NOEW Q&A with Emily Madero, Idea Village acting CEO
The 9th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week runs March 19-24, 2017. The Idea Village produces the event, and NOLABA sat down with its acting CEO Emily Madero to discuss how NOEW has evolved since its launch in 2009, and the annual IDEAtour, which will be held during NOEW for the first time.
NOEW continues to draw national attention and increase in attendance since its debut, so to what do you attribute the enthusiasm and growth?
EM: While New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is a business-focused event, it’s not a typical conference or convention; it’s a unique festival experience that is truly a New Orleans-style celebration of entrepreneurship, innovation, and new thinking. The fact that NOEW takes place in New Orleans and is focused specifically on regional innovation makes it particularly unique. NOEW blends the excitement of making connections at a conference with the culture and entertainment of a festival all within the context of a global cultural destination. USA Today even called it “the Mardi Gras of entrepreneurship.” Also, at no other conference will you have free and open access to global thought leaders in a local, intimate setting. That combination is energizing and creates real connections and opportunities for NOEW attendees.
Collaboration is also what sets NOEW apart – it’s really a platform for the entire entrepreneurial community. Influencers and resources across the spectrum – from local entrepreneur support organizations to investors, universities, and corporate partners – come together to put on events and elevate regional innovation. NOEW is for the community, by the community.
What was the strategy behind moving the 2017 IDEAtour to NOEW week?
EM: We want to create an authentic, fun, and easy way for entrepreneurs across the country to get to know New Orleans’ business community, and there is no better time or place to experience our ecosystem in action than during the excitement of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. The festival is a great place for entrepreneurs to connect with potential future colleagues, to see how strong the spirit of entrepreneurship is in New Orleans, and to learn more about the resources available locally to startups and entrepreneurs. NOEW brings together the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem, so it gives us the opportunity to expose participants to a wider variety (and a larger amount) of resources and connections.
In your experience, why is New Orleans an attractive city for entrepreneurs & businesses?
EM: New Orleans is a uniquely welcoming and collaborative community for entrepreneurs. We offer an incredible network of resources and expertise focused on supporting new businesses. For a small market, we offer a lot – a fast growing angel investor community, co-working and creative office spaces, and incubators and accelerators. But the lagniappe, and our real competitive advantage, is community and quality of life.
We’re known for our vibrant cultural scene, but what you may not understand until you live here is that New Orleanians have a natural, genuine inclination to connect with our community and come together in celebration (as evidenced by our Mardi Gras traditions and festival culture). This connectivity has truly enabled our startup ecosystem to grow and flourish. There is a palpable energy of creation, experimentation, and reinvention here. I think that unique combination of inspiration, support, and hustle is is appealing to entrepreneurs and difficult to replicate.