Category: BREW

Turning Ideas Into Companies at LSU

Look around the entrepreneurial landscape and you’ll notice how research universities play a central role in helping to foster the creation of high growth companies. Most thriving economic regions have at least one strong top tier research institution.

We are excited about the opportunity to help educate the University faculty, staff, and administration about the importance of intellectual property in helping spur economic development in our region.

We want to help link industrial partners in the region to early stage technologies that are being developed at LSU. This linkage is critical to the future economic viability of our city, region, and state.

Every vibrant entrepreneurial community has three fundamental elements: Ideas, Talent, and Capital.

  • Ideas are the intellectual property discovered and created that could solve problems.
  • Talent refers to the people capable of turning those ideas into companies.
  • Capital is the money assembled to fund the Talent’s efforts to turn the Ideas into commercial revenues.

Of the three, capital is the most portable. Capital is always searching for places with investable ideas and capable talent. This is why the current uptick in patents from Baton Rouge is an encouraging development.

Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation named LSU as 1 of 51 NSF Innovation Corps Site in the country. This three-year designation gives LSU students, faculty and local business partners direct access to a very robust network of commercialization resources and will be eligible to receive grants to help bring their ideas to market.

We have the right recipe for success and need to capitalize on the great potential that LSU and Baton Rouge bring to the region. Helping us accomplish this will be new private sector partners like The University Financing Foundation (TUFF) and Sandbox Communities. These partners are helping us lay the groundwork at LSU for creating a more vibrant innovation neighborhood.

You can witness what’s emerging at the Opening Night BREW we’re co-hosting with the TechPark and Nexus LA on Monday, November 14 from 4:30-7:30pm at the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center. We’ll have a wide selection of eye-opening, mind-blowing, and jaw-dropping ideas/companies/technologies from across the region, including those from LSU.

Additionally, you can witness the success stories coming out of LSU Innovation Park at their 28th Annual Celebration of Innovation being held on Monday, November 16 from 6:00 – 8:00pm at L’Auberge Conference Center. Register for these and all BREW events at Hope to see you there!

Kenny Anderson
Louisiana Business and Technology Center

I am What I Am Because of Who We…

Ubuntu is term used to describe a philosophy and the name of an open source operating system. As a Linux-based operating system, Ubuntu powers tablets, phones, computers, servers and cloud services. Startup companies around the world utilize Ubuntu OS as the technological foundation for their ventures….it just works and it is awesome and it is free.

As a philosophy, Ubuntu roughly translates to “I am what I am because of who we all are” or “a person is a person through other people”. We can observe this phenomenon through the concept of ‘peer pressure’. Hanging out with a certain group of people causes a person to integrate the logic of the group into their own personality and decision making.

This peer influenced decision-making is partly due to how our brains work. When a making decisions, different parts of the brain begin to engage to include the release of a chemical called dopamine in your brain’s reward center. In short, dopamine makes you happy with your decisions. Additionally, being with like-minded peers boosts our sensitivity to this happiness sensation increasing the likelihood of taking a risk in your decisions because of this brain stimulation reward.

Inspiration is contagious. Studies have found connections between entrepreneurs are extremely valuable. In 2013, a group of grant recipients created a community for learning and support, constantly observing each other’s progress and providing feedback about each other’s businesses. The grant recipients taking advantage of the community support maintained a higher level of success. Another critical aspect was the connections between novice and experienced entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs learn more from other entrepreneurs and from mentors who had entrepreneurial experience.

Indeed, we are who we are because those surrounding us. Entrepreneurial ecosystems are successful because of the entrepreneurs, their shared inspiration, mentorship, and proximity to each other. If you self identify as an entrepreneur or want to become more entrepreneurial, seek out your fellow innovators.


James Davis
Director, LSU Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute

Bring Your (J)A Game!

I love sports. I’ve dressed up, painted up, screamed, cheered, high-fived, celebrated and agonized over the unpredictable bounce of a ball handled by a bunch of strangers I would never know. That’s me. Go team go!

As I sit here and think about how I choose to show my support to those that put in long hours needed to succeed on the field of play, I realize that I don’t show the same enthusiasm to those that put in a similar effort in endeavors that aren’t as physically exhausting. To those people I give a “Good job! Nice work! That was clever!” There’s something not quite right about that.

While doing research for young entrepreneurs I found a 13-year-old who makes affordable, durable lacrosse equipment. “That’s interesting!” I thought. Then I read about a seven-year-old who turned a passion for collecting zany socks into his own sock making business. “I might get a pair of those,” I said. I probably won’t I thought.

There’s nothing wrong with these responses but there’s nothing right about them either. Here in Baton Rouge we have kids just like those I researched that are ready to shape and change our world. They may do it with socks or lacrosse equipment. Perhaps they’ll be like 15-year-old Jack Anraka who created a pancreatic cancer test that is ten times more accurate and twenty-six thousand times cheaper than the current tests. Who knows?

What I do know is that kids, no matter the age, need encouragement more than my measly “Good job!” The students participating in the Junior Achievement Big Pitch event have put in the hard work and long hours needed to succeed on a much bigger field of play. When they do, they need fans.

Now, I’m not suggesting that as “fans” we dress up and paint our faces, but if you want to, it would certainly make me feel a little less awkward about having my own done.

I hope to see you all there on Wednesday, November 16th. Go team go!

A good product is not enough

In today’s complex business environment, having a superior product or service is not enough to distinguish a company from its competitors, nor can advertising alone command the attention and loyalty of customers. What’s needed is a consistent and genuine message that communicates the company’s core values, beliefs, and purpose.

On November 18th @ 3:00PM at Tin Roof Brewing, speaker, author and marketing expert Winnie Hart will present The Eight Fundamentals of Standing out in Business. Winnie will provide a framework for developing and refining a message that will resonate in the marketplace. “When you say, ‘this is what we stand for and this is why we do what we do’ – you do so with the understanding that you will appeal most to those people who share your values and who relate to what you say you stand for,” Winnie has had a lifetime of learning what it takes to stand out, as she has an identical twin sister who is also her partner and co- author.

Winnie will share how to develop a heightened awareness of the importance of perception and reality. From her first-hand experience of dealing with misperceptions and working hard to refine her individual identity, Winnie has honed the ability to highlight differences in her clients, companies, and brands.

What will you hear? Brand Differentiation How effectively does your brand capture the attention of prospects? Brand Relevance How aligned is your brand to your customers’ and prospects’ needs? Brand Promise How consistently does your brand deliver on its promises?

Winnie will present, and then moderate a panel of successful Entrepreneurs from the Baton Rouge Area. The Panel will discuss what they do to “stand out in business.”

Your first two beers are courtesy of our sponsors; the Entrepreneurs Organization and TEDX LSU

Winnie Hart

Purpose and Conscious Capitalism

I often tell people that I have started a venture capital firm on the foundational premise that the purpose of business is not to create shareholder value. Re-read that sentence… you can probably imagine the responses I get and blank stares as if I have no idea of what I’m talking about.


The statement is provocative and meant to provoke people to listen and to think about what I’m actually saying. Yes, in order to be successful at business, you must make money. That is a given. If your business doesn’t make a profit it’s probably a hobby. But to say that the “purpose” of any business is simply to make returns for shareholders is, – like my friend Darden Professor Ed Freeman says – believing that the purpose of your life is to make red blood cells. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure if your body stops creating red bloods cells you won’t be around for long. Much like your business and profit. However, no one reading this would ever say that the purpose of life is to create red blood cells.


Imagine how your life would unfold if you thought the only purpose you had to fulfill was to consume those things and operate in a manner that created the maximum number of red blood cells. Not to be a good father, mother, friend, or member of your community. In a similar way, business people who operate under this theory do things that are not only harmful to society, but also generally harmful to the overall health of their organizations.


It’s my belief that the purpose of business is to first create value for society. In fact, many of my colleagues and I believe we are entering into the age of what author Aaron Hurst calls “The Purpose Economy,” in which ultimate financial value is a function of the value you create first for all other stakeholders, as guided by your company’s societal purpose.  Operating with this purposeful mindset is a key component of what we call “Conscious Capitalism”. It is the new narrative of business success, and I believe the key to creating competitive advantage in the next generation.


Learn more about conscious capitalism and how it can transform society at BRAC’s Big Think event on Tuesday, November 15. Details at


Jeff Cherry
Executive Director
Conscious Venture Lab and the Conscious Venture Fund


Background photograph designed by Creativeart –


Starting out in business, many entrepreneurs run so fast that they have trouble slowing down and putting pen to paper regarding their ideas, concepts, and direction – their business blueprint – before it’s too late and disaster has struck. Doing so is essential to long-term business success. This is common. There are always excuses to get out of writing a business plan.


Putting words on paper and thinking through a concept requires dedicated quiet time, which is counterintuitive for most entrepreneurs. Start-up junkies and entrepreneurs would do well to sit down and actually create that blueprint before they start building.


Enter the SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – the quick and dirty first step for the entrepreneur looking for the confidence to take the second step… or not.


The SWOT analysis looks at cost of doing business vs. the risk inherent in a marketplace setting. It pits the internal conditions of your business idea or start-up against external forces that comprise competitive rivalry in a supply and demand world. It shows the reality of the here and now vs. potential long-term success and profitability. The SWOT analysis is a solid first step for any entrepreneur when at the crux of making the “Go/No Go” decision as to whether their concept is feasible.


Ultimately, perhaps, the best result of the SWOT analysis is “No Go” which will save the risk-taker the blood, sweat, and tears of pursuing potentially bad choices today in lieu of a better option later. On the other hand, exercising the SWOT can help the future business owner identify relevant blind spots in their concept before they are committed to a comprehensive business plan.


Understanding your SWOT is worth its weight in gold when starting a new business enterprise where every dollar, every second, and every effort counts.


Pearce Cinman
Business Instructor at Baton Rouge Community College

Pitchin’ ain’t easy… or is it?

So you have been chosen to “pitch” your company at a local pitch competition. The audience is mixed with angel investors, other entrepreneurs, and community people who want to support the ecosystem. The organizers have given you five minutes to tell your story to a group who may or may not have had a couple of drinks. You panic and wonder: What have I said “yes” to?

Don’t worry, pitching really only comes down to three things:

  1. Sell yourself first.
    Pitches are designed to be a quick, rapid fire of information. You need to do all you can to make a connection with the audience within seconds. We tend to listen to people we like and want to root for and that is what you want from the audience – to root for you and help you grow your business. People bet on the jockey, not the horse. You are the asset, so sell you.
  2. Don’t get lost in the weeds.
    Pitches are like the first date. The goal of a first date is to have a second date.  And you aren’t going to get a second date by telling them about your crazy uncle who lives in the shed in your backyard. The audience doesn’t need to see slides of your network architecture nor do they need to see all of the financial models that your CPA created for you. Keep your conversation during your pitch at a high-level, so those who are interested will pull you aside after and talk to you.
  3. Talk slow and breathe.
    You only have five minutes, so you have to talk fast to get everything in. Wrong! Just because you talk fast, doesn’t mean your audience will listen fast. You will probably be talking about an idea or a concept that the audience doesn’t understand, so they are hanging on every word. If they can’t process what you are saying, then they shut down and you’ve lost them. Talk slow and when you think you are talking slow, talk slower. And don’t forget to breathe. Fainting does little for winning pitch competitions.


Pitch competitions are great experiences and can be valuable to grow a company. If asked to pitch, say yes, but keep these three things in mind. If you are in the Baton Rouge area, and want to pitch, visit or and good luck!


Stephen Loy
Executive Director of Louisiana Tech Park

Failing Greatly

Failure. The word itself evokes a feeling of shame, anxiety, and ultimately fear. There are so many areas of our lives where we experience failure: at home, at work, in our relationships, with our families, with our friends, and many times within ourselves.

Often we are so focused on not failing that we miss the opportunity to aim for success. Our society does not reward failure, and you won’t find many failures documented in history.  It’s when failure becomes a stepping-stone to later success that we read stories of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Walt Disney.

What if we began to redefine what failure means? What if we changed it from being about not succeeding to being about continuing down the path you believe in even when it’s hard, as offered to us by Daniel Epstein?

What if we began to incorporate failure into our work routines and our family conversations?

What if we were willing to remove the stigma and shame of failure and replace it with an anticipated and expected part of any successful process?

Then failure could become a process that allows for:

  • COURAGE – Knowing that even though you didn’t get the results you wanted, at least you tried and were willing to put yourself out there
  • STRENGTH – When things don’t go the way you want, you become more determined to succeed
  • GROWTH – When you fail at something you truly believe in, then you have to go deep to start again
  • NEW OPPORTUNITIES – Failures often bring unforeseen opportunities and connections that would not have been available without it
  • BETTER CHANCE OF SUCCESS – By learning new ways of doing things, you actually have an edge over the person who never had the experience

Now I know, failure hurts and is scary and sometimes painful. I also know that no one can escape life´s inevitable curve balls. However, perhaps by meeting them with the right mindset—with an awareness of our underlying strength and adaptability—we can learn to embrace adversities and harness their capacity to lead to greater well-being and resilience.

Let’s all head out and try failing greatly.


Orhan Mc Millan
Founder and Managing Partner of dezinsINTERACTIVE

Why It’s Important to Support our Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Many of us tend to think of other regions when asked to name places with thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems – Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, Austin, Minneapolis and Raleigh.  The same is true for investors. Did you know that the top 10 metros account for over 77% of venture capital spending across the United States?  This type of capital funds innovative new companies, which attract top talent, which cultivates regional cultures with energy, excitement and a spirit of innovation that attract even more investment and talent.  These regions also attract the best and fastest growing large companies and their high-paying jobs because they follow quality talent pools.  And by the way, growth-driven large companies spin-off more successful entrepreneurs than any other source.  I say all this to show that strong entrepreneurial ecosystems are at the core of the most vibrant regions in the U.S.

This is why it’s important to support Baton Rouge’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Strong entrepreneurial ecosystems benefit everyone in the region, not just start-up business owners.  Not only do they attract new investment, talent, and jobs – they also keep our best and brightest from leaving.  This is what regions around the world understand and why they are investing so much money into nurturing the growth of these ecosystems.  While we may not want to be exactly like the regions mentioned above, wouldn’t it be cool if Baton Rouge were a top destination for people to boost the success of their businesses and careers, including you? We have many of the pieces already primed. We have two outstanding land-grant institutions, a culture that celebrates creativity, and a population that loves to help boost the success of our friends and neighbors, but we still have a bit of work to do and we need your help.

How can you support our entrepreneurial ecosystem?  Start by attending events at Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW).  You’ll learn about innovative new products and services, how people like you have overcome failure, and who to talk to about commercializing that million-dollar idea you’ve had for ages.  For more information, check out the BREW calendar of events at We look forward to seeing you and hearing all the ideas you’re BREWing to continue to build our vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Byron Clayton
CEO, NexusLA

What’s your BREW?

From pumpkin spice lattes to Gameday IPAs, fall brings about thoughts of BREWs of all kinds. Hopefully, for many of you, one of those is Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW). This celebration of innovation, creativity, and, yes, entrepreneurialism is traditionally observed in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week which falls this year on November 11-18.

While BREW has played host to several popular educational and networking events over the past few years, BREW organizers are especially excited about 2016 and the collective focus on two main priorities – connections and energy.

BREW 2016 will provide even more opportunities for entrepreneurs to make connections – with each other, potential investors, and the greater Baton Rouge business community. Also, this year’s BREW events will feature exciting new swag, signage, and a technology integration that will be unveiled soon!

BREW 2016 is already shaping up to be buzzing with the energy of a double shot espresso. New events involving groups like TEDxLSU and She Geauxs! will bring a fresh wave of faces to the entrepreneur community, while returning events like BRAC’s Big Think and Pitch Night will return for their best year yet. Whether you like simply being “in the know” about the new businesses and technologies emerging in our community, or you’re BREWing up an idea of your own, BREW 2016 has something for everyone.

Keep up with BREW via Facebook or Twitter. We’ll officially kick off the party with our media launch on September 20 – only about two short months away from our week-long celebration. Can’t wait to see you there!