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MBA students take first place at entrepreneurship week

Loyola press release - March 29, 2010

Six Loyola University New Orleans College of Business MBA students helped spur a joint New Orleans MBA team to victory against several top-rated business schools in the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week Idea Corps Challenge on March 27. The competition capped off a week of activities aimed at incubating business development in New Orleans and beyond.

MBA students Brian Danos, RaShaud Haines, Michael Pitre, Barrow Reedy, Kelly Spears and Christynn Vierra joined forces with students from University of New Orleans’ and Tulane University’s business schools to match a team from Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management in a tie for first place. The New Orleans contingent defeated teams from a variety of schools, including Berkeley, Northwestern and Stanford Universities and the University of Chicago. Brett Matherne, Ph.D., Loyola’s Chase Minority Entrepreneurship Distinguished Professor, advised the team.

The team was tasked with providing business strategy and consulting services to Jack and Jakes Local and Organic, which is launching a community supported agricultural market group.

For their efforts, the winners were whisked from the competition to James Carville’s home for the closing celebration, where the two winning MBA team leaders gave brief presentations before a private performance by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield.

Team member Christynn Vierra said Loyola's collaboration with UNO and Tulane represents more than just success in this competition.

"We feel the universities provide an abundance of resources and that Idea Village has shown us how uniting the universities' resources is a key component to rebuild New Orleans," Vierra said. "We hope that this year's winning team of a mixed local MBA team will serve as a model in the years to come."

Hosted by the Idea Village, a New Orleans nonprofit that identifies, supports and retains entrepreneurial talent in the city, Entrepreneur Week gathered cutting-edge investors and business leaders, corporate volunteers and 90 MBA students from across the United States to support more than 75 early-stage New Orleans business ventures and focus on emerging business opportunities. The Idea Village partnered with Google, the New Orleans Saints, the Downtown Development District and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and other sponsors to host a series of activities for participants.

Students also attended presentations from high-profile speakers including Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute in Washington, D.C.; Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team; Jim Coulter, CEO of TPG Capital, a global private investment firm; and retired Army General Wesley Clark. Google, Cisco, Salesorce.com, Deloitte and Touche, LLP and Arent Fox volunteers led workshops and tutorials for participants, and the Aspen Institute hosted a leadership seminar.

For additional information on Loyola’s MBA program, contact Stephanie Mansfield in the College of Business at 504-864-7965 or smans@loyno.edu.