Now over halfway through the 7th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), attendees are both tired and excited–excited for the future of New Orleans from an innovative startup perspective.
The week has hosted a dynamic lineup of pitch events, panels, keynotes and networking events. A highly anticipated keynote panel was scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, March 25th.
“The Future of New Orleans – Startup Style” welcomed New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who spoke about the future of the city. “We are creating something that you always knew could be. That is the future of New Orleans,” said Landrieu. “The new way is about collaboration. The new way is about consensus. The new way is demanding that we put down our differences to find common ground.”
Landrieu continued to say that it is important to make New Orleans great for everybody, all of the time. What makes us special is the indescribable element of the Crescent City, and the community involved in rebuilding and improving the city.
In the last decade, New Orleans staples, such as music and food, became more needed and much more in focus.
The keynote panel, moderated by Times Picayune editor Jim Amoss, covered a wide-range of New Orleans business sectors, including music, education media, sustainability, and food.
Panelists included: Matt Candler, education extraordinaire at 4.0 Schools; Brent McCrossen, former drummer turned entrepreneur and founder of Audiosocket; Juley Le, fashion-forward digital media specialist at Upperlyne and Co.; Sarah Mack, sustainability savvy founder of Tierra Resources; and the well-known chef John Besh with the Besh Restaurant Group.
Attendees heard from the entrepreneurial success stories in their respective fields about the future of the city–startup style.
The future of music:
McCrossen loves music and New Orleans. But the city is not the music hub of the world. “The industry itself is not here, but the talent and access is richer and more diverse than any other place,” he explains. Public consumption of music is finally finding a way, and he sees three areas that will be a focus of the future: regulatory, artist transparency, and consumers and fans of music.
The future of food:
“Food is the common friend that links us all together,” Besh opens. As the lifestyle progresses in the city, he asks, “Where are we at? And where are we going?” It comes down to the bulk of you moving here to make a difference in the lives of New Orleanians.
“Think about the idea of business and philanthropy being intertwined.” We have to be a great partner with the city, we can’t just rely on great food, explains Besh. Ten years from now, he sees students in culinary education programs a truer possibility, and representative diversity in the chefs of the city.
The future of digital media:
Juley Le began her future of New Orleans talk by asking the audience who had a smartphone, which almost everyone did, and a Twitter account, also popular among the group. Digital media is “a tool we’re already using already,” says Le. Digital media, used strategically, can help build small brands and reach consumers directly.
The future of education:
Candler says New Orleans has come along faster in education than anyone else ever has. Looking forward, nobody else has students in schools that work independently in the way New Orleans does. “Charter schools are not going to save our city’s education,” but, “There is no other city in our country that has the infrastructure to have schools act as independent actors,” Candler explained.
He mentioned that the answers this city needs are here in the community. Candler advised the crowd the make the relationships happen, and to build upon the other innovative areas already in existence.
The future of sustainability:
Tierra Resources introduces wetland restoration to an emissions trading market. However, there are some big challenges in coastal restoration, explains Mack. For every dollar spent, Mack says they receive $15 in net economic returns, such as tourism, fisheries and more.
Over the next three years, we will lose 35,000 acres of wetlands. “But there are lots of opportunities there. Entrepreneurs are at the forefront of what I consider the most difficult issue we’re facing,” said Mack.