NEWS: Delta Challenge pitch competition kicks off with four Memphis entrepreneurs as winners

September 21, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Delta Challenge pitch competition series has identified its first four Delta Entrepreneurship Network fellows at the kick-off event Friday, September 18, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman announced. The competition featured 11 entrepreneurs from across the Mid-South to 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 pitch their ideas, participate in programmatic workshops, connect with fellow entrepreneurs, industry experts, and mentors.

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

  • Bryant Warren, Founder and CTO of MyCollegeSTREAM: MyCollegeSTREAM is the Hootsuite of college research websites, improving the way guidance counselors interact with their students about college and opportunities after high school by using a single platform for social media that provides quick access to the most relevant content for any college in real time.
  • Isaac Rodriguez, Co-founder and CEO of SweetBio, Inc: SweetBio, Inc. has created a biodegradable membrane that preserves the socket after tooth loss, which increases functionality and clinic handling and is made of anti-bacterial ingredients that support wound-healing and anti-colonization of bacteria.
  • Marc London, Founder and CEO of FrontDesk Connect: FrontDesk Connect is a cloud-based communication service to enhance the hotel guest travel experience by connecting them to the front desk or concierge, while providing the host facility the potential for additional revenue streams by notifying users of hotel events and amenities through direct messaging.
  • Ryan Freiden, Founder of LendMed, Inc.: LendMed implements kiosks, smart-phone apps, and web interfaces to provide hospitals a controlled environment for borrowing and lending supplies, medication, and equipment to each other to maintain operations and reduce inventories and thus expenses.
  • Alternate-Jim Lattimore, CEO of Musistic: Musistic is a networking plug-in that enables creative, musical collaboration by transferring uncompressed, high-quality audio to allow for unlimited collaboration and eliminate compatibility issues between platforms. 

Each entrepreneur was given three minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges that represent business and community entities in the Memphis area and have a background in entrepreneurship.  The winners of the Memphis competition—co-hosted by the DRA and StartCo., with additional support from Hulsey Hunt & Parks,  Baker Donelson, Archer Malmo, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, and the University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship—will receive free legal services from Hulsey Hunt & Parks in addition to the fellowship.

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. Five more Delta Challenge pitch competitions are being held in Murray, Kentucky, Selma, Alabama, Cleveland, Mississippi, Little Rock, Arkansas and Lafayette, Louisiana, from which 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) 744-3558
slucker@dra.gov