This is a past Pitch NOLA opportunity

Water Challenge 2017

Pitch your idea for improving our urban water, coastal environment, or local water economy.


In Louisiana, water is our greatest asset and our greatest threat. Whether in an urban, coastal, or economic context, water poses the biggest challenge to creating a sustainable future in our state.

For Water Challenge Day, we’re looking for small, concrete solutions that can make a big difference in our urban and coastal water environments. We’re also looking for ideas with sustainable revenue streams or innovative financing mechanisms. At Propeller, we view water as a broad sector that affects many areas of our lives as Louisianans. In particular, we are looking for pitches within the following three areas:

Urban Water: the design, installation, and maintenance of water management infrastructure in our region, improving safety and furthering the goal of environmental justice
Coastal Environments: products, processes, or financing mechanisms that preserve coastal wetland, mitigate current wetland loss, accelerate or enhance our understanding of the science of coastal restoration, or complement planned coastal preservation and restoration projects
Water-based Industries: small businesses or businesses owned by women or people of color that bring to market innovative products, services, or workforce development initiatives within the water transportation and shipping, fisheries and seafood production, and vessel construction and repair subsectors

Water Challenge and its winners have received notable attention from publications including the Washington Post, The Guardian, the Times Picayune, The Advocate, New Orleans City Business, WWNO, and WWLTV.

The 2017 Water Challenge is an initiative presented by Propeller focused on solving our region’s most pressing water issues through entrepreneurship. Originally seeded by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and The Idea Village, the Water Challenge is funded by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and supported by Entergy Corporation.

Save your seat in the audience!

Apply Online


  • The Water Challenge is looking for individuals and teams with financially sustainable ideas. You could be an engineer, a hydrologist, a student, a project manager, a landscape architect, a shrimper, or just a person with a great idea! You can apply as a non-profit or a for-profit venture.

  • We are seeking for-profit or non-profit ventures that have generated less than $100,000 in revenue in the 2016 calendar year.

  • If your venture has generated over $100,000 in 2016 revenue, you are eligible if you are pitching a new idea or business line that has generated less than $100,000 in 2016 revenue.

  • If you are a past Water Challenge participant, you must be pitching a new idea or business line.

  • You should be planning to implement your product, process, or service in South Louisiana and impact our state’s most pressing environmental challenges.

  • Although we encourage ideas from across the country, we will give preference to companies headquartered in Southeast Louisiana – the Greater New Orleans, North Shore, Baton Rouge, and Houma regions. Out-of-state applicants are responsible for their own travel arrangements.


Get your questions answered

Attend one of our Q&A sessions on December 15, January 5, January 11, January 18, and January 24. More information and RSVP link below!

Early feedback deadline

Submit your online application by Friday, Feb 10, 2017 (11:59pm CST) and receive feedback to strengthen your final application.

Final application deadline

Submit your online application by Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017 (11:59pm CST)


  1. Potential for impact: The solution must improve the coastal environment, urban water management, or local water economy. Scalable solutions are preferred.
  2. Financial sustainability: Solutions should demonstrate a viable and sustainable revenue stream, if revenue is required for implementation.
  3. Viability: Convince us that you and your team have what it takes to make your idea a reality given your experience, track record and expertise.


Qualifying Round — Online Application

The first round of the competition is based on an online application, which must be submitted by Wednesday, February 22, at 11:59pm CST.

We recommend that you write and save your application responses in a Word Doc, because the online application will not save your responses.

Semi-finalists will be selected and notified on March 3.

Final Round — Water Challenge 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017, 2-4pm, selected semi-finalists will pitch their solutions at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

Semi-finalists will have three minutes to pitch their ideas and present their slides to a panel of judges and a voting audience. Following the presentations, the judging panel will select three of the semi-finalists for a round of follow-up questions. Judges will then select the First Place winner in front of the live audience. Finally, the voting audience will select the winner for the “Audience Favorite” award, funded by audience participation. All semi-finalists are eligible for this award.

Pitch Workshop // Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 6:00-8:00pm (Required for semi-finalists). This workshop will assist semi-finalists with the development of their final presentation slides and pitches.


1st Place: $10,000

Best Pre-Revenue Idea (For-profit and non-profit): $2,500

Best Non-profit Pitch: $2,500

Audience Favorite: $500 (minimum)

Audience Participation

Audience members play a key role in this competition as part of Propeller’s goal to better connect social entrepreneurs with networks and resources.

A suggested $5 donation to become an audience member at Water Challenge will fund the “Audience Favorite Award.” Additional donations towards this award are greatly appreciated. Votes will be cast via text message on Monday, March 20, at the live competition.

Additionally, we encourage audience members to provide relevant contacts, resources, or constructive feedback to assist semi-finalists in pursing their ideas. Feedback cards will be provided at the competition.

Seats are available on a first come, first served basis. RSVP Here!

For questions, contact Ginny Hanusik, Water Program Manager,

Key Dates

  • Thursday, December 15, 2016 (5:30pm - 6:30pm)

    Q&A #1 at Terrebonne Parish Public Library (Tentative). RSVP Here

  • Thursday, January 5, 2016 (12:00pm – 1:00pm)

    Virtual Q&A. RSVP Here

  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017 (12:00pm - 1:00pm

    Q&A #2 at Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave. RSVP Here

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 (5:00pm – 6:00pm)

    Q&A #3 at Louisiana Tech Park, Baton Rouge (Tentative). RSVP Here

  • Tuesday, January 24, 2017 (4:30pm – 5:30pm)

    Q&A #4 at Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave. RSVP Here

  • Friday, February 10, 2017 (11:59pm CST)

    Deadline to receive feedback on initial application

  • Wednesday, February 22, 2017 (11:59pm CST)

    Application Deadline

  • Wednesday, March 8, 2017 (6:00pm-8:00pm)

    Practice Pitch Workshop (required for Semi-Finalists)

  • Monday, March 20, 2017 (Time TBD)

    Water Challenge, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week RSVP Here