Join Us for Weekly Meetups — Tuesdays at the UC at 5:00pm

Starting the Spring 2014 semester, the Entrepreneurship Alliance at UNO will host weekly meetups the UC at 5:00pm every Tuesday.  It is a very informal get-together to chat about ideas, connect with other like-minded students, and learn about entrepreneurship opportunities around New Orleans over coffee or whatever you like to drink.  Open to all students–undergraduate and graduate–, alumni, faculty, and staff.  Please join us!  Please sign up for our weekly newsletter that recaps our weekly meetings.  


Emerging Entrepreneurs Need To Be Out in The Community

By: Kristine Dickson for The Entrepreneurship Alliance at UNO

If you ask about the criteria required to become a successful entrepreneur, you are likely to be told about the need to be creative, hard-working, and determined. The most critical characteristic, absent from this viewpoint, is the need to be visible.

To be visible literally means just that. If you are not seen, how can your idea, product, etc. be seen or heard, and how will you know if it’s really any good?  More than that, how will you connect with the people out there who can help you bring your idea to fruition so that you can create a real, functioning business, which is your whole goal in the first place?

Getting out into the community is critical, crucial, imperative, paramount, (insert your favorite adjective here).

You get the idea.

Time is at a premium for everyone, especially students who are juggling classes, studying, jobs, and families. But if you’re goal is to start your own business, then you have to get out there and start going to events and meeting the people that can help you make and grow a business.

Being visible in the community is as important a component of your business strategy as writing a solid business plan.

There is always something feeding the entrepreneur/startup scene in New Orleans.  On any given day or evening, there is a workshop, seminar or some opportunity for you to meet other emerging entrepreneurs and make connections.  Whether it’s free seminars about “Lean Startups,”

“How to Pitch Your Idea to Investors,” or events like PitchNOLA and Startup Weekend New Orleans, there is always a way to be engaged with the startup community in New Orleans.

The great thing about New Orleans is that it is easy and unintimidating to meet people here because of the inherent Southern mindset of “there’s no such thing as a stranger, just someone you haven’t met yet.”

That rationale lends itself to why New Orleans continues to rise in the rankings every year as one of the best startup cities in America.  There are so many resources here available to emerging entrepreneurs, but just like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it.

By joining the Entrepreneurship Alliance at UNO and following the organization’s blog and Facebook page, you can stay informed on all of these different types of opportunities.

From the UNO Driftwood 9/24/2013

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Why is UNO a Great College Choice for Emerging Entrepreneurs?

By Kristine Dickson, The Entrepreneurship Alliance @ UNO

If you have visited the University’s website in the past week, you may have noticed that UNO is ranked for the third straight year in U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 edition of Best Colleges.  At UNO, only 18% of students that graduated in 2012 had any debt and the average debt load was only $18,271 for those students.  While these are fantastic numbers and it is nice to see UNO ranked in the same survey as Princeton, Yale, and Harvard, what does this ranking really illustrate about UNO other than the obvious?

What is obvious is that UNO clearly offers a terrific value for students who understand the importance and long-term benefits of earning a 4-year degree.  What may not be so obvious is what these rankings mean to you, the “Emerging Entrepreneur?”  I’ll tell you in a minute.

Aside from the recent article  about UNO’s illustrious college rankings, there has been another article with not so illustrious rankings for U.S. student-entrepreneurs.  According to study results that were reported on in August 2013, the U.S. ranked 16th out of 23 countries for students who want to start their own business or work for a start-up upon graduation.  The New York-based research firm, Universum, cited reasons such as students’ desires for work-life balance as the key career priority and Mom and Dad pushing the students into safer careers with well-established companies.

What is interesting is that the study results didn’t mention high student  loan debt as the reason Mom and Dad or students, themselves,  are deciding to forego entrepreneurship opportunities right out of college.  As constantly reported in the news, the cost of higher education and student loan debt burden is rising, so it makes sense that students with large student loan responsibilities are seeking the safe companies, so they can safely make their loan payments.

college-loans.topHowever, those fortunate enough to not have big student loan debts have more options upon graduation.  Now, you are probably starting to understand where this is going.  The answer to the earlier question of what those rankings really mean to a UNO student is freedom.  UNO offers tremendous value for Entrepreneurially-minded students, and it allows you the ability to obtain more than just a degree to take you to the next level.  It leaves enough financial flexibility so you can decide how you want to create your future.  Low student debt burden allows you to keep more money in your pocket so you don’t have to take a job you don’t want to and instead can develop that crazy idea of yours that probably isn’t so crazy.

By the way, we LOVE crazy ideas at The Entrepreneurship Alliance and want to help you.  Do you have an idea for a business? Do you already run your own business?  Let us know–We want to hear from our Student-Entrepreneurs!

To learn more about The Entrepreneurship Alliance @ UNO, contact Kristine Dickson at 504.280.1346 or email us at or find us on Facebook!

Why Are Students Graduating and Moving to New Orleans for Jobs?

By Kristine Dickson, The Entrepreneurship Alliance @ UNO

For those of us who have grown up in and around New Orleans, this question seems to be written incorrectly?  But no, it’s a correct question…more and more students are graduating and moving to NOLA, or opting to attend school down here for various reasons.  Some reasons, like deliciously wonderful food, Mardi Gras holidays, and continuous flip-flop weather are completely obvious to us, but other reasons probably elude us.  So, why are folks moving down to NOLA for jobs, you ask? What kind of jobs?

New Orleans is a hotbed of activity for people with good ideas, or more importantly people who believe in their good ideas as much as we believe in our Saints football team taking home the Lombardi trophy in 2014 (even if it means we have to play in the snow, but that’s a topic for another blog).  These people passionately believe in their ideas, and then they take it a step further. They commit to executing their idea all the way.  They are called entrepreneurs. New Orleans offers a vibrant community of thinkers, collaborators,  and people genuinely interested in helping these great ideas mature and become thriving businesses. This will further create  more ideas and even more businesses, and so on.

Streetcars in downtown New Orleans.Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans became a start-up in its own right, a start-up city.  As we learn in our business classes, obtaining a first mover advantage is key, and so many have flocked to our fair city to take a shot at the American dream of being your own boss and making the rules for yourself.

No doubt being part of a startup company takes a lot of hard work and lots of your own money, initially, so it helps to be in a place with a low cost of living compared to other cities that have also have vibrant start-up communities.  New Orleans also has an abundant supply of talent from several colleges and universities to accompany the relaxed and fun atmosphere for downtime and unwinding with colleagues.  It’s clear why New Orleans is a front runner of the places where emerging entrepreneurs are choosing to relocate.

So, what does this mean for those of us who have been here through thick and thin?  Well, we are lucky to live in a place that no longer means moving out to move up.  We have a chance to develop our great ideas, too, and take advantage of the groups of people present who want to hear our great ideas and have the resources and know-how  to help us “make it happen.” It also means we might be able to meet some cool people to collaborate with along the way, which is really when something great happens.  When we surround ourselves with people whose talents complement ours and who share our vision for developing an idea, that’s when a true opportunity is on the horizon and should be seized.

So, as we celebrate the beginning of football season, we embrace the idea that if we believe in New Orleans and we believe in our Saints, then we believe that we can turn our humble idea into a flourishing business.   But don’t worry, it’s okay to still make time for one more cocktail or that extra dozen charbroiled oysters .  That’s what makes us New Orleanians at heart.

(Photo by Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Entrepreneur- Big Word With a Simple Definition

By Kristine Dickson, The Entrepreneurship Alliance @ UNO

A student on campus recently commented that he thought a lot of students are intimidated by the word, “Entrepreneur.”  I guess the word does seem to suggest something somewhat inflated, probably from how the word or to whom the word has been applied to in the  past, mostly super-wealthy Donald Trump-like guys, who we wouldn’t trust as far as we could throw them.

However, in reality, you know a lot of entrepreneurs.

The guy who owns your favorite po-boy shop…he’s an entrepreneur.   The lady who paints faces at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, yep, she’s an entrepreneur, too.  And believe it or not, the little kid who sells lemonade down the street from your house is embracing entrepreneurship, too.

Entrepreneurship is recognizing a void or gap in something, seeing something that needs to be changed, or deciding something can be better. And, then, here’s the Entrepreneurial part… you ACT and DO something about it.

Check out this article written about a year ago that sums up Entrepreneurship very simply. If you have ever landed a job and are successfully progressing in school, you probably already possess the needed skillset deemed important in an emerging entrepreneur. Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari (which, if you’ve seen the movie, “Jobs,” I don’t need to explain what that is) and Chuck E. Cheese’s, believes the key to becoming an entrepreneur is as simple as doing something.  Read on to find out what else he had to say that simplifies what Entrepreneurship really is.

We welcome any constructive feedback or ideas about Entrepreneurship.