Six minority-owned businesses participated in the inNOLAvation Challenge this afternoon, all vying for the first and second place prizes, $12,000 and $7,000 respectively. inNOLAvation was created to encourage and facilitate innovation within the minority community.
One of the co-founders of inNOLAvation, Damon Burns, said the purpose is to get New Orleans on the right track. “It doesn’t matter what community you come from, you can have big ideas,” he said.
In an exclusive interview, Burns told SBN, “This is a really exciting day to showcase these six entrepreneurs and their companies. The most important thing is to get the message out that we want an integrated network in New Orleans and to get everybody on the same page. We can really move forward as a city.”
The companies pitching included: Advano, Joyhound, Memorandom, NOLA Pure, Snapp, and Social Chomp.
inNOLAvation and the Idea Village teamed up for the inNOLAvation Challenge because they both recognized the problem of the lack of minorities in innovation. Tim Williamson, co-founder and CEO of Idea Village, told the entrepreneurs before the pitching began that they were all catalysts to innovation. The entrepreneurs are engaging and growing a community through their technology-based companies.
Todd Francis, Ivy Carter, and Troy Clark judged the event. Each entrepreneur was allowed a five-minute pitch and a five-minute question and answer session immediately following. After a short deliberation, judges chose two companies to pitch again for one minute each as part of the final lightning round. Memorandom and Snapp moved on to the next round.
During an intermission, one of the sponsors expressed their confidence in the pitches and offered up $3,000 for an additional third place winner. It was then taken to an audience vote and Joyhound, an app that allows users to, “search, discover, and share the best of today,” took home the prize. The app is a social recommendation service that lets you find events organized by date. It covers the entire spectrum of events, including music, restaurants, art, and other cultural events.
Private communication platform Memorandom won the top prize after being selected to participate in the lightning round. Founder and CEO Sami Khan received $12,000 in funding for the application for sending photos, videos, and other memories to connections, “without putting them on blast on social media.” The app visually organizes and actively archives content, making memories easier to access than using traditional text messaging or emailing to share those memories.
Second place and the $7,000 went to Snapp, an app that contained user-generated “snapcons,” or a new version of an emoticon. Snapp is strategically only available on the Android platform because they cover 70% of the global smartphone market share. The five founders have patented the technology and teamed with app programmer Chris Boyd for further development.
For more information about the six companies or the inNOLAvation organization, visit innolavation.com.