Inc. Magazine recently named New Orleans the Coolest Start-up City in America. The city is well-known for its jazz culture, Mardi Gras escapades and in recent years the convergence of brazen entrepreneurs outpacing national startup averages. At the forefront of the city’s entrepreneurial expansion are the rumblings of social impact and innovation.
The focus on local small business development gives rise to larger questions. Where can an entrepreneur get practical startup advice and learn from some of the country’s most innovative entrepreneurs in New Orleans? Second Line is optimistic about their ability to lead the charge.
Global Perspective, Local Innovation
Gerard Cox, Founder and producer of the inaugural Second Line Interactive Conference is tasked with bringing together some of the world’s best and brightest innovators. Second Line plans to demonstrate how design, experience, strategy, and technology can be applied to create new markets, foster exponential growth and develop sustainable social impact.
The organisation’s platform is designed to facilitate conversation and generate exposure for New Orleans and the creativity taking place there. “The majority of our speakers have a connection to this city. James Carville is not only a CNN correspondent, but teaches at Tulane; John Besh is a nationally-recognised chef and owns six restaurants throughout the city; and Perry Chen graduated Tulane’s business school, etc,” says Cox.
Doing Business in the New Economy
Entrepreneurs are faced with new opportunities and a host of challenges in a world that is quickly globalizing. Free trade expansion, worldwide deregulation and technology have changed the business environment. According to Second Line, “organisations are starting to unlock their value while business, government and social ventures are forced to embed design and innovation into every aspect of their being or die a slow, but eventual death.”
World Class Leaders Engage Local Change-Agents
The two-day interactive conference will host a blend of workshops and presentations to merge world-class leaders with local change-agents. The Founder of Design Futurist, 28 year-old Natalia Allen, is one of several young entrepreneurs slated to speak at this year’s event. After her trip to Asia, Allen was alarmed by the chemical processes used to create fabrics alongside the unethical treatment of manufacturing workers. Her vision for “sustainability as a way of life” fuelled her ambition to, “create sustainable and innovative clothing and accessories for the increasing number of modern companies choosing to go green,” says Allen.
Once you’re past the ideation point, a major challenge for most entrepreneurs is the ability to fund and market themselves. Perry Chen, 33 year-old Founder of Kickstarter.com, a platform for funding creative projects, will share Kickstarter.com’s story and tips on how to tackle the process. “Think about what you can give to exchange value with them [patrons]…. “You have to be willing to market to your audience. You have to get the ball going. The Internet is not just going to find you.”
The Future Belongs to the Fast Entrepreneur
“New Orleans is experiencing a renaissance in a lot of ways. It’s fuelled by a combination of locals who returned after Katrina as well an influx of designers, technologists, artists, social entrepreneurs and business professionals looking to put their ideas into play,” says Cox.
According to trend and innovation expert, Jim Carroll, “The future belongs to those that are fast… The high velocity economy demands that we do, demands that we think, demands that we collaborate, demands that we share, demands that we innovate in different ways.” In the same way, Second Line promise to deliver on fast-paced collaboration, resolving not to be full of theory, but full of real people with a proven record in The New Economy.
“Be bold. Be the inventor of moments, the architect of experiences,” says Ben Reece, 28 year-old CEO behind Kinio, a revolutionary platform for filmmakers to sell their films online. “Of all the rules I have tried (or not tried) to live by, this one has never failed me: keep moving,” says Reece.
The inaugural Second Line Interactive Conference will be held May 2-3, 2011 in New Orleans at XLIV Champions Square. For more information, visit secondline.com.
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