A team of students from Northwestern State University were named winners of the Inferno Pitch, a business model competition hosted by BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program through NSU’s School of Business. The team was awarded a cash prize of $3,000, scholarships to the Louisiana Startup Prize 2021 and professional services from EAP.
Landon Olivier, Colton Campbell, Gabrielle Chapman and Dilaney Deroache pitched a proposal for Cane River Wine Shop, Natchitoches’ first wine shop in which customers can enjoy a glass of wine and local entertainment.
“Louisiana’s future looks incredibly bright, because these wonderful students are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit through their participation in our business plan competition. For that, we all can be very hopeful and proud,” said Dr. Carmella Parker, associate professor in NSU’s School of Business and coordinator of outreach and special projects.
EAP, which specializes in stimulating entrepreneurship opportunities in Northwest Louisiana, partnered with the Northwestern State and Grambling State University 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.”
Students participated 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.
“Northwestern State University is proud to partner with BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program which stimulates entrepreneurship opportunities in northwest Louisiana,” said NSU President Dr. 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.”
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 1,060 startups and provided services to more than 260 companies.
Northwestern State University’s 2020 Inferno Pitch winners are, from left, Landon Olivier, Dilaney Deroche, Gabrielle Chapman and Colton Campbell, whose business model proposal was Cane River Wine Shop.