Propeller Announces the 2015 Water Challenge Finalists

5 local ventures selected to compete for $10,000 at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

4 February 2015

Media Contact:

Catherine Gans     
(504) 302-3747 

NEW ORLEANS, LA (Feb. 4, 2015) – Today, Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, in partnership with the Idea Village and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), announces that local water entrepreneurs Don and Jon Adams (Advanced Berm Technologies), Mark Bernstein (Magnolia Land Partners), Dan Johnson (Greenman Dan Inc.), Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas (Wetland Resources, LLC), and John Tesvich (Riverbottom Tech) have been selected as finalists for the 2015 Water Challenge live business pitch competition.

After 5 years, the Greater New Orleans Foundation is still excited to support the Water Challenge,” says Ella Delio, director of environmental and regional initiatives at the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “By backing these social enterprises, we’re building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that encourages the growth of innovative, locally-rooted solutions to our water challenges and contributes to the sustainable development of the Greater New Orleans area.

The Water Challenge competition is a core component of the 5th annual Water Challenge Day, an event focused on highlighting entrepreneurial opportunities within the local water economy. The event will take place at The Chicory on Fulton Street on Monday, March 23, 2015 during the 7th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. This year’s finalists offer groundbreaking ideas for wetland and marshland restoration, storm protection, and rain harvesting. They will pitch their solutions for up to $10,000, courtesy of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Finalists were selected out of 13 water entrepreneurs in Propeller’s intensive Social Venture Accelerator and participants in the Water Challenge Peer Mentorship Program, a 12-week mentorship and peer-learning program to help non-profit and for-profit water innovators gain the business expertise they need to launch their startups.

“The substance and focus of Propeller’s mission are reflected in the finalist companies in this year’s Water Challenge.  A broad range of creative and exciting solutions addressing storm water management issues and coastal and wetland restoration are represented in these companies, certain of these may grow into big businesses,” said Mike Eckert, former CEO of the Weather Channel and Lead Mentor of the Water Challenge Peer Mentorship Program.

Last year’s winner, Tyler Ortego of ORA Estuaries has invented, manufactured, and distributed OysterBreak, a patented system for creating sustainable oyster reefs to prevent coastal erosion.

To learn more about the Water Challenge, please visit

A full schedule of events for the 2015 Water Challenge Day will be unveiled on February 23rd, when NOEW registration opens.


Advanced Berm Technologies, Don and Jon Adams
Creating a process of berm design and deployment that will increase the rate at which marshes are restored.

Magnolia Land Partners, Mark Bernstein
Developing critical wetland restoration projects in Louisiana through the sale of mitigation credits.

Greenman Dan Inc., Dan Johnson
An underground rainwater containment system that makes it simple and easy to solve water runoff problems while reducing landscape irrigation costs.

Wetland Resources, LLC, Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas
Providing storm protection to coastal Louisiana through massive planting of hurricane-resistant baldcypress and water tupelo.

Riverbottom Tech, John Tesvich
Creating innovative technology for restoring and maintaining coastal areas intelligently and on a sustainable basis.

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

Greenman Dan

Greenman Dan

Dan Johnson

Areas of focus: Water
Magnolia Land Partners

Magnolia Land Partners

Mark Bernstein

Areas of focus: Water