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Local Startup TOURED and Loyola University Win the IDEAcorps MBA Consulting Competition

Loyola press release - March 15, 2016

Loyola, LSU & Tulane MBAS worked with local entrepreneurs during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week to advance three companies in four days

Last Thursday, Loyola University New Orleans, in partnership with The Idea Village, launched the immersive IDEAcorps Consulting Competition as part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, presented by IBERIABANK. The intensive 34-hour challenge was an exclusive MBA student experience, through which teams of students helped founders of New Orleans-based, technology-driven startups to advance their companies in four days from March 10-13, 2016. Local startup TOURED and Loyola University won the competition.

Loyola University and The Idea Village brought together three MBA teams from Loyola, Louisiana State University, and Tulane University for the IDEAcorps competition, based at the small business incubator and co-working space Landing Zone in the Lower Garden District. Each team worked with a founding entrepreneur to identify a problem his or her company was facing, validate a solution, and create a plan the entrepreneur could implement immediately. Teams also had the exclusive opportunity to attend a dinner with members from Entrepreneurs’ Organization Louisiana on Saturday night.

“Since 2006, IDEAcorps has been connecting top MBAs with New Orleans startups to provide direct strategic consulting services,” said Tim Williamson, Co-Founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “The program has catalyzed the New Orleans entrepreneurial community and created a real-world experience with entrepreneurship.”

The intensive weekend culminated in a Sunday evening event at Manning’s Courtyard on March 13. Each team, along with the entrepreneur who entrusted their company to the team for the weekend, presented to a panel of judges about how they “moved the needle” for their company. The judges included:

  • Mike De Boer, CIO, GE Capital Tech Center
  • Brent Godfry, Past IDEAcorps Operations Director
  • Katie LaGardeur, Managing Director, JP Morgan
  • Gay LeBreton, Managing Director, Chaffe & Associates
  • John Payne, CEO, Caesars Entertainment
  • Hank Torbert, Principal, RLMcCall Capital Partners

In addition, the three participating IDEAcorps startups, which were all founded by local residents in New Orleans (a lawyer, a Ph.D. student, and a recent graduate, respectively), were also present. The three companies were:

  • ECHO (founded by Tim Kappel) is a social app that lets users rediscover and share their musical pasts;
  • GradSquare (co-founded by Marco Altamirano) is an online career hub for people with advanced degrees; and
  • TOURED (founded by Karynn Verrett) is a modern, travel-guide app designed to make traveling easier for everyday people by curating highly personalized travel experiences on the go.

In a close call and after a period of deliberation, the judges’ panel awarded the prize to the Loyola University MBA team for having brought their startup, TOURED, the farthest during the four-day challenge. The judges also recognized the hard work and dedication shown by the Tulane and LSU teams with their respective startups, Gradsquare and ECHO.

“ECHO is in a much, much better place thanks to the LSU team,” said Tim Kappel, founder of ECHO. “This was a fantastic experience and if ECHO succeeds, it will be in no small part because of IDEAcorps and their efforts.”

Founded in 2006 by The Idea Village, IDEAcorps has engaged more than 500 MBAs from across the country to work one-on-one with New Orleans entrepreneurs. Past teams have hailed from business schools at Stanford University, Harvard, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, and Cornell University.

This year, the IDEAcorps consulting challenge will be hosted for the first time by Loyola University New Orleans, where the College of Business has a new and invigorated focus on entrepreneurship and newly established Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development (CECD). In this way, the challenge will help to spotlight and boost entrepreneurship and local start-ups based in New Orleans.