A Little Help Please

A look at some of the programs assisting today’s entrepreneurs.
Brandan Odums of 2-cent Entertainment speaks at a panel of local arts-based entrepreneurs during the Downtown NOLA Arts-Based Business Pitch/Creative Industries Day at last year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW).

Ever since Bienville first began offering swamp tours back in 1719, New Orleans has gone through various highs and lows as an entrepreneurial city.  

However, it’s hard to imagine a better time for bright ideas and business start-ups than right now. Currently there are dozens of local, regional and statewide programs to support, encourage and even fund those looking to start or expand an independent business.

This column will explore many aspects and forms of entrepreneurship, along with the great diversity of people and programs that are making New Orleans one of the hottest American cities for startups.  I welcome your ideas on this subject.

Let’s start with a quick look at some of the most established, best known entrepreneurship programs and opportunities available right now.  The following list is by no means comprehensive – which by itself indicates how fast New Orleans and southeast Louisiana are blossoming into entrepreneurial heaven.

The Idea Village (ideavillage.org):  Founded in 2000 as one of the first organizations to support area entrepreneurs, Idea Village’s programs include the Startup Network and a suite of Accelerator programs.  Each year the Village has an Entrepreneur Season that culminates with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (noew.org). Last year more than 5,000 people participated in the sixth annual NOEW.  The week includes seminars, workshops, speeches by famous entrepreneurial successes, a showcase of local startups, and multiple new business and idea contests whose winners receive venture funding.  

PowerMoves.NOLA (powermovesnola.org):  This three-day event, held in conjunction with Essence Fest, focuses on launching minority businesses.  Entrepreneurs from around the country participate in pitch contests to various investors and are rewarded with feedback, mentoring, and, for a few talented winners, venture capital, more of which is also available through…

New Orleans Startup Fund (neworleansstartupfund.com). Also focused on minority entrepreneurs in the 10-parish GNO area, this program provides seed capital and other business assistance to early stage firms judged to have high growth potential.
Net2NO (netsquared.org):  A local affiliate of the global TechSoup network, NetSquared seeks to promote the use of technological innovations for creating social change. It is one of many tech sector ventures that has helped our region receive the nickname “Silicon Bayou.”

Louisiana Small Business Development Center (lsbdc.org): This organization supports startups with business plans, financial resources and more. It also helps existing businesses find employees and build their revenues.

More specialized entrepreneurial resources exist in fields ranging from education (4.0 Schools Incubator) to nonprofits (GNOF Pitch It! Innovation Challenge), among many more.  And I haven’t even touched on government and university programs, which also offer multiple forms of assistance.

The bottom line is: no matter what the business, the support is out there.

So what’s your bright idea?

National Acclaim for Entrepreneurism in the Crescent City:

“America’s #1 New Brainpower City”
Forbes Magazine (April 2014)

“Second Most “Aspirational City” in the U.S.
Daily Beast (July 2013)

“Entrepreneurial Activity 40% Above U.S. Average”
Forbes Magazine (June 2012)

“Best City in U.S. for Young Entrepreneurs”
Under30ceo.com (October 2011)

“Coolest Start-up City in America”
Inc. Magazine (April 2011)




Categories: The Magazine