SUSLA team places second at BizTech Challenge

In 2016, NexusLA launched the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge, a tech-based business program for students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as a demonstration of its commitment to develop, promote and connect a diverse and talented technology workforce.

The program challenges HBCU students to work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop a technology-based business concept, a relevant business model for that concept, a 2-page business summary, and a 5-minute video pitch presentation. NexusLA has partnered with the management of the Bayou Classic, the historic football rivalry between Southern University and Grambling State University, to host the final pitch presentation in front of a live panel of judges, with a grand prize of $10,000 awarded to the winner during an on-field appearance before the football game.

Students from Southern University at Shreveport competed on one of six teams that attended the BizTech Challenge competition in New Orleans. The students developed a concept to compete with students who designed innovative alternative energy sources. Their project introduced the concept of generating electricity with a hydro-powered wheel. Hydropower is a clean, domestic and renewable source of energy.

Hydropower plants provide inexpensive electricity that produces no pollution. Unlike other energy sources such as fossil fuel, water is not destroyed during the production of electricity. The purpose of its first project is to develop a sustainable revenue stream for the community through the development of a 100kW hydro-electric scheme. Further, they aim to raise awareness of environmental issues; improve land use and – indirectly – reduce the environmental footprint.

SUSLA’s team, Hidden Figures, included Justina Bates, Radiat Ibrahim, Chaelyn Newton, and Lakisha Trammel-Taylor. Faculty mentors assisting the team were Dr. Regina Webb and Aylwin Holmon. The team is also worked closely with Darrin Dixon, executive director of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship, Konstantin Dolgan and Onega Ulanova of the Louisiana New Product Development Team, Jessica Schiele of Cohab, and Demetrius Norman, local engineer, to develop their concept and pitch.

The team placed second in their category and received a prize of $1,000.

Darrin Dixon is the executive director of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship at Southern University at Shreveport.