New Orleans Entrepreneur Week to Return in Spring 2022

An event that is normally considered to be a vital part of Crescent City business culture, the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is set to return in March 2022, according to

New Orleans’s premier event for established and emerging businesses, the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, is set to return in accordance with all public health guidelines over March 21-25, and its return is being attributed to Idea Village, a self-described “accelerator” of small businesses. Idea Village provides a wide range of support for start-up and emerging businesses in the New Orleans area. In fact, they report a total of 286 companies participating in their accelerator program, and those firms have so far earned an estimated $367 million in combined revenue just in the past year alone.

The last in-person New Orleans Entrepreneur Week was held in 2019 when approximately 2,000 people gathered in the city’s downtown Ace Hotel to hear presentations on topics designed to inspire and create a new wave of successful South Louisiana business owners. The following year, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but if all goes according to plan, then the decade-old NOLA event will return once more to an in-person gathering, offering local business owners the chance to learn from and network with local industry leaders.

CEO of Idea Village, Jon Atkinson, said of the event’s projected return, “not being able to convene in person for the last two years has been heartbreaking and we are optimistic about the opportunity to start getting people back together while also embracing all we have learned about hybrid and digital communication this spring.”

During a normally scheduled New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, Idea Village offers businesses several opportunities to advance the stake they hold in industry success by calling upon curious entrepreneurs to apply for the latest version of their accelerator program, as Idea Village is also known for choosing several early-stage technology-enabled companies each year that show high growth potential. After they’re selected, these companies participate in an intensive four-month program wherein they are taught financing and marketing lessons, mentored by industry leaders, and given the opportunity to network with potential funders.

The four-month program ultimately culminates in a “pitch competition” among the top three finalists with the overall winner receiving $50,000. The winner of the last NOEW pitch competition, RentCheck, the developer of an app that aims to smooth tenant-landlord relations, is now sitting alongside previous successful startups on Idea Village’s list of the “10 Companies to Watch.”

Though, if recent Accelerator program pitch competitions are any metric to go by, the most successful start-ups completing the program aren’t always the winners of the competitive pitch component.

One such company benefiting from Idea Village’s accelerator program was Levelset, a Louisiana start-up tech company that assisted people in the construction industry with contracts and bill collection. Last month, the 10-year-old company sold for a record $500 million to a California tech company, setting a new record sale for a Louisiana start-up company. CEO and founder of Levelset, Scott Wolfe, attributed part of his company’s success to Idea Village, saying, “after The Idea Village accelerator program, our company was unrecognizable. We became a more mature business post-program, with a clear understanding of our vision, mission, and values.”

Even though no in-person Entrepreneur Week was in session this past year, the accelerator program moved forward with an approximate dozen participating companies. These participants ranged from the eco-friendly company Youni Co. to the Bywater-based Culturalyst, which is an online network designed for creative types in the New Orleans area.

For more Louisiana-related articles, click here.

LSBDC Office Opens at LSU to Aid Small Businesses

Louisiana small business owners will soon have a new resource in their arsenal thanks to the federal CARES ACT and a collaboration between LSBDC and LSU, according to a press release from the school.

The collaboration is being referred to as the LSBDC at LSU, and it will essentially be a business satellite service center on LSU’s campus that will be focused on providing technology and innovation services to existing business owners and entrepreneurs across the state. The project comes from the Louisiana Small Business Development Center and Louisiana State University, and with it comes three professional business consultants that will be housed at the LSBDC at LSU.

Technology consultants will offer high-quality technical assistance to any start-up or existing businesses in Louisiana, and the assistance will come at no cost to clients impacted by COVID-19. Similarly, the business consultants will assist in developing and reviewing strategic plans, gaining access to capital, and connecting clients to any and all resources that could help their start-up or existing business.

The interim executive director of the LSU Innovation Park, David Winwood, said of the importance, “small businesses and technology-based entrepreneurs can play a key role in revitalizing our economy. Our collaboration with the LSBDC will help catalyze that revitalization.”

The LSBDC at LSU will specifically specialize in the transfer, commercialization, and utilization of technology as well as the development of new products to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses. The mission of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Louisiana State University will be to work with businesses and entrepreneurs to commercialize inventions that benefit the public and enhance the economy.

Beyond LSU’s campus, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center continually offers high-quality technical assistance to existing and start-up businesses as well as entrepreneurs at no cost to the client. The LSBDC is a part of the larger network, the Small Business Development Center, which is the single-largest provider of management and technical assistance for businesses in the United States.

The LSBDC is funded partially through a cooperative agreement with the United States Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development, and other participating institutions of higher education, such as Louisiana State University. LSBDC was established in 1983 and is strategically located to service all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes and their businesses.

LSBDC State Director Carla Holland remarked on the necessity of such a service in times such as these by saying, “the opening of this SBDC satellite office is extremely important for business owners, especially during the pandemic. I look forward to working with LSU and this collaboration becoming the spark of a great economic development push-in technology. When the CARES ACT funding was available, we knew we would need to bring in partners who specialized in technology as we saw less in-person business taking place and more virtual interaction.”

The LSBDC at LSU office is located at LSU Innovation Park, 8000 Innovation Park Dr., Baton Rouge, LA, 70508. LSU Innovation Park is a substantial, 200-acre resource that stimulates the economic growth in Louisiana through the various incubators it operates. The Park offers specialized business assistance to help companies formulate their ideas and further them to the best of their ability. Outside of the LSBDC at LSU, the LSU Innovation Park also houses the Louisiana Business & Technology Center, Protostripes Prototyping Center, the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office, and additional available office and lab space for other companies.

The LSBDC and LSU announced their partnership via a Facebook Live event as a part of the LSU Innovation Pak Facebook Page in early March. The office is welcoming the public business owners of Louisiana to call and schedule a consultation.

For more education-related information, click here.