Coastal Protection Company ORA Estuaries Wins The Big Idea at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), produced by The Idea Village, is the festival that celebrates entrepreneurship, innovation, and advanced thinking in the Crescent City.

Keeping with that festival mindset, CEO and co-founder of The Idea Village, Tim Williamson, had been repeating his new mantra all week: “Mardi Gras, NOEW, Jazz Fest, Saints.” He hopes that NOEW will continue to grow, fitting right in with the existing rhythms and rituals–the key festivals and times of celebration– in New Orleans.

The Big Idea NOEW 2015

A packed Fulton Street for the culmination of the 7th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Photo by Julia Ballard.

On Friday, March 27th, from an initial list of 22 contenders, 12 startups were chosen to participate in The Big Idea, the culmination of NOEW, which has also been called the world’s largest crowdfunding event. Each company was set up on Fulton Street that evening, showcasing products and platforms, all made in New Orleans.

From there, the thousands of audience members cast their votes with chips to determine which companies would move onto the final round of three and pitch in front of the judges. Built into each chip is real cash value–$25–that goes directly to the winning startup.

Judges included: Mark Romig, CEO, New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation; Ti Martin, owner of Commander’s Palace; Irma Thomas, the soul queen of New Orleans; and Sidney Torres, investor and trash business entrepreneur.

The three final startups to pitch last during the 7th annual NOEW included: Cook Me Somethin’ Mister, which is bringing its easy to prepare jambalaya mix to the world; AxoSim Technologies, creators of a “nerve-on-a-chip” technology for safer prescription drug development; and ORA Estuaries, which is growing oyster reefs into coastal protection infrastructure.

Tyler Ortego from ORA Estuaries celebrating his win at The Big Idea. Photo by @helloNOEW.

Tyler Ortego from ORA Estuaries celebrating his win at The Big Idea. Photo by @helloNOEW.

After feedback from the judges and deliberation, it was announced that they agreed unanimously that the company most vital to Louisiana would win.

ORA Estuaries walked away with $25,000. The New Orleans-based firm provides engineering, scientific and regulatory consulting services in addition to turnkey project implementation. The company’s estuaries are some of the most productive and abundant natural environments on earth, which were on full display on Fulton Street Friday evening.

ORA Estuaries founder Tyler Ortego says they are driving the state of practice in estuary sustainability by creating an environment where great people are empowered to do great things. ”We believe that our estuaries can and must remain sustainable resources. Our mission is to build and maintain the ecological infrastructure that allows our estuaries to remain abundant and productive in conjunction with ever increasing human presence.”

Additional finalists included: Earth Prime, Welcome to College, CAD Printing, TrueSchool Studio, Sock Spot, Young Scholars, Hype Academy, Greenman Dan, and Passion Dance Center.