Startup St. Bernard Winner Announced


(Photo Courtesy of Meraux Foundation. Caption: Judges, sponsors, and winners of the fourth annual Startup St. Bernard pitch competition.)

St. Bernard Parish, La. (March 20, 2018) — Clean Course Meals won the fourth annual Startup St. Bernard pitch competition, taking home a $100,000 prize package of cash and in-kind services designed to help take their business to the next level.

“Winning Startup St. Bernard is life-changing for us. We’re able to put the working capital and in-kind services to help our company grow,” said Kim Sawyers, who is co-founder of Clean Course Meals along with Erika Jupiter. 

Clean Course Meals is a new business based in St. Bernard Parish that offers affordable gourmet meals made with fresh ingredients. According to their pitch, “We make it healthy. We make it simple. We make it convenient.” The company’s website is

Startup St. Bernard showcases the parish as a premier location for business, especially startups, to thrive. The Meraux Foundation and St.Bernard Economic Development Foundation are joined by a deep bench of partners working together to make Startup St. Bernard possible.

“Congratulations to Clean Course Meals,” said Rita Gue, president of the Meraux Foundation, which created Startup St. Bernard to help grow the economy. “We’re so grateful to all the sponsors who help make Startup St. Bernard possible.”

Businesses were scored according to their viability and their potential to improve the economy and quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. To qualify the business must locate in the parish.

“All of the pitches today were phenomenal, and I’m sure the judges had a tough job choosing a winner. Congratulations to Clean Course Meals for taking home the prize package,” said Andrew Jacques, executive director of the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation. 

Clean Course Meals was one of five finalists to pitch their business. The finalists were selected out of a pool of numerous entries by an independent scoring committee. Other finalists included Full Count Athletic Facility, Neptune’s Garden, Neutral Ground: A Digital Woodshop, and Pontchartrain Mushrooms.

Donors include the Meraux Foundation, Park Investments, Ltd., St. Bernard Parish Government Department of Tourism, Associated Terminals, Palms Truck Stop, Sidney Torres, III, Chalmette Refining, Bourbon Saloon, Inc., Mrs. Rita Gue, Mr. Floyd Gue, Nunez Community College Foundation, Taurus Properties, Inc., Southern Insurance Agency, LLC, Palmisano Contractors, Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann, Senator Sharon Hewitt, Senator JP Morrell, BERG Services, Coast Roast, and Reactive Digital Systems.

Donors offering in-kind services include Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, evanSchmidt Design, LLC, Baker Donelson, Sherman Strategies, Ragusa Consulting, Bernard Franks, A Corporation of Certified Accountants, Biz New Orleans, Eric Nunez Photography, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, Shine Productions, Outfront Media, The Meraux Foundation, Leadership St. Bernard, Kushner LaGraize, Crave, Heather Michael, and Grow St. Bernard.

Tom Gregory, multiple regional Emmy Award winner and WYES producer, emceed the event. Judges were Kim Keene, CEO of St. Bernard Parish Hospital; Greg LaRose, City News Manager for Times Picayune; Kevin Pedeaux, Owner of Coast Roast Coffee; Dr. Tina Tinney, Chancellor of Nunez Community College; and Crystal McDonald, Founder and CEO of Acrew.

America’s Small Business Development Center provided all finalists one-on-one business mentoring sessions in preparation for the competition and an advisory committee offered guidance and feedback on the finalist’s presentations. 

SBEDF has awarded each of the finalists enrollment in Grow St. Bernard, a series where participants learn and share with the cohort of pre-revenue, emerging, and growing businesses. 

An after party to celebrate all the finalists was held at Pirogue’s Whiskey Bayou following the pitch competition. 

Startup St. Bernard is held in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), the annual festival celebrating business, innovation, and advanced thinking in metro New Orleans. Produced by The Idea Village™, NOEW engages a dynamic global network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, nonprofits, students, and professionals to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial success.