How New Orleans Entrepreneur Week Has Changed Over the Years

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), happening now through Friday, is the annual festival celebrating innovation, entrepreneurship, and new thinking in the Big Easy. Now in its ninth year, NOEW brings together entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, non-profits, students, and professionals to highlight the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Orleans.

Dubbed the “Mardi Gras of entrepreneurship” by USA Today, NOEW is far from your typical conference. Walking around the NOEW campus, it’s not hard to get the feeling that the entrepreneurial scene in New Orleans is something special. As someone who’s not from here, I recognize New Orleans as a more collaborative and innovative city than most, an ideal combination for entrepreneurs.

In March 2011, just before I moved to New Orleans, NOEW hosted 1,200 attendees through its usual programming of speakers, panels, pitch competitions and networking events. A year later the festival engaged 3,000 attendees at the historic Gallier Hall downtown. A few years and a few thousand additional attendees later, NOEW moved to its new headquarters on Fulton Street to meet capacity needs in 2015.

NOEW 2016 saw a 24.9 percent increase in attendance from the previous year, welcoming 13,216 people throughout the weeklong festival during 119 events. There were more than 49 million impressions on Twitter related to NOEW itself along with its 55 strategic partners and 185 innovative startups showcased in industries including technology, water, education, energy, healthcare, and food.

In a similar fashion to past years, there are plenty of events catering to all types of industries and individuals. The major difference is that NOEW is now located at the Contemporary Arts Center, the future home to The Idea Village, producers of NOEW.

Events throughout the week include Propeller’s Water Challenge, an “Ask Me Anything” chat about scaling beyond New Orleans, the Tulane Business Model Competition, a talk by billionaire investor Jim Coulter, a panel on how entrepreneurship can drive equity and inclusion hosted by trepwise, and even a little bit of drama.

Organizers are expecting a higher number of attendees than previous years. While NOEW is bigger and better than ever before, the purpose remains the same: to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of a unique city that has truly always been entrepreneurial since its founding nearly 300 years ago.

If you’re an entrepreneur based in Louisiana that we haven’t covered before, comment below and tell us about your startup!