Water Challenge 2018

$15,000 in total prizes for nonprofits, businesses, and individuals with ideas to improve how we live with water.

The Water Challenge is an annual pitch competition that awards $15,000 in total start-up funding to businesses, nonprofits, and ideas improving urban water, coastal environment, or local water economy. The event takes place at Propeller during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week on March 21, 2018. Apply here.

In Louisiana, water is our greatest asset and our greatest threat. In urban, coastal, and economic contexts, water poses the biggest challenge to creating a sustainable future in our state. As our coast erodes, the ripple effects impact local communities, fisheries, and our safety in the face of future storms. In urban environments, we experience subsidence, nuisance flooding, and water quality concerns. Salinity and sediment load impact our maritime industries as well as our ability to implement large-scale restoration projects.

In New Orleans, people of color own 36% of all firms, but those firms only receive 2% of the region’s sales receipts. Inequities exist for employees, as well – the water management industry’s highly-skilled, high wage occupations, such as landscape architects, comprise up to six times as many white people as people of color.

The Water Challenge and Propeller’s Water Accelerator have been featured in Politico, Fast Company, USA Today, The Times-Picayune, The Advocate, New Orleans City Business, and WWLTV.

Apply Online

Eligibility

  • Organization Structure: For-profit businesses, nonprofit companies and organizations, and individuals are welcome to apply.

  • Early-Stage or New Idea: We accept pitches at multiple stages: idea stage, early stage (seeking first customer), early revenue (not yet profitable), and mature (profitable). Mature companies must have less than $1mm in annual revenue.

  • For Mature Companies: If you are a past Water Challenge participant or a mature company with over $1mm in annual revenue, you must be pitching a new idea or business line (early stage or early revenue).

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

  • For Out-of-State Applicants: 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.

Instructions

Get Your Questions Answered

Attend one of our Q&A sessions, including a virtual session on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 (12–1pm), an information happy hour at Broad St. Cider & Ale on Thursday, January 11, 2017 (5:30–7pm), and an in-person Q&A at Propeller on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 (4:30–5:30pm).

Receive Feedback (Optional)

Apply by our priority deadline of January 12, 2018, and we’ll send you feedback on your application in time to resubmit for the final deadline.

Apply Online

Apply online by February 2, 2018.

Get Your Ticket

Even if you’re not pitching, get your ticket to the attend the event! Registration link TBA.

Criteria

  1. Potential for impact: The solution must improve the coastal environment, urban water management, or reduce disparities in the water economy.
  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.

Awards

First Place: $10,000
Best Pre-Revenue Idea: $2,500
Best Nonprofit Pitch: $2,500
Audience Favorite: $500+

Audience Participation

Audience members play a key role in this competition as part of the Water Challenge’s goal to better connect social entrepreneurs with networks and resources. Registration link coming soon.

A suggested $5 donation to become an audience member at the Water Challenge will fund the Audience Favorite Award. Additional donations towards this award are greatly appreciated. Votes will be cast via text message on Wednesday, October 8th, at the live competition.

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

Seats are available on a first come, first served basis. Doors (and refreshments) open at 5:30pm.

Key Dates

  • Thursday, January 4, 2018 (12–1pm)

    Virtual Q&A

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018 (12–1pm)

    Q&A at Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave.

  • Thursday, January 11, 2017 (5:30–7pm)

    Green Drinks Q&A with Propeller and LifeCity at Broad St. Cider and Ale

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 (4:30–5:30pm)

    Q&A at Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave.

  • Friday, January 12, 2018 (11:59pm CST)

    Priority deadline. Early applicants will receive feedback in time to resubmit for the final deadline.

  • Friday, February 2, 2018 (11:59pm CST)

    Final Application Deadline

  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018 (6–8pm)

    Practice Pitch Workshop (required for Semi-Finalists)

  • Wednesday, March 21, 2017 (6:30pm-8:30pm)

    Water Challenge 2018 at Propeller

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