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Monday, June 9, 2014

INGENUITY

Start Up competition to unite entrepreneurs with community of potential investors

Entrepreneurs will gain a unique opportunity for advancing their business or business plans with the latest competition from the founder of the Louisiana Film Prize.

The Louisiana Start Up Prize will offer locals and beyond the chance to compete for recognition, prizes, money and more importantly – investors to support their ideas.

Gregory Kallenberg, founder and executive director for the Start Up Prize, is excited about the possibilities the competition will provide Shreveport- Bossier City.

“There are contests everywhere, but we are not a group that follows the beat of any other drum,” Kallenberg said.

“We don’t follow others rhythm because we like to create our own. In doing so we created this competition, and it’s the best one on the planet.”

The Start Up Prize is made up of two qualifying events and a final challenge during which contestants will participate in round table discussions, connect directly with potential investors in courses, network with investors one-on-one and prove themselves in mini-challenges along the way.

“This competition teaches young entrepreneurs how to be better and how be a team,” Kallenberg said. “It also shows the investors at the contest who is working and how they’re working. It’s all about bringing these people – entrepreneurs and investors – together and creating something, so they can look at each others processes and come out stronger in the end.”

“If we can create better entrepreneurs and connect them with investors, then good things happen – like economic development. Office spaces are filled. Manufacturing spaces become lively again and cities grow,” Kallenberg said.

“It all has to start somewhere.”

First there is the “Sit and Pitch Event” event, a pitch contest during which the contestant shares their idea directly to an investor asking questions. The best pitch wins $50. At the end of that qualifying event, there is a larger main challenge (the details of which are yet to be revealed) in which the entrepreneurs will each be handed an item and given four hours to complete their task. The winner of that event will win $1,000.

“It’s ideal because at the same time that the contestants are competing in mini challenges for money, they’re showing the investors and their mentors what they’re made of,” Kallenberg said.

The first qualifying event will be held June 20-22. The second on July 18-20, and the final event will occur during Sept. 19-21. To participate in the final event, an entrepreneur must first participate in at least one qualifying event.

“During the course of the event, the entrepreneur is basically going to be able to choose his own adventure,” Kallenberg said. “If you come in with your idea and realize you need accounting help to carry it out because that’s not your strong suit, then you’ll be able to sit down with an accountant and talk it out – or marketing or whatever your weakest link might be.”

At the end after the two qualifying events, the entrepreneurs turn in a business plan, a prototype or a video that shows the investors that they have learned and are now commodities to invest in. The investors and mentors collaborate over all of the submissions, and then, a secret panel of judges will select their favorite concepts that will proceed to the final-final.

The Start Up Prize final-final event allows the top three entrepreneurs to compete in a private environment, where they pitch their ideas and share what they have and what they need. At the same time, the investors are letting the finalists know what they want. Prizes are awarded, which include $25,000 in cash and $25,000 or more in services.

“The secret goal of the Start Up Prize is that relationships are struck between investors and entrepreneurs, who have a shot at not just winning money but at getting invested in, to the point beyond the competition,” Kallenberg said.

“Everyone who walks into that final room means they are there because an investor put them there. They believe in them and believe that can successfully start a business right here in Shreveport- Bossier.”

One team gearing up for the big competition consists of Carlos Montes, Neil Keen and Erez Allouche. They will represent Project Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions.

“Alchemy Geopolymer Solutions is a technology oriented construction company which combines advanced knowledge in the field of material science with proprietary installation practices to deliver unique solutions to the heavy industry sector and transportation

agencies in our region,” Montes said.

“Specifically, the company specializes in geopolymer concrete and grout, a green alternative cementitious material that was proven to perform very well in extreme operating environments ranging from highly acidic conditions to very high temperature. This new product is cost effective and can be installed and cured in a fraction of the time compared with traditional products currently in the market.”

Montes, who holds a doctorate and is current researcher at Louisiana Tech University, is looking forward to the competition along with his teammates.

“We’re excited to expose our product to the public and show the advantages of a new concept in construction materials that has the potential of dramatically changing the future of the cement industry,” he said.

Montes said their team is roaring and ready to show what they have, which includes a legit amount of confidence, having already won the Governor’s Technology Product of the Year Award for Louisiana in 2012.

“This competition is a great opportunity that everyone should take advantage of,” Montes said. “We want to win this competition and use the money to upgrade our equipment, which will allow us to pursue larger opportunities and expand our reach beyond the regional level and also interact with potential investors that could offer greater opportunities in the future.”

“We believe good ideas can come from anywhere,” Kallenberg said. “Many people make the mistake of thinking the Start up Prize is about technology only, but this is open to anyone and everyone, be it an idea or business. It could be in manufacturing, services, food, technology or anything else. Bring us your idea, and let us help you make it better and let us connect you to investors.”

In addition, marketing mentor Judy Williams of Williams Creative Group will donate marketing services to the winner. Sponsors for the competition include Aneca Federal Credit Union, Great Raft Brewing, Caddo Management, Biomedical Research Foundation, Heidi and Gregory Kallenberg, Sandi and Jeffrey Kallenberg, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, The Community Foundation, Phillips Family Investments, Wiener, Weiss & Madison, Cohab Shreveport-Bossier City, PC Net Consulting, Perennial Media Entertainment, Twin Engine Labs, Williams Creative Group Inc. and Hilton of Shreveport. For more information go to www.lastartupprize.com/.

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