The Delta Entrepreneurship Network | DEN for Entrepreneurs

The Delta Challenge

Entrepreneurs in the Delta region are encouraged to apply for the Delta Entrepreneurship Network fellowship. Applicants will compete in a series of pitch competitions in the region, known as The Delta Challenge. These regional pitch competitions will identify two types of startups, those that are idea phase or proof of concept phase or pre-revenue and those entrepreneurs that have highly scalable, post-revenue ventures throughout the region. Up to twenty startup companies will be identified to represent the eight-state region and will receive a fellowship to participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW 2017).  While at NOEW, fellows will have access to programmatic seminars, workshops, and mentorship from panelists and industry experts as well as the opportunity to showcase their company to a panel of investors. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2015 saw 10,585 participants and $243,000 in startup capital and resources allocated across 30 startup ventures. NOEW 2015 was a big success for the DEN fellows who pitched in front of regional and national investors! Watch the highlight reel here. NOEW 2016 was an even bigger success, with 13,216 participants (an increase of 25% from 2015) and $649,420 in capital and in-kind resources awarded to attending entrepreneurs. By participating in the Entrepreneurship Network, fellows will have access to industry experts, gain technical knowledge, expand their entrepreneurial network, and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the DRA region.

2015 DEN fellows

To get a feel for our Delta Challenge pitch competitions, check out our final competition in Lafayette, Louisiana:

Application Guidelines

Award Information

DRA will provide up to twenty fellowships for entrepreneurs to participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Award Funds May Be Used For:

  • Program participation and training
  • Travel assistance
  • Lodging

Basic Eligibility Requirements

Individuals and startup organizations must live or work within the 252 counties and parishes that DRA serves. More information on DRA’s service area is here. Individuals or organizations must:

  • Be organized as a for-profit business
  • Live or work in the 252 counties and parishes of the DRA service area
  • Generate less than $1 million in annual revenue
  • Have less than 5 full time employees

Companies identifying as highly scalable or post-revenue must show user growth or revenue. 

Application Process

Applicants shall submit a brief business summary outlining their company. Business summaries should include:

  • Company Information (300 word limit)
    • Team Member Overview/Bio
    • Are you in proof of concept/pre-revenue stage or post-revenue?
    • What is your experience in the field?
  • Product or services (300 word limit)
    • What product or service do you offer? 
    • What need are you addressing?
    • Explain current or proposed revenue stream.
  • Market Analysis (300 word limit)
    • Who is your target audience?
    • What is the size of the market?
    • Where is the market?
    • Direct/Indirect competition
    • Competitive Advantage
  • Risk (300 word limit)
    • Explain internal/external challenges of your company
    • What are the market risks?
    • What strategies are in place to lessen risk?
  • Financial Statement (300 word limit)
    • Describe your plan for financial sustainability
    • What are your financial metrics used to determine growth?
    • What is your plan for expansion with increased capital?
  • Sustainability (300 word limit)
    • Explain scalability of the venture (I.e. Marketing, production, and financial strategies moving forward)
    • What is the next step?

Winners will be chosen from each Delta Challenge. An alternate will be nominated from each challenge. Upon the completion of all challenges, the alternate with the highest score will be selected to attend NOEW. 

Frequently asked questions posed during the webinar as well as to DRA staff can be found here. A recording of the webinar is available on the DRA YouTube page (/DRAvideos).

Application Scoring Process

A local panel of professional experts will judge the Delta Challenges in their respective locations. This panel of judges will nominate three winning companies and one alternate. Upon the completion of all challenges, the two alternates with the highest scores will be selected to attend NOEW 2017.

The panel of judges will evaluate entrepreneurs on their business summaries and pitches with the Delta Challenge judging rubric. This judging rubric is a numerical scale from one to five with 1=Undeveloped, 2=Fair, 3=Good, 4=Very Good, and 5=Investable. Prior to the pitch competition, judges will evaluate business summaries.  Business summaries are worth a maximum of thirty-five points; pitches will be worth a maximum of forty points, with both components totaling seventy-five points. During the three-minute pitch, entrepreneurs should address the critical questions of each category, while maintaining the flow, pace, and consistency of a good business pitch. Entrepreneurs will then have one minute for questions and answers from the judges.

Pitches will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Pitch presentation (Clarity, organization, presentation)

  • Business model (Need, solution, revenue stream)

  • Organizational structure

  • Financial Objectives (Plan for financial sustainability, metrics to determine growth, financial objectives)

  • Market (Target customers, size of market)

  • Risk (Internal/external challenge, knowledge of market risk, ability to mitigate market risk)

  • Competitive Advantage

  • Scalability (marketing, production, and financial strategies moving forward)


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