"I’d say New Orleans is well on its way to being the hub of entrepreneurship in the South."
The 2015 Season marked the beginning of a three-year effort to provide direct support to entrepreneurs in New Orleans, convene the entrepreneurial community in New Orleans, identify and fill gaps in the ecosystem, and promote the local entrepreneurial community.
As a result of our efforts, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is now part of New Orleans’ annual cultural calendar, with a strategic position during the city’s tri-centennial celebrations in 2018. In addition, The Idea Village built upon its’ national reputation as a thought leader in place-based entrepreneur ecosystem development, and is poised to become a global leader.
What started on a cocktail napkin back in 2000 has turned into a global movement. Like a lean startup, The Idea Village has iterated over time to achieve our goals. What began with a small group of emerging leaders and young entrepreneurs seeking to hack the chronic complacency of New Orleans, has become an army of passionate individuals and innovative organizations creating opportunities, choices, and a new generation of leaders. Entrepreneurial leaders are inspiring others and paying it forward with their success.
New Orleans is now in the top 10% of best cities to start a business in the country (WalletHub), with startup activity 56% above the national average (The Data Center). We have been called America’s #1 Biggest Brain Magnet (Forbes), the #2 Best City for Women in Technology (SmartAsset.com), 1 of the 20 Hottest Startup Hubs in America (The Kauffman Foundation), 1 of the Top 10 Most Inspiring Cities in the World (GOOD Magazine), and the “Coolest Startup City in America” (Inc.com).
To identify, support, and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans.
To create positive change in New Orleans through entrepreneurship.
New Orleans will be the hub of entrepreneurship in the South by 2018.
“New Orleans is poised to re-emerge as one of the great startup cities in the country, maybe even the world.”
On May 8th, I was riding a Mardi Gras float through the Warehouse District with 10 New Orleans entrepreneurs who were pitching their big ideas to celebrated biographer Walter Isaacson and AOL Co-founder Steve Case during Case’s Rise of the Rest tour. After the tour, Mr. Case said, “New Orleans is poised to re-emerge as one of the great startup cities in the country, maybe even the world.”
This is exactly what we envisioned in the Loa Bar 15 years ago…except without the float.
The good news is we have the hard facts to back it up. The Data Center’s New Orleans Index at 10 reported that New Orleans’ entrepreneurial activity is 64% above the national average, and 40% higher than other Southern metros. Forbes named New Orleans “America’s #1 Brain Magnet.” USA Today stated, “The New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem may be one of the strongest in the entire country.” Others are starting to see and believe what the 10,585 people saw during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) this year: With 43 partners leveraging the NOEW platform, New Orleans has developed an authentic and collaborative ecosystem, led by people who are committed to the future of our city.
The New Orleans ecosystem is producing dynamic entrepreneurial ventures. This summer, we helped introduce the NOLA100, a group of 29 startups that have surpassed $1 million in annual revenues and are leading the entrepreneurial movement in New Orleans. By 2018, this group will grow to one hundred entrepreneurs who will contribute over $1 billion to our city’s GDP and will be deeply engaged in the community.
Though we’ve seen tremendous progress, progress does not equal success. We still have a lot of work to do.
To sustain this momentum moving toward New Orleans’ tri-centennial in 2018, we’ve created a 3-year strategic plan to solidify our efforts in driving the New Orleans entrepreneurial movement. I’d like to acknowledge the IV100, a group of 121 forward-thinking corporations, foundations, and individuals who have committed $4.5 million to making this vision a reality. With their generous support, we will execute our current programs, try new things, and set new goals for 2018. I am also excited to welcome 5 new Board of Directors members, 11 new Chairman Advisory Board members and 6 new employees who will help us achieve these goals.
Together, we have a dream for 2018: New Orleans will be the hub of entrepreneurship in the South.
I invite you to join us for the ride.
The Idea Village Board includes some of the nation’s most respected business and civic leaders. They guide our efforts and elevate entrepreneurial activity in New Orleans.
The Idea Village team is made up of nuts and nut followers all committed to fostering positive change in New Orleans through entrepreneurship.
Our honorary advisory committee helps to champion entrepreneurship.
"There is no better city in America to learn the resilience, the persistence and the soul needed to trust crazy ideas than in New Orleans." – Justin Bayer, Welcome to College
IDEAx is an intensive 12-week accelerator program for New Orleans-based founders focused on creating scalable and fundable businesses. Central to the program is a curated network of global business experts available to participants.
“When we moved to New Orleans with the purpose of growing our business, we knew nobody and found the local scene a tough nut to crack. IDEAx busted it open for us, and treated us to a pecan pie of opportunity. If you’re new to NOLA like we were, or you’re an old-timer who wants to make the most of your connections, The Idea Village is a great place to start. The staff is deeply committed and enthusiastic, the EIRs are brilliant and the program will double whatever you put into it. I can’t imagine where we’d be now if we hadn’t had the chance to participate.”
– Uchechi Kalu, Wedocracy
The 2015 Cohort:
CAPITALx, an Idea Village initiative in partnership with ecosystem partners, is a 10-week accelerator program for select high-growth, New Orleans-based founders who are actively seeking funding. The goal is to help participants carefully think through opportunities and prepare for raising capital. The program culminates in valuable pitch opportunities during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week including Demo Day @ NOEW and the Coulter IDEApitch. Participation in CAPITALx is by invitation-only.
2015 Season nominating partners included: 4.0 Schools, New Orleans BioInnovation Center,New Orleans Startup Fund, PowerMoves.NOLA, Propeller, and Voodoo Ventures.
A fast-paced investment pitch featuring select New Orleans founders seeking to scale their companies on a national level through growth capital and strategic partnerships. Featured entrepreneurs included:
“This program took us from a company with big dreams of scale to the HOW of scaling and growth. We truly would not be the company we are without the help of the Idea Village. It truly takes a Village”.
– Catherine Todd, Where Y’Art
The premier entrepreneurs showcase in New Orleans featuring the newest series A ready companies. Our esteemed panel selected Servato as the winner and founder Chris Mangum received an all-expenses-paid trip out to Silicon Valley for investor meetings arranged by TPG. The other 2015 participants included:
As we continue to solidify our vision of New Orleans becoming the hub of entrepreneurship in the South, catalyzing entrepreneurial activity within strategic local industries and sectors is critical.
In 2015, we teamed up with VetLaunch, a New Orleans-based 501c3 nonprofit organization providing resources to veterans that will help them effectively make the change from military to civilian life, to launch their brand new VetLaunch Accelerator. The program, a nine-week program for up to five veteran-owned businesses in New Orleans, culminated during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
The 2015 Cohort:
“My military experience taught me the fundamentals necessary to build a successful business. Thanks to the support from The Idea Village, the VetLaunch Accelerator is positioned to help other veterans learn how to leverage their military backgrounds to launch and scale viable ventures in New Orleans.”
– Robert Armbruster, Retired United States Marine Corps Captain and Founder of VetLaunch
IDEAsessions are 90-minute strategy sessions connecting local entrepreneurs with seasoned executives. The Idea Village hosted 120 IDEAsessions during the 2015 Season.
IDEAinstitute is our weekly series of free workshops, keynotes, and networking events centered on the latest entrepreneurial topics. The 2015 program featured 15 unique sessions from August 2014 – December 2014, leading up to New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
The Idea Village’s accelerator programs are highly competitive in an effort to identify the most capable entrepreneurs. Of the 180 entrepreneurs that have gone through an accelerator since 2002, 83% are still in business and 91% are still located in New Orleans. Collectively, these entrepreneurs have raised over $75 million in private capital, created over 1,300 jobs, and generate $155 million in annual revenue.
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week: "a Coachella for Small Businesses" - Next City (April 10, 2015)
The 7th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), presented by IBERIABANK, engaged 10,585 entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, students, and community members – a 103% increase in attendance compared to NOEW 2014.
In total, from March 20-27, 2015:
The week culminated with a record attendance for The Big Idea, the nation’s largest crowd driven pitch event for entrepreneurs, where over 3,000 community members congregated on Fulton Street to allocate $50,300 to 12 emerging startups.
As we look forward to 2016-2017, we anticipate significant growth, and we look to scale this growth in three categories: attendance, investor interest, and corporate interest.
NOEW has become a platform for local startups, attracting investors from around the nation. Investors participating included:
“NOEW is becoming a premier conference for entrepreneurs and investors of every size to learn and share ideas. It’s an incredible opportunity for all of New Orleans and I feel confident we can make this a must do event for every entrepreneur; from the most successful to the most aspirational.”
– Jim Coulter, founding partner of TPG Capital
Partner organizations leveraged the NOEW 2015 platform to host events that encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship in the water, education, arts, food, healthcare, energy, and digital media industries – as well as highlighted entrepreneurial opportunities for women, minorities, veterans, and youth. Partners participating included:
“Entrepreneurship and economic growth are vital to the future of New Orleans, and we have been consistently recognized as one of the best cities in America for entrepreneurs. So, I am pleased that New Orleans Entrepreneur Week has solidified its position on our annual cultural calendar, alongside events such as Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.”
– New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
IDEAlab is our research and development arm. Central to our mission is the creation and execution of innovative projects that continue to build the entrepreneurial infrastructure in New Orleans, and that provide new revenue streams for The Idea Village. Funders – including innovators, corporations, economic development partners, foundations, and community activists – approach The Idea Village with specific ideas to better the community. Together, we assess those opportunities and develop innovative approaches to bring those ideas to life . Past projects have included: IDEAcorps (2006), Entergy Innovation Center (2009), How They Did It (2009), Water Challenge (2010), and Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge (2010).
During the 2015 Season, our strategy with IDEAlab was to connect national networks to New Orleans’ entrepreneurial community. Our IDEAlab projects included:
Individuals and organizations invested in The Idea Village’s efforts to support local entrepreneurial talent.
In 2018, the world will witness firsthand how New Orleans has activated entrepreneurship as a platform for civic engagement and an agent of social change. It will be a time to measure our progress, envision the future, and inspire others.
New Orleans will once again be a driving force for the country, but it’s only with your support that we can make New Orleans the hub of entrepreneurship in the South. We invite you to join us on our journey.
In an effort to exemplify the experimental and innovative nature of New Orleans’ entrepreneurs, we chose to tell our 2015 story on an interactive and shareable platform. We hope you enjoyed our creative new way of doing things. Challenging norms and thinking outside the box is what drives our progress. We’ve got a lot more crazy ideas. If you want us to keep going, click below.