Delta Challenge Pitch Competitions set for 2015-2016 entrepreneurship fellowships

August 03, 2015

CLARKSDALE, Miss. – The Delta Entrepreneurship Network (DEN) is seeking its second round of fellows to join the inaugural class of DEN fellows through six Delta Challenge pitch competitions across the region this fall. Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill today announced the six Delta Challenge pitch competitions to be held throughout the eight-state Delta region.

“As we enter the second year of the Delta Entrepreneurship Network, the DRA is excited to identify 36 new entrepreneurs and support organizations that will join the vibrant entrepreneurial network and ecosystem built by the drive, talent, and innovation we have in the Delta region,” Chairman Masingill said. “We have seen exciting growth and opportunities for our inaugural class of Delta Entrepreneurs this year, and we look forward to connecting the next class of fellows to this national platform.”

The Delta Challenge begins with a full-day kickoff event in Memphis, Tenn. and -- over the course of the six competitions -- will identify up to twenty entrepreneurs and sixteen entrepreneurship support organizations (ESOs) for the DEN fellowship. Those entrepreneurs and ESOs will receive a fellowship for technical assistance and training to enhance entrepreneurship capacity and opportunities in the Delta region. The fellows will also participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), a premier entrepreneurship festival in the South produced by The Idea Village, leveraging engaging workshops and mentorship from panelists and other industry experts. NOEW is scheduled for March 11-18, 2016.

“Research indicates that 75 percent of all venture capital is being invested in just three states, California, New York, and Massachusetts,” said Tim Williamson, Co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “By partnering with the DRA, we are leveraging our collective efforts to showcase the South as a hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, and new thinking. Join us for New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March to see the action and impact firsthand.”  

Entrepreneurs will be identified through the six Delta Challenge pitch competitions:

Location Date Host Organization
Memphis, TN September 18, 2015   StartCo.
Cleveland, MS September 22, 2015           Delta State University
Murray, KY October 6, 2015 Murray State University
Selma, AL October 8, 2015 Arsenal Place Accelerator
Little Rock, AR          November 5, 2015 AR Venture Center
Lafayette, LA November 14, 2015 Innov8 Acadiana

The regional pitch competitions will identify two types of entrepreneurs, those that are in their idea or "pre-revenue" phase, and those entrepreneurs that have highly scalable, investable ventures throughout the region that are in the “post revenue” phase. Entrepreneurs interested in competing can register for each competition at dra.gov/entrepreneur, where they must submit a business summary at least a week before the competition they plan to attend.

Entrepreneurship support organizations that serve communities and entrepreneurs in the 252 counties and parishes within the DRA’s footprint must submit an application online at dra.gov/entrepreneur outlining the current services they provide and their expectations for utilizing DEN technical assistance and programming. The application for ESOs is currently open and will close October 23rd at midnight.

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. Through its Small Business and Entrepreneurship Initiative, the DRA has invested $9.4 million in small businesses and entrepreneurship in the Delta—creating and retaining 1,340 jobs, training more than 1,400 entrepreneurs, and leveraging $17 million in other public and private investment. Learn more at www.dra.gov.

About The Idea Village

In 2000, The Idea Village was formed by a group of New Orleans citizens who believed entrepreneurship is a catalyst for positive change. The Idea Village formalized in 2002 as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to identify, support, and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans by providing direct service to high impact entrepreneurs, educating the broader community, and supporting initiatives that strengthen our entrepreneurial infrastructure. Since 2000, The Idea Village has provided direct support to over 4,653 New Orleans entrepreneurs by engaging well over 2,600 professionals to allocate 82,000+ consulting hours and $2.8 million in seed capital. In addition, The Idea Village hosts New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, a business festival that has become the platform for the New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Idea Village received the Gold Excellence award from the International Economic Development Council for our Entrepreneur Season model in 2012 and we were recognized as a top-three entrepreneurship ecosystem developer in 2014 by the Global Innovation Summit. The Idea Village has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time, USA Today, The New York Times, Business Week, CNN, Inc.com, Forbes, and Japan’s Nikkei Times, among others. Learn more at www.ideavillage.org.

Media Contact: Spencer Lucker, (202) 434-4842, slucker@dra.gov 

Program Contact: Katie Milligan, (662) 313-1606, kmilligan@dra.gov