1. Why New Orleans is the Coolest Startup City in America by Donna Fenn:
“Katrina did two things,” says Tim Williamson, the CEO of Idea Village, which recently sponsored New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week (NOEW). “Everyone became an entrepreneur because everyone was starting over in some way—we became a start-up city.” Second, he says, “our networks scaled globally.”
Williamson and four fellow entrepreneurs founded Idea Village, a not-for-profit organization, in 2000 in order to identify and support local entrepreneurs. But it wasn’t until after Katrina—when the city’s plight triggered a huge influx of people who wanted to help rebuild—that the organization gained real traction. Among those who showed up were MBA students from top business schools who opted to spend spring break rolling up their sleeves to help New Orleans entrepreneurs rather than hitting the beaches.
One of those MBAs was Daryn Dodson from Stanford; the following year, he returned with 25 fellow Stanford MBAs, who were supported by alum Jim Coulter, co-founder of Silicon Valley private equity giant, TPG. “Stanford would not have come here if it weren’t for Katrina,” says Williamson. He and his partners saw that the time was right for New Orleans to attract world-class resources in order to nurture its homegrown entrepreneurial talent.
That was three years ago and since then, Idea Village’s efforts have grown from matching a few MBAs with local entrepreneurs to a full-blown week of events where over $1 million in cash and services are pumped into the local economy. Workshops, taught by local business leaders as well as by executives from Google, Salesforce.com, and Cisco, are offered to hundreds of New Orleans small business owners. Mayor Mitch Landrieu‘s office is now on board, as is Tulane University, Goldman Sachs, and a few local economic development groups.
Even James Carville and Mary Matalin got in on the action; they hosted a reception for NOEW attendees at their posh Uptown antebellum mansion. To make things more financially interesting, the Greater New Orleans Foundation financed NOEW’s $50,000 “Water Challenge,” a competition for entrepreneurs with innovative water management solutions. The winner: NanoFex, which developed technology to use Louisiana sugar cane and crawfish shells to purify contaminated groundwater. And TPG’s Coulter now sponsors the week’s culminating event, IDEAPitch, an American Idol-like competition (moderated this year by yours truly) where five entrepreneurs pitch the audience and investors from TPG, Bain Venture Capital, Redpoint, Prism, IBM Ventures, and American Funds. The winner is flown out to San Francisco to meet with potential investors.
A new ABC television production hit airwaves nationwide this month and is creating more than high ratings.
Secret Millionaire features a number of high profile people whose business model is helping others create financial stability, and even wealth, both online and off. What lessons might entrepreneurs emulate to create their own secret, or not so secret,millionaire success story? Let’s look at four of the secret millionaires to identify replicable patterns.
Secret Millionaire stars share some common practices entrepreneurs can adopt to create their own success.
Dani Johnson was homeless at 21 and a millionaire at 23. She now speaks, writes and conducts virtual home study courses and live events designed to help people get out of debt. Her story is compelling and inspirational. The tone of her communications is all about having experienced the fear and frustration of financial debt herself. By sharing her personal story, helping people identify with her, then modeling a success route, Dani acts as a mentor, cheerleader and coach to those who follow her program.
So what lessons can other entrepreneurs learn from these successful self-made millionaires?
- Poverty is a strong motivator in each of their success stories. A driving passion to improve your life can be a powerful influencer.
- Creating a business from the ground up takes more hard work than anything you’ve ever done before. Persistence is the key.
- Continued success lies in continued reinvention. Successful people never stop innovating.
- Financial freedom is a strong motivator and there are millions of people who want and need the information you may have on how to create financial security. A down economic climate may be the ideal time to launch a business that solves a problem.
- Sharing your personal journey helps others envision themselves as potentially successful. People want to do business with successful people and modeling success can produce powerful results.
- A great career or business is less about making the next sale and more about building lasting relationships.