In Barcelona, they have Barceloneta Beach. We have “The Fly.” In Miami, they have Mynt. We have F&Ms. In Paris, they have Le Meurice. We have Commanders Palace. Simply put, New Orleans has its own way of doing just about everything. The entrepreneur movement in the bayou is no different.
When I moved to New Orleans in January, my perception of the city was tainted with the images of devastation following Katrina. However, like Reueven in The Chosen, I have been smacked in the face with a metaphorical baseball and my glasses have been shattered. New Orleanians have a world-class pride in their city and an undeniable desire to help each other. This sentiment has not driven New Orleanians to rebuild their old city, but to come back and build a new city they always imagined it could be. Although it seems difficult, maybe even improbable, the city’s sense of collaboration has ignited a new era in New Orleans with entrepreneurship as the fuel.
The entrepreneurial movement in our city is different than everywhere else. Instead of viewing other companies as competitors, New Orleans has built a vast eco-system to support and energize entrepreneurial talent in the city. It’s not just The Idea Village or Launch Pad, companies built to sustain entrepreneurship, it’s anyone who buys into the idea that New Orleans can be much more than meals, music, and Mardi Gras. It’s the community being built where start-ups want to support each other and established businesses want to benefit the start-ups, not for a strong ROI, but because they believe in a better New Orleans. Malcom Gladwell elegantly wrote, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” Well, I can say with confidence that New Orleans has reached that threshold. People here believe in each other, and know that the future is theirs to create.
It certainly didn’t hurt the movement to capture the spotlight on America’s largest stage. The 2009 Saints, with a quarterback universally deemed too small and a wide receiver not drafted until the 7th round, went from being the laughing stock of the league to the world’s best team. This process proved to New Orleanians that, with enough resilience and a community brimming with support, you can throw away the record books. Nothing, not even Peyton Manning’s laser rocket arm, can stop our figurative trip to Disney World.
As an economics major in college, I was taught that communities should determine their key strengths, specialize in them, and export them around the world. New Orleans might not be overflowing with programmers or have billion dollar investors, but we do have our own special recipe that’s heavy on homemade hospitality. So when we combine this plentiful natural resource with our entrepreneurship epidemic, I believe we have ourselves a little something more enticing than the neon lights of Bourbon Street. Game on New Orleans, Game on.