The Lepage Center Mentor program was launched in April 2020 in response to the challenges that many area entrepreneurs and small businesses were facing due to the global pandemic. The Lepage Center strategically identifies and connects entrepreneurs with mentors who can help them navigate access to public and private resources and advise them as they grow. This opportunity is open to both the Tulane community – students, faculty, staff, and alumni – and entrepreneurs located in the Greater New Orleans region. Qualifying entrepreneurs can work with Lepage Center mentors and advisers based on the business’s unique needs, from managing their tax returns and creating financial forecasts to developing marketing and business plans. To date, 80 entrepreneurs and small business owners have requested assistance, leveraging access to more than 70 Lepage Center mentors.
“The guidance from the Center and the connection with mentor David Heikkinen was truly incredible. He assisted me in taking my business to the next level.” - Chef Dwynesha “Dee” Lavigne owner of Deelightful Cupcakes.
The mentors include current Lepage Center Innovators-in-Residence as well as dozens of newly recruited advisers, investors and business experts from across the country. Offering newly created virtual consultations provides more opportunities for Tulane/Freeman mentors to engage from anywhere in the world. Businesses interested in participating in the program can submit their requests through the online form.
Each participant receives a one-on-one mentoring session to assess their immediate priorities. From there, they work to develop a plan for moving forward.
“In just a one-hour call, the entrepreneurs share their current situation and problems, select a specific problem to address, and we develop a specific plan with action items for next steps," says Lepage Mentor Allison Piper, who is founder and CEO of Blue Catalyst Group in Houston. “This hands-on real-time assistance program has been an incredibly valuable service to the greater New Orleans entrepreneurship ecosystem.”