Two years ago I got a desk at Launchpad and as a result immersed myself in the local tech world. I’ve seen a lot of great things happening here. New Orleans has some big opportunities ahead…I just wish we could make more awesome at a faster pace. And I have a short proposal on how to do that.
One thing New Orleans is missing are more consumer-facing companies. None of our bigger startups are consumer oriented. I want to be able to use more kickass products that local startups are building here and scaling all over the planet.
For various reasons we almost always gets overlooked as a market by many of the fantastic products that bigger cities enjoy. I’m talking about companies like Seamless (food delivery), Zipcar (car sharing), and Instacart (grocery delivery). Apparently we just can’t have nice things.
So rather than waiting for these startups to show up we should just clone them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Many of the richest people on the planet have done it.
Here are three of my favorite concepts that:
- Won’t take a bunch of money to start
- You can start in NOLA and people would use it
- Could make you a bozillionaire
I’m also giving you a basic outline of how to start each one.
Zerocater – they basically act as a caterer by operating as the middleman between restaurants and companies.
- Read this blog post by the founder on how he started it. Excellent read.
- Contact potential customers. Call and email mid to large sized companies that order catered food for lunch and/or dinner. Sell them beyond the catering. Just like Zerocater, tell them you’re a “catering concierge service that helps companies show employee appreciation, boost productivity, and build better culture through shared meals.” Ask how often they order, what their pain points are, and how much they usually spend.
- Contact restaurants and caterers and also sell them on your concept. Tell them you’re giving them steady business that they can be prepared for ahead of time. Here’s a list of every restaurant in the Greater New Orleans area.
- Set a standard price per head, take in orders, call the restaurant, and deliver the food. As mentioned in the post from step 1 you don’t even have to built out any tech to start this.
Instacart – they deliver groceries to your door at a very reasonable cost. Their employees are independent contractors. Instacart doesn’t actually partner with any stores but just send their people in to buy things.
- Login at Instacart to checkout their setup. Also download their native apps. They’re awesome.
- Go to Walmart and Rouse’s and get pricing for a bunch of basic items. You don’t have to start out offering every item in the store. Make a map of the store so you can be as efficient as possible.
- Make an e-commerce site with these products. You can get high quality photos and data on every product in a grocery from this website for FREE.
- Start off delivering to people you know and write down their feedback.
- Fulfill orders yourself. Bunch multiple orders together so you can handle several deliveries with one trip to the store. Use the map you made in step 2.
StreetEasy – a site to find apartment rentals in NYC. We have not one legit website to find rentals in New Orleans. Padmapper doesn’t count. You could do so well with this if done right.
- Research StreetEasy and other similar sites.
- Set minimum standards for quality of apartments allowed on the site. No shitholes.
- Make a map with a breakdown of neighborhoods and what they’re like for all of the yankees moving into the city. This will become the standard link locals send to newcomers. Technicallly, New Orleans has 72 distinct neighborhoods. That shit ain’t easy.
- Contact apartment buildings, realtors, and landlords. Find their numbers on Craigslist and Google. From step 2 don’t do business with slumlords.
- If great pictures don’t exist go and take them yourself. At the very least, charge to list. There are beaucoup ways to make money on a site like this. Make a point in your branding to stand out as having only legit apartments available.
Stay determined and just do it
I know the hardest part of any of this is the actually going out and talking to customers part of it. Sitting in front of the computer is easy. Bite the bullet, make phone calls, write emails, and physically walk in and talk to people. Have no shame and don’t take no for an answer. Get really excited about what you’re building when talking to people. They will see that and be much more likely to give you a chance. Have business cards ready but always try to get their contact info first.
And if you’re building a product but just don’t have the balls to launch it yet take some advice from this guy:
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder
I’m down to help if you need it. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.