This post was written by blogger extraordinaire Kat Stromquist, who works as the Community Manager at Lawyerfy alongside Jeff Lin and Arjan Singh. Jeff was recently featured in an All About You post where he shares more about Lawyerfy and his move to the Big Easy.
For the young New Orleans entrepreneurial type, it’s a pretty common fantasy to move to a “real city.” We visit friends in New York, or San Francisco, and dream about packing up and heading for the big time.
So when talking to Jeff Lin and Arjan Singh of Lawyerfy.com, I was surprised to learn that they see New Orleans as the best possible environment to start a business, particularly when compared to the West Coast. (Full disclosure: I consult on their project.)
“When I first came here, I can’t say I was super-excited about it…I kind of felt like I was starting from scratch,” Jeff, a former resident of San Francisco, says. “But the level of support within the community has been tremendous, and there’s nowhere else like it.”
So what’s the difference? For Jeff and Arjan, New Orleans offers a reprieve from what they call a “don’t ask me out to coffee” culture. Because West Coast cities are inundated with startup projects, it’s hard to get attention from venture capitalists, and even harder to get access to potential customers. Other entrepreneurs are more interested in promoting their own agendas than helping build each other’s projects.
Jeff calls it an atmosphere of “snobbiness,” which is probably the last word anyone associates with New Orleans. He’s still blown away by his ability to schedule a lunch with a client for a first meeting, and by the fast friends he’s made in the startup community.
“The people that are here in New Orleans actually want to be here and actually care about the city. You don’t get that impression in LA,” Arjan agrees. “[On the west coast] you just don’t get that willing access to people. People here actually want to talk, they want to have a dialogue.”
Everyone who lives in New Orleans knows how special it is, but it’s nice to hear, especially from newcomers (Jeff and Arjan moved here three months ago), about something compelling the city has to offer. These guys see the city as a perfect test ground for new products – the business community is receptive, and it’s easy to attract press. But as most New Orleanians would shamelessly agree, the city’s most valuable resource is its people.
“People [here] are not afraid to try new things. I would say that is something new Orleans that the Bay Area or even Los Angeles doesn’t have,” Arjan says.
Jeff adds, “New Orleans shouldn’t aspire to be New York, New Orleans should aspire to be New Orleans…if you’re really serious about [your project], pick yourself up and get yourself out of the bubble.”