The Collision of New Orleans & Tech

About the author: Chris Schultz is co-founder of Launch PadFlatstack and Kung Fu, and is an investor through Voodoo Ventures.  

I was in a cab on my way out to Jazz Fest on the Saturday after Launch Fest when I got a tweet from Paddy Cosgrave hinting at something big.

To which I replied excitedly.

And so the cosmos has conspired to pull together something really great for New Orleans. Today, we are excited to announce that Collision Conferencewill be moving to New Orleans in May 2016, hosted between the two weekends of Jazz Fest. (Check out coverage in USA Today.)

Paddy has asked me to co-host the conference with him, and we will be moving Launch Fest to a stage at Collision showcasing the best startups from New Orleans and the Gulf South.

What’s Collision?

When Web Summit started as a small 400 person startup conference in Dublin in 2010 nobody imagined that by 2014 it would grow to 22,100 attendees from 110 countries around the world.

Collision is Web Summit’s sister conference in the United States. It started in 2014, but is already growing faster than Web Summit ever did. This year’s Collision Conference in Las Vegas was attended by more than 7,500 people and featured talks and interviews with leading tech founders and investors from all over the world.

Web Summit in Dublin.

Why New Orleans?

Well, everyone who lives or spends time in New Orleans knows what makes her unique, and now thousands of leading technologists, founders and investors will too. Collision is the US-based sister conference of Web Summit in Dublin. What makes Web Summit such a special experience for people is the way the conference is woven into the fabric of the city, and we are going to do the same in New Orleans. Any city can host a conference where attendees make their way back and forth between a hotel and a generic convention center. Only New Orleans can provide the backdrop for an event that is the creative muse that has inspired musicians, chefs, writers and founders.

At Collision 2016 we’re aiming to kick off the conference with a series of bar crawls led by New Orleanians — musicians, cooks, artists, bartenders — all sharing their personal New Orleans with our visitors.

Trombone Shorty wraps up the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. (Photo: AP, Gerald Herbert)

By hosting Collision between the two weekends of Jazz Fest, we get to scale the vision that we’ve always had for Launch Fest. Bring people to New Orleans during the greatest week of the year for New Orleans culture (well, you could make an argument with Mardi Gras, of course). Come to hear from visionary entrepreneurs and world-class investors and stay for the music, food and culture.

What this means for Launch Fest and New Orleans

This year we hosted our 6th Launch Fest at the beautiful new Jazz & Heritage Center with 200 people in attendance.

Next year Launch Fest will be a stage at Collision Conference with thousands of people attending. Collision will bring hundreds of angels & VCs to New Orleans, and we’re going to showcase the top local startups on the Launch Fest stage.

Just as we always have, we’ll be working closely with Idea Village, New Orleans Startup Fund, 4.0 Schools, PowerMoves, Revelry Labs, and all of our partners to identify the companies that will participate. Launch Fest, along with the New York and San Francisco showcases that follow it, have been an effort to expose the top local startups coming out of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week to national investors. The impact Collision will have is to take that effort to an entirely new level.

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2015 (Photo: Forbes, Adriana Lopez)

Paddy and I both agree it is important to make the effort to be collaborative and additive to New Orleans Entrepreneur Week and the ecosystem at large.

In addition to the Launch Fest stage, we will be working to integrate New Orleans into the conference in several ways.

  • I’ll be aiming to interview Mayor Landrieu and Tim Williamson on stage to showcase the NOLA entrepreneurial ecosystem to the world.
  • We’ll host a FREE evening session for students to meet and hear from several of the speakers.
  • We’ll be offering a scholarship program for New Orleans founders to ensure that the conference is accessible to our community.

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Collision to New Orleans. This is a seminal moment for the New Orleans tech and startup ecosystem.

I want to be sure to give a shout out to all the people who banded together to make this happen. As always in our community, it’s a team effort. Brian Oberkirch, Gerard Ramos, Peter Bodenheimer, Matt Wolfe and GNO Inc. The New Orleans Convention Center. The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB).Molly Oehmichen, Katy Tackett and the Launch Pad team. Tim Williamson and the Idea Village krewe and the whole #NOLAtech community. Thank you. You can register for 2-for-1 tickets for Collision 2016 now.