A Business A Week For A Year

More than halfway to its goal, 52businesses is proving what a difference a week can make.
photo courtesy of Foster bear films
Jason Foster of Foster Bear Films (launched in week 22) shoots performance troup Acrodisiac (launched in week 21).

Many of us find it almost impossible to get to the health club for a workout once a week. Imagine if your New Year’s resolution had been to start one new business every week.

Two New Orleans entrepreneurs made exactly that commitment – not to start a business themselves on a weekly basis, but to provide the support structure to get one launched every week for one year. Pulling no punches, Jason Seidman and Colin Grussing decided to call their enterprise 52businesses.

Both have entrepreneurial backgrounds, having started their own businesses, as well as programs such as NOLATech Week, which Seidman co-founded. After meeting at an entrepreneurship unconference, both found they shared a desire to support other people in launching businesses.

They also wanted to de-mystify the process.  

“One goal is to show people the accessibility of entrepreneurship,” Seidman says. “We want people to understand that they don’t have to quit their job or spend their kids’ college fund to start a business.”

Seidman describes 52businesses as “like a boot camp for entrepreneurs.” After all, he says, “We only have one week to get them up and running.”

The process begins with an online application, the numbers of which are accelerating every week. In fact, 10 percent of the applications for 52businesses are now coming from outside the United States, though the emphasis continues to be on New Orleans-area startups.

Once an applicant has been selected, the week begins with a thorough analysis of the proposed business. This includes everything from market analysis, to legal needs, to finances. Once the assessment is done, Seidman and Grussing draw on their own experience, as well as a deep pool of experts, to begin moving from concept to enterprise. Social networks are used to test the viability of the business.

52businesses also uses its website and blogs to share the learning process for the benefit of existing entrepreneurs and businesses.

“We want people to start businesses in a responsible way, and we want to see them succeed,” Seidman says regarding the motivation for his project. The project itself has certainly been successful: halfway through, 26 businesses have been launched in 26 weeks.

“Initially it was pretty crazy, but we’ve been learning as we go, and moved towards a more defined process,” he says. Seidman adds that there is interest in replicating the program in other cities, and he and Grussing are working with Tulane University to develop a comparable program. This could ultimately mean the partners will be helping to launch a new business not every week, but every day!


Keith Twitchell  spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, non-profit, micro- and macro-business levels.

What is an Entrepreneur?

Sure, we all know an entrepreneur is an enterprising, risk-taking individual motivated to launch something new. But where did this unusual word come from?

Not surprisingly, it is of French origin, which seems fitting for our entrepreneurial city.  Even better, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of its early meanings referred to “the director of a musical institution.”

The OED’s primary definition is “one who undertakes” (presumably not referring to conducting funerals), a “champion.” The word first appeared in print in 1473 in reference to the 4th century B.C. Roman military leader Publius Decius, described as “so hardy an entrepreneur in battle.”

Today’s entrepreneurs may not find themselves on an actual battlefield, but they surely carry on the spirit of a champion that first emerged in ancient times.




Categories: The Magazine