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Alumni chosen for exclusive business startup mentor program

September 27, 2013

Three Loyola University New Orleans alumni have been chosen to be a part of the 2014 class of the IDEAxcelerator program, an intensive 11-week program run through Idea Village, which pairs local startups with established entrepreneurs who will act as mentors. Only 17 companies were chosen this year, and each is guaranteed a spot in next year’s Big Idea competition during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March 2014.

The intensive application process originally started with 114 businesses, which were culled down to 80 over the course of several weeks. Twenty-five of the 80 businesses were selected and were asked to create a two-minute video plus a PowerPoint presentation before a decision on the final 17 was made.

Loyola alumni and their companies chosen this year include:

  • mSchool, founded by Elliot Sanchez ’08, focuses on opening “microSchools” in community centers and provides state-of-the-art technology tailored specifically for their needs.
  • SNAP Real Estate Photography, founded by alumnus Darryl Glade, M.B.A. ’04, J.D. ’13 and Kris Haug, produces images for real estate listings, including staging services, photos, floor plans, virtual tours and video, designed to increase the prominence and perceived value of real estate for sale.
  • ThePetiteShop.com, created by Elizabeth Bates ’02, an online boutique dedicated exclusively to petite-friendly and petite-specific clothing for women 5-feet, 4-inches tall or less.

The IDEAxcelerator program is aimed at helping early stage small businesses further develop their businesses and/or ideas, including providing the entrepreneurs with access to mentors and consultants who have volunteered their time to help each business tackle their most pressing needs. Each company will work with the Idea Village’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mike Eckert, who helped launch The Weather Channel, and several other analysts over the 11-week program, which ends Dec. 10 on “demo day.” The program also offers business networking opportunities and access to donated business services.

Sanchez of mSchool credits Loyola with inspiring his current passion to provide more educational alternatives. That passion was set in motion when he took one of the First-Year Experience classes at Loyola, where he read Jonathan Kozol’s “Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools.”

“Everything I’ve done, working to repair the incredible inequalities of education for young people, can be linked back to that class. Kozol also came to campus to speak and it was eye-opening to say the least. I started tutoring and teaching as a result, and wouldn’t be where I am today with my business,” Sanchez said.

Glade, who started SNAP Real Estate Photography in 2012, credits his years as both a business and law student at Loyola with giving him the confidence to handle almost any situation that comes up in the course of his business day. He’s excited about the challenges that lay ahead.

“We expect to build on our success and create a viable strategic plan to keep SNAP Real Estate Photography focused and on the path to further market penetration and national expansion. I am excited to work with mentors who have stood in my shoes at one time and have found success,” Glade said.

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