By Deborah Dixon.
New Orleans is becoming well known for its business climate, which is welcoming toward startups and offers many resources for entrepreneurs. The resources increasingly available to new and small businesses are as innovative as they are enviable, for those business owners who know where to find them and how best to utilize them. Here is a look at just what can be found in the city to assist the up-and-coming businessperson.
There is a wide variety of events geared toward local startups. The largest of these is New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, or NOEW, hosted by the Idea Village.Known as the “Mardi Gras for entrepreneurs” or “a Coachella for small businesses,” NOEW draws tens of thousands of people for pitch competitions, lectures, workshops, and get-togethers. The next NOEW will take place from March 19th to 24th, 2017.
The startup scene is anchored by The Idea Village and Propeller, among others, in terms of visibility and perception, but other organizations, including some geared toward specific industries, are also available. (Disclosure: This writer has worked with The Idea Village, LookFar, and Propeller, to varying degrees.)
While perhaps best known for its accelerator programs, The Idea Village also offers year-round events such as roundtable discussions and smaller, more targeted programming such as IDEAsessions.
Propeller’s objective is to improve New Orleans by supporting startups that specialize in food access, water management, health, and educational equity. The organization also hosts smaller events and offers meeting spaces for business use.
Another popular go-to is LookFar, an up-and-coming resource that offers assistance and advice through both personalized programming and open events.
New Orleans Airlift is an artist-driven community that offers “creative consultancy” in addition to hosting artists and advising on projects. They list the New York Times, Red Bull, and NOMA as past clients, among many others.
Roux Carré is an accelerator for emerging food‐preneurs and a showcase for up-and-coming performing and visual artists. They also facilitate catering and events for their participants.
Many publications in New Orleans strive to provide information to local entrepreneurs. These include: the Southern Startup Report, which is maintained by the LookFar staff and provides an overview of entrepreneurial progress in the South; Biz New Orleans, which covers all sorts of business news both local and nationwide; and this news outlet, Silicon Bayou News.
The NO/LA Angel Network is an association of local angel investors. They accept applications for funding from high growth Louisiana based businesses in particular industries. Applications are accepted year-round, and the full process to acceptance takes about ninety days.
One of the most important resources New Orleans provides, however, is more difficult to list: its broad community of businesses. Networking with other local businesses in your industry, whether through events or incubators or reaching out in person, is the best way to make a start in the city.