Wolf Pack LaunchU, founders pitch for seed funding in “Shark Tank”-style competition
After months of planning and hard work, four startup companies were awarded seed funding to help get their business off the ground during Loyola’s Wolf Pack LaunchU Final Pitch, presented by Dr. Bobby and Lori Kent Savoie.
Eight teams made their pitch - “Shark Tank”-style - for the seed funding during the event Thursday night before a panel of five judges made up of Loyola faculty and alumni. The judges then awarded each winning team a portion of $30,000 in seed funding to help make their businesses a reality.
This year’s winners are:
Marcel's New Orleans - $10,000
Alumnus Ken Faucheux, '04, and Joy M. Bruce from Loyola’s Women's Leadership Academy for their line of classic cocktail syrups. Mentors: Mickal Adler and Derrell Plaisance.
DependentCares - $10,000
Alumnus Tom Daly, '92 and teammates Maxwell Daly and Sophie Daly for their platform that simplifies and modernizes Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) administration to empower working parents to leverage these tax-advantaged accounts and make childcare more affordable. Mentors: Stacey Berger and Patrick Aucoin.
Newrospace - $5,000
Alumna Hannah Guihur, '23, and teammate Greg Buisson for their dietary supplement “Iris,” made of clinically studied ingredients that have traditionally been used to treat menstrual symptoms and brain fog. Mentors: Jane Cooper, Kyle Murphy and John Roberts.
HandOffur - $5,000
Alumni Aubin Duchier, '22, MBA '23, Farah Wells, '23, and Gabriel Porges, '23 for their second-hand college student marketplace/ mobile app, HandOffur. Mentors: Denny Bro and Dan Parry.
The Wolf Pack LaunchU program is open to the entire Loyola New Orleans “family,” including students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents. Up to 20 teams of entrepreneurs were selected for the annual, five-month program. It includes an intensive 10-day boot camp in the spring where they work on finalizing their concepts and learn about intellectual property, marketing, branding, fundraising and more; a summer mentorship incubator; and two rounds of pitching for seed money in the fall. During the summer the teams worked with 33 volunteer mentors, both alumni and New Orleans professionals, to further develop their business plans. In August the full cohort submitted video pitches and eight were selected to move onto the final pitch round for seed funding.
“The Loyola family is an incredibly entrepreneurial community,” said Barbara Watts, executive director of Loyola’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development, which organizes the annual Wolf Pack LaunchU program. “Our students, faculty, alumni, staff and parents are individuals who want to change the world. To do that, you have to step up and make things happen - that’s being an entrepreneur. We’re here to partner with them and give them the skills and resources to see success.”
Interest in the program has grown rapidly. In its second year, the program attracted 49 applications for the 2023 program compared to 17 in its first year, and more than 90 people - including participants, speakers, mentors and judges - engaged in the program over the five months, Watts said.
“A lot of people want to make positive change in the world, particularly at Loyola, where we make that a central mission of our community,” Watts said. “The difference between wanting to make change and actually doing it is having the skills, connections, education and resources. That is where the Wolf Pack LaunchU, presented by Dr. Bobby and Lori Kent Savoie, comes in - and why we see this kind of engagement and enthusiasm for this program.”