Posts Tagged ‘Levy-Rosenblum Institute’

PitchNOLA winner comes full circle

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

When entrepreneur Larry Irvin Jr. took the Freeman Auditorium stage at last year’s PitchNOLA startup competition, it did not go well.

PitchNOLA, an annual social entrepreneurship elevator pitch compeition, took place Jan. 28 on Tulane's uptown campus. (Photo by Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo)

PitchNOLA, an annual social entrepreneurship elevator pitch compeition, took place Jan. 28 on Tulane’s uptown campus. (Photo by Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo)

He froze up a minute into his pitch, rushing out of the auditorium as a stunned audience watched his business partner Kristyna Jones dash up to finish the presentation.

Unbowed, the two came back for a second shot last week for PitchNOLA 2015: Community Solutions and more than redeemed themselves. Their venture, Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T), won the top $5,000 prize in the annual elevator pitch contest for social entrepreneurs seeking to solve community challenges in New Orleans.

BE2T recruits African-American college students to work as teaching assistants and mentors in area public schools. The goal is to close the achievement gap for at-risk students by inspiring and incentivizing men of color to become teachers.

“We’ve hit another milestone,” Jones said. “Winning means that stipends will be covered this fall for two of our 15 (classroom) participants.”

Held annually at Tulane University since 2009, PitchNOLA allows 10 semi-finalists to go before a panel of judges and a live audience to pitch their ideas to take on pressing, local issues in workforce development, children and families, social justice and the environment. The contest is co-hosted by the A. B. Freeman School of Business,  Tulane Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching and Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation.

“I’ve judged this event since it’s started, and these entrepreneurs had the best pitches I’ve seen, across the board,” said judge Leslie Jacobs.

UnCommon Construction won $3,000 as the second place winner and $640 as the audience favorite. The nonprofit builds houses with high school apprentices and uses the proceeds to provide them with expanded college and career opportunities.

Gator & Crane placed third, winning $2,000. The company seeks to build an environmentally sustainable grocery store that offers healthy foods while reducing packaging waste.


Deadline approaching for 2015 Business Model Competition

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

College entrepreneurs have less than two weeks to enter the 15th annual Tulane Business Model Competition for a chance to win more than $25,000 in cash and prizes for promising startup ventures.

Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, a doctoral student in the Tulane biomedical engineering program, makes the winning presentation for Tympanogen. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

Jan. 30 is the deadline to apply for the 2015 Tulane Business Model Competition, which will award $25,000 to a promising startup venture. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

The contest, which is hosted by the A. B. Freeman School of Business and the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association, seeks early-stage ventures that demonstrate a market-tested ability to adapt to customers’ needs. It is open to any team led by at least two or more students enrolled in a college or university. To enter, teams must submit a company description and other details by 11:59 p.m., Jan. 30 at:

“The Tulane Business Model Competition is a way for Tulane University to recognize and foster high-potential ventures that have demonstrated the ability to test their assumptions in the field and then pivot based on that market feedback,” said Lina Alfieri Stern, director of operations with the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Tulane will select six semi-finalists who will get to pitch, receive mentoring and network with a variety of “Lean Startup” experts on Monday, March 23, during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Lean Startup is a business development model created by entrepreneur and author Eric Ries. The three finalists selected by judges will then present their business models at Tulane University on Thursday, April 16.

Formerly known as the Tulane Business Plan Competition, the contest was reorganized last year to emphasize the importance of validating a business model through field research. The contest rewards ventures for breaking down their idea into a key business model hypotheses; testing their assumptions with customers; applying Customer Development / Lean Startup principles to make sure they nail the solution; and changing until they have a customer-validated business model.

For more information, visit

Applications now open for PitchNOLA 2015

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Have an idea to solve a social problem in New Orleans? Enter the 2015 PitchNOLA competition and you could win $10,000 to help turn your idea into a reality.

PitchNOLA is an elevator pitch competition for ventures with the potential to address local challenges.

PitchNOLA entrants can win up to $10,000 to help bring their social change ideas to market.

PitchNOLA: Community Solutions is a live “elevator pitch” competition that offers community members a platform to pitch their solutions to pressing local problems. Presented by the A. B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane’s Center for Engaged Learning & Teaching and Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, the competition seeks ideas that support children and families, the environment, workforce development, and economic security. A lengthy business plan isn’t required to enter. Applicants should be startup-stage ventures that have generated less than $50,000 in sales or grant funding in the previous calendar year.

This year’s competition will take place on Jan. 28, 2015, at Tulane University. Selected semifinalists will pitch their ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of celebrity judges, including Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva and Puddle, and Leslie Jacobs, CEO of the New Orleans Startup Fund and founder of PowerMoves NOLA. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 to help bring his or her venture to market as well as pro bono technical assistance and consulting services from Propeller, which provides support for New Orleans-based social entrepreneurship ventures. In addition to the grand prize, an Audience Favorite Award, voted by audience members, will also be presented.

In its six year history, PitchNOLA has built an impressive record for helping to get high-impact social change ventures to the next level. Last year’s winner, Crescent City Connections, has since recruited 1,200 volunteers, facilitated contribution of over $155,000 in labor to worthwhile causes, and was named one of the top businesses to watch in 2014 by New Orleans Magazine. The Justice and Accountability Center, which earned first-place honors in 2012, has provided expungements to over 1,000 individuals previously incarcerated for non-violent crimes, significantly helping to reduce recidivism.

The contest is open to individuals or teams based in the greater New Orleans area and the deadline for applications is Dec. 19, 2014. For more information about the competition and to apply online, visit




Business Model Competition semifinalists to pitch at NOEW

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Eight semifinalists will be pitching live in the completely revamped Tulane Business Model Competition during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), the sixth annual premier showcase event for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The pitches will take place in Gallier Hall Ballroom 3A on Tuesday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m. The event is free and registration is available at the door for attendees who arrive at 1 p.m.

The Tulane Business Model Competition will award $25,000 to a venture demonstrating a customer-tested business model.

The 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition will award $25,000 to the early-stage venture demonstrating the best customer-tested business model.

The top three pitches will be awarded $2,000 and granted access to the final round pitches on April 11th at Tulane University and a chance to win $25,000 and enter the International Business Model Competition as a semifinalist.

Semifinalists include: ComeFail, CCC, Fleur de Latkes, InVision Biomedical, Million Dollar Scholar, Threadix, Tympanogen, and US Fresh Cane.

The competition was completely redesigned to better reward the practical aspects of what make startups successful – the ability to rapidly adapt to customers’ needs. Judges will be examining each company and how they have been able to prove customer validation and adapt to the process of creating a business model.

Judges include: Charles Allen (UC ’92), President/Managing Director, Riptide Investments; Wally Boston (MBA ’78), President and CEO of American Public University System (APUS); Larry Connelly (MBA ’82), Former CEO, Connolly LLC; Pierce Marshall (BSM ’90), President and CEO, Élevage Capital Management, LLC; Ti Martin (MBA ’84), co-proprietor of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, co-founder and board chairman of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute; Andy Mills (BSM ’83) – President, Medline Industries; and Matt Schwartz (BSM ’99), Principal and Founder, The Domain Companies.

Drew Mouton (BS ’94, MBA ’12) former CEO of Carrollton Group, Founder/Managing Director of Caerus Management will be the Master of Ceremony.

Tulane Entrepreneurs Association (TEA) President Adrian Mendez said the organization is excited to have so many students involved in NOEW. “We excited to have such access to and participation in the nationally recognized entrepreneur week. We’re eager to continue building upon the entrepreneurial movement across the region.”

Through the competition, the Tulane IDEAcorps team and many attendees having ties to Tulane, the university has become an integral part of NOEW. “We are thrilled that Tulane is hosting one of their major Entrepreneurship events during NOEW 2014. We have a long-standing partnership with the University and are excited to see Tulane driving Entrepreneurship initiatives, both on campus, and throughout broader New Orleans community,” said managing director of The Idea Village Emily Madero.

“The competition has always been a flagship event that supports local–now regional– entrepreneurs and programs,” Mendez continued. “As the program grows, we hope to continue to motivate and inspire students to be on the forefront of entrepreneurial activity with the resources we provide.”

Follow along with the Business Model Competition on Facebook at and on Twitter at TEA can be found at More information is available at

Ti Martin, Dana and Stan Day to be honored as Entrepreneurs of the Year

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business will honor restaurateur Ti Martin (MBA ’84) as Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year and philanthropists Dana (N ’80, L ’84) and Stanley (BSM ’80) Day as Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs of the Year at the 2014 Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Award Gala. The ceremony will take place on Friday, April 11, at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place.

Ti Martin

Ti Martin

The Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship presents the awards each year to highlight outstanding entrepreneurs in the community. The Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of Year Award honors individuals who combine entrepreneurial success with philanthropic generosity and service to the community. The Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes individuals dedicated to solving social problems and improving the community through the use of entrepreneurial principles. Tulane President Scott Cowen and Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon will present the awards.

Martin is co-proprietor of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, which includes Commander’s Palace, Café Adelaide and SoBou in New Orleans and Brennan’s of Houston. Martin is also co-founder and board chairman of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute, which is currently developing a culinary and hospitality school in partnership with Tulane, Delgado and the University of New Orleans. In February, NOCHI was selected to redevelop the former Louisiana Artworks building, which will serve as the institute’s home. A longtime champion of business and civic causes in New Orleans, Martin has served on the boards of GNO Inc., the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Idea Village, the Young Leadership Council, the New Orleans Hospitality Strategic Task Force and the New Orleans Business Council. Martin was also a co-founder of the New Orleans “Proud to Call it Home” campaign.


Stan Day

Dana Day

Dana Day

Dana and Stan Day began supporting Tulane University personally after Katrina and expanded their role when their NewDay Foundation began supporting social entrepreneurship initiatives at Tulane in 2009. Through the foundation, the Days have sponsored programs including the NewDay Social Venture Challenge, the NewDay Social Entrepreneurship Distinguished Speakers Series and the NewDay Professor of Social Entrepreneurship. Dana Day is a member of the Board of Tulane and Stan Day serves on the President’s Council.

“The name Ti Martin is synonymous with the hospitality industry in New Orleans, and Dana and Stan Day are among the very biggest supporters of social entrepreneurship and innovation at Tulane University,” said Dean Ira Solomon. “We’re delighted to be able to recognize Ti and Dana and Stan as our 2014 Entrepreneurs of the Year.”

For more information about the Entrepreneurs of the Year and the Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala, contact Lina Alfieri Stern at 504-865-5455 or



Tulane Business Model Competition announces semi-finalists

Friday, February 28th, 2014

The Tulane Entrepreneurs Association (TEA) has announced eight semi-finalists for the group’s newly revamped Tulane Business Model Competition.

The Tulane Business Model Competition will award $35,000 to startups with customer-tested business ideas.

The 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition will award $35,000 to startup ventures with consumer-tested business ideas.

After a 13-year-run, the contest was redesigned to better reward the practical aspects of what make startups successful – the ability to rapidly adapt to customers’ needs. It offers a $25,000 grand prize and $10,000 for the runner-up.

“From food carts and hospitality ventures to educational technology and biomedical devices, our eight finalists truly represent a cross-section of the New Orleans startup scene,” says Ralph Maurer, executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship. “I’m looking forward to seeing how these talented young entrepreneurs hone their business models in preparation for the final competition on April 11.”

The semi-finalists are:

ComeFail, a space for college students to fail safely and a platform for supportive learning and exploration.

CCC, a venture that offers customized volunteer and hospitality experiences for customers so that they can easily enjoy, learn, and support New Orleans like never before.

Fleur de Latkes, a new food cart and catering business in uptown New Orleans that specializes in bringing a modern take on your “bubbe’s” Jewish cooking down to NOLA.

InVision Biomedical, a firm that takes existing innovative procedures and implements novel medical devices, expanding patient safety and hospital cost efficiency.

Million Dollar Scholar, an education technology and services venture that addresses higher education affordability by providing students with an online platform to learn how to become successful in the scholarship application process

Threadix, an event management and data analytics company utilizing the latest technological innovations in near field communication to allow advertisers and event organizers new methods to expand branding opportunities.

Tympanogen, a firm commercializing a gel patch developed at Tulane University, called Perf-Fix™, for non-surgical repair of chronic tympanic membrane perforations.

US Fresh Cane, a sugar cane drink company that provides consumers an alternate and natural drink that can improve their health and fitness levels.

Semi-finalists receive $1,000 each and get to pitch, receive mentoring and network with a variety of lean startup experts on Tuesday, March 25, during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, the sixth annual premier showcase event for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ultimately, three finalists will present their business models at Tulane University on Friday, April 11, 2014.

Tulane is now taking after the International Business Model Competition, a contest that wants ventures to prove customer validation and adapt to the process of creating a business model. Instead of intensive library research, student entrepreneurs will get out in the field and prove their assumptions.

TEA President Adrian Mendez believes the competition provides a deeper learning opportunity and a more guided process for those interested in launching and running a company. “Essentially what we’re doing is creating an evolution of what has been established at Tulane, allowing for students to quickly prototype and execute ideas instead of just participating in a one time pitch.”

“The competition has always been a flagship event that supports local–now regional– entrepreneurs and programs,” Mendez says. “As the program grows, we hope to continue to motivate and inspire students to be on the forefront of entrepreneurial activity with the resources we provide.”

Follow the Tulane Business Model Competition on Facebook at and on Twitter at


PMBA student earns top prize at PitchNOLA

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

As a first-year Tulane University student in 2006, Teddy Nathan saw firsthand the power of public service. Now, as a young entrepreneur, he’s hoping to tap into that spirit of service to address some of the city’s biggest needs.

Celebrating at PitchNOLA are Crescent City Connections team members, from left, Annie Daskovsky and co-founder Teddy Nathan, with Propeller representative Rebecca Conwell and Zach Cheney, also a co-founder of the venture. (Photo by Ian Cockburn)

Celebrating at PitchNOLA are Crescent City Connections team members, from left, Annie Daskovsky and co-founder Teddy Nathan, with Propeller representative Rebecca Conwell and Zach Cheney, also a co-founder of the venture. (Photo by Ian Cockburn)

Nathan (LA ’10, MBA ’16), senior program coordinator at the Tulane Center for Public Service and a Professional MBA student at the A. B. Freeman School of Business, was the big winner at the fifth annual PitchNOLA competition. The elevator pitch contest for local social entrepreneurship ventures took place Tuesday night (Nov. 19) in front of a packed audience in the Woldenberg Art Center’s Freeman Auditorium on the Tulane uptown campus.

Nathan and colleagues Zach Cheney and Melissa Garber earned the $5,000 grand prize with their pitch for Crescent City Connections, which works with local nonprofits to create customized volunteer experiences for tourist groups. The organization then channels fees collected from the volunteers back to the sponsoring nonprofit.

In awarding this year’s top prize, judges praised Crescent City Connections for its efforts to turn the growing demand for volunteer opportunities into sustainable income for nonprofits.

“I think there was a sense that if somebody could come along and connect volunteers with opportunities, that would serve both the people who benefit from the volunteers and the volunteers themselves, who could get to experience a different part of New Orleans,” said John Frazee, senior vice president with CBS News and one of this year’s judges. “They seemed to have the potential for having impact on a lot of people.”

For Nathan, winning this year’s PitchNOLA was a special thrill.

“I come every year,” he said. “I’ve been in the audience for the last four years, so it’s crazy to be here on stage right now.”

Nathan said he plans to use the prize money to host a pilot event for members of the business, hospitality and nonprofit communities to help those partners better understand what the organization hopes to provide for tourist groups.

“It’s so they can actually have the volunteer experience we’ve been talking about, so that it’s no longer just a concept,” Nathan explains. “They can then be our goodwill ambassadors.”

In addition to Crescent City Connections, PitchNOLA also awarded a $500 “audience favorite” prize to I Heart Louisiana, which helps connect Mardi Gras krewes to locally sourced and sustainable throws.

PitchNOLA was a joint presentation of Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Tulane, the A. B. Freeman School of Business and Propeller, a nonprofit that supports social innovation in New Orleans. Saving Academic Medicine from Obsolescence

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Harvard Business Review

From, Nov. 8, 2013:

Ralph Maurer, professor of practice and interim executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, co-authored an article for the HBR Blog Network about how Tulane School of Medicine is embracing disruptive innovation to deal with some of the challenges currently facing academic medicine. The article was written in collaboration with Benjamin P. Sachs, senior vice president and dean emeritus of Tulane School of Medicine, Marc J. Kahn, senior associate dean of Tulane School of Medicine, and Steven A. Wartman, president and CEO of the Association of Academic Health Centers.

One solution to this problem is moving the majority of primary and secondary healthcare delivery into the community. After Hurricane Katrina, Tulane partnered with a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers in order to provide services to low and middle-income patients in community-based clinics designated as medical homes. These not only provide less expensive care, but also provide the kind of experiential learning necessary to teach expertise to trainees.

To read the article in its entirety, visit



Three Freeman staffers make Silicon Bayou 100

Friday, December 14th, 2012

John Elstrott, Ralph Maurer and Lina Alfieri Stern, the leadership team behind the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, are among the local movers and shakers to make the 2012 Silicon Bayou 100.

The staff of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship. From left to right, Lina Alfieri Stern, John Elstrott, Terry McGuckin, Ralph Maurer and Rosalind Butler.

Silicon Bayou News, a website dedicated to covering the state’s rapidly growing startup scene, selects the Silicon Bayou 100 each year to recognize the most active and influential people in technology and entrepreneurship in Louisiana. This year’s honorees were announced on Dec. 12 at a release party at Eiffel Society in New Orleans.

Elstrott is emeritus executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute (LRI), the center he founded in 1991 to coordinate entrepreneurship programs and initiatives at the Freeman School. Under Elstrott’s guidance, the Freeman School has consistently ranked among the top graduate programs in the nation for entrepreneurship. Prior to his retirement in July 2012, Elstrott provided instruction, mentorship and advice to hundreds of entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs over the course of a 25-year career at the Freeman School. As emeritus executive director, Elstrott remains involved with the institute as a consultant and fundraiser, and he continues to teach entrepreneurship courses at the Freeman School.

Maurer is executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute, and he also serves as executive director of the Tulane Family Business Center, a program of LRI. A professor of practice in the area of strategy & entrepreneurship, Maurer focuses his teaching and research on innovation and strategy in highly dynamic markets, with an emphasis on both technology and the cultural industries. His work and consulting experience includes time with Apple, Daimler-Benz, Chrysler, Deluxe and multiple internet startups. In addition to his role at the Freeman School, Maurer serves as a consultant with EMH Strategy in New Orleans.

Alfieri Stern has been with the Levy-Ronsenblum Institute since its founding, and she has served as director of the institute since 2008. In that role, she plans and implements projects relating to entrepreneurial studies, urban economic development and social entrepreneurship. In addition, she places and mentors volunteer students in consulting projects for disadvantaged businesses and not-for-profit organizations. As staff adviser to the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association, Alfieri Stern also plays a major role in organizing the annual Tulane Business Plan Competition and the Domain Cos. New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge, which each year award more than $70,000 in cash and prizes to promising startup ventures.

Tulane University was well represented on this year’s Silicon Bayou 100. In addition to Elstrott, Maurer and Alfieri Stern, the list features dozens of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, organizers and services providers with Tulane connections.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a leader in your field, but I think what’s even more impressive is the tremendous diversity of talent highlighted on the list,” says Maurer. “It’s been exciting to work with many of the people on the list over the last couple of years, and John, Lina and I look forward to working with them in the future to make the Freeman School an even bigger part of the New Orleans entrepreneurial community.”

For more information about the 2012 Silicon Bayou 100, visit Silicon Bayou News.


Social entrepreneurs seek the perfect pitch at PitchNOLA

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Ten teams of social entrepreneurs visited Tulane’s uptown campus last week to pitch ideas to solve a host of environmental and social problems, but in the end, it was a program to help the formerly incarcerated transition back into society that came out on top at the fourth annual PitchNOLA.

PitchNOLA 2012

Latona Giwa delivers her pitch for Birthmark Doula Collective, which earned second place honors and the Audience Favorite Prize at this year’s PitchNOLA competition. (Photos by Cheryl Gerber)

The competition, an “elevator pitch” contest for local social entrepreneurs, is an annual presentation of the A. B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane Social Entrepreneurship Initiatives and Propeller, a local nonprofit that supports social innovation ventures. More than 200 people packed Freeman Auditorium last Wednesday (Nov. 14) to watch the socially minded entrepreneurs deliver three-minute pitches for their ventures to a panel of judges, with a $5,000 cash prize on the line.

The Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana, this year’s grand prize winner, provides legal assistance to help the state’s large population of nonviolent ex-offenders expunge their criminal records, which can be a major obstacle for them to gain employment and break the cycle of incarceration.

“The potential scale of impact in proportion to the social issue was huge,” said Leslie Jacobs, who served as one of this year’s judges. “It’s innovative, there’s tremendous need, and we felt the speakers had a high level of credibility with their experience. Our one question was the potential to really go to scale, but it was worth the gamble.”

Ameca Reali, executive director of the Justice & Accountability Center, said the prize money will enable the organization to greatly expand its outreach efforts.

“With these extra funds, we can go into more communities and take in more clients, and everywhere we go, we take in clients every single time,” said Reali “We can double the number of clients we serve.”


Of the 10 ventures chosen as finalists for this year’s PitchNOLA competition, seven were started by Tulane students or alumni.

This year’s competition also had some drama. While the grand prize was the only cash award announced, a last-minute gift from an anonymous donor enabled organizers to award a $4,000 prize to second-place winner Birthmark Doula Collective, which seeks to improve birth outcomes in New Orleans, and a $3,000 prize to third-place finisher the New Orleans Fruit Tree Project, which harvests fruit from the trees of private owners to fight hunger in New Orleans. An anonymous donor also provided a $5,000 gift to Smiles2Geaux, an initiative to establish mobile dental clinics low-income schoolchildren and seniors.

This year’s PitchNOLA attracted 60 applications, the most in the four-year history of the event, and seven of the 10 finalists had Tulane connections, including Birthmark Doula Collective, which was co-founded by Freeman School Professional MBA student Dana Keren, and the New Orleans Fruit Tree Project, which was founded by School of Public Health alumna Megan Nuismer.

“I’m really proud of all the Tulane participants and finalists,” said Lina Alfieri Stern, director of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship. “We’re committed to fostering and supporting social entrepreneurship across the university, so it’s really exciting to see more and more students using the knowledge and skills they’re learning in the classroom to make an impact in the local community.”


Freeman News is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).
Authorized User: Log in

Switch to our mobile site