Women-led duo awarded $10,000.
BATON ROUGE – Nexus Louisiana held a demo day on May 25 that signified the culmination of Ignition 2.0, a nine-week accelerator program designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs commercialize their technology. Ten emerging startups took center stage at the Main Library to pitch their innovations and connect with potential investors and business decision-makers.
The startups represented various industries, including maritime, speech pathology, and youth athletics. Team Factor, founded by Jennifer Macha-Hebert and Nely Ward, emerged as the winner and was awarded $10,000, funded by Innovation Catalyst, a Louisiana-based venture development organization.
“When we originally presented this idea, we expected to hear no, this won’t work,” said Team Factor Co-founder Jennifer Macha-Hebert. “But with the help of the Tech Park, a lot of doors have opened for us. We’ve worked with some wonderful mentors and met great friends along the way. We’re very grateful for this opportunity.”
Team Factor is a virtual platform that collects, stores, tracks, and analyzes health and wellness data and fitness activities for athletes and coaches. In 2021, Ward and Macha-Hebert participated in the Ignition 1.0 program, which helps companies across the state discover whether their idea has the potential to be the next big thing. They tied for first place, receiving a $5,000 investment prize at the inaugural demo day.
Ignition 2.0 is an in-person program designed to guide entrepreneurs through the commercialization process of building their companies. The ideal participants in Ignition 2.0 are technology-enabled companies who have moved past the idea and market confirmation stages of building their business and into product development.
Champion Technology Services Founder & CEO Gary Hammer, Applica Scientific Partners Founder & Managing Partner Billy Davis and Innovation Catalyst CEO Bill Ellison served as judges and selected the company that demonstrated the most viability and scalability.
Companies were paired into teams and assigned a mentor with whom they met weekly. Companies met one-on-one with subject matter experts for insight on crucial commercialization areas — technology, financials, marketing, and legal to facilitate peer learning and long-term relationships.
Nexus Louisiana, along with Louisiana Fund I Managing Director Rick Babb, ThreeSixtyEight Founder & CEO Kenny Nguyen, Billy Davis and Bill Ellison led technical training and provided technology commercialization expertise during the accelerator.
Each team also worked with an assigned mentor, which included:
Tony Zanders, Skilltype; Vanessa Graham, VGraham, LLC; Griffen Hakenjos, VGraham, LLC; Achilles Williams, Baton Rouge Area Chamber; Lori Lowery, Shell Oil; Jay Thompson, SITECH Louisiana; and Julie Laperouse, Gulf Coast Bank & Screaming Peacock.
The Ignition 2.0 cohort included:
- Accelerant Education – Joshua Anderson
- Directed Analytics – Brenton Moss & Jody Mitchell
- Jade Systems – Samuel Meyes & Victoria Liu
- Pali Inc. – Jonathan Farnet & Mark Champagne
- Point Lookout – Srinee Bajaj
- RX Interactive – Del-Metri Williams
- Speechibi – Leah Singh
- Team Factor – Jennifer Macha-Hebert & Nely Ward
- Thumb – Aimee Russo-Mounger, Spencer Mounger & Marcus Mounger
Ignition 2.0 is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development, Stone Pigman, and Innovation Catalyst. For more information about Nexus Louisiana refer to nexusla.org.
About Nexus Louisiana
Nexus Louisiana is a Baton Rouge-based 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides high-potential, technology-enabled companies the coaching, capital and connections they need to accelerate their growth.
About Innovation Catalyst
Innovation Catalyst is a non-profit venture development organization formed by community leaders to strengthen and broaden Louisiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It manages The Catalyst Fund, a non-profit, evergreen fund offering capital investment and development support for Louisiana-based entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life.