The Louisiana Startup Prize is a competition that takes place in the heart of Shreveport and entices entrepreneurs from northwest Louisiana. The Startup Prize’s goal is to help evolve, transform and activate startups and ready them for investment dollars. Now it in its third year, this event is shaking up the entrepreneurial scene not only at home, but across the country. This revolution includes not only our generous prize package — $75,000 in cash and professional services to budding business-owners — but for the unique way our program approaches the process of starting a business.
To those who travel the entrepreneurial competition circuit, competitions are a dime a dozen. Like film festivals and food trucks, almost any respectably-sized city has one. Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, Dallas and beyond, so why would they choose to attend the Startup Prize?
What makes the Louisiana Startup Prize so unique are the very things that business-minded individuals crave the most, including our educational and networking components. Initially built to cater to local, aspiring business-owners who may not have any business training or experience at all, the competition assumes that everyone is starting at square one. From this starting place, we provide informative, entry-level insights from local business leaders in everything from accounting, to legal, marketing and business-to-business transactions. This makes the Startup Prize about much more than just a cash prize and bragging rights. We are preparing entrepreneurs for the realities of today’s business market and, when they are ready, connecting them directly with investors who can make their dreams come true.
Since launching the Startup Prize in 2014, 40 percent of Louisiana Startup Prize finalists have received offers of investment — a percentage that dwarfs other competitions which focus on well-refined pitches and slick marketing materials alone. Over 300 entrepreneurs from across the country have embarked on a journey to Shreveport to give their business the opportunity to not only succeed, but thrive through this rigorous educational and enrichment opportunity. Our sessions and discussion panels feature an all-star roster of investors and business gurus which has grown beyond talented local professionals and now routinely welcomes nationally-recognized business leaders.
So, you might be thinking, what have been the results for this effort? How has the Startup Prize aided entrepreneurial growth in northwest Louisiana? As proof, we are proud to recount two short anecdotes of our Startup Prize alumnus. Last year, we had our first local winner of the event. John Chidlow, founder of Innolyzer, took home the Startup Prize. This is important to us, because it shows entrepreneurial growth and innovation is alive and well in northwest Louisiana. John beat out competitors from around the nation, and is proud to call Shreveport his home. Wayne Nix, founder of the medical device Nix Tool, is another Startup Prize success story. Wayne had such a successful and productive experience with the Startup Prize, he is moving from Lafayette to join (and help grow) our entrepreneurial community in Shreveport and Bossier City. Another facet of Wayne’s story is his funding came from the local angel fund at EAP. Essentially, this synergy between the Startup Prize and EAP is what brought Wayne here, is funding him and, hopefully, helping him find success (so his company can, in turn, help attract more folks like him to the area).
Entrepreneurs from right here in northwest Louisiana and across the country are finding opportunity and success in Shreveport and Bossier City thanks to the Louisiana Startup Prize, our mentors, supporters and funders. Together, we are working to create a more fertile place for small business and, from within, provide opportunity for growth and prosperity in our community. More information is available www.LaStartupPrize.com.