14 Years of Supporting Tech Startups in Baton Rouge

Genevieve Silverman began her journey supporting tech startups in Baton Rouge by taking on NexusLA’s director of finance role in 2008. Silverman became executive director in 2017 and then president and CEO in 2018. Now, nearly 15 years later, Silverman is stepping back from leading NexusLA to provide new opportunities for her family.

During her tenure at NexusLA, Silverman has made unparalleled contributions to tech startups in Baton Rouge by enhancing their access to coaching, capital and connections. She personally raised over $1 million in grant and sponsorship funding, and she designed, launched or played a significant part in several major regional and statewide initiatives.

“We are thrilled for Genevieve and her family,” says NexusLA Board Chair Anita Tillman. “We are grateful for her leadership and 15 years of service to the state of Louisiana.”

Here are just a few of the ways that Silverman has set up NexusLA for a bright future.

Elevating Diverse Founders Through Coaching

During her time at NexusLA, Silverman helped create greater opportunities for founders from diverse backgrounds. By creating coaching programs targeted at women and communities of color in Baton Rouge, Silverman made it easier for diverse local founders to develop tech startups.

Under Silverman’s guidance, NexusLA launched the BizTech Challenge, a statewide entrepreneurship program for the state’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Students at HBCUs are challenged to design a STEM-based product or service idea, which they develop over time, culminating in a pitch competition.

Five teams are selected to pitch their business before a live audience and a panel of judges for a chance at a cash prize. Finalists receive mentorship, coaching and a travel stipend for their trip to the event. Everyone who submits a pitch receives expert feedback on their proposal.

Creating Greater Access to Capital

Prior to joining NexusLA, Silverman’s background was in banking and finance — experience which she applied at NexusLA by improving access to capital for tech startups in Baton Rouge.

Silverman played an active role in creating Baton Rouge’s first seed capital fund, Innovation Catalyst, a nonprofit venture development organization. Innovation Catalyst offers opportunities for tech startups in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas to receive funding that takes their business to the next level. Silverman also helped create Baton Rouge’s first angel investor network, Red Stick Angels, a subsidiary of Innovation Catalyst.

Silverman also helped launch Baton Rouge’s first highly funded pitch competition. Occurring annually at Baton Rouge Entrepreneur Week (BREW), the High Stakes Pitch competition awards a $100,000 investment prize from the Red Stick Angels to the entrepreneur with the best pitch and most viable product.

Improving Opportunities Through Connections

During her tenure, Silverman helped develop Louisiana’s first statewide IT apprenticeship program, Apprenti Louisiana. Apprenti actively recruits women, minorities and veterans as part of its mission of diversifying the tech industry. Selected candidates are hired as apprentices by tech employers. They receive intensive classroom training and paid on-the-job training for a highly-skilled role in the tech industry.

Silverman also helped connect Baton Rouge entrepreneurs through SourceLink, a national networking platform for founders.

While Silverman’s presence will be missed at NexusLA, the organization is in the capable hands of Calvin Mills Jr., the former chairman of the board for NexusLA. Mills will become interim president and CEO as a management consultant.

As the NexusLA community continues its work and mission through Mills’ leadership, it expresses gratitude for the leadership and inspiration Genevieve Silverman has brought to the organization.

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