Propeller’s fourth annual PitchNOLA competition kicked off last night with the ten Community Solutions finalists pitching their hearts out for the $5,000 grand prize and a shot at the audience favorite prize of $500. Chen mentioned this year’s competition had the highest quality and number of applicants, as well as between 700 and 800 audience member RSVPs over both nights. The event took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week and was one of the 35,000 events happening in over 120 countries.
Andrea Chen, Stephanie Barksdale, Lina Alfieri-Stern, and keynote speaker Bill Bohnett all graced the stage as Peter Ricchiuti led the audience through the night as the always hilarious master of ceremony.
Bohnett shared some great advice. “Out of chaos comes clarity and opportunity,” he said, continuing, “When you think you have something, go for it, and go for it aggressively.” He inspired the companies and audience to progress in their early stage ventures and to continue trusting their crazy ideas, as many entrepreneurs like to say.
The rules of Community Solutions were simple. Each company was allotted only three minutes, three slides maximum, and must have had revenues under $50,000 in 2011. The three top choices of the judges could then pitch again, answering any questions that were unable to be answered the first time around.
This year’s finalists included: Birthmark Doula Collective, Enlighten through Travel, enrichED, Fe-Fi-Fo-Farm!, JAC’s Mobile Expungement Clinic, Smiles2Geaux, SODI-CAN, The New Orleans Fruit Tree Project, Youth Radio New Orleans, and ZomBeads: Mardi Gras ReMade in New Orleans.
The three companies that made it past the first round were the Birthmark Doula Collective, JAC’s Mobile Expungement Clinic, and The New Orleans Fruit Tree Project. An anonymous donation allowed for the the second and third place companies to take home prizes of $4,000 and $3,000 respectively.
After much deliberation and question asking from judges Leslie Jacobs, Bill Bohnett, and Judy Reese Morse, a decision was made. The $5,000 grand prize went to JAC, second place and $4,000 went to Birthmark Doula Collective, and the third place, $3,000 prize went to The New Orleans Fruit Tree Project. The audience favorite and winner of the $500 prize presented by Baker Donelson was Birthmark Doula Collective.
Tonight, ten additional finalists for the Lots of Progress competition will compete for another $5,000 prize. The second PitchNOLA competition will take place at the Propeller Social Innovation Incubator beginning at 6:30pm. For more information visit gopropeller.org.