NEWS: Delta Challenge pitch competition identifies Mississippi, Memphis entrepreneurs as winners

October 28, 2015

CLEVELAND, Miss. – The Delta Challenge pitch competition series has identified three more Delta Entrepreneurship Network fellows at the pitch competition Tuesday, October 28, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill announced. The competition saw entrepreneurs from across the Mississippi Delta region 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,” Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “I'm proud that through the DEN, 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 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.

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

  • Alexander Ray, CEO of Zyn Careers | Oxford, MS: Zyn Careers is a website that matches job seekers with companies where they will enjoy working using a proprietary algorithm, addressing two needs: job seekers' pains and employers' pains.
  • Hirsch Serman, CEO and Co-founder of Divorce Secure | Memphis, TN: DivorceSecure is a workflow and collaboration wizard for divorce attorneys to automate and streamline the intake process, create a negotiation strategy based on the client's preferences to keep more of what they want, get a fair custody arrangement for their clients, and, while spending the same amount of time as they currently do, increase their capacity to serve more clients.
  • Manivanh Chanprasith of Billy’s Original Foods | Vicksburg, MS: Billy's Original Foods is a food company that produces ready-to-eat products in a diversified mix of retail and wholesale distribution. The company will be taking its top selling items from Billy's Italian Restaurant and launching these items in phases for retail, contract production, and food service distribution.
  • Alternate-Dawn Bonner, Owner of Face2Face | Memphis, TN: Face 2 Face Cosmetics, LLC is an up-and-coming cosmetic line that is launching a makeup applicator-BlendD-to assist women with various skin types, shades, and textures in applying makeup in a cleaner and less time-consuming fashion. The tool uses a latex-free hydrophilic, dye-free sponge that avoids skin irritation.

Each entrepreneur was given three minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges that represent business and community entities in the Mississippi Delta and have a background in entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs looking to launch or grow their ideas or businesses are encouraged to register for other pitch competitions in the DRA region at dra.gov/entrepreneur. Two more Delta Challenge pitch competitions are being held in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Lafayette, Louisiana. From those and the four other competitions a total of 21 entrepreneurs will be identified. 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