EAP closes successful year

The Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) reports 157 startups screened from Jan. 1 to the close of its fiscal year, Sept. 30.

Since inception, 347 startups and business ideas have been screened by EAP, and the program has provided direct services to more than 120 companies looking to launch and grow locally.

“This program launched two years ago as a public/private partnership between BRF, the Caddo Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport is yielding higher than originally anticipated results based on similar programs around the U.S., such as Tech Columbus, Ohio, and others during their first two years of operation. We are well above our goals in job creation, companies launched and local investment,” said Dave Smith, EAP Executive Director. “EAP is 116.7 percent over its goal metric for finding funding for these business ideas. We are 35 percent over our job creation goal. Thanks to the vision and support of the groups that joined with us to help grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem here, we are spurring economic development in the region and seeing real results.”

EAP currently has under contract and is providing services to 24 local companies that have so far contributed 66 local jobs, representing an annual payroll of more than $4 million. These companies have been able to garner more than $42 million in investment from angel investors, grants and banks to advance their operations.

Smith and a team of financial analysts at EAP provide development support for the 24 companies while also meeting daily with more entrepreneurs to vet their ideas and businesses.

EAP is a long-term project to create jobs and expand the local and regional tax base through a system that analyzes the viability of ideas and products of entrepreneurs, matches them with informed investors, and nurtures them through the critical steps toward market.

BRF supports EAP in partnership with the Caddo Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport to provide entrepreneurs services such as the creation or refinement of business plans and products, financial analysis and modeling, market analysis, market and industry research and finding funding opportunities – whether through a bank, grants or angel investors.

Entrepreneurs Theresa Andersson and Arthur Mintz, cofounders of Swaybox Studios, an EAP portfolio company since November 2014, had a business idea but needed assistance taking their concept from an idea to a full studio that now employs 20. They plan to grow the business and expand in Shreveport.

“They really walked us through the process. It has been incredible for us in terms of planning because I think that as entrepreneurs you get so caught up in the product, but obviously that’s just one small piece of the puzzle,” Mintz said.

Hilton Nicholson, CEO of CyberReef Solutions, relocated his startup company from Alabama to downtown Shreveport because of the services offered by EAP.

Nicholson also is positioned to grow his business.

“Our plan is to build a Center for Cellular Network Cyber Security in Shreveport, and over the next two to three years we will be hiring between 25 to 30 engineers and technicians for new product development and customer support,” he said.

“Before BRF, the Caddo Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport partnered for EAP, there was not a program of its kind here. EAP is modeled after programs in other markets that have been vital in the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, but it has been built for the specific needs of this region. We find ourselves working with portfolio companies that span a wide range of industries, including consumer goods and services, financial, healthcare, media and entertainment, tech, and others. This supports BRF’s mission to diversify and grow our region’s economy,” Smith said.

Other successes EAP has reported in its last quarter include collaboration with the City of Shreveport and Planet Aqua Group, an EAP portfolio company, to bring the Shreveport Aquarium, and supporting Embera NeuroTherapeutics in securing an $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance its research in addiction drugs.

Two EAP portfolio companies, Segue Therapeutics and Grapheno, recently placed in the top four of the BioChallenge startup pitch finals hosted by the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.

EAP portfolio companies to date:

  • CHeKT – Security company
  • CyberReef – Technology company that makes machine-to-machine communication more secure
  • Embera Neuro Therapeutics – Clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on smoking cessation, cocaine dependence and other addictions
  • Endopro Solutions – Medical technology company fighting obesity
  • Gorilla Film Tree Company – Independent movie production company
  • Grapheno – Graphene production technology company
  • G-Rock – Shreveport based rock climbing wall facility
  • Highly Favored Creations – Pet product company specializing in pet health and longevity
  • Ikey Pass – Cyber security company
  • Innolyzer – Science technology company offering a “lab on a chip” concept that measures hydrogen sulfide
  • Intellifuse – Regenerative medicine solutions company
  • LA New Product Development Team – Company helping inventors and entrepreneurs develop a broad range of products, technologies and web solutions
  • Lagniappe Labs – Research company with system to determine the value of privately held companies
  • Mainspree – An E-commerce platform for small retailers using social media
  • Perceptive Intelligence – Law enforcement software
  • Planet Aqua Group- Shreveport aquarium, education and entertainment facility
  • Project ACTS – Workforce development nonprofit
  • Red River Brewery – Local craft brewery
  • Red River Range – Local indoor shooting range
  • RNVentions – Biomedical device company
  • Segue Therapeutics – Pharmaceutical company focused on cancer drug development
  • SkyCoach – Software company aiding coaches in capturing and analyzing plays
  • Swaybox Studios – Film and TV media technology studio that specializes in puppetry
  • Viper Drill – Company offering mechanical radial drilling technology

EAP portfolio companies are those that are under contract to receive EAP services and are actively developing their businesses in Caddo Parish.