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The road to NOEW: Neil Pierson’s backpack report

From March 20 – 27,  New Orleans’ annual business festival, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, returns. The week of programming, centered upon innovation and entrepreneurship, will culminate in crowd driven pitch contest The Big Idea. In partnership with The Idea Village and their blog, #IDEAinsider, NolaVie presents “The Road to NOEW,” a month-long series highlighting some of the entrepreneurs who will be showcased this year.

The content's of Sock Spot co-founder Niel Pierson's backpack. (Photo: Robert Warren)

The content’s of Sock Spot co-founder Niel Pierson’s backpack. (Photo: Robert Warren)

Though unilaterally innovative and driven, members of New Orleans’ entrepreneurial community are an eclectic bunch in their backgrounds, the premises of their ventures, their appearances. One unifying aesthetic among the city’s varied composition of entrepreneurs is the eponymous ’trep backpack.

With New Orleans-based entrepreneurs serving as celebrities in their own right during NOEW, we want to know: What exactly goes inside of their overstuffed backpacks?

NolaVie has asked some of the entrepreneurs participating in NOEW to reveal the contents of their backpacks and tell us a little bit about why these items are staples in their bags.

Today, Neil Pierson, the co-foudner of Sock Spot — an educational children’s book and toy duo that turns families’ missing sock problem in to a fun and useful game — reveals seven items his backpack is never without. 

1. Peanuts – I always have a jar of peanuts with me.

Remember that dinner scene from Mrs. Doubtfire? That has been my daily life for the last three years. While living and working in two different cities and trying to fill the shoes of a daddy, therapist, husband and entrepreneur, there is never time to sit and eat like normal people do.

Granola and power bars are too expensive and sugary for me. I love peanuts. The perfect blend of a healthy carb and protein and they pair nicely with coffee. Grab a handful and keep on getting it !

2. A durable laptop – My laptop is invincible and it has taken a serious beating through the years. Right when it contained  years of Sock Spot sketches, development, logistics and documents, it fell from the top of my truck and broke in three pieces. So there I was on my knees in a parking lot putting it back together and talking to it as if it were a hurt child: Noooo please don’t leave me baby, not now, come back to me baby pleeeeeeaaase! 

I put it back together, slapped the battery back in, hit the power button and she lit up in working order. My baby was back together with two years of information saved; I think I almost cried.

3. Shemagh – I am constantly jumping in and out of the car — hundred times a day, in all sorts of locations.  I seem to always leave my jacket in different places, only to have them disappear.

A fellow [entrepreneurial] veteran suggested I use a Shemagh. It’s an Arab scarf made famous by the desert soldiers and Marines. I love the thing.
It’s comfortable, versatile, inexpensive and as warm as a jacket on a cold day.

4. Pictures of my children – There is much more reality than romance in taking a product from concept to development then to market. Though I have a deep passion and love for it, some days it can be a terrifying beast that can tear a soul out. On those days, I stare at my children’s pictures to nurture strength of spirit and remind myself why I have pursued the undertaking.

5. Desiderata – It’s a poem written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann, which I have almost committed it to memory. It’s powerful and wise and every line feels so right on to me; I recite it to myself daily.

“Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals , and everywhere life is full of heroism “ – Ehrmann

6 & 7. Sock Spot and a Sharpie – I am always thrilled by the response of mommies and children regarding my product. I now get stopped on the street by people asking “Aren’t you the Sock Spot guy?”,  “Can I buy one for my kids”?

It’s my favorite type of interaction when someone recognizes me and wants to buy a copy right there on the spot. I keep my Sharpie on me to personalize it to the little ones.


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