The Water Challenge initiative is a collaboration between Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, The Idea Village and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) that aims to identify and support entrepreneurial solutions that apply innovative approaches to how we live with water.
Each year during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week one day is designated as Water Challenge Day. Organizations, environmentalists, and industry leaders gather to share and discuss better solutions for how we live with water.
At the culminating event, five finalists gathered at NOEW for the Water Challenge Business Pitch, hoping to take home the $10,000 prize courtesy of GNOF. Judges included Elisa Speranza of CH2M HILL and Jimmy Roussel of the New Orleans Startup Fund.
The winner of the grand prize was Wetland Resources, LLC, an environmental consulting firm that has created a device for sustainable storm protection. The device starts as a pot and converts to compact tree shelter made out of plastic, recyclable material that will decompose in about seven years.
Founders Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas hope to plant millions of hurricane-resistant baldcypress and water tupelo trees over the next decade. “We need to get this device into production so we can get this show on the road,” Shaffer concluded.
Wetland Resources also won the Audience Favorite vote and an additional $500.
More information about the four other companies is below:
Riverbottom Tech’s founder John Tesvich is creating innovative technology for restoring and maintaining coastal areas intelligently and on a sustainable basis. The company is finding new methods of moving sediment for use in coastal restoration, such as their patent-pending harvesting platform that has the potential to revolutionize coastal restoration in Louisiana.
Tesvich said customers will see immediate results with the eco-friendly, long-term solution for collecting and relocating sediment. Riverbottom is also scalable and adaptable for use in alternative energy sources.
Greenman Dan, Inc. is a Metairie-based landscaping company that has created an underground rainwater containment system that makes it simple and easy to solve water runoff problems while reducing landscape irrigation costs. The company, led by Dan Johnson, has launched an underground rainwater containment system that could be capturing millions of gallons of water per year.
Johnson wanted to produce a solution where we capture water inside the city on individual properties. The company now has 1,000 clients and a provisional patent in place. While there are 135,000 structures in New Orleans, Johnson believes the company could benefit greatest from the business sector because they typically have the largest surface area.
Magnolia Land Partners
Magnolia is developing critical wetland restoration projects in Louisiana through the sale of mitigation credits.
The startup is using a mechanism to develop thousands of acres of wetlands–990 secured acres in Louisiana to date–to help the underserved mitigation market in the state. As a for-profit company with non-profit goals, Magnolia hopes to help Louisiana get the attention it deserves and efficiently secure mitigation credits to sell to developers.
“Magnolia is one of only organizations that is fully focused on mitigation in Louisiana,” explains co-founder Mark Bernstein. There are currently 16 underserved mitigation areas in the state, and $80 billion in development projects slated for Southeast Louisiana alone.
Advanced Berm Technologies
Louisiana loses one football field every 38 minutes and the restoration isn’t happening fast enough.
Advanced Berm Technologies creates technologically advanced complex coastal restoration products that can be deployed faster than the existing solutions, which are not solving the problem of deteriorating marshland.
Father-son duo Don and Jon Adams have created an easily deployable berm system that will make the progress that needs to be made at a lower cost. The product is resistant to wave erosion, provides structure for marine life, and protection for wetlands. The hope is that marshlands will restore themselves.