The Idea Village & Greater New Orleans Foundation Launch 3rd Annual Water Challenge

An effort to establish Southeast Louisiana as an entrepreneurial leader in the water industry.

(New Orleans) September 6, 2012 – Today, in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), The Idea Village is excited to announce that applications for its annual Water Challenge are now open. Going into its third year, this program aims to identify and support entrepreneurial solutions that apply innovative approaches to how we live with water in Southeast Louisiana, which is especially relevant in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. Interested entrepreneurs can apply at until 11:59pm CT on October 15, 2012. A program information session will be hosted at The Idea Village on Monday, September 24 from 4pm – 5:30pm.

“Idea Village Challenges seek to solve community challenges through entrepreneurship, while strengthening partnerships in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Tim Williamson, Co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “Now in its third year, the goal of the Water Challenge is to build a cluster of entrepreneurs creating innovative solutions to living with water.”

“The Water Challenge capitalizes on Louisiana’s rich aquatic assets in an attempt to elevate our region’s position as a leader in progressive water management,” said Marco F. Cocito-Monoc, Ph. D, GNOF’s Director for Regional Initiatives.

In Southeast Louisiana, water dominates life as both an asset and a threat. From coastal land loss to abundant seafood, from flood to drought, water is a major source of both spending and revenue. Because many of our regional issues are similar to those faced by other countries, the Water Challenge is a powerful vehicle for discovering and nurturing innovators whose solutions may be of global significance.

Dr. Sarah K. Mack of Tierra Resources won the 2012 Water Challenge and $50,000. Tierra Resources is a nationally recognized innovator and quality leader in the research, development, and monetization of blue carbon contained in coastal wetland ecosystems, such as estuaries, mangroves, and salt marshes. Their pioneering work is critical to bringing wetland offsets to carbon markets and their methodology will monetize the value of Louisiana wetlands and enable funding for their restoration.

“The Water Challenge was a catalyst for taking Tierra Resources to the next level. From access to unbelievable networks, to intensive mentorship and strategic business consulting, it was as if I had an entire management team behind me,” said Mack.

This year, the Water Challenge is expanding its reach in an effort to further solidify our region’s position as a business leader in the water industry. Applicants who meet the following criteria will be invited to participate in an educational program from October through December.
Entrepreneur has an idea or business that addresses a specific water problem relevant to Southeast Louisiana

  • Entrepreneur has identified an idea that can be commercialized
  • The proposed solution/ idea is exportable and scalable
  • Entrepreneur and venture are taking an innovative approach to solving this problem
  • Entrepreneur is committed to participating in the educational and consulting program
  • The entrepreneur and business are based in the Coastal 5 plus 1 region (Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Tammany and Terrebonne Parishes)
  • The business is generating less than $1 million in annual revenue and has fewer than 10 full time employees


In December, select entrepreneurs who have identified scalable, for-profit business models and demonstrated the passion to take their start-ups to the next level will transition into a three-month accelerator program managed by The Idea Village Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs). The EIRs, seasoned entrepreneurs, will provide strategic consulting to help entrepreneurs refine their strategy, organize their business, and develop their pitch for funding. Finalists will have the opportunity to pitch for a $50,000 grant, courtesy of GNOF, during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, March 16-22, 2013.

The Water Challenge received the 2012 Nania Award from Tulsa Partners, an organization that honors corporate entities and individuals that have done outstanding collaborative work in building a disaster-resistant and sustainable community.

To learn more about The Idea Village and the 2013 Water Challenge, please

About The Idea Village
In 2000, The Idea Village was formed by a group of New Orleans citizens who returned home energized by experiences in thriving communities across the United States. The founders determined that the key to creating positive economic and social change in New Orleans was to create a vibrant entrepreneurial community. The Idea Village formalized in 2002 as an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with a mission to identify, support and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans by providing business resources to high-impact ventures. The Idea Village team supports entrepreneurial talent by identifying growth challenges, setting goals, providing business strategy, marketing support and financial direction. To date, The Idea Village has supported over 1,798 New Orleans entrepreneurs by engaging 2,028 professionals to allocate over 56,949 consulting hours and $3.1 million in seed capital. Collectively, this portfolio generates over $100 million in annual revenue and has created over 2,000 jobs for our community.

About the Greater New Orleans Foundation
The Greater New Orleans Foundation is one of the oldest and largest philanthropic organizations in the region. Every day, the Foundation joins other foundations, non-profit organizations, community leaders, and government officials to address the needs of the community and build consensus for solutions. Together with its family of donors, the Foundation has invested over $100 million in our region since it opened its doors over 25 years ago to respond to community needs.