Meet the Water Challengers

Meet the cohort in the Water Challenge Peer Mentorship Program, a 12-week intensive accelerator hosted out of Propeller to give water entrepreneurs the business expertise they need to launch their ventures.

26 February 2015


Team Members: Jon Adams and Don Adams

We are a family-owned Louisiana company that cares about the future of this state, and the restoration and protection of our coast is part of that future. We develop technologically advanced products that reduce coastal erosion faster and for less cost than any existing solution. Through the Water Challenge, we are fine tuning our business plan to gain resources and contacts to overcome the current barriers in coastal restoration.


Team Member: Tippy Tippens


We are a New Orleans-based industrial design studio that works with U.S. artisans and manufacturers to create sustainably made home goods products. We are proud to be a Benefit Corporation, which is a for-profit corporate entity that includes positive impact on society and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. To date, we have donated $23,000 to wetland restoration, oil spill cleanup, disaster relief, education, and literacy groups. Through the Water Challenge, we hope to increase the sales, reach, and donations of BirdProject Soap.


Team Member: Dan Johnson

Greenman Dan is a New Orleans landscape and rainwater management company that provides solutions to reduce flood risks, runoff pollution and subsidence by controlling and using rainwater. All properties should be part of the solution to keep rainwater from reaching storm drains, where the problems related to improperly managing rain water become intensified. In the Water Challenge, I am working with others to help quantify the social impact our efforts provide.


Team Members: Yvette Tablada and Andres De La Puente

Grounds to Ground is a mission-driven company focused on creating a more sustainable community by recycling coffee grounds into soil conditioner and pest repellents. Our product does not have any pesticides, thus it does not contaminate the groundwater entering our waterways. The Water Challenge has helped us hone our focus and goals for the next year to grow our company in a scalable manner. To date, we have recycled over 8,000 pounds of coffee waste, are found in 10 local retailers and are honored to have been one of ten ventures selected to pitch at the social enterprise business competition PitchNOLA.


Team Member: Alicia Neal

Groundwork New Orleans is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to the belief that by changing places, we can change lives. Groundwork New Orleans engages youth, volunteers, businesses and local organizations in projects that improve quality of life, restore the ecological function of the physical environment, and lay the foundations for sustainable development. In the Water Challenge, I am working on capacity building, product development and sales, and solidifying our programs.


Team Member: Harry Vorhoff

As an attorney, I provide legal services related to water management and coastal restoration and protection. I am passionate about the long-term sustainability of Greater New Orleans and am using my license to practice law to do my part. Through the Water Challenge, I am developing an understanding of the legal services market and identifying the segments that I can best serve.


Team Member: Connie Uddo

Hike For KaTREEna is a nonprofit established in 2007 to replant the 100,000 trees lost to Hurricane Katrina. To date, we have planted 27,500 trees, and we are proud to have served on the NFL Environmental Super Bowl Committee and broken the record for most trees planted in a Super Bowl host city in 2012. Through the Water Challenge, we are working on changing the name of the organization without losing our credibility and identity and developing a three-year vision and business plan.


Team Members: Julia Kumari Drapkin, Dan Leininger, Lindsey Wagner, and Lily Bui

iSeeChange is launching a groundbreaking media platform and network that combines citizen science, participatory public media partners, and cutting-edge NASA satellite data to connect communities to each other and their changing environment. We’ve adapted the iSeeChange Almanac so it can provide weather feeds worldwide. We are now working with our sensor network prototype team at Berkeley, surveying our users on how to improve the Almanac. We also had our first team meeting with NASA in order to develop our citizen science app.


Team Members: Mark Bernstein and Will Donaldson

Magnolia is developing a financially sustainable model for critical wetland restoration projects in Louisiana.  We fund these projects through the sale of wetland mitigation credits, where we earn credits for our restoration work that are sold to developers needing to offset any negative impact to wetlands resulting from their projects. We’ve secured our first set of restoration properties and are forming some exciting partnerships with other organizations.


Team Member: John A. Tesvich

The company will focus on bringing new ideas and technology to address the coastal restoration and sustainability issues in coastal Louisiana. It aims to provide engineers and planners new tools to move sediments required for coastal restoration. The company recently finished construction of a pilot demonstration sediment harvesting device. The Water Challenge is helping RiverBottom Tech develop a plan to attract strategic partners and potential investors.


Team Members: Dana Eness and Travis Martin

We strive daily to achieve our goals of local control, responsible development, quality of life, access to information and local economies. In the Water Challenge, we are developing a program called the Front Yard Initiative (FYI), which incentivizes New Orleans homeowners to replace impervious front yard surfaces with intelligent green space to reduce street flooding, subsidence, and runoff pollution while increasing pedestrian access, and public health.


Team Members: Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas

We seek to provide hurricane protection and recover ecosystem services by restoring wetlands, mainly Baldcypress-Water Tupelo swamps. Our goal is to plan and protect at least one million trees in the next decade. In the Water Challenge, we are focusing on strengthening our image to make our company attractive to investors.


Team Member: Zach Hughbanks

My company is the intellectual property developer and holder for multiple ongoing projects. As part of the Water Challenge, I am working on a low-noise, environmentally-friendly airboat, as well as business and marketing development for these projects.

Ventures mentioned in this post

Greenman Dan

Greenman Dan

Dan Johnson

Areas of focus: Water
Magnolia Land Partners

Magnolia Land Partners

Mark Bernstein

Areas of focus: Water