Three Area Entrepreneurs Advance in Delta Challenge, Head to New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

DCCGwinnersCompetition Held in Partnership with Southeast’s Missouri Innovation Corporation

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, Feb. 27, 2015 — Three entrepreneurs from the Missouri Bootheel and west Tennessee will attend the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week as part of the Delta Regional Authority’s (DRA) Delta Entrepreneurship Network Fellowship program.

The winners were announced at the first of four Delta Challenge pitch competitions in Cape Girardeau, held in partnership with the Missouri Innovation Corporation (MIC) at Southeast Missouri State University, after seven entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of local judges.

“This event was a great example of how regional collaborations can work to grow small businesses and advance entrepreneurship,” said Missouri Innovation Corporation Chief Operating Officer Brian Tapp. “The research the MIC conducts shows that small businesses, exactly like those who pitched at the Delta Challenge, are the primary job creators. We were honored to assist the DRA with their inaugural event and want to continue this momentum going forward.”

“The Delta Challenge seeks to identify entrepreneurs with the passion, creativity, and business mind to transform his or her idea into a successful business that will grow, create jobs for Delta residents and help drive local economies,” said Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “Each of these entrepreneurs have the opportunity to connect with the organizations, mentors and investors that will help them achieve success. Congratulations to all; we look forward to working with these entrepreneurs in the coming months.”

Winners of the Delta Challenge will receive a $1,500 Delta Entrepreneurship Network fellowship to participate in a special segment of the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW)—hosted by The Idea Village— March 25-27 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Network Fellows will showcase their ideas to investors, connect with fellow entrepreneurs, industry experts and mentors, and participate in programmatic workshops.

Each entrepreneur was given three minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges that represent business and community entities in southeast Missouri and have a background in entrepreneurship. Three winners and one alternate were announced after all pitches.

The winners of the Delta Challenge-Cape Girardeau pitch competition are:

Brian Edwards of Well Done POS (Memphis, Tennessee): Well Done Systems has developed a new restaurant point of sale (POS) software and provides cloud hosting, and back office tools to support functions such as reporting, inventory management, time and attendance, and employee management. (; @OpenRPOS)

Claire Bruce of Sloan+Themis (Cape Girardeau, Missouri): Sloan+Themis specializes in handcrafted luxurious jewelry inspired by the traditions of the South. Each piece of jewelry is made in-house at the atelier, taking special care to keep in mind the woman who will wear it. Each piece is constructed to be a treasure passed down to the next generation. Sloan+Themis emphasizes the craftsmanship and the quality of the materials in crafting premiere jewelry. (; @SloanThemis)

Colby Williams of Parengo Coffee (Sikeston, Missouri): Parengo Coffee is a small family-owned coffee roaster and collection of cafes in Sikeston, Missouri. They offer comfortable settings, community events and great wholesale support, in addition to specialty drinks and snacks. In the next five years, Parengo plans to spread their stores and original products throughout southeast Missouri.  (; @ParengoCoffee)

“The Delta Challenge is an amazing opportunity for our company,” said Owner Claire Bruce of Sloan+Themis.  “We are so excited to know people have an interest in our region’s emerging businesses. I can’t express how thrilled I am to pitch our business expansion at NOEW.”

Three more Delta Challenge pitch competitions will be held over the coming week in Jackson, Mississippi (today, Feb. 27), Jonesboro, Arkansas (on Saturday, Feb. 28) and Linden, Alabama (on Monday, March 2). The winners from each location will participate in a workshop March 4-6 hosted by the DRA and featuring a pitch boot camp by Julie Kirk, award-winning entrepreneur and director of the U.S. EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The fellows will then participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, where they will network with fellow entrepreneurs and mentors and pitch their ideas to national investors.

The Delta Challenge is part of the DRA’s recently launched Delta Entrepreneurship Network, which was created to identify, connect, nurture, and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystems that drive the Delta’s local and regional economies. The Network is addressing regional deficiencies in capital, training and best practices for entrepreneurship through a connected infrastructure of support organizations, investors and educators.

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. Through its Small Business and Entrepreneurship Initiative, the DRA has invested $8.7 million in small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Delta, creating and retaining more than 1,250 jobs, training more than 1,400 entrepreneurs and leveraging $16 million in other public and private investment. To learn more, visit