3 Points of Advice for the NOLA Startup

Image courtesy of Social Monsters.

Image courtesy of Social Monsters.

In case you haven’t heard, NOLA’s got a new nickname: The Silicon Bayou. Since it began rebuilding after the 2005 Katrina disaster, The Big Easy has courted and been accepted by a lot of high-tech firms. General Electric’s GE Capital Division, which employs 225 people in its software engineering center, was one of the first to land here. It’s launched an ambitious apprenticeship program to develop local talent, its director told Forbes, and hopes to soon have at least half its staff to be home-grown. More recently, the game development firm High Voltage Software announced it will bring 80 new programmers to NOLA.

Tech Coaching and BioInnovation Center Aid

Not all tech firms are from other places. Local startups get help from the BioInnovation Center, the Idea Village Entrepreneur Support Network, and Louisiana’s angel investor tax credit program.

One example is Better Day Health, a startup that makes medical software that captures audio and other information for electronic patient records. It was honored as the Times-Picayune’s first Readers’ Pick for Best Tech Entrepreneur. Founder Peter Ragusa says the company’s software will be ready for beta-testing in 2015.

Ragusa says he got a lot of support from the BioInnovation Center which helped it attract more than $3 million in investments. He also took advantage of Idea Village and local physician practices eager to serve as test sites.

Customers Often Come from Paid Leads

As New Orleans continues to grow in the post-Katrina recovery era, entrepreneurs will be attracted to the area, which will increase competition not just for high-tech customers but everyday services like insurance.

In spite of the political fire-breathing, there’s little chance that the Patient Accountability Act will be rolled back. And all those new folks coming to the city will need auto and home insurance as well. Ambitious business graduates from Tulane, Loyola, UNO and other local colleges may well turn to insurance sales to handle the newcomers.

One of the most effective ways to gain customers for a new brokerage is to purchase leads from a reputable firm that specializes in a given industry, like QuoteWizard for example. The best firms deliver validated results backed by return policies and provide dedicated agents so that business relationships can be built and nurtured.

Sell the City to Attract Top Talent

As Forbes has noted, the most talented engineers and other tech professionals you want to hire can play hard to get. So start-up entrepreneurial businesses in the Silicon Bayou have to sell themselves as an attractive alternative to the cushy jobs they already have.

Establish a relationship with a respected headhunting agency that can sell the excitement surrounding your company. Look for candidates at tech companies that recently joined the ranks of the mid-sized. And don’t go back and forth on compensation. Understand what you can pay or offer versus what the best tech staff can command.

The New Orleans Business Alliance has put together tips to help sell the city as a great place to live. For example, the cost of living is much lower than other cultural centers like San Francisco and New York. The city has first-rate parks, museums and year-round music festivals. Mardi Gras is a citywide holiday! Jazz and music in general is a way of life for many.

Interestingly, most public schools in New Orleans Parish are charter schools and include several that focus on math and science.