This post was originally published on NOEW.org. New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is an annual festival celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation in New Orleans.
You knew we love to eat in New Orleans – po’boys, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish. All of it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a true New Orleans girl, and you can count me in on all of the above. But I try to live a balanced, healthy life too. All of that aforementioned goodness makes it hard.
So, when I met Aaron Gailmor, co-founder of SuperEats, a healthy snacks company, who’d recently moved to New Orleans by way of New York, I was very excited.
But I couldn’t help but wonder – why would he move a healthy food company to New Orleans?
And since we’ve been talking to creators of all kinds this month, I asked him. (After I gobbled up a bag of those yummy Kale chips).
While we know how hard it really is, I was very happy to hear that Aaron’s experience in New Orleans has been a good one so far. Here’s what he said, in his own words.
Mardi Gras, Creole & Cajun Food, Jazz, French Quarter, Bourbon Street – these are things that come to mind when many people think of New Orleans. You can add ‘Silicon Bayou’ to that list.
In early Fall of this year, I moved SuperEats, a healthy snacks company I co-founded with my partner Charlie Ruehr, from New York City to New Orleans. How did The Big Easy, a city celebrated for its’ food, music, culture and spirit, welcome our company?
With open arms.
New Orleans turns out to be quite the hostess for businesses. Here are some reasons why I decided to make it SuperEats’ new home.
Community. I frequently come across new small businesses thriving here in industries including tech, consumer products, food service, sustainability, energy and biotechnology. Within my first month of moving to New Orleans, I found neighbors in (MobileQubes), a battery powered technology company, ORA Estuaries, coastal restoration with patents for oyster reef growing technology, and AxoSim Technologies, which facilitates drug development through its “nerve on a chip” technology. Additionally, for a a city with a world-renowned passion for food, it’s no surprise that there is a burgeoning specialty food & beverage industry. I have found comrades here in Be Well Nutrition (Iconic protein drink), Big Easy Bucha (kombucha) and Cocktail & Sons (delicious mixers).
Talent. Tulane, Loyola, LSU, University of New Orleans, Xavier, Delgado, Holy Cross – these are the colleges breeding young talent in New Orleans. Shortly after moving to New Orleans, we were searching for a marketing manager and we were lucky to find an awesome team member from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. Venture For America also brings enthusiastic, recent graduates seeking small business experience to New Orleans.
Consumers. New Orleans is a great consumer market, retailers realize this and are very supportive of local businesses. I had meetings with two fantastic regional chains in Rouses and Robert’s Fresh Market. They started selling SuperEats soon after our move. New Orleans’ convention center even hosted a specialty food trade show at the convention center where retailers across the country came to find new products. Around the same time while working out of the Beta shared workspace in the business district, we were selling SuperEats bags in Merchant café below the office. As a result of all of this, we now look at Nola as a perfect place to launch and test a product.
Resources. Resources for small businesses are abundant. Our company has benefitted from shared workspaces at Beta and the Exchange Center. How about business advice or consulting? Companies can talk to Caerus Management or reach out to any of the incubators here including The Idea Village, Propeller, and PowerMoves. As the owner of a food & beverage company, it’s also helpful to have LSU’s Agriculture department and the New Orleans Food & Farm Network in our backyard.
Culture. Crescent City culture has strong roots, but the community is embracing innovation. The traditions of this city are what make it so special and unique, but that is not the reason why SuperEats has chosen New Orleans as its’ home. The people here have realized that continuing recovery and economic growth must include a welcoming and thriving small business community; and that should get entrepreneurs excited.
If you’re a health lover like me, follow @yoursupereats to see what we can snack on next!