LSU 100 entrepreneurs show economic might of university

FOX44
Friday, April 26, 2013 - 7:24pm

The third annual LSU 100 list showed how big an impact former Tigers can have on the world of business.

The companies honored by the university Friday posted combined revenues of $9.9B last year, a 36 percent increase over the previous year. If they were their own country, they would have a higher GDP than a third of the nations of the world.

Cordina New Orleans Beverages topped the list of the fastest-growing businesses run by LSU alumni. The company, which began operations in 2009, has grown by 480 percent in the last three years. It makes frozen margaritas and packages them in a small pouch, much like a child's juice box, to allow people to drink them on beaches and other places where glassware is not allowed.

Craig Cordes, class of 2006, one of the company's founders, said he gained a lot from his time at the university.

"LSU has definitely helped," he stated. "I think the people that I've met here, the networks I've built."

The LSU 100 ceremony brought alumni from 11 states, as well as one from India. Shateesh Shekhar left Baton Rouge in 2004, and currently runs Ideavate Solutions, an information technology company based in Indore, India.

"It's an absolute delight, because I could not attend my convocation ceremony back then, in 2004," Shekhar said. "So when LSU honored us by shortlisting us on this list, it was as if LSU was giving me a second chance to relive those moments in 2004."

When the crowd of 600 was told his story, they gave him a standing ovation.

"It was like (being) on top of the world, on cloud nine," he said of the recognition.

Shekhar was the best example of the widespread impact LSU alumni have on the economy, as well as on each other.

"I could tell you what half of them did, couldn't tell you what the other half of them did," Cordes said of his fellow LSU 100 honorees. "But, you know, every small business owner has some advice to give you, and there's a lot to learn."

Cordes and his business partners developed the idea for Cordina in 2007, but did not move any product to market until 2009. It is currently sold in stores around the United States, and the company is preparing to move into Japan and South Korea, as well.

Cordes said the most important advice he could give a young entrepreneur would be to enjoy the process, and be willing to take risks.

"A lot of people get focused on the minutia of building a business plan, and not really focusing on building the business, but building everything about it," he claimed. "And one of my favorite things is, if you're not getting laughed at in your business, while you're starting your business, if people aren't making fun of you and it doesn't make you uncomfortable, you're probably not doing the right thing."

Cordina was the youngest company on the LSU 100, which helps explain its position as the fastest-growing. Twenty five of the companies made the list all three years.

LSU reported that nine of the 100 are owned by veterans, 14 are family-owned and operated, and 30 of them operate internationally.

To view the full list of businesses in the LSU 100, click the attachment below.  

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2013 LSU 100 list.pdf1.88 MB
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