Good ideas exist all over the country, not just in major cities. And inspired entrepreneurs come from all walks of life, not just from communities with easy access to capital.

BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program is building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Shreveport, La. area. By using Womble Bond Dickinson’s Simple Vetting Process, developed by Director of Impact Strategies Mark Newberg and attorney Pam Rothenberg, EAP is able to fuel startup activity, support business and entrepreneurial development, and expand opportunity in a more efficient manner.

In Shreveport, EAP works in a community that is majority-minority and, thanks to the proximity of Barksdale Air Force Base and a VA hospital, has a significant military veteran population.  EAP works to stimulate the creation of entrepreneurial wealth in the Shreveport area through a system that analyzes the viability of ideas and products, matches them with informed investors and nurtures them through the critical steps toward market.

One of EAP’s most important goals is to support minority- and women-owned startup businesses.

The EAP team provides guidance to entrepreneurs by:

  • Creating or refining business plans and products,
  • Assessing and screening opportunities,
  • Conducting financial analysis and modeling,
  • Participating in market analysis of company attributes,
  • Conducting market and industry research,
  • Assisting with funding applications, and
  • Assisting with locating investors.

One of the key tools that EAP has used is Womble Bond Dickinson’s Simple Vetting Process. The Simple Vetting Process is a three-step framework to help guide executives, investors, and entrepreneurs evaluate and integrate impact into their core business models. The Simple Process, which is customizable for multiple applications, is based on a few simple, direction questions:

  • Plausibility—Is the idea or initiative  plausibly impactful?
  • Business Case—Can you reasonably expect the concept to make money? Is the concept connected to the core business?
  • Deep Impact Analysis—How will the impact be measured and judged? How will it be managed? How will you know you are achieving your desired goals?

EAP Executive Director Dave Smith said the Womble Bond Dickinson's Simple Vetting Process has “helped our team streamline the assessment of SRI opportunities in our community, the business case, and determining the trackable metrics that were important for our stakeholders –the City of Shreveport, Caddo Parish Commission, our parent company BRF, and the community.”

Newberg began working with EAP on their impact strategy after meeting Smith at the 2016 Louisiana Startup Prize competition, at which Newberg was a speaker.

EAP’s overarching goal is to improve the quality of life in Northern Louisiana by bringing good jobs to the region. To date, EAP has helped create 103 new jobs averaging $55,000 in annual salary, and new companies supported by EAP and residing in the City of Shreveport and Caddo Parish have raised more than $49 million in investment funding.

“Social issues are complex, but how our organization chooses to address them does not need to be complex - sticking to our core values and addressing issues that fit into our business model and matter to our community is key,” Smith said.