This is the true story of 27 strangers, chosen to travel to New Orleans and have their lives filmed while given a unique tour of the growing industries that are shaping the city. Except this wasn’t for the 72nd season of Real World on MTV. It was for NOLAbound.
Back in March, NOLAbound gave 27 individuals from around the country a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Orleans to get a little insight on the exploding business culture of the city. The idea was that they would share this new insight with their networks and change the world’s perception of New Orleans. The program, which was a joint effort among GNO Inc., The Idea Village, and The Downtown Development District, focused specifically on four fields: biosciences, art-based business, sustainable industries, and digital media. The NOLAbound cohorts met some of the city’s influencers, prominent business leaders, and residents who are helping the city grow with these industries.
“The NOLAbound project gave people from across the country a chance to experience the entrepreneurial movement in New Orleans firsthand,” said Tim Williamson, Co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village. “The collaborative ecosystem driving this movement is the reason that New Orleans was ranked as the ‘coolest startup city’ in America by Inc. and the No. 1 brain magnet by Forbes.”
The visitors also were immersed in the culture that makes the city so unique and drives its thriving residents. In just a few days, the NOLAbounders attended a professional basketball game, a free concert in the park, a festival that celebrates entrepreneurship, dinner at a jazz musician’s home, and then, to cap it all off, started a dance party in the middle of the street.
The five-day trip was captured on camera for a 50-minute documentary that premiered last week during the New Orleans Film Festival. The film alone is proof that the program surpassed expectations.
In addition to changing some of the NOLAbounders’ perceptions of New Orleans and providing good press for the city through their respective networks, the program brought in new residents and businesses to the city, within months of its culmination. Marianne Angeli Rodriguez moved her life and jewelry business from New Jersey and now works in collaboration with NOLA SEWN. Chris Boyd, who sold his Houston home within three days of retuning home from the program, started an app development business here in New Orleans, after creating apps for Hearst Media and Rice University.
“I am so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in such little time here,” said Boyd. He added that NOLAbound gave him the connections and insight to make the move and start a business two months after his trip to New Orleans – a move that he thought would happen in about 10 years time after garnering more experience and connections. With clients like Jolie and Elizabeth, Beta Workspace, and Ride New Orleans, Apptitude now has to turn business away, at only six months old.
The NOLAbound documentary will be submitted to other film festivals and is now available to view at www.benolabound.com. It’s a good balance between the emotional elements that make New Orleans so attractive and an in-depth explanation of the industries that are contributing to the city’s growth.