12 June 2022
Propeller and Thrive New Orleans announced that this year’s $10,000 Grand Prize and Audience Favorite Award will be awarded to Fabian Harper from Flourish Horticulture and an Audience Favorite prize will be awarded to Preston Robinson from Garden Picasso. On June 1, five local entrepreneurs pitched their solutions to improve our region’s water economy at the 11th annual The Water Challenge.
The five finalists put forth water solutions ranging from green infrastructure, stormwater retention, sustainable housing and construction, to flood prevention. The June 1st event sponsored by JPMorgan Chase AdvancingCities, New Orleans Business Alliance, Entergy, and City of New Orleans featured a judges’ panel of industry leaders and experts, growth stage venture panel, a virtual address from Mitch Landrieu, 61st Mayor of New Orleans, and a total of $17,500 awarded to all finalists.
“We need to cultivate and empower the unseen Black and Brown Indigenous people who are truly invested and committed to the future of New Orleans and its disproportionately affected communities. We have a solid foundation of local commitment that needs to be built up through education, funding, and resources. This is the philosophy behind the mutual efforts of Thrive New Orleans and Propeller,” expresses Bernadette Carriere of Thrive New Orleans.
“We are so proud of Fabian Harper, Preston Robinson, and all of our finalists who bring their ingenuity and dedication to strengthen the sustainability of our community’s future. The challenges we face as a community can only be solved collectively, and we thank all of our partners - Thrive New Orleans, Greater New Orleans Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Advancing Cities, New Orleans Business Alliance, the City of New Orleans, and Entergy for your support,” echoes Andrea Chen, CEO of Propeller.
The Water Challenge 2022 Winners:
Flourish Horticulture (Fabian Harper)
$10,000 Grand Prize Winner, $1,250 Audience Favorite Award
Garden Picasso (Preston Robinson)
$1,250 Audience Favorite Award
Funding from The Water Challenge will further support Flourish Horticulture’s work as a certified, DBE bio-friendly and environmentally conscious lawn, garden, and landscape construction company that uses only battery-powered equipment and seeks to improve soil structure, water quality and efficiency, outdoor air quality, and increase aesthetic value. Garden Picasso will utilize green infrastructure techniques with installations that retain and mediate local watershed runoff, reducing the workload on the drainage system and working to create a residential mixed-use property and community garden.
Preston Robinson of Garden Picasso
Photo: Tyler Conde
The event demonstrates the collaborative effort of local organizations to offer direct support to entrepreneurs tackling the most pressing water-related issues, while contributing to a more inclusive and effective water economy.
“The Greater New Orleans Foundation is proud to again be the presenting sponsor of The Water Challenge and to congratulate this year’s winners. Flourish Horticulture and Garden Picasso both have the potential to help New Orleans lead in job growth and in the development of the water economy right here in our region while also helping us become more resilient by building the movement to live better with water, one of the Foundation’s focal areas for our civic leadership” says Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.
Competing finalists for the event included: Delta Builds (Dorothy Nairne, Leonard Guillory), Gro Enterprises (Joel Holton), and Groundwater Studio (Michael Biros). Learn more about these entrepreneurs and The Water Challenge 2022 at gopropeller.org/pitchnola/new/waterchallenge/.
About The Water Challenge
Over the past decade, Propeller has awarded over $200,000 to entrepreneurs through its PitchNOLA Series. PitchNOLA winners have utilized the funding to expand in new markets, scale to reach over $1 million in annual revenue, and received notable attention in the Washington Post, The Guardian, the Times-Picayune, The Advocate, WWNO, and WWL-TV.
Propeller is a New Orleans-based 501c3 nonprofit that grows and supports entrepreneurs to tackle social and environmental disparities. Our vision is an inclusive and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Orleans that responds to community needs and creates the conditions for an equitable future. GoPropeller.org
ThriveNOLA empowers people with a holistic network of resources and relationships as they work to change their lives, families, and communities.
With roots extending nearly 100 years, Greater New Orleans Foundation serves the 13 parish region of Southeast Louisiana including: Assumption, Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Tangipahoa, and Washington. Over 965 nonprofits from the region participate in its annual online giving day, GiveNOLA Day, which has raised over $47 million for nonprofits in the last 9 years. The Greater New Orleans Foundation has responded to every disaster since Hurricane Katrina, when it led the Unified Community Planning Effort and a $23 million affordable housing fund. The Foundation distributed nearly $7 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has distributed over $4 million in response to Hurricane Ida.