An Outsider’s Perspective on the Louisiana Startup Ecosystem

This is a guest post by Linda Forshaw, a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. A contributor to, she is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Find her on Twitter @seelindaplay.


Louisiana: A Hotbed for Startups

The year 2005 was bleak for New Orleans. There are few people that will ever forget the devastating consequences that Hurricane Katrina had on the region. Still more people debated the pros and cons of rebuilding the ill-fated city at all. It would have perhaps been the easier option to write off New Orleans at that stage. With the population blighted, and homes and businesses destroyed, doing anything else was going to take an immense effort. What has happened since though is anything but writing off. A look at New Orleans in 2012 by Anita Hamilton for Time Magazine indicates that the city is enjoying a period of incredible renaissance.

The modern New Orleans is not only recovering in terms of population, it is doing better than that. Generous tax credits and other activities designed to tempt new startups in Louisiana have seen the area become a hotbed for entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity published in March 2012 reports that 340 of every 100,000 people create a new business in Louisiana every month. It’s not all bars and restaurants either. The Bayou State ranking of 17th in the nation for the most entrepreneurial activity has not occurred on the back of the latest diner or hip bar. It seems that high tech business, filmmaking, and alternative startups are some of the main dishes served in Louisiana these days.

Making Things Happen in the Bayou

These programs are designed to help fuel entrepreneurship in Louisiana.

Launch Pad Ignition – is a specific program aimed at providing mentors and leadership to startups in Louisiana. More than 60 companies take advantage of the 12,000 sq ft of stylish shared workspace. Whether you need just 10k or are looking for larger investments of 250k, Launch Pad services can help with the necessary tools and knowledgeable network to get businesses off to a flying start. This accelerator program has realised such success that it’s going global in 2013.

The Idea Village – is a non-profit in New Orleans that, since its launch in 2002, has helped entrepreneurs raise more than $3 million in funding for over 1,600 local startups. Much of the activity from the Idea Village takes place during the months July to March – a period known as Entrepreneur Season. Months of planning, education, and consulting culminates in the annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week when over $1 million in funding is allocated to promising startups.

StartupBus – Launched in 2010, Startup Bus is rapidly becoming one of the hippest ways to secure funding for your startup. Applications are accepted from early February 2013. Successful applicants board the bus on March 6 and hit the road under the watchful and encouraging eye of Terry Jones, MD of Regional Innovation Organizations. You’ll have until March 11 to perfect your pitch for the StartupBus finals in Austin.

There has never been a better time than to kick off a new startup and it seems that there is no better place than The Big Easy in which to do it.