Go-Devil Manufacturing owner/president Warren Coco does not claim to have invented the shallow-water engine. He says it originated in Vietnam and migrated around the globe. The avid duck hunter first saw a version of it in Louisiana in the 1970s. He knew he could do it better, and in 1977 he gave up his $5-an-hour job at Kleinpeter Farms Dairy and worked three years without a paycheck. "I reinvented the wheel, and built something to run in all conditions," he says. Coco claims his Go-Devil engines will take a boat anywhere. "Go-Devil runs so well that it can take you to water that a fish can't swim in," he says. Coco subsequently determined to expand his business to help another group of sportspeople on shallow water. He says while most duck hunters need to get from "point A to point B," fishermen often want to continue to additional locations if they are not satisfied with their first choice. The solution? Coco's company now manufactures a surface drive engine. Read the full feature...
Avid duck hunter Warren Coco does not claim to have invented the shallow-water engine.
Matt McKay has 16 auto dealerships stretching from Denham Springs to Alexandria through his All Star Automotive empire.
Access to capital remains one of the greatest challenges to female entrepreneurs, says Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. Women only get 3.5% to 4% of the nation's venture capital, or what Kerrigan calls "just an amazingly small slice of that pie." Kerrigan, who’s also chair at the Center for International Private Enterprise, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Influential Women in Business luncheon in Baton Rouge, presented annually by Business Report. Along with being profiled in the May 28 issue of the magazine, the recipients of this year’s awards will be honored at the luncheon. Kerrigan says cultural barriers still hamper women's ability to secure banks loans, despite some recent improvement. "Those are the types of things we need to work on to help more women entrepreneurs become [leaders of] high-growth firms," she says. As keynote speaker, Kerrigan says she will urge Baton Rouge businesswomen to...
On the first day of the MBA program, Joey Coco's class defined “an entrepreneur” as someone who brings disparate resources together to create value.
As a student, Matthew Valiollahi noticed the many styles and varieties of T-shirts his peers were wearing.
Craig Gehring never went to college, but he has helped many others achieve their higher ed dreams since 2003, his junior year in high school, when he received perfect scores on the ACT and the SAT. "When I made my scores, parents called Baton Rouge High and said, 'Let me talk to Craig and have him tutor my kids,' " Gehring says. Ten years later, Gehring has written the book, literally, on mastering the ACT and leads an effort to improve preparation for standardized tests. In addition to his early start tutoring fellow students and finishing his guidebook, published by Ring Publications in 2012, Gehring has worked with five others as part of ACT Prep Inc. The group members brainstormed and decided to start a camp to prepare future test-takers. He recalls, "One of the guys who eventually became a board member said, 'Why don't you put together a program based on your book?" The camp currently prepares students in Baton Rouge—Gehring trains the teachers—and plans to expand...
Craig Gehring never went to college, but he has helped many others achieve their higher ed dreams since 2003, his junior year in high school, when he received perfect scores on the ACT and the SAT.
Many smart businesspeople foresaw the growth of wireless ahead of the curve.
His love for the sport and lack of passion working for an accountant inspired Stewart: In 1999 he returned to Lake Charles, coached, and sold soccer-specific merchandise from his home.
By 2002 the entrepreneurial environment of northeast Ohio had been ranked dead last 12 years in a row by Entrepreneur magazine, says Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart, which was formed to change the environment. By 2009 the region was getting national media attention for being startup- friendly. JumpStart has consulted with BRAC and the local Research Park Corp. to form Step One Ventures. Leach spoke today at a luncheon celebrating the launch of Step One. Among other functions, Step One will manage a for-profit fund, known as the ION Fund, that will look to invest in companies that are close to market but not quite ready to attract institutional investment. "Capital is important," Leach says. "But capital is not the number one issue." Step One will seek to knit together the region's various assets, in an effort to strengthen what is sometimes called the "entrepreneurial ecosystem." Private investors have
As part of its Reinvention 2013 series of profiles highlighting U.S. cities that have seen their entrepreneurial landscape change as a result of the Great Recession, Entrepreneur profiles Baton Rouge and its burgeoning start-up scene. "If New Orleans is the state's vivacious, sometimes tipsy daughter, then Baton Rouge is its workhorse," reads the article, which highlights success stories at the Louisiana Business & Technology Center, the city's many new entrepreneurial events and the emergence of co-working spaces. "Grassroots events, such as Baton Rouge Entrepreneur Week, SeNSE pitch nights and Red Stick International Animation Festival, have also brought attention to Baton Rouge's blossoming creative and entrepreneurs," the magazine says, further noting: "Venture capital isn't as readily available as many Baton Rouge entrepreneurs would like—a universal complaint in most cities. Yet, that hasn't stopped the most promising companies from getting funding." Read the...
FedEx franchisee Jeff Trim spends plenty of time giving back to the community on youth football fields as the CEO of the Baton Rouge Raptors. In 2001, fellow coach Clint Turner reached out to Trim with an offer to help Turner finish a route for FedEx.
The Kairos Society, a U.S.-based nonprofit that "works to find and empower the young pioneers who will push the world forward through entrepreneurship and innovation," has included Baton Rouge-based Big Fish Presentations in its annual listing of the "50 most innovative student-run businesses in the world." Big Fish founder and CEO Kenny Nguyen attended the Kairos Global Summit over the weekend of Feb. 23-24 and was recognized with the rest of the 49 companies at the New York Stock Exchange. "This conference gave us the opportunity to not only present to giant companies like Priceline, Autodesk, GE, Johnson & Johnson, and American Express, but also network with young forward thinkers all over the world who are creating incredible innovative companies in multiple sectors," says Nguyen in his blog about the experience, which you can check out here. Nguyen says he was surprised to learn that...
POSITION Chief technology officerCOMPANY 24Hour FloristREVENUE $300,000 projected for 2013NEXT GOAL Get manufacturing re-established
Step One Ventures, which seeks to help local early-stage companies grow, has been deemed ineligible to receive money from a state-controlled seed fund. However, LED Secretary Stephen Moret says the department "looks forward to working with them as they complete the application process." Step One, a project of BRAC and the Research Park Corp., which runs the Louisiana Technology Park, wants $1 million from a State Small Business Credit Initiative seed capital program. But the project lacks the necessary $1.5 million in matching funds. According to a letter written by an LED staffer, Step One has two pledges of $250,000 each from two individuals. The pledges were made almost a year ago and are contingent on the full $1.5 million being raised. The letter also cites Step One's lack of management or employees, and says the relationship among Step One, BRAC and the RPC has not...
POSITION OwnerCOMPANY RenderQuickREVENUE Less than $100,000NEXT GOAL Do this for movie industry
We often imagine of Ben Franklin flying his kite and catching lightning in a bottle, so to speak, with minimal effort. But for Matthew Magnuson, the chief technology officer for St. James Technologies and Harbor Telematics, turning magic into reality has been a painstaking, deliberative process.
Turning valves to allow water to flow through pipes might not seem like a big deal, unless you realize sometimes it takes 10 men an hour using a T-wrench to turn one 36-inch valve.
Kenny Nguyen loves presentations—at least good ones.
Cathy Bryant, 55, had a successful career in the wallpapering business for 30 years before she had her hip replaced. “It was quite a shock to know you can't do it [anymore],” Bryant says. “I was basically unemployed.”
Some entrepreneurs have had one inspiration that sparked a successful company. Brothers Jimmy and Billy Mobley have had two.
Martha Stuart Williams got her first taste of the business world in the ninth grade, managing her family’s successful snowball stand in Alexandria. But Williams—who is now senior vice-president of strategic initiatives for Baton Rouge-based Amedisys—has what might seem like coldhearted advice for women who are looking to follow in her footsteps. "Drop your dead weight: friends and family who are not helping you meet your [business] goals," says Williams, who took part in the Women Business Leaders Breakfast panel this morning, a Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week event. Panelist Jen Bilik, founder and owner of Los Angeles-based Knock Knock publishing company, also provided a painful cautionary tale of what can happen if you’re not tending to the gritty details of your venture. She recalled a mentor of hers who ended up stealing $1.5 million from her company. "Whatever your business is, you need to learn how to run your operation from the inside out," she says.
With Louisiana and the country on the verge of exponential growth in data-sharing networks in health care, an industry lobbyist says the state is struggling to attract programmers in information technology and artificial intelligence. David Crais, president of Physicians Proviso, says he's in the business of building apps for health care. And while programmers are hard to come by, Crais says Louisiana tax credit programs for media development, filmmaking and music production are attractive to venture capitalists. "It's almost a stamp of approval for your fundraising," says Crais, who was attending a seminar on tax credits, held at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel, as part of Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week. The tax credits are a hook, he says, even if investors don't need the tax break. Meanwhile, Crais says Louisiana already has a solid base of programmers in technology-centric industries—mainly oil and gas and animation. "It's just translation" of skills, Crais says. Chris...
Lisa Traina allows her employees to work from anywhere, without timesheets, as they provide IT audits for a variety of clients. “When they can work barefooted and in their shorts, they tend to be happy,” Traina says.
Bob Miller of the Opportunity Machine has been working on something cool. It is a one day seminar in Lafayette designed to provide a hands-on experience for startups and existing companies to develop innovative products. He is collaborating with powerhouse MEPoL (Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana). The seminar, “1st Gear,” is free and will be held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, on Tuesday, November 13th in Lafayette. Register here.
POSITION Co-founder and COOCOMPANY Internet Retail ConnectionWHAT THEY DO Build online sales portals that sell from wholesalers to consumers REVENUE $7 million last yearNEXT GOAL Increase websites' search engine rankings
As advanced metering technologies such as “smart meters” emerged, Todd Barlow and Dale Pennington began to talk about opening a consulting firm to help utilities and cities implement the systems. “My roots were in engineering and utilities; Dale's roots were in technology and energy,” Barlow says. “We decided if we put our heads together, we had a meaningful consulting business.”
“Across the country they have these boutique forensic accounting firms. I knew I wanted to open one because fraud is such a problem.”
“They needed someone to help it go from concept to product,” Breaux says. “Intuitively, the idea just made sense.”
It's Thursday and you want to meet interesting people tonight. Of course you're coming to Innovation Takeout to hear James Digby of Rockstart Accelerator. It's tonight from 6-8 pm at the Lyceum, free food, great place to meet interesting people.
For Dr. Vance Misuraca, the moment he knew he wanted to be an orthodontist came so early in life he can't remember it.
Louisiana startups have been hitting the national news outlets lately. Earlier this month, I wrote about Yellow Jacket Case being highlighted on Mashable.com.
Earlier this month, local entrepreneurs Seth Froom and Sean Simone successfully raised $100,000 for the launch of their new product, the Yellow Jacket Case. The Yellow Jacket Case is a stun gun built into an iPhone case (Android version scheduled to be launched soon).
Position: Attorney and ownerCompany: Ogwyn Law FirmWhat they do: Provide legal counsel, primarily in matters involving business litigation, real estate, oil/gas agreements or disputes, and estate planningRevenue: More than $500,000Next Goal: Do his best every day
For entrepreneurs who have or want to start up a financial services business, here's a way to get a year's worth of mentorship, key connections, and access to 300,000 customers.
“Baton Rouge has 750,000 people and a massive SEC culture but it didn't have its own beer,” Caldwell says. “It just seemed like the perfect place.”
Position: Founder and managing partnerCompany: dezinsINTERACTIVEWhat they do: Web development, identity cultivation and marketingRevenue: $500,000 last yearNext Goal: Do a little better today than yesterday
Erica McGeachy Crenshaw was working as a sell-side analyst covering manufacturing and retail for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Newly married, she began to question her commitment to the high-stakes work environment and overwhelming hours.
Creative Louisiana, a monthly morning meetup for creative types, was founded one year ago in June 2011. Patterned after New York-based CreativeMornings, the Louisiana meetup is designed to build our creative community by connecting people and providing inspirational programs and experiences.
Eric Hedrick attended Loyola University for a degree in broadcast journalism. But out of college in 2000, he found himself working in the apparel business. “I was filling a need,” Hedrick says. “There was no one making high-end college apparel, especially men's apparel.”
While news reports about this week's G20 Leaders' Summit, held in Los Cabos, Mexico, have focused on the Greek economic crisis, it appears something else is afoot.The G20 Leaders' Summit is an annual meeting of world leaders from the top 20 economies of the world, representing 90% of the world's economy. This year's meeting is hosted by Mexico.