Below is a guest post by Daniel Holm Kristensen, an entrepreneur from Denmark who is Co-founder at MedTechPlanet, Executer at SCALEit Health, and an advisory board member at Discue, Audiostamp and the Copenhagen Management Consulting Club. He paid a visit to the major tech hubs across Louisiana and writes to share his lessons learned.
I came to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a loosely defined three pronged agenda: entrepreneurial hypothesis testing, spending time with my friends Stafford Kendall (Owner of Covalent Logic) and Mike van Hoenselaar (Owner of Online Boswachters) whilst understanding the finer points of the immigration laws of this great land of the free.
Prior to arriving I knew very little of Louisiana except from what I had gathered from Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces,” leaving me with great expectations for a full-on cultural immersion.
My gracious hostess invited me to crash a long string of initiatives and entrepreneurial ecosystem contributors across the state.
Lesson 1: Hospitality is your middle name, in every sense
In Baton Rouge I visited Creative Louisiana, Springboard, Louisiana Technology Park and The Louisiana Business and Technology Center. What struck me right out of the gate was one thing. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and genuine passion of all the great people running these places and thank you all to those companies letting me have a glimpse of your daily work lives. Thanks to Manuel Valencia (VP at Excelerant) who made sure I got to see one of Lafayette true oases: The Lab experience where I met entrepreneurs at random and one encounter seamlessly let to another. A strong culture of sharing is present and it bodes well for all future entrepreneurs of Louisiana.
Lesson 2: Cubicles and private offices are in high demand
I was surprised by the preference for spatial compartmentalization in most if not all the incubators. To an outsider who is used to sitting in an incubator with 50+ young companies in one big shared office space with no cubicles and a few adjoining shared meeting rooms I was surprised by the craving for individual offices. Personally I believe that knowledge sharing happens more easily in an open space, like the shared workspace Beta in New Orleans, but both models probably have their merits, as we all have our individual preferences. If I were to be allowed one word on the matter it would be: experiment!
Lesson 3: Social entrepreneurship has widespread support and fertile ground
In New Orleans I was introduced to Louisiana’s Social Entrepreneurship epicenter, the social business accelerator called Propeller. I was fortunate enough to attend a brilliant fundraising Gala and witnessed the social startups pitch their remedies to noble causes such as improving the health of school children through food programs, lowering crime rates and making urban ecological gardening a viable option. To me it seems that the future looks bright for not only startups but Louisiana as the joint forces of sharing, passion and facilitation of life long learning are allowed to stay at center stage.