New Orleans’ Answer to Amazon
Looking to shop local without leaving the house? Welcome to My Hood Exchange.
We’re currently in the process of growing our community and it’s exciting to watch it expand each week. Koby Sackey, Co-founder
Within five days of the first COVID-19 case being discovered in New Orleans, friends and Tulane University alumni Courtney Ordone and Koby Sackey had not only decided they needed to do something to support local businesses in the city, they had figured out what that was and made their first mockup.
Officially launched in October, My Hood Exchange is an online platform that provides local businesses and merchants a way to not only connect with potential clients and customers, but offer them the kind of speedy, door-to-door delivery service that online giant Amazon has trained us all to expect. Purchases made on the site can be delivered anywhere in the city within 48 hours for a $5 fee.
“It became obvious that there would be an impact on our local economy, so we started developing a solution that would allow neighbors to provide for one another,” said Ordone. “In the early days of New Orleans quarantine, no one was going to the supermarkets, basic essentials were out of stock everywhere, and I realized we wouldn’t be able to rely on our usual shopping methods. Koby and I developed the concept for a local exchange, considering how the pandemic would impact folks’ financial stability due to unemployment. We aimed to help support our community by creating a website that gave neighbors a simple and safe way to sell products, goods and services.”
In addition to buying and selling goods, the online platform also allows for items to be donated or rented. Categories for items and resources include electronics, arts and crafts items, home goods, and health and beauty. Vendor accounts are free for sellers to set up, with transaction fees at 8 % plus 50 cents per sale.
“We’re currently in the process of growing our community and it’s exciting to watch it expand each week,” said Sackey. “There’s no cost to build your own storefront. You simply create an account and start posting photos of your products and you’re good to go.”
In addition to supporting local entrepreneurs, Sackey said the site also creates an opportunity for anyone with a reliable form of transportation — even a bike — to make some extra money.
“[Our] drivers [are] ready to pick up and deliver the orders that come in, but we’re always looking for more helping hands. It’s a great opportunity to make some additional cash on your own time as we head into the holidays.”
While sales are still growing, Sackey looks forward to seeing where the holiday sales season, and beyond, takes the marketplace.
“We’re just getting up and running – adding new shops and vendors each day and starting to get the word out,” he said. “We’re looking forward to seeing an increase in users in the days, weeks and months to come.”
The two co-founders met at Tulane; Ordone graduated from AB Freeman School of Business, and Sackey attended Tulane’s School of Architecture. In addition to skills learned at Tulane, Ordone brings her experience in real estate development across New Orleans, while Sackey is also the founder and CEO of technology development firm Redflare Digital, based in New Orleans and Houston.
“I was born and raised in New Orleans and although I’ve lived elsewhere, New Orleans is the place that I call home and will forever call home,” Ordone said. “[Koby and I] met being amongst the few Black students at Tulane. First and foremost, our goal is to help support and provide opportunities for the New Orleans community. There are so many ways folks can get involved. The goal is to provide our neighbors with additional ways to make money during these unstable economic times and continue to buy local beyond COVID-19. We want to establish ourselves as the local answer to Amazon. My Hood Exchange creates a path to a self-sufficient community while so many local businesses are suffering.”
The team hopes to continue to expand the marketplace in New Orleans, with the eventual goal of reaching out to other areas and markets, and to support new businesses by providing financial aid through a grant program to launch their products on My Hood Exchange.
“The best part about MHE is that it really is a one-stop-shop for a wide variety of products and services,” said Ordone. “All our vendors are so unique and we’re bringing on new shops and services every day, making it even more exciting to explore our site.”
We want to establish ourselves as the local answer to Amazon. My Hood Exchange creates a path to a self-sufficient community while so many local businesses are suffering. Courtney Ordone, Co-founder