This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures
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Tomorrow morning I will be at the Certent Summit in New Orleans. Here is a link to the agenda. I was planning on being in New Orleans anyway because the National World War Two Museum American Spirit Awards are this evening. I am looking forward to both events.
I will be a judge in the pitch competition that happens between 10-12:05. I plan on arriving at the summit earlier than that so if you want to meet up contact Jessica Powell. This is the very first time Certent is hosting an entrepreneurial summit in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a small startup community. It’s a small city, or as the guys on ESPN’s PTI call it, a “second-tier city”. Now that they have the number one pick in the draft maybe Anthony Thomas will stay and they will become a first-tier city in NBA but I digress. The city has 370,000 people and the metro area 1.2MM. To compare NOLA to a thriving startup community, Boulder, Colorado has slightly fewer people at 326,000.
I have gone there quite often since 2008. One of the best museums in the world, the National World War Two Museum, is there and I was on its board for several years. The city has rebuilt from the devastation of Katrina and while an event like that leaves a mark, New Orleans has moved beyond it. One of the best things the city did was revamp its school system. They established a large system of charter schools and that is helping turn out better students. In the future, it should provide for a better-educated workforce.
New Orleans has some things going for it and against it like any city. It’s got a great vibe. It has artists. It has a very good music scene. It has a tremendous restaurant scene which in my opinion is the best in the United States. It has one of our nation’s largest ports. It has deep experience with things like water, shipping, tourism, hospitality, and logistics. There is some expertise in energy. They recently built a very large medical center so they will build expertise in medicine. The city has a lot of different cultures as well so anyone can find something to like there. If you haven’t been you should go.
Building a sustainable startup community can be done but it takes a lot of time. At least twenty years if not more. It takes the right mix of people working on the right things to get the entrepreneurial engine started. It is critical to have investment capital, but it has to be the right kind of money. It can’t be capital that isn’t afraid to be lost.