Be Well Nutrition, maker of a new healthy lifestyle beverage, and Haystack EDU, an online platform that connects teachers with schools, were the big winners at the 13th annual Tulane Business Plan Competition.
The competition, an annual presentation of the student-led Tulane Entrepreneurs Association, took place on April 19 at the Freeman School.
Be Well earned this year’s grand prize of $50,000 with its plan for Iconic, a new all-natural meal replacement drink that’s high in protein and low in sugar. According to Michelle Chatelain (L ’14), Be Well’s director of business development, the functional beverage market—which consists of sports drinks, teas, energy drinks and protein drinks—is dominated by beverages that promise protein, energy or alertness, but up until now no product has offered all three benefits in one drink.
“Iconic is the answer to this problem,” Chatelain said. “It’s the only beverage out there that’s straddling all three of the fastest growing industries in this area.”
The hybrid quality of the drink impressed the judges. “Be Well has a very differentiated nutritional product that the market is starting to realize it needs,” said competition judge John Bertuzzi, a private investor and former managing director at Goldman Sachs. “I think it has very good potential to be an attractive addition in stores where the consumer looks for that type of differentiated product.”
Be Well co-founder Billy Bosch said the prize money will help the company complete its next production run, which is expected to cost about $70,000.
In the third annual Domain Cos. New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge, which followed the Tulane Business Plan Competition and which highlights ventures with the potential to positively impact the local economy, Haystack EDU founder Thomas Hayes earned the $20,000 grand prize for his web-based platform to match teachers with schools and other professional opportunities.
“It was really the growth potential that attracted us,” said contest judge Matt Schwartz, principal of the Domain Cos. “We thought that our prize could really make a difference in giving him a shot, and if he’s ultimately successful, we think that will translate into benefits to New Orleans on a number of different levels, not just for creating jobs and bringing capital here but for the social impact as well.”