Propeller Releases Agenda for the 5th Annual Water Challenge During New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

The Water Challenge is a daylong event highlighting market-based solutions to solve our region’s water crisis and contribute to the local water economy

26 February 2015

Media Contact:

Catherine Gans
(504) 302-3747 

NEW ORLEANS, LA (Feb. 26, 2015) – Today, Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and The Idea Village announce the lineup for the 5th Annual Water Challenge at The Chicory on Fulton Street on Monday, March 23rd during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW). The Water Challenge is the region’s showcase for innovative solutions to water issues critical to Louisiana’s economy, ecosystem, and coastal protection.

The morning session features a $25,000 civic design pitch competition “Living with Water” put on by Propeller and the Arts Council of New Orleans. The competition focuses on increasing civic participation in social and environmental change. This year’s finalists are: Jennifer Blanchard (Contraflow), Michel Varisco (Turning), and Amy Stelly and Darryl Reeves (Drop in the Bowl). The winner will be determined by an audience vote following feedback from a critical panel, including Sophie Harris, Executive Director of Friends of Lafitte Corridor and David Waggonner, Principal of Waggonner & Ball Architects.

The afternoon session opens with an overview of the water landscape, both coastal and urban, to be given by a speaker panel that includes New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and Director for Environmental Defense Fund’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration project Steve Cochran. WWNO News Director Eve Troeh will moderate the discussion.

“I am really excited to participate in this event and discover what our talented social entrepreneurs have designed to confront the critical issue of managing local flooding and subsidence through storm water management,” says Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. “With the additional threats of rising sea levels and disastrous coastal land loss, managing our water is an urgent necessity.  New Orleans will eventually succumb to encroaching water unless we find effective solutions for rebuilding our wetlands and preserving, not destroying, our state’s incredible biodiversity.”

Additionally, various agencies such as the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans and the Data Center present on entrepreneurial opportunities in water management and coastal restoration, an industry with $50 billion slated to be spent over the next fifty years.

Throughout the day are brief presentations from start-up innovators in water management from the Water Challenge Peer Mentorship Program, Propeller’s 13-week intensive accelerator program to help non-profit and for-profit water innovators gain the business expertise they need to launch their startups.

The Water Challenge culminates in a $10,000 business pitch competition. Five finalists present their ideas for wetland and marshland restoration, storm protection, and rain harvesting to a panel of judges including Elisa Speranza of CH2M HILL and Jimmy Roussel of the New Orleans Startup Fund.

This year’s finalists are Don and Jon Adams of Advanced Berm Technologies, Mark Bernstein of Magnolia Land Partners, Dan Johnson of Greenman Dan Inc., Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas of Wetland Resources, LLC, and John Tesvich of Riverbottom Tech.

Past winners include: Tyler Ortego of ORA Estuaries, whose technology protects the coast through semi-artificial oyster reefs, Webster Pierce Jr., whose device the Wave Robber captures sediment from waves to rebuilding the Louisiana coastline, and Sarah Mack of Tierra Resources, who will release a report in early March on a two-year assessment of the potential to develop blue carbon projects on Louisiana’s coast.

All Water Challenge guests are invited to the PitchLocal Happy Hour, brought to you by JPMorgan Chase & Co., from 5:00 – 7:00pm on the rooftop of The Chicory.

The Water Challenge is free and open to the public. Registration is required via

Propeller is a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization that drives social, environmental, and economic impact in New Orleans by incubating early-stage ventures that have the potential to solve our city’s most pressing issues.

The Idea Village is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to identify, support, and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans.

The Greater New Orleans Foundation is one of the oldest and largest philanthropic organizations in the region. Its mission is to create a thriving community for all. Every day, GNOF joins other foundations, nonprofit organizations, community leaders, and government officials to address the needs of the community and build consensus for solutions. Together with a family of donors, the Foundation has invested over $100 million in the region since it opened its doors over 30 years ago to respond to community needs.

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), presented by IBERIABANK, is the annual festival celebrating business, innovation, and advanced thinking in New Orleans. Produced by The Idea Village, NOEW engages a dynamic global to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial successes through eight days of discussion, debate, education, competition, and celebration. This year, NOEW 2015 will take place March 20-27, 2015 and 10,000+ are expected to engage through over 70 events.

Ventures mentioned in this post

Magnolia Land Partners

Magnolia Land Partners

Mark Bernstein

Areas of focus: Water
Greenman Dan

Greenman Dan

Dan Johnson

Areas of focus: Water