CONTRIBUTOR THOUGHTS: Beads, Bourbon Street, and…the Blockchain?

Mardi Gras. Jazz Fest. Wedding parties.

As a celebration destination, New Orleans cannot be beat. But as natural hatchery for Web 3 businesses? 

That, too.  And I’ll tell you why.

New Orleans, like many places in the South, has a unique culture that appeals to the creatives of the world. Here, you can’t toss an oyster shell without hitting a writer, musician, or visual artist. 

Maybe it’s the long lunches and short winters. Or evenings spent on porches, telling stories and sharing ideas.

Whatever the reason, New Orleans and the South both breed and attract creative visionaries.

It does the same for the Web3 space.

What Exactly is Web3?

For a long time, creative professionals were at the mercy of publishers, record labels, or galleries. Then came the internet, where artists could take their content directly to their target consumers via web and social media sites. 

Web3 holds the promise to be the next iteration of the internet. Enabled by blockchain technology, Web3 allows for the development of digital applications that are based on the decentralized ownership of web-based platforms. In short, users benefit from the value they create. This stands in sharp opposition to how tech giants like Meta (formerly Facebook) and Alphabet (formerly Google) currently extract value from their users’ data, centralizing power at the top.

Web3 allows individuals to have more power and control of their digital assets and information. As it democratizes technology-based systems, Web3 simultaneously opens up the potential for new streams of revenue that can be maximized by creatives and creatively minded entrepreneurs.

The current applications of Web3 are redefining the relationship between creators and consumers of culture, which is exactly where New Orleans and other Southern artists, creatives, and the entrepreneurial community have the opportunity to thrive. Web3 allows creative professionals the chance to monetize, shape, and distribute their content worldwide, in a way that they own a permanent stake in and retain more control over how their work is shared and exported.


Which means Web 3 presents the chance for creative professional communities – like those in New Orleans or Nashville or Jackson, to name a few – to own and retain more or their content and wealth through technology.


Where the Southeast is Leading the Way in Web3

In Tennessee, lawmakers recently passed a bill that recognized Decentralized Autonomous Organizations as an incentive for Web3 entrepreneurs to start businesses in the state.

DAOs are formed on the blockchain, which allows members to vote on a decision before a transaction can be undertaken. The transparency of DAOs engender more equity in business decisions and investments.  Providing DAOs with a formal registration process with the state is a step by Tennessee to leverage Web3 as a tool of economic development.

As CEO of The Idea Village, a non-profit startup accelerator in New Orleans, I’ve seen how our local entrepreneurial community is already developing Web3 businesses in the cultural space.  JammAround and Iconic Moments, two tech companies who recently completed our VILLAGEx high-growth accelerator program, have collectively raised nearly $3.5 million from investors and are on the verge of launching their Web3 businesses into the global marketplace.

In New Orleans, JammAround is a music platform that allows music creators to collaborate on the cloud and then control and benefit from the distribution of that music – all of which will eventually be enabled and tracked by the blockchain. Founded by New Orleans locals with experience in the music industry, JammAround won a structured investment prize worth $400,000 at IDEApitch during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week earlier this year.

In Baton Rouge, Iconic Moments is a Web3 company that works with the world’s top museums and brands to develop enticing, story-rich campaigns centered on the deep culture and heritage their collections hold. The startup, which also came through The Idea Village’s accelerator program, is the first and only NFT marketplace that captures stories and moments in history, media, pop culture, art, and collectibles, securing them on the blockchain as dynamic collections of NFTs. Iconic Moments was recently recognized by The United Nations for this work that allows museums to further explore their vast collections uniquely, most of which are never on current display.

Artistic visionaries and creative entrepreneurs exist in many Southeastern locales, from New Orleans to Knoxville, Shreveport to Savannah. Now is the time for us to harness the potential of Web3 to ensure that our most naturally existing resource – our authentic culture – is optimized for the long-term health of the creative startup community.


Written by Jon Atkinson, CEO of The Idea Village Business Accelerator in New Orleans, LA