine the winner of the fourth annual pitch competition. This panel of business leaders a wide range of industries valuable to startup companies’ development.

Meet Our Judges

Aimee Quirk, Chief Executive Officer
Aimee Quirk is the CEO of InnovationOchsner (“iO”), an innovation lab and accelerator founded by Ochsner Health System in 2015 to reimagine and revolutionize the experience and delivery of healthcare in a way that creates value.  Aimee joined Ochsner in 2015 with more than 15 years of experience in law, economic development and public affairs. She served for over four years as the Senior Advisor for Economic Development in the Office of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Prior to her public service, Aimee was a partner at Jones Walker, where she practiced corporate and business litigation. She received her J.D. from Tulane University School of Law and her B.S. in Finance from Louisiana State University. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the New Orleans Business Alliance Board, a partnership between business and government to promote economic development, and on the Tulane Law Review Board of Advisory Editors.

Kerry W. Kirby, Founder/CEO
365 Connect
Kerry is a renowned entrepreneur, speaker and technology innovator. He is the founder and CEO of Jefferson Parish-based 365 Connect, a leading provider of award-winning marketing, leasing, and resident technology platforms for the multifamily housing industry. Kerry has propelled 365 Connect from a scrappy bootstrapped startup to an internationally recognized company, which has won 34 highly acclaimed technology awards to date; including the Louisiana Governor’s Technology Award. Kerry has been a guest lecturer, featured speaker, and panelist at numerous universities, national conferences, and events. He has been featured on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News and various media outlets. Known for his passion to foster the next generation of innovators, Kerry is one of the most notable supporters of technology and educational events in the New Orleans area.

Kristen Preau Moore, Owner & Jambalaya Girl
Cook Me Somethin’ Mister
Kristen Preau Moore is the owner and “Jambalaya Girl” of Cook Me Somethin’ Mister, a food product brand that offers an authentic taste of the Greater New Orleans region with its easy-to-prepare food products. The company’s products are proudly made in New Orleans and are specially blended by Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends.  Kristen was a finalist in the 2015 JEDCO Challenge and a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. In 2015, Kristen was named the Women in Business Champion for Louisiana by the Small Business Administration and Women’s Business Enterprise Role Model of the Year by WBEC South. The company was a Top 3 finalist of the Big Idea during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week and was named to the Top 100 Small Businesses by the U.S. Chamber.

Fred Beebe, Senior Vice President
First NBC Bank
Fred Beebe is a Senior Vice President at First NBC Bank and one of its top commercial loan officers. Beebe is a veteran banker having worked with Bank President Ashton J. Ryan at First Commerce Corporation(parent company of the former First NBC Banker that was bought out by Bank One) and later with First Bank and Trust. Beebe is also heavily involved in community activities including youth projects and the Jefferson Chamber. He and his wife also reside in Jefferson Parish.

Ray Areaux, Founding Member & Registered Patent Attorney
Carver, Darden, Koretzky, Tessier, Finn, Blossman & Areaux
Ray Areaux has chaired the firm’s intellectual property practice group since it was founded. With over 30 years in the IP field, his practice is devoted to obtaining, licensing, and enforcing all manner of patent, trademark, copyright and other intellectual property rights. He is a registered attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For 18 years, Ray has taught as an adjunct professor of law for “Trademarks and Unfair Competition” at Loyola University School of Law. Recently, he also began teaching Privacy Law at the law school as well. Ray enjoys angel investing and serves on the Executive Committee for Lagniappe Angels as well as for the South Coast Angel Fund. He is a member of the NOLA Angel Network and he serves as an active board member of Entrepreneur’s Organization.

“We are grateful for the support of the business leaders serving on our 2016 JEDCO Challenge judges’ panel,” says Jerry Bologna, JEDCO Executive Director. “These individuals represent the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Greater New Orleans region. Their experiences starting a business or working with entrepreneurs on a regular basis ideally positions them to help us choose our 2016 JEDCO Challenge winner. This competition could not happen without support from business leaders like the ones serving on our panel this year.”

Nearly 30 companies applied to participate in the 2016 JEDCO Challenge. It is the only Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition held during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) presented by IBERIABANK, which is produced by The Idea Village. The five startups chosen to compete will have just seven minutes to present a live pitch in front of the business panel. They will be scored based upon the live pitch, a condensed business plan submitted in advance of the competition, and a crowd vote. A small number of points will be awarded to the crowd favorite and added to that company’s overall score, so be sure to join us to vote for your favorite pitch!

The startups competing in the 2016 JEDCO Challenge span a diverse range of industries. JEDCO interviewed each of the company founders to share their stories, their backgrounds, and what incentivized them to participate in this year’s competition. The five finalists are:

AxoSim Technologies: J. Lowry Curley, PhD; Michael J. Moore, PhD
AxoSim Technology has developed a nerve-on-a-chip to test the effectiveness of drugs developed to fight neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. See AxoSim’s story here.

FreshCane: Arpit Bhopalkar
FreshCane is bringing the benefits of natural, unprocessed sugar cane water to the people of Louisiana. See FreshCane’s story here.

Kudoboard: Aaron Rubens
Kudoboard is an online service to replace the greeting card that gets passed around a group and signed, allowing multiple users to share photos, videos and content on one easy-to-use board. See Kudoboard’s story here.

MashBall, LLC: Todd Mashburn
MashBall is a portable, floatable toss game that can be played at tailgates, at the beach, or anywhere else. See MashBall’s story here.

Scandy: Charles Carriere; Cole Wiley
Scandy has developed a SmartPhone app that allows users to create 360°content which can be ordered and made into full-color 3D prints simply and efficiently. See Scandy’s story here.

To register for the 2016 JEDCO Challenge, please click here.

This event would not be possible without assistance from Jefferson Parish businesses and organizations. Through their generous contributions, JEDCO is able to present a $20,000 prize and additional in-kind business services such as access to public relations, legal, and accounting assistance. JEDCO would like to thank the following for their sponsorship and support of the JEDCO Challenge: First NBC Bank, 365 Connect, Ardyn Thriffiley and Associates, Biz New Orleans, Carver, Darden, Koretzsky, Tessier, Finn, Blossman & Areaux, LLC, Cox Communications, Daul Insurance, Gambel Communications, Gillis, Ellis & Baker, InnovationOchsner, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, LaPorte CPAs and Business Advisors, and Sandler Training.

2016 JEDCO Challenge Supporting Partners:  Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, The Idea Village, The Louisiana Small Business Development Center, CRC Global Solutions, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Greater New Orleans, Inc., Dixie Business Center, and the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.