Those in startups often talk about The Flywheel Effect, a phrase coined by the American author Jim Collins as a way to describe how momentum builds by accumulating small wins over time. Cities looking to grow as a tech hub talk about the need to spin that flywheel faster in order to attract talent and bring in more capital to fuel new ideas.
Jon Atkinson, CEO of entrepreneurial-focused nonprofit The Idea Village, believes that flywheel is starting to turn faster in the City of New Orleans.
A big push came at the end of 2021, when local startups Lucid (enterprise software) and Levelset (construction and fintech), had sizable exits.
“I feel like that put us on the map as a community and has made a lot more people interested,” Atkinson told Hypepotamus. “We’re starting to see some of the knock on effects of capital flowing back through the ecosystem. Folks who got experience on those teams are starting new things or joining other teams [throughout] the startup community.”
Momentum in the local startup scene is also starting to concentrate around specific industries, like Climate Tech and biotech, that Atkinson believes the city is uniquely positioned to grow.
From a numbers perspective, that has meant a record number of pre-seed and early-stage startup founders joining New Orleans-based programs like the IDEAinstitute and the VILLAGEx accelerator. Over the next couple of years, Atkinson said the goal is to help upwards of 300 founders get ideas off the ground and launch ventures from The Big Easy.
Demonstrating That Flywheel: New Orleans Entrepreneur Week
The city’s innovation economy will be on full display at the end of the month during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), an annual event that has been dubbed the “Mardi Gras of entrepreneurship.”
The goal, Atkinson said, is to “bring folks together, create connections…and prove that we can build industry-leading companies and that we can do that here.”
The six-day event this year will feature a few impressive figures – like AOL founder Steve Case – and the introduction of an inaugural music festival highlighting regional talent and celebrating New Orleans’ place as a music capital.
Entrepreneur Week this year is about capturing the intersection of innovation and culture, says Atkinson. But it is also about showcasing the growing number of fundable startups building right now in the city.
Several of those fundable companies will be part of the IDEApitch Venture Challenge. Last year, the pitch competition awarded $750,000 in total investment prizes into three high-growth startups.
Those who want to see what is happening in the New Orleans tech scene…and see that Flywheel Effect in action…can snag tickets and see the full schedule here.