About the author: Elizabeth Bates is the five-foot founder behind The Petite Shop, the first online boutique dedicated exclusively to petite-friendly and petite-specific clothing.
I walked into the Silicon Bayou Startup Showcase on Wednesday night at thinking that, being pretty well immersed in the startup scene here in New Orleans, that there wouldn’t be too many surprises. I thought I would see familiar faces and hear familiar stories, but the only unsurprising result was seeing was a room full of young, ambitious, New Orleans-loving individuals.
Speaking of young, the first trio I met were the full-time college students Ricky, Paul and Steve behind Think.Print 3D, the only commercial 3D print bureau in the state of Louisiana. They currently own three machines – two Fortus400 and one Eden260v. In addition to this, they are one of the first resellers of the MakerBot. They currently have operations on pause while they get their office set up on Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey, and promise to have a grand opening party at the end of April. In the meantime, start brainstorming, because as they say, “if you can think it, we can print it”!
From here, I bounced to the other side of the room where I met Blaine Lindsey, CEO of GetHealthy, Inc. GetHealthy, Inc. is a web-based platform that gives physicians and employees 24-hour access to physicians, nurses, educators, and our own personalized health information. All of this comes in a user-friendly and informative format both online and off with their personalized wellness reports. Blaine explains that they intend to “disrupt employer-based health insurance as we know it by combining our software with concierge medicine in a way that will satisfy Obamacare employer mandates”.
When I approached my IDEAxcelerator classmate Elliot of mSchool, the Business Development Manager of Pixel Dash Studios was busy testing her math skills on one of his laptops (we’ll get back to her). A year ago Elliott, a former math teacher, was running an afterschool program. “Now we’ve taken what worked and made it available to schools across the world” – this is mSchool, a web-based interface that makes it effortless to get the right lessons to the right student at the right time. They’re currently focusing on math education for 3rd to 10th grade, but going above and beyond by also helping these students understand how their brain works and how they can make it better.
After congratulating Claire on her high score on mSchool’s math lessons, we moved back to her table so she could show me what Baton Rouged-based Pixel Dash Studios, a video game development company that also does contract work for digital media, branding, and motion graphics, is up to. As Claire explained to me, “Pixel Dash studios is a bunch of like-minded people that are trying to do things that we like and that we think other people will like.” This was proven immediately, as before I had a chance to ask her any questions, my friend Chris Stuckey noticed their revamped Road Rash (renamed Road Redemption) video game, and he excitedly took over the interview. One of Pixel Dash’s other main projects is a mobile-based game called Swap Drop Poker – they are currently looking for beta testers, especially for Android. Just email email@example.com to get the game ahead of time, and help them work out the bugs before launching to the world!
My next stop was to visit the gentlemen behind 52 Businesses, a project spearheaded by Colin, Jason and Max. 52 Businesses is a business in the business of business, with plans to assist one startup launch per week for the next year. As a 3rd generation entrepreneur, Executive Director of NOLATech Week, and New Orleans native, Jason has done and seen some exciting things, but he calls 52 Businesses “certainly the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.” Their objective is to help people realize that with the right tools and research, entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be as risky or scary as many people believe. This threesome has many incredibly exciting things coming up in the coming days and weeks, so we’ll be seeing a lot of these guys!
What do you get when you combine a sculptor/computer scientist and mechatronics engineer/coffee enthusiasts? Wiley Cousins. Best friends Cole Wiley and Michael Cousins (hence their name and tagline, Wiley Cousins – “not related, just clever”). After a few stints working for local tech startups, Cole convinced Michael to move to New Orleans – probably not expecting him to live on his couch for two months – where they launched the startup back in October of 2013. They’re currently using their unique and diverse set of skills doing contract work to take others’ ideas from Minimum Viable Product through into alpha. Their passion, however, is to continue developing their own line of products including their first two, ClockBlock and Lamp. In the interest of doing things differently, stay tuned around May for how they’re planning to get these products into the hands of their customers!
Kristen McEntyre is the dynamic founder behind Tutti Dynamics, an interactive video platform “that allows people to reach their musical potential, and they’re doing this by practicing with the best musicians in the world.” Naturally, they started with the myriad jazz musicians right here in New Orleans and have expanded from there. While they started with intermediate to advanced content, Kristen is excited that they’ve recently released their first collection of beginner content.
Tutti launched in beta at Berklee College of Music in Boston in the Fall of 2012, the iPad app was released one year ago, and it’s been growing ever since. Individuals can download the player for free and purchase content, and they also have schools that buy subscriptions. The platform allows users to zoom in on which musician they want to study, giving visual learners the benefit of studying technique. In addition, they can view the sheet music, slow down the tempo, and more. Kristen sees this as “the new platform for learning to play, create and share music.”
Last but not least, I finally had an opportunity to talk to Alex, the children’s book author and entrepreneur behind FundDat. His is a familiar face and business, having seen him pitch a few times around town in the past months. His passion for New Orleans and entrepreneurship is obvious, and FundDat is the perfect extension of this. FundDat is a crowdfunding platform for local startups, with the objective of supporting projects that support New Orleans – and so far, the site has raised $23k to do just that. As he explains, “no longer do people have to come up with an idea and just forget about it because you don’t have money.” He views FundDat as a platform for people not only to raise funds, but to help realize their potential. Look for him at The Big Idea showcase this evening!
Bonus: Local entrepreneur Chris Stuckey did a video interview with Pixel Dash. Check it out here (and be sure to mind the language): https://www.dropbox.com/s/outkelu1v40drku/IMG_9556.MOV