St. Bernard Parish, La. (March 15, 2016) — Judges announced Christie's Dreams Seafood the winner of the second annual Startup St. Bernard yesterday. Christie's Dreams Seafood took home a $110,000 prize package of cash and in-kind services designed to help propel their business to the next level. The St. Bernard Parish-based company was one of five finalists to pitch their business at the live “Shark Tank” style public event at the Meraux Foundation’s Arlene Meraux River Observation Center at Docville Farm.
Christie's Dreams Seafood is an existing local business that entered Startup St. Bernard to help launch a new product line — St. Bernard Parish branded seafood. The company plans to freeze and package fresh shrimp and soft shell crabs locally caught in St. Bernard Parish waters using a flash freezing method that guarantees premium quality. In the initial stages the business plans to sell the product at local farmers markets throughout Louisiana and to their existing wholesale customers in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Long term, Christie's Dreams Seafood will create a web site to sell St. Bernard branded seafood throughout the United States.
I would like to congratulate Christie's Dream Seafood on winning Startup St. Bernard,” said Rita Gue, president of the Meraux Foundation, which created and hosted the event. “Their product will help export the St. Bernard brand across the country!"
Other finalists included Atlas Mechanical Design, a new business focused on providing 3D printing solutions; Girls Gone Vegan, a bakery that specializes in gluten free and vegan desserts; Kayak-iti-Yat, an eco-tourism business offering fishing-kayak rentals as well as an ecology and seafood industry-centered guided kayak tours; and The Coffee House, a startup drive-through coffee shop in Arabi that plans to expand operations to include an indoor and outdoor cafe where food will be served and the community can gather.
“It was difficult to see only one of our finalists walk away with the lucrative Startup St. Bernard prize package, said Andrew Jacques, Executive Director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. However, Christie’s Dreams Seafood represents one of St. Bernard’s finest assets, world class seafood. I look forward to watching their business and brand grow exponentially.”
Prior to today’s pitch event, the five finalists were selected out of a pool of entries. Startup St. Bernard was open to any business that agreed to locate their base of operations to St. Bernard Parish, help improve St. Bernard Parish, and become part of the St. Bernard Parish entrepreneur ecosystem. Finalists were identified by an independent scoring committee based on the criteria published on the entry form, including the quality of their business plan and impact on St. Bernard Parish.
The finalists' pitches were judged by an esteemed panel of businesspeople, including: Peter Bodenheimer, COO of Plantbid, partner in Flatstack and Launch Pad; Joel Dondis, Founder of Sucré; Robby Showalter, Chief Financial Officer of Boasso America Corporation; Allen Square Jr., Founder of Square Button, member of New Orleans Startup Fund; and Ann Tuennerman, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail® . WYES-TV’s Tom Gregory emceed the event.
The $110,000 prize package was a combination of cash and in-kind services donated by the Meraux Foundation, Park Investments, Ltd., Palms Truck Stop, Sidney Torres, III, Mrs. Rita Gue, Mr. Floyd Gue, Nunez Community College Foundation, Southern Insurance Agency LLC, Taurus Properties, Palmisano Contractors, Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann, Mr. Terry and Mrs. Daryl Tedesco, BERG Services, State Senator JP Morrell, Casey Hunnicutt, 40 Arpent Brewing, Caraway LeBlanc, Coast Roast. Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company St. Bernard Entrepreneurial Center, evanSchmidt Design, LLC, Ragusa Consulting, John Brian White, Esq., InHouse Consultants, Inc., and AdamsIP, LLC, Sherman Strategies, LLC, Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer, LLC | Valued at $5,000, Person Huff CPA Group, Ditto's, Shine Productions, Outfront Media, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, St. Bernard Tourism Commission, Global Staffing Solutions, Bill Haines, Crave, and 40 Arpent Brewing.
About the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation
The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and consists of members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard. The Meraux Foundation is a founding sponsor and organizer of Startup St. Bernard.
About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation
St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 to promote economic development and commercial growth of St.Bernard Parish and to lead the initiation of partnering organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for St. Bernard Parish citizens. To achieve this mission, SBEDF primarily engages in business attraction, retention, and expansion. Additionally, workforce development and policy development are pursued as key initiatives to drive economic development activities. The Board of Directors consists of 28 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. SBEDF’s work is made possible through the general support of its investors, St. Bernard Parish Government, St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District, the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation and Cox Communications at the Champion Level and the Law Offices of Sidney Torres, III and Associated Terminals at the Pillars Level.
About New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) is the annual festival celebrating business, innovation, and advanced thinking in New Orleans. Produced by The Idea Village, NOEW engages a dynamic global network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, nonprofits, students, and professionals to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial success through eight days of discussion, debate, education, competition and celebration. This year, the event will take place March 11-18, 2016 and 10,000+ are expected to be engaged through over 75 different events.