Entrepreneurial Predictions for 2022
Space travel? Pothole tech? Anything is possible in the new year.
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, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.
While exactly none of last year’s prognostications came true, your intrepid columnist is forging ahead with a whole new set of entrepreneurial predictions for 2022. I was hoping to get a better crystal ball for this year, but supply chain issues mean the one I ordered last summer is still in a cargo container somewhere along the West Coast.
The competition in the space tourism business goes into warp speed. To counter charges that rocket fuel is environmentally damaging, Elon Musk develops an electric rocket; unfortunately, it is recalled halfway into its first flight. A new “pleasure trip” for amorous couples launches under the brand name “SpaceXXX.” And Carnival Cruise Lines announces plans for a cruise ship-sized space capsule, complete with a freeze-dried buffet and Tang cocktail bars.
With Facebook clarifying its intention of universal domination via its new name, Meta, other major tech companies will follow suit. Microsoft will change its name to Mega; Google will change its name to Gaga; and the always-trendy AOL will change its name to LOL.
Closer to home, now-former LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will launch several new products to keep the revenue flowing (unlike the Tigers’ offense). Among them are O-Lines, ropes of various sizes that don’t actually hold anything up; O-Rings, with a purchase limit of one per customer; and O-Positive, a series of self-help videos that train people to remain optimistic regardless of the realities around them.
The hot market for New Orleans businesses only gets hotter. In tech, a previously unknown translation app that explains colloquialisms like “want that dressed?” and “I know where you got dem shoes” to tourists is snapped up by Fodor’s. A repellent spray designed to ward off corrupt Louisiana politicians, called “Bayou Off,” is purchased by a new joint venture between Raid and the FBI. And Bud’s Broiler becomes the next local “unicorn,” selling to McDonald’s for 1 billion hamburgers.
Caesars Entertainment, having rebranded the Canal Street casino and purchased naming rights to the Superdome, further expands its visibility. The company buys naming rights to the Causeway, City Hall, the former Lee Circle, the French Quarter, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s first-born child.
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week makes a splashy comeback, highlighted by a new entrepreneurial contest for companies that make innovative uses of New Orleans potholes. Finalists include firms proposing to use these massive divots for hot tubs, marine biology labs, amusement rides and scuba-diving classes. The winner, however, is a company called Pothole Pot, which debuts a way to use the potholes for micro-marijuana farms, supplying the newly increased product demand that follows the Louisiana Legislature’s approval of smokable cannabis for medical prescriptions.
On a related note, numerous entrepreneurs launch new marijuana brands to supply Louisiana patients. Among the most popular are Gator Grass, Li’l Mary Jane, Jazz Joints, Panama Rouge, and Burn on the Bayou. Ex-Coach Orgeron also jumps into the marketplace, with a low-potency strain named O-Wow.
To no one’s surprise, redevelopment of the former Six Flags site runs into six snags, if not more. Updated projections for completion of the project set a target of early 2118, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans.
With COVID-19 at last receding, and mask mandates largely a thing of the past, innovative reuses of everyone’s vast collection of face masks spark several new businesses. Included in that number are Corona Clothes Company, makers of fashionable stitched-mask apparel; Vic’n’Nat’ly’s Secret, which uses masks to create seductive ladies’ undergarments; and Xmasks, which converts the facial coverings into tasteful holiday decorations and wrapping paper.
Unfortunately, one mask reuse concept that does not succeed is using them to cover up the city’s potholes, as the mask supply cannot meet demand. The company behind the venture pivots quickly and offers masks to the city as liners to undergird repaving of the many streets under repair. Sadly, this effort also fails, as none of the repairs are close enough to completion to start the actual repaving.
Will any of these prognostications actually come to pass? Maybe not – but here’s one bold prediction for a much better year ahead for us all!
Writer Keith Twitchell’s blog, “Neighborhood Biz,” can be read each Thursday on BizNewOrleans.com.