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2024 Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Awards Luncheon to be held Friday, April 19

Published April 16, 2024

Pelican Cup Luncheon

MONROE, LA – The 3rd Annual Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Awards Luncheon will be held Friday, April 19 at 11:30 a.m. at Bayou Pointe Event Center on the ULM campus. Tickets are on sale now for $100 for the general public and $50 for students. Visit for ticket and sponsorship information.

Open to all majors, the goal of The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup is to inspire participants and the community to think entrepreneurially by rewarding creativity, professionalism, and hard work.

The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup is open to any full- or part-time, certificate- or degree-seeking student enrolled in a four-year college or university in Louisiana.

The competition requires a written formal business plan judged by business owners and investors. The six finalists will compete in the oral finals on March 26 at ULM. Also, during the awards luncheon, each team will select one member to conduct a 90-second “Elevator Pitch,” and the winner will receive a $2,000 cash award.

The 2024 Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Competition is the largest yet, with 22 entries from universities across Louisiana. “We are thrilled to see this program expand so rapidly across the state and we welcome the visiting teams to our beautiful campus,” said ULM Director of External Initiatives Cathi Hemed.

Prize amounts for the 2024 competition have been increased from last year.

This year’s cash prizes include:

First Place $50,000

Second Place $25,000

Third Place $10,000

Elevator Pitch Winner $2,000

First, Second, and Third Place faculty advisors to receive $3,000.

Finalist Teams

Automatic AI, LLC (University of New Orleans)Team Leader: Andrew Bradford Team Members: Julien Bourgeois (non-student), Jake Compton Advisors: Dong-Jun Min (Primary), Shafin Khan (Secondary)

Cantaloupe (Tulane University & Southeastern Louisiana University) Team Leader: Rich Simmerman Team Members: Joshua Anderson (non-student), Lane Degenhardt Advisor: Jane Cooper

SketchMan (ULM) Team Leader: Supriya Pudasainy Team Members: Samir Gurung, Suruchi Bista, Nabin Tamang, Binit Karki Advisor: Therese Filhiol

Tipzy (Tulane University) - Team Leader: Josh McCoy Team Members: Jake Marzullo, Tinley Gorman Advisor: Rob Lalka

Trigworks (ULM) - Team Leader: Janet Stopka Team Members: Mackenzie King, Viktor Motov, Valeryia Trubskaya Advisor: Veronika Humphries

WavRC (Tulane University & University of Louisiana Lafayette) - Team Leader: Samuel Liu Team Members: Maggie Lai, Ting Jiang Advisor: Evan Nicoll

“Every team that entered should be commended,” said Hemed. “The rigor of this competition is intense and requires countless hours of the students and faculty advisors,” she added.

Preliminary Judges

Connor Ashley, Kennedy Rice Mill, LLC; Ash Aulds, Murphy USA, Keith W. Babb, CAI, AARE, Keith Babb & Associates, Inc.; Scott Bolonda, Neighbors, LLC; EP Bourgoyne, Oleolive, Inc.; Chap Breard, MoeBiz; Jamie Sheridan-Crawley, CPA, Husely, Harwood & Sheridan, LLC; Mallory Lawrence, InterMountain Mangament, LLC; Mary Linda McCann, Bank of Oak Ridge; Shane Middleton, M3; Long Nguyen, Lumen; Tom Nicholson, Strauss Interests; Miguel Perez, Plondo Network, Inc.; Andy D. Smith, ASGE Media Group + iConnect Newspaper; DeRon L. Talley, MBA; Key Marketing Solutions; Blake Upshaw, Crossmark Management Group, LLC

Final Round Judges

William V. Smart, Monroe Housing Authority; Linda Holyfield, Alli Management Solutions; Dixon W. Abell, Abell, LLC; Stewart Ewing, InterMountain Management; Sue Nicholson, retired Monroe Chamber of Commerce; David R. Smith, Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program Biomedical Research Foundation; Glen Post, PhireLink

Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Sponsors

Premier Sponsor and Founder: Dhu Thompson

Catalyst Sponsors: Abell, LLC; LA Plastic Industries

Expansion Sponsor: Scott Powerline and Equipment

Growth Sponsors: Arkansas Capital Corporation, Biomedical Research and Innovation Park, Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program, Keith Babb and Associates, Mid South Extrusion, Neighbors Cookies, 4 Sisters Rice, Kennedy Rice Mill

Breakthrough Sponsors: Central Oil & Supply, Holyfield Construction, Homeland Bank, InterMountain Management, LLC, John Luffey, John Rea Realty, KEDM, Marsala Beverage, Monroe Chamber of Commerce, Monroe Housing Authority, Origin Bank, Southern Industrial Contractors, ULM Foundation

Influencer Sponsors: Owen Corporation, Sir Speedy, Unique Trophies, West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce

About The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup

Now in its third year, The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup was founded by distinguished ULM alumnus Dhu Thompson. Thompson is the founder, past owner, and former chairman of the board for Delta Plastics, producer of agricultural irrigation tubing, and the largest recycler of plastics in Arkansas. He is also the former owner and past chairman of the board for Revolution Bag that manufactures EPA-compliant trashcan liners. Thompson’s honors include 2004 Arkansas Business Executive of the Year and SBA Person of the Year. In 2019 he sold the Revolution brands to a New York private equity firm and now focuses on entrepreneurship growth in Arkansas and Louisiana.