NEWS: Delta Challenge pitch competition identifies four entrepreneurs as winners in Little Rock

November 06, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Delta Challenge pitch competition series has identified four more Delta Entrepreneurship Network fellows at its pitch competition Thursday, November 5, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill announced. The competition-hosted by The Venture Center-saw entrepreneurs from across central and east Arkansas pitch their ideas for a fellowship with the Delta Entrepreneurship Network.

“We are excited to see the Delta Entrepreneurship Network grow so much in one year. The entrepreneurs pitching at these Delta Challenge competitions represent all that is good with our region-creativity, drive, and innovation,” Chairman Masingill said.

The DEN fellowship includes future training workshops and the opportunity to participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week—produced by The Idea Village—in March 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Network fellows will showcase their ideas to investors, participate in programmatic workshops, and connect with fellow entrepreneurs, industry experts, and mentors.

“I'm proud that through the DEN and our partners like the Venture Center, the DRA can connect entrepreneurs to the organizations, mentors, and investors that will help them achieve success. Congratulations to all; we look forward to working with these entrepreneurs in the coming months.”

The competition identified four winners to receive the DEN fellowship and one alternate:

Rachel Fuller, CEO and Co-Founder of Feather | Memphis, TN: Feather is an online referral platform that matches seniors with the perfect caregiver for their needs using special compatibility software.
Spencer Jones, Founder and CEO of LineGardMed | Little Rock, AR: LineGard Med provides an added level of safety for IV tubing by allowing a controlled separation from the IV tubing while helping to keep the catheter in place. This saves time and money and allows the medical therapy to continue uninterrupted.
Tina McCord, Founder of ZuniLearning | Conway, AR: ZUNI Learning Tree is a cloud-based learning and engagement platform, accessible 24/7 on any internet-accessing device. It provides educational and instructional resources of all types, such as lesson plans, games, videos, how-to tutorials, web 2.0 tools, STEM, Girls in Science, and coding resources.
Sandeep Pednekar, Founder of Renewable Energies, Inc | Memphis, TN: Renewable Energies Inc. manufactures biomass gasifiers that convert waste into different forms of energies like electricity, activated carbon or biofuels.
Alternate-Joshua Ayres, Founder of Cart Delivered | Little Rock, AR: Cart Delivered creates a marketplace to connect local community members seeking same-day grocery delivery.

Each entrepreneur was given three minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges that represent business and community entities in Arkansas and have a background in entrepreneurship. The DEN utilizes existing entrepreneurial organizations in the region to host, promote, and support the competitions and participating entrepreneurs.

"Our partnership with the DRA and participation in the DEN have been invaluable in connecting us to and expanding our reach within the region," said Lee Watson, President & CEO of The Venture Center. "This collaboration is a perfect example of public and private organizations working together to create real economic impact in our community and all across the region."

There is one Delta Challenge pitch competition remaining in Lafayette, Louisiana on November 14. Entrepreneurs looking to launch or grow their ideas or businesses are encouraged to register at dra.gov/entrepreneur. The two top-scoring alternates from the competition series will receive the final two DEN fellowships.

The Delta Challenge is part of the DRA’s Delta Entrepreneurship Network, which was created to identify, connect, nurture, and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystems that drive the Delta’s local and regional economies. The Network is addressing regional deficiencies in capital, training, and best practices for entrepreneurship through a connected infrastructure of support organizations, investors, and educators.

 

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 $8.7 million in small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Delta, creating and retaining more than 1,250 jobs, training more than 1,400 entrepreneurs, and leveraging $16 million in other public and private investment. To learn more, visit dra.gov/entrepreneur.

Spencer Lucker
(202) 434-4842
slucker@dra.gov