The Idea Village Launches “Food Challenge” for New Orleans Entrepreneurs

The Idea Village announces that New Orleans-based entrepreneurs Creole Crackers, Feed Me Eat Pretty, Garden District Bloody Marys, NOLA Pie Guy (DBA Sugah), and Taryn’s Crab Cakes Factory have been selected to participate in its inaugural New Orleans Food Challenge. The Food Challenge, a pilot program which will take place during the 2014 Entrepreneur Season, is an effort to boost entrepreneurial activity in the food and beverage industry, in partnership with Reily Foods and Rouses Markets.

“Each year, The Idea Village hosts a variety of Strategic Challenges in an effort to elevate key local industries and strengthen partnerships across the entrepreneurial community,” said Tim Williamson, Co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “New to the Challenge lineup this year, the Food Challenge will mirror other successful vertical challenges, including Water and Education, providing access to unbelievable networks and strategic business consulting.”

“When it comes to innovation within the food and beverage industry, New Orleans has a longstanding competitive advantage,” said David Darragh, CEO of Reily Foods Company and Chairman of The Idea Village Board of Directors. “The Food Challenge will help us sustain this reputation by identifying and supporting some of the industry’s emerging businesses.”

“Rouses is one of the largest independent grocers in the United States and we are fully committed to supporting local farmers, fisherman, and food entrepreneurs.” said Allison Rouse, Rouses Markets. “The Food Challenge aligns perfectly with our buy local focus and we are a proud supporter of this initiative.”

The Food Challenge will be led by Idea Village Entrepreneurs-in-Residence Lisa Lloyd and J. Anthony Miguez, who have a combined 30+ years of experience working with early stage companies. Lisa and J. will provide customized coaching and manage the program’s mentor and advisor networks in order to accelerate the growth of participating companies.

Mentors include: Billy Bosch (Iconic), Erik Frank (Your Nutrition Delivered), Sal LaMartina (Cordina), and Lovey Wakefield (NOLAcajun.com). Advisors include: David Darragh (Reily Foods Company), John Elstrott (Whole Foods), Ti Martin (Commander’s Palace), Marcy Nathan (Advertising and PR), Allison Rouse (Rouses Markets), Robbie Vitrano (Naked Pizza), and Sandy Whann (Leidenheimer Baking Company).

During this nine-week program, entrepreneurs will receive over 40 hours of strategic consulting across customer development, risk mitigation, product validation, and business model optimization, along with the opportunity to network with other emerging local food ventures and local industry authorities. The program will culminate in a ‘Demo Day’ on December 17th, when two entrepreneurs will be selected to present during the 6th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), March 22-28, 2014, the culmination of The Idea Village’s annual Entrepreneur Season.

To learn more about The Idea Village, The Idea Village’s 2014 Entrepreneur Season, and the inaugural New Orleans Food Challenge, visit http://www.ideavillage.org.

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