Ideas a-BREW-ing

By David Jacobs Published Nov 28, 2011 for The Business Report

Jared Loftus, CEO of College District, an online purveyor of T-shirts with crowd-sourced designs, was the last presenter at SeNSE pitch night, held before a nearly full house at the Manship Theatre on Nov. 17.

College District was the favorite company of all four judges, and after the presentation, the crowd cheered when venture capitalist Charles Lax of Grand Banks Capital asked for Loftus’ banking information.

Lax’s question was primarily for dramatic effect, however.

“I’m kind of new to this whole raising money thing,” Loftus says. “I’m almost positive that nobody writes a million-dollar check after a 10-minute conversation.”

Seven venture capitalists, whose firms have a combined total of $20 billion under management, visited the Capital Region for a familiarization tour during Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 11-18.

“It’s to make them aware of the deals and the innovation assets, everything we’ve got going on here,” says Terry Jones, head of the local Regional Innovation Organization. “As these deals progress, they might have interest.”

BREW, held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, featured presentations by successful entrepreneurs, workshops and various networking events to inspire fresh thinking, celebrate the region’s innovative culture and provide educational experiences for people of varying expertise. Beyond the exchange of information, many events took on the flavor of a pep rally.

“I think people learned a lot, and it was fun,” Jones says. “It got people out and connected that had never done that before. That’s crucial for the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”