Arkansans Spencer Jones of LineGard Med and Tina McCord from ZUNI Learning Tree were winners at the Delta Regional Showcase event sponsored by the Delta Regional Authority during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week earlier this month. The two companies were among a field of 19 entrants from six DRA states.
Entrants were selected through the Delta Challenge, a series of pitches in the fall of 2015.
LineGard won the grand prize, grabbing $10,000 in startup funding, while ZUNI won $1,500 as the second runner-up.
Nineteen fellows from the Delta Entrepreneur Network participated by engaging with judges, other entrepreneurs, conference attendees and investors in a series of conversational pitches.
Judges selected three entrepreneurs to participate in an on-state pitch to the audience. Aside from McCord and Jones, SweetBio of Memphis was selected.
“This year’s entrepreneurs bring incredible business models that have the potential to disrupt the industries that they’re working within,” noted Katie Milligan, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship for DRA. “These are companies that have grown in the Delta and plan to stay in the Delta, investing in their local community. We’re proud to be able to support them with a strong network of resources, mentors, and peers.”
Also participating in the showcase from Arkansas was Rachel Fuller, CEO and Co-Founder of Feather.
According to Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, “Entrepreneurs from across the Delta have been able to access the investors, information, ideas, and peer groups that will help them build their businesses, attract funding, and succeed in realizing their innovations and dreams through the DEN fellowship and NOEW programming.”
Jones’ LineGard Med provides extra safety for IV tubing which allows for a controlled separation from the tubing and helping keep a catheter in place saving time and money granting the continuation of the medical therapy.
Jones noted the benefits of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
“This entire week has been such an amazing experience and winning the Delta Entrepreneur Showcase was icing on the cake. Building a successful business is hard, and the technical training provided by the DRA sharpened everyone’s skills,” he said. “Having co-founders of companies like AOL and Reddit share their stories is inspiring and helps keep young entrepreneurs driven. Those moments would never be possible without events like NOEW and the people at the DRA hustling to make it happen. This was my first year attending NOEW, but I’m definitely going to be here every year moving forward.”
ZUNI Learning Tree is a cloud-based educational platform for learning and engagement. The platform is available on any internet-accessing device, accessible 24/7, allowing various types of instructional resources including games, videos, tutorials, STEM, Girls in Science, coding resources and more.
McCord also noted the impact of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
“This experience is the result of really hard work, faith, and perseverance from the whole ZUNI team. We at ZUNI feel our team expanded once we became a fellow with DRA. DRA provided so many tools, mentors and events that have allowed us to get the word out and grow in multidirectional ways,” she said. “Events like NOEW also assist in expanding our team, and we all know with great teams great things happen. We’re really appreciative of organizations that want to help entrepreneurs move to the next level. As Steve Case, founder of AOL, said in his presentation at NOEW, events like NOEW represent the second inning of the game, and it’s good to do well in the second inning because it motivates you to get to keep going and to stay strong the whole distance.”
The Delta Entrepreneurship Network entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship support organizations are engaged in various interactive panels and workshops. The participation of the Delta Regional Authority is helping make New Orleans a viable ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurship in the South.
“As we continue to build New Orleans’ brand as a leading entrepreneurial ecosystem, our partnership with DRA is helping to expand entrepreneurship and NOEW’s network beyond New Orleans into the greater Delta region, establishing NOEW as the premier festival for entrepreneurship in the South,” said Tim Williamson, Co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “The Delta entrepreneurs are an important addition to the idea-sharing and excitement of NOEW and New Orleans’ ecosystem.”
The Delta Entrepreneurship Network is a fellowship program, initiated by the DRA, to help identify entrepreneurs and support organizations located in the Delta region to help nurture talent and create a vibrant ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurship.
(Photo: From left, Spencer Jones with LineGard Med, Kayla Rodriguez of SweetBio, and Tina McCord with ZUNI Learning Tree.)