Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program and North Louisiana Universities Announce Student Competition Winners

GSU and NSU student entrepreneurs compete for cash prizes in online business model competitions

Above: GSU students and Golden Pitch winners Alaina Pacquette and Rhea Xavier

GRAMBLING, LA – November 13, 2020 – The Covid-19 Pandemic wasn’t holding students from Grambling State University (GSU) and Northwestern State University (NSU) back from battling for the top prize in their universities’ business model competitions — they just went online to do it.

Both university competitions, which were co-presented with BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP), were held on Thursday, October 29, 2020. For the third year, EAP partnered with GSU for the Golden Pitch and NSU for its Inferno.

This year’s first place winners were awarded the top cash prize of $3,000, scholarships to the Louisiana Startup Prize 2021 and professional services from EAP:

  • Alaina Pacquette and Rhea Xavier for Tracer X – GSU Golden Pitch Tracer X is a mobile app that, through Bluetooth and GPS technology, would help its users’ assess health risks through contact tracing.
  • Landon Olivier, Colton Campbell, Gabrielle Chapman and Dilaney Deroache for Cane River Wine Shop – NSU Inferno Pitch Cane River Wine Shop would be the first wine shop in Natchitoches, where customers can enjoy a glass of wine and local entertainment.

Second and third place winners from each university were awarded $1,000 and $500, respectively.

EAP, which specializes in stimulating entrepreneurship opportunities in Northwest Louisiana, partnered with the two universities to continue EAP’s Grand Prix business model competitions that encourage student innovation. Students submitted their business ideas and five finalists were chosen from each university to compete in the online student business pitch competitions.

“EAP recognizes the strong programs our university partners have built and the significant talent they are cultivating in their students,” said Dave Smith, EAP Executive Director. “We are doing all we can to ensure they have the resources they need for these students to be successful with starting and growing their businesses here in North Louisiana.”

EAP partners with colleges and universities across North Louisiana to spur entrepreneurial growth with their student communities through university business model competitions.

Students participate in an online workshop with EAP team members and other advisors who provide the competitors with expertise, mentorship, and key connections needed to fuel their success. In the final phase of the competition, the top five participants at each school presented their business ideas to a panel of judges at the Final Pitch.

“The Golden Pitch is an excellent example of effective out-of-class learning activities,” said Grambling State University President Rick Gallot. “The ability to articulate a value proposition is a key skill for the workforce and beyond. Congratulations to Alaina and Rhea for their hard work and being stellar representatives of Grambling State University.”

“Northwestern State University is proud to partner with BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program which stimulates entrepreneurship opportunities in Northwest Louisiana,” said Northwestern State University President Chris Maggio. “It is rewarding to see the creativity of our students, and through this partnership that we are able to provide resources and an avenue to reward their entrepreneurial endeavors that will one day impact the growth and prosperity of our region.”

About EAP

The Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program, an initiative of BRF, is a public/private partnership among BRF, the Caddo Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport to diversify the regional economy, create jobs and expand the area’s tax base by providing services to innovative startups that have high growth potential. Since EAP began in 2014, the program has screened 1060 startups and provided services to more than 260 companies.

About Grambling State University

Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901 that combines the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. This combination enables students to grow and learn in a serene and positive environment. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. With a longstanding tradition of excellence, Grambling State University continues to emphasize the value and importance of each student, exemplified by our motto: Where Everybody Is Somebody.