Editor's Note: The Mardi Gras of Entrepreneurism

Carnival may be firmly in our rearview mirror for another year, but for entrepreneurs, another kind of festival is on its way. Less beads, more business.

Last year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) broke attendance records with over 14,000 attendees and awarded close to half-a-million dollars to entrepreneurs. More than 200 speakers and about that same number of startup ventures showcased their ideas and products.

As we’re going to press, the lineup hasn’t yet been released for this year’s NOEW March 19-23, but I know for sure I’ll be again attending the world’s largest crowd-driven pitch competition, the Big Idea Challenge. At last year’s competition we were introduced to exciting new companies like Chosen Diagnostics, Damesly, Saint Hugh and, last year’s winner, Ready Responders. All have since been featured in Biz.

Just before last year’s challenge, last March we profiled another Big Idea 2017 startup called VR Arcade NOLA. Only four months old at the time, the company was founded by David Denny and Devin Regan to bring VR arcade technology to New Orleans. In January the duo contacted me to let me know they were rebranding as Maverick VR. It turns out they’ve been so successful they have started offering their services for conferences and private events nationwide. So far this year they’ve already booked events in Las Vegas, New York City and Minneapolis as part of the recent Super Bowl LII festivities.

Congratulations Maverick VR. We’re honored to help introduce creative new business ideas to this market and wonderful to see them succeed.

Speaking of new ideas, this month our Why Didn’t I Think of That feature is another first for New Orleans, Lolo’s Studio, the first yoga studio specifically catering to kids.

According to a 2016 study by Yoga Journal, there are currently 36.7 million people practicing yoga in the U.S. Of that number, 37 percent have children under the age of 18 that also practice — that’s more than 13.5 million kids, right now, practicing yoga. That points to a promising future for Lolo’s owner Laurie Azzano and her beautiful Magazine Street studio.

I’ve actually caught my 7-year-old meditating a few times. Her friend, whose mom teaches at Hynes, taught her. Just like us adults, it never hurts to give yourself a little down time.

Looking ahead, next month is our annual Giving Back issue, where we focus on this region’s nonprofits — a sector that has surged since Hurricane Katrina and still continues to thrive. Our April Q&A will focus on one organization’s work to strengthen our area schools. We haven’t addressed education too much in Biz thus far, but it’s a critical topic, both in terms of drawing transplant talent and in strengthening our own future workforce. I’m excited to see what work is being done.

Happy reading and hope to see you at NOEW!

Kimberley Singletary
Managing Editor