Brent’s View: Back to My Entrepreneurial Roots

Growing up in a house of entrepreneurs where both parents literally worked out of our garage at some point, I was exposed at an early age to the incredible ride that is a start-up: the hard work, the sweat equity, the true grit it takes to start something on your own. Paradoxically, that actually looked appealing to me, so after a few years of consulting I ventured out and co-founded two companies of my own. But despite all my forays into entrepreneurship, nothing quite compares to what I felt and experienced during New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week (NOEW) at Idea Village.

 

Starting something new can be accompanied with much fanfare, but after the lights dim and the crowd goes home, it can feel as if you're working in a desert, surviving day to day, struggling to find resources, advisors, talent and customers. Like traversing Chile’s Atacama Desert, a semblance of a positive signal can often turn out to be just a mirage.

Not so at the Idea Village, an all-inclusive resort nestled in the Silicon Bayou – and definitely not during NOEW, a week spent in entrepreneurial luxury.

It wasn't just the $300,000 of investment money (or $1,000,000, including resources), or the 1,500 people who showed up to watch 19 small businesses vie for $100,000 (free media!), or the networking opportunities with investors (elevator pitch!), or the 75 events -- including panels and industry-specific information sessions conducted by experts from Google (free adwords advice!) and Salesforce (free user interface consulting!), or the fully-staffed MBA teams spending 500 collective hours consulting one start-up (free PowerPoint work!) ….

Yes, as an entrepreneur you appreciate love desperately need all of the aforementioned, but as I said earlier, the lights do dim and the crowd does go home, so what you really care about is impact and developing meaningful relationships.

And that's what was different about NOEW. The entire city and community is fully invested, literally and figuratively. There was a palpable, better-than-hype commitment to having impact. Commitment to get into the details, the implementation, the technicalities, mock-ups; and to ensure success beyond the week, through building relationships that will last much longer.

For me personally, it rekindled my passion for entrepreneurship: to always be involved -- whether it be via angel or venture funding, as an entrepreneur in residence, sitting on boards, or starting my own company again. I now understand better than ever that it takes a village to raise a company.  And I want to be a part of that village.

As the Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson said shortly after we arrived in New Orleans, “I think this week’s impact will last the rest of our lives.” It certainly impacted mine.