The Big Idea on Friday was my first New Orleans Entrepreneur Week event. I am not an entrepreneur and though I work in marketing, I have never studied business. But I have always been drawn to the energy that comes with a good idea.
Photo by Taylor Davidson.Despite the rain, I enjoyed hearing all the startup pitches. In all, The Big Idea attendees cast 1,348 votes and $33,700 were spread across the 13 new businesses that participated. Each vote was worth $25 which attendees gave to participants in the form of voting "chips." When I voted, I was actually donating to the startup of my choice.
If you have been following Entrepreneur Week and The Big Idea, you probably know that Whereyart.net, Cajun Fire Brewing, and KREWE du optic received the most audience votes. Each then had the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of judges. At the end of the evening, Cajun Fire Brewing won the grand prize of $50,000.
When Jon Renthrope of Cajun Fire Brewing spoke about reviving New Orleans's tradition of craft brewing, I found myself nodding vigorously. There is no reason for our city to be behind the curve in the beer scene at a time when the market for craft beer is growing, especially given this city's previously abundant number of local breweries. I tasted their honey ale in the tent, but I also heard rumors of a praline beer. Perhaps Cajun Fire can inspire other local brewers to step up to the plate as well.
When I saw the pitch for Whereyart.net, I was reminded of Pelican Bomb, a local arts publication whose website also features a page where collectors can buy from local artists. Whereyart.net is focused on selling art while Pelican Bomb relies more on editorial. Browsing Whereyart.net Friday evening after the event, I discovered some great jewelry by artist Naomi Celestin in the "Discover Artists" random selection area. The site excels at giving artists exposure to consumers they may never have connected with. As it grows, and the ability to search for specific artists improves, I believe Whereyart.net will excel.