IT REALLY DOES TAKE A VILLAGE.
Our Village is comprised of investors, corporate partners, thought leaders, CEOs, industry experts, and seasoned entrepreneurs from across the country and at home in New Orleans. We believe in sustained mentoring and that these long term relationships provide founders with the lasting support they need to be successful.
OUR LEAD MENTORS
+ SOUMITRA SENGUPTA | EIR
Soumitra has over 25 years of experience engineering products and leading teams in broad range of technology areas including Cloud Computing, Databases, Mobile Phones, AI and Robotics. At Microsoft, Soumitra was Director of Engineering for Platform, Tools and Personalization in the Microsoft Storefront team. During his 15 years at Microsoft, Soumitra worked on several “startup” initiatives including Azure, Power BI, Windows Phone and Hololens. Prior to Microsoft, Soumitra led product and engineering teams at Corio (acquired by IBM), B-Bop (acquired by Progress Software) where he was the co-founder, Philips Electronics. Soumitra started his engineering career and his first startup in New Orleans. Soumitra has several patents in Database, Cloud Computing, Computer Vision and Robotics. He received his Ph.D. from Tulane University, New Orleans, LA and Masters from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. Soumitra is passionate about innovation and building teams to solve complex problems. This has led Soumitra to investing in early-stage technology companies where aside from his investment, he enjoys working with, advising and mentoring entrepreneurs building products and companies.
+ MIKE KATZ | IIR
Mike is a venture capitalist who relocated to his wife’s native New Orleans earlier this year. Most recently, he was Head of U.S. Investments for Naspers, the $100B+ South African internet entity behind Tencent. Before that, he was a Partner at Alibaba where he led investments in Magic Leap, 23andMe, and others. He also previously worked for Battery Ventures and FirstMark Capital where he invested in companies such as StubHub and Dollar Shave Club. While at FirstMark, he invested in an enterprise software startup called Conductor which he later joined to run both business development and product (WeWork eventually acquired Conductor).
Mike is a native of Silicon Valley, received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, and his MBA from Columbia University. He is also an EIR at Tulane University’s Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship, on the board of the InSITE Fellowship, and on the investor board of Venture for America. Mike lives Uptown with his wife, Blaire, and their two young daughters. Despite his best efforts to raise 49ers fans, his children decidedly cheer for the Saints.
+ BRETT DURRETT | PROGRAM ADVISOR & MENTOR
Brett is an experienced entrepreneur with a track record of founding and operating a wide range of businesses. He was the CEO of IMVU (Eric Ries’ original Lean Startup), scaling the company from hundreds of customers (primarily friends and family) to over 10 million. Durrett is an advisor to startups and consults in interim CPO/CTO executive roles. He is also a venture partner for a seed fund.
OUR MENTOR MENU
Mentors have the opportunity to engage and progress through our network in a variety of ways.
Basic mentoring requires a commitment of 8-12 hours over the course of our 4-month accelerator program. We require that each mentor meet with our founders at least twice throughout the program. This could mean a combination of the following engagements:
+ Facilitating an Accelerator Workshop - for example, giving a talk or hosting a clinic at Kickoff, a Lunch and Learn, or Breakfast Roundtable
+ Hosting Office Hours - structured blocks of mentoring generally in 2-4 hour increments where a mentor will host 45-minute meetings with companies to advise on a specified area of expertise
+ Sustained Mentorship - meeting 1:1 regularly with founders to solve specific problems facing their ventures
Advisory Board Members are required to commit 12-16 hours over our 4-month accelerator program. Advisory boards will consist of 3-4 advisors who will meet monthly with 3-4 companies for 60-minute board like presentations. Advisory board members should be prepared to provide general business expertise, milestone accountability and track progress throughout the program.
INVESTOR IN RESIDENCE
The majority of IIR involvement occurs during the back-half of the program. IIRs are required to commit a minimum of 40 hours over the course of the program to assist companies in becoming “capital ready.” This means working with founders on aspects such as:
Assist founders in deck creation and preparation for investor pitches
Leading pitch groups, including facilitating pitch rehearsal and giving feedback to both individual companies and small groups
Helping founders identify what investors would be most successful for their venture, and making those introductions when needed
Facilitating cohort training/workshops on topics such as term sheet creation, due diligence processes, data room organization, and valuation
ENTREPRENEUR IN RESIDENCE
EIRs are the “quarterbacks” throughout the program and give a minimum of 80 hours over the course of the accelerator. They lead in selection, program development, and catalyze resources for the companies. We strive to maintain a 4:1 company to EIR ratio in our program. EIRs maintain a sustained engagement post-program with the founders of their companies throughout the capital-raising process.