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Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024

EAP and Centenary College Grow Entrepreneurship

Frost Pitch Winner Manisha Menon

The top prize of $4,000 was awarded to Manisha Menon.

Through Frost Pitch Challenge

Special to 318Forum

Students at Centenary College pitched their best business ideas for the top cash prize of $4,000 in the Frost Pitch Challenge. The competition was presented by Centenary College of Louisiana’s Frost School of Business and BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP), which provides services to innovative startups and works to stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities in North Louisiana. Centenary and EAP have partnered for a fourth year to continue their work to help prepare students to be leaders and entrepreneurs in North Louisiana.

Five finalist teams competed for nearly $7,000 in cash and prizes. Student competitors first participated in an extensive consulting and business development workshop to prepare for the final event. They then submitted a business plan, financial analysis and pitch presentation for evaluation to determine the finalists eligible to compete for prize money.

The winning team and finalists were announced at a special banquet and awards ceremony at the Petroleum Club, where they networked with local leaders in education and business, mentors and sponsors. The top cash prize of $4,000 was awarded to Manisha Menon for her business idea of a food delivery service on Centenary’s campus.

“I’ve always wanted to start a business – both of my parents own their own businesses,” said Menon. “I started thinking about this last spring and was so excited to enter the competition this fall. I put myself out there and gained mentors and valuable experience along the way.”

Sophie Vidrine won second place and a cash prize of $1,500 for Sophie Mo’s Jewelry, her handmade jewelry brand, created using special gold plating to ensure each piece is high quality.

Malick Hasan and Julien DeLeon placed third for their business idea, Biz Flow Solutions, a software platform to automate processes and improve sales for business owners. MBA students Michael Pullano and Chrystopher Jackson tied for fourth place, each winning a $250 cash prize for their ideas. Pullano’s idea was to renovate and restore the historic M.L. Bath building in downtown Shreveport, and Jackson’s idea was for a documentary-style photography business.

The top three teams also won professional services from EAP for six months, and all finalists can compete in the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup in spring 2024, a statewide business pitch competition with a grand prize of $50,000.

“The Frost Pitch Challenge: Ice Out the Competition moved along smoothly from the initial announcement to the students until the night of the awards banquet with students finding out the judging results and their prizes,” said Dr. Barbara Davis, William J. Atkins Dean of the Frost School of Business, and professor of accounting and finance. “The Frost School of Business celebrates all the outstanding students participating in the competition and hopes to see more results as some pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.”

The following Centenary faculty and community business professionals served as judges during the final business pitch competition:

Lindsay Atkins, former news producer, KTBS-TV.

Brett Brown, senior financial analyst, Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP).

Alexis James, assistant chief administrative officer, City of Shreveport.

Taylor Jamison, director of regulatory and political affairs, NextEra Energy Resources.

Matt Snyder, owner, PinPoint Local Marketing.

“I was blown away by the professionalism and preparedness of each student that presented,” said Brett Brown, senior financial analyst at EAP. “I think it really speaks to the high quality of future business leaders that are coming out of Centenary as well as the real-world benefits that come from participating in a pitch competition such as the Frost Pitch Challenge.”

ABOUT EAP:

EAP, a division of BRF, diversifies the regional economy and creates jobs by providing services to innovative startups with high-growth potential. EAP has helped create almost 700 jobs, and its portfolio companies have an annual payroll of $21.5 million. EAP has screened over 1,600 ideas and provided services to more than 465 companies that have raised $218 million in capital. For more info, visit www.EAPLA.com.

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