This is a guest post by Chris Schultz, a tech entrepreneur living in New Orleans, LA. He has launched several Internet companies and blogs about entrepreneurshi
New Orleans does one thing really well… community. We never lack for things to do in this city, especially our social calendars. There are an endless supply of cool new restaurants, happy hours, art openings, fests where we get to see each other, catch up and break bread. That is what community is all about.
In the last 5 years, people who wanted to make New Orleans into a tech and startup hub have created some amazing events where there was literally nothing happening prior. No meetups, no events, no hack nights. These people stepped up as leaders and built some of the early rituals of the NOLA tech scene like BarCamp, Net2NO, Social Media Club, GNO Code, Hack Night (and plenty that I’m missing). There was so much energy around these special things we did like the annual SXSW bus trip and TribeCon.
I think we’re in a natural transition phase that is very healthy for our ecosystem. Some of the early institutions are thriving, some are fading. I made the very personal and difficult decision to end TribeCon. The biggest challenge we face is leadership. These events are a ton of work, and are passion projects by people who care about the NOLA tech community. Several times I’ve had conversations with friends wondering who the new leaders in our community are going to step up.
Brendan Finke and Joe McMenemon are stepping up in a big way by launching NOLA Meetup. Their leadership in taking on the role of launching a new community ritual with the big vision of being the monthly meetup for the entire tech and startup community is admirable. They deserve all of our support. How? Just show up.
The NOLA Meetup is modeled after the New York Tech Meetup, which is an institution and incredibly important to the hot New York startup scene. Jeffrey Silverman of Laconia Ventures was down last March for New Orleans Entrepreneur Week and asked: how do we keep this energy going on a year round basis? That is exactly the vision is for the NOLA Meetup – a meetup that is important to all members of the community at every level. A meetup that provides value, not just chit chat.
For the NOLA Meetup to succeed, its going to take the active participation of the community. Want to start a company, raise capital, get hired, hire a superstar? That is the value the NOLA Meetup will have. It’s time to take our community to the next level and celebrate new leaders stepping up.
All we have to do is show up and do what we do best… engage our community.