By Zach Fitzgerald | LSU Student
The next big mobile phone app or pastry sensation might be coming from southern Louisiana.
Budding entrepreneurs got to show off their stuff before an expert panel of professionals recently, pitching why their ideas have what have it takes to succeed in the marketplace.
The LSU MBA Alumni Association's inaugural "Demo Night" was conducted at the Lod Cook Alumni Center in a format resembling ABC's "Shark Tank."
Five start-up companies featuring founders with an array of backgrounds faced a panel of five judges who scored each presenter based on the ability to clearly define the product or service, target market, market strategy and money-making strategy, being able to exhibit commercial viability of the product, and the strength of the management team.
said MBA Alumni Association President-Elect Craig Juengling.
The judging panel included former LSU statistics professor and current entrepreneur in the medical field, Javid Janani; financial planner and former LSU football player Mickey Guidry; Nemo Viso, a principal partner at Stonehenge Capital; Czarina Walker, CEO of InfiniEDGE Software Inc. in Prairieville; and Vicki Adjmi, co-founder of Jean Therapy in New Orleans.
"We were trying to find a new way to incorporate entrepreneurship…taking advantage of that spirit and incorporating that with our social (event)," said board member and Demo Night presenter Natalie Noel.
Noel, currently the COO of InfiniEDGE Software Inc., helped organize the event and was part of the first-place team at Demo Night pitching "Scoringo," a bingo game that utilizes a one-of-a-kind, live sports gaming platform.
The platform uses the basic concept of Fantasy Sports combined with real-time interaction where players can update their moves depending on what transpires during the sporting event. Noel said advertisers would be part of the game as spots on the playing board.
The scores were tallied using software developed by InfiniEDGE software Inc., with each judge independently scoring presenters.
Noel said one of her business partners, Stuart Adams, an LSU Ph.D. student in civil structural engineering was the "brainchild" of Scoringo. Adams also presented another product at Demo Night called "Hurricakes," playing on the popularity of King Cakes in south Louisiana and the untapped market, he said, to attach a food to hurricane season.
The team of Noel, Adams and Web Developer Andrew Bursavich and its business idea, Scoringo, received a $750 check and executive coaching from MBA
Alumni Association President-Elect and Professional and Executive Coach Craig Juengling.
The second-highest scoring presenter, iPAR Technologies, Inc., was developed by Prairieville Fire Captain Tim Geisler, who received $500 for his presentation. He said the goal of his team's company is "to save lives" of firefighters when they are in dangerous situations.
"A few years ago I was working in a 911 center listening to radio traffic at a dispatch center," Geisler said. "While listening to the incident, I looked down at my phone and envisioned an application that could help save lives."
Geisler's invention is a mobile phone app compatible with use on Apple products which tracks individual firefighters using their mobile phones and shows their location and how long they have been in a particular location.
Noel added that she and her team are serious about marketing Scoringo and see the business venture as viable money maker.
Though the Scoringo team and Geisler's iPar were the only presenters who received any prize money, the remaining teams appeared grateful for the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and successful business owners.
"It's nice to get valid feedback from people who are investors," said Max Gaudin, a UNO graduate with a bachelor's degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism, who pitched his idea to provide restaurants with better employee training.
"I got to talk to a bunch of people. I think it's cool I ran out of business cards."
Gaudin pointed out that four out of the five presenters went on the 2012 Start-up Bus Tour, which allows entrepreneurs to share ideas and get feedback from fellow "buspreneurs" while on a three-day tour from Baton Rouge to Austin, Texas.