WWL>Topics>>5-15-14 2:10pm Angela: on socially-minded NOLA businesses

5-15-14 2:10pm Angela: on socially-minded NOLA businesses

May 15, 2014|

Angela talks with Andrea Chen and Linda Usdin of Propeller's Accelerator Program about the challenges of launching socially-minded businesses in New Orleans.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well New Orleans is now known as a growing center for entrepreneurship. But there's an aspect of that entrepreneurship that is quietly making a difference in areas of great social need. It's led by a nonprofit organization called propeller who has helped launch 26 new start up ventures. Companies that range from the food collaborative that helped a create healthy foods for public schools. To a law firm that has helped thousands of children with disabilities. Joining us to talk about propeller. And the incredible work it's doing is limiting Houston and Andrea Chan executive director of propeller and so happy to have you both here. And that he -- I'm telling you know. For anybody who has an entrepreneur Earl fought out there you need to pay attention to this and give us a call 2601870. Because you've hit on something that. I don't know how to put it all into words. It's it's starting companies with a conscience. And -- right that's right and I think as we are learning more and more in the general society and talk about national. We are more and more discouraged. With companies that don't have a conscience so to hear that this is birthed. With the concept of let's do this I read it abrupt. It's just a wonderful thing you tell me how you started -- So we actually started as a failed booklet that my house -- you -- we showed up except for my friend Mort and and he hadn't read the book. So we got to talking about social entrepreneurship and decided to re launch an organization called social on the north of New Orleans. And he started as a volunteer group for several years but what we were really inspired I was. All of the grassroots community efforts that had launched after the storm so there were people. Regular people who were putting -- street signs clearing out the neutral ground because there was no one else to do. So we were really excited about by that energy and wind it. Really wanted to figure out away AT nature that continued five years ten years teen twenty years after the storm. And a lot of the people who were starting these projects we just called in social launched Norris. And the other thing that I want to mention is that I think it's such a natural fit for New Orleans because New Orleans is a city of entrepreneur wars and so. This is looking -- sort of giving. Credibility and support to some. So it's really supporting and building. What we do naturally here. That's a beautiful way of putting it the two are so right. After the storm I marveled as we all did. At people who took third longhorns started cutting grass wherever it was needed rain and it was that sort of thing and I'm a part of something bigger bank and how to do but what. Tell me again your your definition for for those listening. Of certain would give -- examples of companies that started under this concept. Great so we focus in on specific sectors and healthy food access -- the really big one for us that we recruit companies that are tackling challenges and -- and capturing opportunities within that. So could be someone who says I think our school lunch could be made a lot better. On it could be people who say weekly increase the number amount of local food being consumed. To people starting urban farms. So I've been healthy school food collaborative the one that you mentioned and now delivers on or not directly administers over six and a half million dollars on. In school lunch money. On -- about 39%. Of all our public schools. And as one of the and they do very very healthy school meals so no high fructose corn syrup everything prepared from scratch new fried food. Hands on there is that local procurement requirement and that -- So it's really cool too is that we had in he dated another company that was really focus on local food distribution and aggregation. And so that company now delivers food to the public schools in -- healthy school food collaborative. And then -- -- that the supply chain tunes that we also in keeping it Irving growers. On that are that are growing the food in our inner city -- we've got. Content we got -- that she co -- out in New Orleans east and gay and they deliver food tan at local restaurants in different community centers around the city. And they got they're growing towers from another whenever companies very -- with that sold an opera onyx tower -- -- on it that are currently on top of that wraps its grocery store. Now then what happened they weren't seeing class. And so another venture on with starting a flower farm and she couldn't get enough land to start the flower farm. So our friends in the east on they happen to have a lot of land out in the east and they let her used their land to start her flower farm. So what we really focus on is the collective impact of a lot of different social entrepreneurs working in the same sector. And if this is breathtaking that the people who started the original food collaborative with the idea of healthier foods in schools and we're just. Regular people and they just so this is the Neitzel. Didn't have any background and it. Yes so we punch as soon it was actually -- a pillar weak in -- -- and ideas -- cells -- That was one idea that we can not play and we recruited a charter school to take on that. Policy on kind of than responsibility for administering. That and the paperwork for. So we contract with and then and it's -- New Orleans on that run this program for about a third of all the schools in the city now and they started just to who two years ago. So a third of all the schools. Have this healthier food yes. This is. Unbelievable to me. Yes nice when I mentioned that healthy foods is one of the sectors public health is the second sector and as a third fled into. Land use and so those are the three sectors. And I think that. The idea of collective impact is really important because it's hard for -- sort of small. Entrepreneurial business to really have in major impact on some large social challenges. But when we think about collective impact. -- becomes more doable. So somebody listening who already has a company that is cued in to what you are your three sectors. Can call you and say how to like connect. Absolutely so we just had a finished out a competition called pitch -- living well. And it was an all call across the city if you had an idea. Four on it that was in the area of public health. On and we asked you to pitch the idea and you had a chance to win it it with I think 111000 dollars total in cash prices. A for the competition and so we're about to launch when I called pitch still a lot of progress around -- -- and -- with a New Orleans redevelopment authority. We've done other ones that are more general so that's just one thing that people can plug into and we also are currently recruiting for our next class of accelerator fellas that's our core program this social venture Sony Reader. Deadline is -- June -- so coming right up. On an in the third thing people could plug into aids we have a lot of free public workshops on on different days since topics like finance 11. On each hour. Branding and messaging. And I think accelerator. Program this is really important to talk about it it does a lot of people have great ideas. And and you know many of the people they're going to social entrepreneurship are dreamers and great thinkers. But they really need to also understand all of the components of creating a viable business. So what the folks propeller have done which is so fabulous is that they've developed. Ten month -- and ten months training program. And it's not just training it's sort of a co. Working programs so that it. Twelve to fifteen accelerated felons each year go through it together they meet together they work together -- they get trained together. And they. Sort of code germinate ideas together. And they get the training they need in -- Does that have to pay for this or are they are selected they are selected it is a it is a free program. And they get space at propeller which is I I I really encourage people to combines the propeller it's such an exciting building in Washington and do that. That is them magic. I want everyone stay with -- because now almost a year -- and several months. They got a building and this is what is phenomenal stay with us we'll be right back. Well we're talking about. I don't say it's a new kind of entrepreneurship but it's an exciting one it's a social entrepreneurship. With the founder of propeller. And that's what we're learning about his propeller and Andrea Chan and -- Houston here to talk about it. We're getting the picture of what it is witches. Very creative people coming up with answering the needs in certain areas in our community. And you all then connecting them to others and it just it's like a train conceived. But we haven't talked about is that you just within the last year got your own building and I read the -- it is thrilling to have a place to go. We are really excited about it and -- idea for the building really came from our group of social lunch or -- accelerator. And then having not having. Not having space but also not having -- opera -- to have the organic collaboration happened when you see each other every day at midnight when your posting up. Working on something that's your next day. So it's a 101000 square foot building to stories on the corner of Washington and -- you cannot miss it it's as propeller in big letters and has orange stripes around. And we have about eighty startups network out of there now. And these people range from time for a profit ten non profit companies to foundations snow. We have one company brought in Griffin from Griffin a lot from who helps out families with children that have disabilities. Get access to Social Security benefits and just in the past ten months she's gotten over 300000 dollars in benefits for families if you bring it to work -- Note that the justice and accountability and a consumer unfriendly through prince Abdullah. And we got one don't think prince who got two dogs named Allen is the eight net icky thing and yet you know in -- That's right on in snow either justice and accountability center today help on they help people I get criminal record expunged cents for people who. How to get people back to work so these are people who. On qualify for the -- arrangements and. -- nonviolent crime violent crimes and I -- get back to work you know we actually did they show something very similar to that and that issue came up and we got calls. From people who I think it's 450 dollars to get done it was a lot of money media and but when you think about. That that's what's your expunged from a non violent crime and that opens doors for you and I read that that law firm was doing that. That's the definition of social entrepreneurship and needs a law firm it needs to make money to survive. But look what it's doing. It's that kind of thing -- and others that are there. Since some of the bigger organizations are stay local on that helps. Help the local businesses another big one is stand for children. And neighbor work the public school parents. On and -- Damian from downtown to on to this corner because -- -- that where most of the -- it's come through. And so it's really easy for when he -- -- events take every went together. We had we have graphic designer is -- got developers. On the social media company in the back called the wrapped -- and they've grown from two people the six people with an within a ten month times. Now only don't -- such an exciting place to go to because you walk in the building pretty much at any time and there are people. And some people are sitting in the big policy you can use the space he can rent the space in any number of ways. You can rent a place. At a table right. You can rent a permanent -- of desk. And you can have an office and that forgetting anything. You can also rent the State's prevents it we've hosted on I think we're about to host a first engagement party. Well. I'm birthday parties a lot of nonprofit group -- and OK so let's take this moment. To talk about that big event which is coming up on the 22 so. A week from today may 22. Propeller has. Had an annual it was called gala. But. We talked about it because we've really not -- kind of a group so we thought that we wanted to have it be something that more reflected the spirit and energy of the groups so. After much deliberation we decided to call it the propeller pop. And so it's going to be on May 22 thirsty at the building on the propeller building. It's going to. -- a celebration of the graduation of this year's accelerator fellows so they'll be going out to launch their new business they'll be launching their new businesses -- some of them have launched against. But they'll be. Graduating from propel the propeller program. And it's also gonna be a showcase for our pop up restaurants so we're going to have. How many we're gonna have ten of this city that pop -- -- and there each and 81. Dish said they gonna make their best dish and so big and showcase their one -- will have ten restaurants. And we're going to have specialty drink via pop up on SARS for relapse is a pop up that -- works out Adam Dunn case. Panties. On -- kids and -- so desperate I was gonna be they're making a special drink. Splendid paying. Her Lou. This it's gonna be doing -- he -- fish each day Debbie does delta management gonna have a fabulous day. So if it's. And you can eat are you can drink. Your mind right and then there's going to be. Artist who's doing a lights as well so it's just going to be fabulous. And the tickets are very reasonable -- because it's not a gala it's a pop. So if you wanna come to the pop the main event is 35 dollars if you buy tickets ahead which we encourage you to do. Or forty dollars at the door and then there is that what. Might be called in some other organization a patron -- we're calling it the top pop our. And that the tickets for that or eighty to eighty dollars and teachers three orders him from around Brennan's restaurant -- dedicated -- that this is. You're keeping with. You know the essence of what you bar right and it what a great way to expose everybody to. I wanna go to this building I wanna see the energy in that building it is probably lights the the rule it dies it out of work done and we drink a lot of coffee. Yes so somebody can rent a dusty can rent a space in just. It may be space say one thing in space be the next or you have a little your own little office that's great and but that's passing someone may start as one person. And as they grow as a company still remain there. That's right and a lot of companies have actually progressed that way so. We're excited about that and we think it's a great deal on it starts at a 150 dollars a month and comes with conference space desk space Internet and printing and copy. So we think it's great for an launched. That practice all -- combat that's the entry level first -- attack and death and yet know what what's most important is they are then exposed to all the back and -- -- somebody who does Internet there's an injustice -- marketing. In content and and if it. Even though -- and actual hours that where there's somebody at the front desk nine to five right. The building is open when he 24 hours today said there will be people in there any hour of the day and night sometimes at night it seems almost busier than it is. Any other time. Because lots of people come over you know may be they have. Some other kind of commitment to our job that makes them. Being busy during the day they come overnight work on there their dream you know that's that's very important point because most -- -- I would. Wonder already are working. But they are creating the injury. And then -- transition. And thankfully. A lot of people when they start out in our program they had eight gauge and it has something they're doing on the side and our goal is by the end of the program they are doing this full time. Which means they've already made enough money so that they -- quick 38 and pursue their passion project. Well -- everybody stay tuned we're gonna continue talking about propeller right activists. We're back talking about a social entrepreneurship. And the incredible company propeller. Which has help burst so many of them and I hope you're really listening we're talking in the break in summit. I think Liddy brought up is very correct what we often think of entrepreneur or we think of young dynamic energetic young people. In reality it's an awful lot of people who are well over thirty. -- -- and the forty -- in fact want to do their ideas so it is not limited to just young people. Let's go back into your building and you have your class of fifteen fellows who were getting ready to graduate. And what are they doing what -- their ideas. Share and -- -- with the ones that are over four OK and I giving out anybody's age. We have one doctor Hugh we developed a vaccine for eighth in disease called -- -- -- -- And it just figured -- -- the body and it happens in a lot of their countries. And so it is a very low cost vaccine and he just on he's done to set the trials. On and he just got a grant to go to Syria to deliberate and some of the refugee camps. On his name is I'm Richard -- -- and he isn't he's he's also a doctor. And he developed -- -- in his free time. In his return yes but under your program as a -- rights kept his day job. Right is creating this yes. And another on another person is that Koppel on -- actually Tulane professor -- both lawyers. And they created an online platform software. That can be determined that copyright status at any worked in the entire whether it's a poem on a song. Content pieces of art. And -- it's called at their rationing on and their company's -- limited time. And though they've gotten test he he customers and testing clients include the University of Michigan. Different art museum. And a bunch of other national. So it's software that you know before it probably would take forever for people to figure out whether some piece of art piece of music whatever. Was under copyright and with their software programs can figuring out credible. Night and they're both professors -- mapped out that and they mapped out the copyright law for every single country in the world because every country has a different copyright law. And they've built an algorithms to you can just put in the work and it automatically spits out what the status is and what how kind of the law works to back. Terrific. And that we were talking about a wonderful friend -- cool. -- writes I'd love that she kinda looks alumni but. I love what this is the woman who many people -- -- new as the head of the SP CA in the eighties late seventies and eighties. And then she moved on to the things that her heart was. Outside helping. And now she's got her own content. I sue their -- is with the loss plans -- and for me and her husband Bob Marshall and Lindsay panic they one -- when -- -- to you on pitch whenever early early stage on events called pitch -- And they got selected it's one of the ten semifinalists in this with a 98 to -- laying on kayaking tour company. With the idea that they'd been tossing around for awhile but never really did anything -- But once he pitched on that stage ten over 200 people they got such a positive reception they decided to let students so they apply to our accelerator program begun in. And they launched their company. Instead -- Lindsay and -- read both had full time job and so on during the program our -- ways to get them to become financially sustainable enough that they could quit their day jobs. And that happened in the middle the program and they just purchased a whole new set of -- And their full time -- their full time and it's and it's a wonderful thing because it shows. What's happening in whittling it absolutely and part of their strategies to get influencers out to the -- Wednesday they could be taken out New York Times reporters they've been written up in the LA times. On the taken out in foundation. Folks so they're really getting the word out about how faster coast is disappearing. -- terrific. Other ones that are in the class this year. So we have and had another on company culture of the school studio. And she is working to make teachers -- problem better problem solvers and their classrooms. And says she just she's gotten over 200000 dollars in contracts with. Stanford University Jefferson Parish schools her name is Amy -- and she is test rocket this year. 200000 dollars and -- today on its Chicago public education funds if she she's is going gangbusters. Content we have two in the arts and culture on category so one is pelican -- And they are working its view on they have different parts of their business but one part is activation. Speaking building. On also activation of like corporate and -- and spaces so. One of their on big wins this year is the Saratoga. On with the commercial space the first floor that didn't have much going on in and they. On security at pop up museum called movie house Nolan and over 15100 people attended. In this with -- as an anti commercial space that they just turn into something wonderful. -- and they're going to be on staging. There. Magic -- that propeller poplar tent at the propeller -- -- it was just a week from today that's right and you can go online to get tickets that's right and you -- what does it propellant dot com. It's actually go -- -- -- go in propellant dot org that's right yes and get two tickets and say five dollars but not to be missed nine Thursday. In Iraq to go ahead and notre. -- athlete and another venture uncalled where you are there where -- -- dot net the air a community and platform for artists that they have for all local artists. And need help artists generate over 30000 dollars and are still since they launched their website just a few months ago. On they've got over fifty artists on the website and they help them -- become the help other artist becomes sustainable. You know the goal mean even though we're talking all good causes it is a business so they have to learn. What it takes to be sustainable. That's right and there are two things that we work on in the program one is this social or environmental impact. And the other is a financial sustainable whenever it is for that company whether it's making this number of sales on. -- generating this much revenue in order for them to you would do their due their passion full time. And that's why I think Andrea is just a perfectly suited for this because she has. A real solid business understanding as to some of the other staff people. But she has sort of -- dreamers mentality as well and she believes you know she's she will. Believe anybody in support anybody's dream if they come to it and are willing to think through that with propeller and and develop the business plan. Well we're gonna take another break we're. Come back and were gonna ask about how one becomes a fellow and a little bit more about that next not pop out but. The pitch -- pitch so pitch everybody stay with us we'll be right back. Well if you're not inspired to have been paying attention because if you've ever had a dream ever had a thought you know I'd like to try this. Propeller is your opportunity it's your opportunity to be surrounded by people who can help you in many ways. But also give you that little space where -- at the desk or. Little office and as we've been hearing from and reaction who has executive director and founder of this. It's it is this something that feeds on itself but sometimes you can be very isolated with your idea and this way. So if somebody comes in and does rent space in their working on their project. How -- -- -- staff helped them. So a lot of it's organic but we also do a lot of that and so for example we just started Tuesday morning -- 8 AM one river you have got content of our conference -- -- -- -- great place to meet people. We all -- you monthly on monthly lunches with people so. We recently brought in a law firm and every month they come into a monthly legal corner. And then we -- luncheon in the kitchen in the lounge so through over on people's left -- we have a lot of events of people obviously brownie you -- -- And I training I mean during the about the community training I think that's a wonderful. Yes no every Saturday we were having on a computer computer literacy training and that way is put on by the Google Google community leaders program. We also have a bunch of workshops coming on coming online so we've done one on ones on 3-D printing. I'm so I don't know if you all have heard the case we have three treaty Pinter is at propeller. I'm courtesy of whenever attendants public laboratories and we've been teaching classes on that to -- never have on you played with a three primary should come take a class on how to use one. We also teach coating so programming. And injured -- circuits these are all coming -- if you go to go propeller dot org it back slash events you can sign up for these courses. We have another class coming up for on for potential farmers on how to start a farm. We have a payroll hiring and firing in setting up your payroll. That's just. So important again we have the dream but the reality is running company yes and it's all about execution so that's something that we really help people stay on track. On and making sure that their idea is get implement and and now on your next -- -- like the pitch but pitch right the pitch is for the next series of ideas and people know about it but. Be thinking -- if you're out there I have something to pitch. Absolutely and -- help you with your applications -- the deadline for the early application if you want feedback. Is may 25 there with only a week and a half away on and if you submit your application early our staff will tell you exactly what you need to do to make it -- The final deadline is June -- Now for all those people out there who aren't good at like money and financials it's okay on we will help you develop your budget if you don't know how to deal. That's one thing that's that's the resource -- threats yes. Some propeller has the pitches so they do several pitches during the year and that's for people to come in that have a great idea that wanna get some. Some training and and some support financial support. And they have their accelerator program and that's the intensive. Ten month program where you have an idea you've worked out you worked it out a bit and you apply and you can get accepted to the accelerator program. Ten months of training they do community training as Andrea was just saying. And then I have. The space yes I am I forgetting anything -- -- -- so those are the components -- propeller. And you did abuse. And it's about. Again. I think the origin of what you started though was this social awareness and so good luck on all your company's and you want them to make money cassettes. But having -- but it is with more than that absolutely yeah. And I just I just have loved listening to every single one you've done for people who want to apply as fellows had a they do that. They go online it's go propeller got an orgy on back slash -- -- Mary very an online application their only nine questions. Remember you don't have to be seen it could be anybody anybody tonight -- -- a little bit more about some of your loan and open the women with the maternal. I -- that for some reason yesterday -- that there's a company called birthmark -- collective. And they work their maternal health advocates and city help women pregnant moms they teach a pregnancy class -- childbirth childbirth education classes. And they have -- list that are maternal health advocate to help you figure pregnancy. Now what's really exciting about these ladies is that when they started they were just the -- had full time jobs. And and throughout the process they were able he quit their jobs and get their own space at catty corner from the propeller building they've got their own building now. On and me they're pregnant ladies on coming across that corner Washington abroad on going to classes soak them and then mommy and daddy classes. Are happening just right across the street and then they're also on making plans to build up the first on the birth center in Portland. Oh my gosh that's terrific yes. How did you get your -- did you just spotted it. Actually it was the UA dairy chance encounter with a friend -- everything in New Orleans if they're your friends that we're so glad that we have been -- -- oh my friend -- and we were meeting for lunch talking about something else. And he said. Injury I had the building it is an old tire rim shot. On in -- very big on on the corner of Washington Brad how about we meet at a home for social on two hours I said why not let's do it. So we on about an eight year and a half after we had that conversation we opened our building. And I have to say a lot of our first on tenants where people we're just people who really believed in us because the building wasn't. Or was completely done. And on whenever friends foundation for Louisiana -- Daniels. On hadn't even stepped foot in the building he signed his -- You're at what occupants and now -- -- a 100% of their offices and our permanent asks we can fit more people and co working. So on but if you want a -- and a private office we also have a Wheatley and so. That the -- people transition out so. We can we get to win and who's to say there will be another building one -- I mean you might just expand expand expand we might see you -- and I. But I love to hear stories like that whether it's taking the dream to fruition or in it is. You the chance encounter. Thank happened people didn't show up for the book club another look at this may never have happened after and thank heaven there people who say. Why not when it's big. Crazy idea instead of saying all the reasons why can't it be done. Why now. Yes that's the way to end this I cheer you all along again Thursday a week from tonight is your big pop. Yes not gallon it's upon its 35 dollars or forty dollars at the door. It's going to be the pop up trucks I can't imagine any better food. And wonderful drink and money fund. And wonderful meeting people there yes and that's what it's about it on its propeller pop when he fourteen dot -- bright dot com. Thank you Andrea good luck continued to test you Linda thank you every Wednesday when this. Well if you're not inspired again you're listening -- remember that name. And go by their building I'm telling you brought in Washington. And feel the excitement stay with us also has now we're gonna meet some very special people who are reinventing themselves.