A NOLA entrepreneur’s credo
On Monday morning, still groggy from a late flight from the night before and struggling to get out of bed with the sleep-inducing rainy weather, I stayed in bed a few extra minutes and played on my iPhone while searching for inspiration for this week's column. Let’s momentarily ignore the fact that I was still searching for a story idea as my deadline very quickly approached (OK, possibly passed), but what I found in my search was shocking enough to get myself out of bed and inspire about 900 words worth of insight.
During my initial early-morning journey through the twittersphere, I came across a tweet from @Under30CEO, and a call to “vote for the top young entrepreneur cities of 2011.”
This typically is a favorite tweeter of mine, with a very informative feed, so I anxiously opened the link to cast my obvious vote, never assuming the disappointment that would quickly ensue. What my heartbroken self found was a list of 12 nominees of cities that are “great start-up spots for young entrepreneurs” throughout the country -- a list that did not include New Orleans.
I pathetically chose “other” and typed in my vote for New Orleans.
What the list takes into account are aspects beyond mere business environment, including culture, activities, social scene, resources, and even climate that young entrepreneurs should contemplate when deciding where to set up a start-up. Basically, the perfect balance between lifestyle and business.
I certainly thought New Orleans meets all these requirements, and wondered why the tweeters did not.
This disturbing revelation made me think that Under 30 CEO had possibly missed the entrepreneurial energy coming out of New Orleans. Maybe I had mistakenly assumed that our entrepreneurial aura can be seen in all parts of the country, a glow emanating from our small city much like the aurora borealis. But how, I wondered, could Under 30 CEO have missed all the recent media regarding our strong entrepreneurial community?
So much has been written recently about our entrepreneurial accomplishments and growth as a city, that I started to wonder if maybe these Under 30 CEOs had stopped reading major media publications.
Either that, or we were potentially the only ones reading about ourselves.
As I got deeper into this perplexing puzzle, I began to wonder about how much our own city truly knows about the entrepreneurial community and its accomplishments. Of course, there is a very tight-knit entrepreneurial community in New Orleans, one in which everyone knows one another and what they have each accomplished. Everyone offers advice and help to one another, thrives on brainstorming sessions and partnerships, shares the same excitement over entrepreneurial news, and later meet for a beer at Capdeville.
However, how much does the rest of New Orleans, and apparently the country, know about this fast-moving bubble that is essentially driving our economy?
Since I have a weekly column and, hopefully, a few people reading it, I have decided to take advantage of my pulpit to spread the gospel about New Orleans‘ entrepreneurial community -- to the rest of the city, at least. I use the following evidence to prove my point that New Orleans is the best city for young entrepreneurs and that this small group is driving the city to further success.
- The Facts. Recent national lists and statistics show cold hard facts about how New Orleans’ growth has been influenced heavily by the growing business and entrepreneurial activity in the region. Since last year, Louisiana has been ranked the #8 state for entrepreneurial activity on the Kauffman index and, most recently, data has shown that New Orleans is 40 percent above the national average for entrepreneurial activity. Details, Forbes and Inc.com have also recognized New Orleans as one of the best start-up cities in America, taking into account the community, our resources, lifestyle, and the overall growth. Other rankings include #1 in the U.S. for biggest brain magnets, Forbes, #2 best large city for jobs, Forbes, and #16 Best city for college graduates, The Daily Beast, and Business Facilities Magazine has ranked Louisiana as #2 in growth potential and #7 in business climate.
- Resources. The entrepreneurial community in New Orleans has grown due in part to the help of many resources available, such as The Idea Village, Launch Pad, Silicon Bayou News, Generation: New Orleans, Inc., and the annual Entrepreneur Week. Not only have theses resources helped many start-ups get off the ground by providing advice and tools, but they also have built a sense of community for the group of entrepreneurs.
- Bourgeoning Industries. Many of the cities on Under 30 CEO’s list for best cities for young entrepreneurs are known for driving a specific industry. San Francisco has long been known as a hub for high-tech companies, San Diego is driven by its major tourism economy, and Seattle is known for Starbucks and internet companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. However, New Orleans is vastly becoming a hub for many simultaneously growing industries that make the city highly accessible for entrepreneurs within any field -- whether in manufacturing, film production, digital media, tourism, hospitality, entertainment, energy, or finance.
- Lifestyle. With a low cost of living, vast amount of culture and music, and incredible energy, the New Orleans lifestyle fits that of the entrepreneur who is always looking for inspiration while also finding ways to live comfortably and economically. But, we all knew this already, didn’t we?
While I could go on for paragraphs about my passion, I will let you contemplate the above points rather than further overwhelming you.
However, I leave you with this, New Orleans: measly Under 30 CEO may have underestimated our drive as a city, but you can use the fact as extra motivation for both personal endeavors and as a flourishing city. After all, we are Super Bowl Champs, top brain magnet city, Hollywood South, Silicon Bayou, and a start-up hot spot, just to name a few of the many reasons why we are proud New Orleanians.
If you agree with my point and want to see New Orleans top yet another list, please vote for New Orleans as Under 30 CEO’s Top Young, Entrepreneur City of 2011. Let’s show them that nobody puts New Orleans in a corner, or in the “other” category, for that matter.
Adriana Lopez writes about the entrepreneurial community for NolaVie and Silicon Bayou News. She also showcases local start-ups such as the one profiled here through her non-profit organization GenNOLA.