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crystal mcdonald acrew

Crystal D. McDonald, Founder and CEO, Acrew:

Entrepreneur Crystal D. McDonald first came to New Orleans as a college student, but she left after graduation for her first job. Several years and a graduate degree later, the Houston native returned to work in a local nonprofit.

“Technically, I ended up back here because my husband is from New Orleans and is here to stay,” she says. “But it worked out well for me because I married the man of my dreams and live in a city that I absolutely love.”

Her personal love affair with the city turned into a professional one. Three years ago, Crystal set down her business roots with a startup that offers a resume-less employment marketplace. Acrew aims to minimize the distance between job seekers and employers using brief first-impression videos. It’s particularly suited for high turnover industries and for assessing those ‘cultural fit’ aspects a resume can’t communicate.

To McDonald, New Orleans is the ideal place to start a business. And she gets asked why often, particularly by peers in Silicon Valley. “My response is that New Orleans is the greatest example of entrepreneurial spirit and resilience this country has ever seen. So much of the lessons learned and the skills developed as an entrepreneur come from the fundamental heartbeat of this city,” she explains.

She has learned those lessons well. During a 2015 pitch competition in New Orleans, Crystal received a $100,000 investment from AOL co-founder Steve Case during his “Rise of the Rest” bus tour.

“New Orleans is a great place for a technology startup, because the city is centered on the premise of community. It really takes a village to move a business idea to reality. New Orleans is a smaller town that gets that – we all work together because when businesses thrive, the city thrives, and that’s what’s most important. I love New Orleans because it always has and continues to march to the beat of its own drum.”

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