We are a group of successful entrepreneurs and investors who have a deep-rooted passion for startups and the entrepreneurs who lead them. Like you, we’ve been up and down and in the trenches. We’re here to make your startup journey less lonely, more connected, and ridiculously successful.
7117 Florida Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
Louis M. Freeman, Jr., is a private investor, entrepreneur, and the CEO of Innovation Catalyst and the Catalyst Fund of Baton Rouge, a Louisiana focused entrepreneur development organization and early stage startup fund. He is also a member of the NO/LA Angel investor group.
Mr. Freeman has diverse and global investment experience with over 25 years experience in creating, financing and managing small businesses in the USA and in Asia. His business experience is wide ranging across many industries, including computers and electronics, import/export, consumer products, resorts, food and beverage, water and waste technologies, First Responder & HAZMAT response, software, alternative energy and sustainability.
Mr. Freeman has a B.S.M., Management from Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business. He spent 5 years in Asia with a Hong Kong based private equity/venture capital firm. Mr. Freeman returned to New Orleans in 1994 where he remained until 2005, relocating to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina. He currently divides his time between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, developing entrepreneurs and businesses throughout the region.
Mr. Freeman is active in the community, involved with numerous charitable foundations and educational boards. He is currently a trustee of The Rosamary Foundation in New Orleans and a Director of the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans. He is an advisor to Bastion, Community of Resilience, purpose built community of veteran warriors with life altering injuries.
Bill Ellison is an serial entrepreneur, attorney, and private investor. Bill was in private practice for 20 years before pivoting to the entrepreneurial world in 2000, when he became an investor, the General Counsel and Director of an HIT start-up company. Bill subsequently became the President and CEO of the publically traded company, which was sold in 2012. He has subsequently started, operated, and invested in several start-up companies.
Bill graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BA in 1982 and a JD in 1986.
Genevieve Silverman has served for eight years as the Director of Finance of Research Park Corporation (RPC), the parent company of Louisiana Technology Park, a business incubator for startup technology firms in Louisiana. In this role, Genevieve handles all accounting, finance and business office functions for RPC and its subsidiaries, as well as providing assistance to incubator clients in the areas of accounting, finance, tax credits, financial modeling, and investor relations.
Prior to joining RPC, Genevieve spent several years in regional commercial banking and venture capital, most recently as Senior Associate at Dean Capital, a boutique venture capital firm providing debt and equity investments to Louisiana businesses, primarily early-stage startups. During her term at Dean Capital, she screened applications, conducted due diligence, prepared investment memorandums and financial models, monitored portfolio investments, and assisted with the sale of a portfolio company.
Genevieve is a Certified Economic Developer in the State of Louisiana and a 2011 graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Leadership program. She has also completed the Grantwriting USA seminar and written successful grants for RPC. She is active in the community, having served on the boards of Baton Rouge Green, Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge, Forum 35, and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater New Orleans.
Genevieve graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University with a B.A. in History and Political Science. She then gained a Masters degree in International Finance and Business from Columbia University, and later completed the pre-CPA program at University of New Orleans.
We are self-made business builders with decades of real-world operating experience. Our purpose and passion is to unleash human potential through entrepreneurism.
Nanette Noland is President of The Powell Group, a private investment firm with diversified holdings throughout the country. An ardent philanthropist and education advocate, Nanette runs her own foundation that supports philanthropy, voluntarism and other grant-making foundations. She has also served as an adjunct professor in entrepreneurship at Louisiana State University for more than twenty years.
John Davies is the president and Chief Executive Officer of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, a community foundation that serves Southern Louisiana. During his tenure, the Foundation has grown from $5 million to nearly $550 million in assets and has collaborated to spark the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge, raised and granted more than $45 million for rebuilding a stronger South Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and worked to revive neglected areas, which includes creating a redevelopment authority for East Baton Rouge.
After the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, the Foundation made grants to deep-water rig workers suffering financial hardship from a $100 million BP gift. John is board chair of the Wilbur Marvin Foundation, which holds the real estate assets of the Foundation. He also serves on the advisory committee of the David Rockefeller Center of Latin American Studies at Harvard University. John grew up in Latin America as the son of a former American diplomat stationed in Lima, Peru.
Michael Kirby has over 25 years of venture capital and private equity experience, and is currently an active private investor while also serving as an instructor in the Department of Finance at Louisiana State University. He recently retired from Stonehenge Capital Company, where he was a co-founder and managing director. Earlier in his career he was a managing director of Banc One Capital Markets, and was one of three founding partners and vice president of First Commerce Capital, Inc.
Former industry and portfolio company board memberships include Golfballs.com, Nova Technology Corp, PJ’s Coffee & Tea, Appro Systems, Inc., Gulf Coast Analytical Laboratories, Inc., Rocky Mountain Portable Storage (PODS), Rx Advantage, Louisiana Business & Technology Center-LSU, National Assoc. Small Business Inv. Companies, and Southern Regional Association of SBIC’s.
J. Terrell Brown has devoted his entire professional career to the financial, mortgage lending, and insurance industries. A native of Baton Rouge, Mr. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Louisiana State University. He was formerly CEO and Chairman of United Companies Financial Corporation and has been Chairman of GMFS, LLC since 1999.
Mr. Brown continues to be active with LSU, currently serving on the board of the LSU Foundation. He was named LSU Alumni of the year 1998 and was a Trendsetter on the LSU Foundation President’s Awards for Lifetime Support. Previously, Mr. Brown was Chairman and board member of Pennington Biomedical Research Institute, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and the Research Park Corporation.
Mr. Brown was also active on the boards of several additional corporations, including Sizeler Real Estate REIT, Piccadilly Cafeteria, Hibernia Bank, Freeport McMoran-Sulphur, US Agencies Insurance Co., GoAuto Insurance Co., Baton Rouge Credit Bureau and was a member of several trade organizations.
Shawn formed Sparkhound in 1998 with the mission to make a meaningful impact for clients by solving their business problems with technology and leadership. His results-driven approach helped the company quickly earn a solid reputation with mid-market and enterprise clients throughout the United States. Prior to starting Sparkhound, he led a team of senior business consultants who successfully transformed IT systems and management for the parent company of three hospitals, a health insurance company and 25 smaller healthcare-related companies. Shawn earned a bachelor's degree in quantitative business analysis and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at Louisiana State University.