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Catapult Fund Class of 2018

Catapult Fund Class of 2018

Catapult Fund Class of 2018

A pop-up serving Ecuadorian food in a Rampart Street bar. A 33-year-old family-operated restaurant in the fishing village of Lafitte, La. A start-up waffle stand, specializing in Belgian and Hong Kong styles, run by two sisters still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina. And a woman-owned praline company and restaurant with 41 years in business.

These are just a few of the 13 food enterprises that have been selected to participate in the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Catapult Fund Class of 2018.

The Catapult Fund is a program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation to provide business training and grant funds to entrepreneurs in the arts. Four partner organizations are collaborators on the initiative: Capital One Bank, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

Food-based businesses in Louisiana with less than $500,000 in gross annual revenues were eligible for the Catapult Fund. More than 60 business owners applied, of whom 25 were interviewed by a selection committee. The group was so impressive that room was made to accommodate 13 businesses in the 2018 edition of the program, up from 12 in previous classes.

The Catapult Fund Class of 2018 was seated on May 16, the starting date for a series of instructional sessions on how to run a small business. Classes will continue through October.

During the business training – which consists of 17 classes on topics that include accounting, human resources, insurance and marketing – the participants also will write business plans and develop their “pitch” to potential funders.

Those who complete all sections of the program successfully will receive a cash grant to support their business.

Previous class members have gotten tremendous benefits from the program.

“Our hopes and expectations were blown away from what we got out of it,” said Karen Case, who with her husband Chris runs the Old School Eats food truck in Slidell and was a member of the Catapult Fund Class of 2016. “The capital, the knowledge, and the friendships are worth more to us than we can ever express.”

Another 2016 class member, Fred Henry of the Holy Cross restaurant Café Dauphine, said that thanks to his participation, "I fell in love with my business again."

To view a short documentary video about the Catapult Fund program, see here.

The Catapult Fund was started in 2014 as a way to provide support and assistance to small businesses in the arts - as opposed to nonprofit organizations and schools, which the Jazz & Heritage Foundation supports through its annual grants program.

“We provide more than $1 million each year to nonprofits through our Community Partnership Grants,” said Don Marshall, Executive Director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. “We wanted to do something to support the entrepreneurs - the business people - whose role is so important to the cultural economy. A lot of them are really struggling with lack of training or access to capital. The Catapult Fund is part of our effort to support the culture by helping  them succeed.”

The Catapult Fund hopes to distinguish itself from other entrepreneur assistance programs in New Orleans by combining rigorous training with access to funding, and by reaching deeper into the community to support to small business owners who might otherwise not have such an opportunity.

This is the third edition of what started as a pilot program in 2014. In the first version of the Catapult Fund, the program was open to business owners in any arts discipline.

In the 2016 program, the criteria were narrowed to focus exclusively on the food industry - which resulted in a much more cohesive class.

Culinary remains the focus of the 2018 edition of the Catapult Fund program.

Over the next few months, the 13 members of the Catapult Fund Class of 2018 will receive training in an array of topics that include:

Developing a business growth plan
Developing your business pitch
Finance, credit and managing debt
Insurance and risk management
Business structures (LLC, C-Corp, sub-S Corp, partnerships, etc.)
Accounting and record keeping
Cash flow and budgeting
Sales, marketing and customer service
Marketing and social media
Human resources
Food safety and health
Customer development and retention
Menu development
Local and organic food sourcing
Healthy food options (vegan, gluten-free, etc.)
Food sales in an outdoor festival environment

The Catapult Fund classes piggy-back on the success of “Getting Down to Business,” a program launched by Capital One in Houston in January 2009. They also are modeled on similar classes for food industry entrepreneurs that the Louisiana Small Business Development Center has provided to people operating stands at the Roux Carré business accelerator and food court in the Central City neighborhood.

The members of the Catapult Fund Class of 2018 are:

• Erin Brazley and Tyrone Sims , Amaris Catering
• Irving Jordan , Blaze Bistro
• Rebecca Hollingsworth and Stephen Maher, Bonafried Food Truck
• Sinnidra Taylor and Aisha Taylor, Crazy Waffle Bar
• Dwynesha Lavigne, Deelightful Cupcakes
• Loretta Harrison, Loretta's Authentic Pralines
• Octavio Ycaza, Miti Miti
• Melody Lawson, Nolasfinest
• Tiffany Lane, Off Da Hook Creole Catering
• Wendy Smallwood, Ollie's Hot Tamales
• Blake Cressy, Tasty Treat Restaurant
• Chris Hayes, The Smoking Oyster
• David Volion, Voleo's Seafood Restaurant

The Catapult Fund is a program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell. Additional support is provided by Capital One Bank, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center.  The Jazz & Heritage Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment. For more on what we do, and to make a tax-deductible contribution, please see



The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.