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Exploring New Orleans, Startup by Startup

New Orleans startups want your feedback.

New Orleans has always been a hotbed of musical, artistic, and culinary creativity. But the process of rebuilding the city after Katrina and the influx of talent and energy that has stepped up to the challenge has transformed the city into a new kind of hub: for start-ups and social innovation. A new program called NOLAbound is determined to prove that New Orleans is indeed one of the "coolest" places to start a business, as Inc. magazine called it earlier this year.

Applications open today for the chance to be one of 25 professionals to take an "unfiltered" look at New Orleans' flourishing social entrepreneurship community on an all-expenses-paid trip to the city during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. For five days in March, NOLAbound participants will get to hobnob with leaders of startups including Receivables Exchange, which helps businesses gain access to capital, and NAKED Pizza, a natural fast-food pizza company. Visitors will get to tour the city's bioscience incubator and participate in Entrepreneur Week events. "We'll have stuff for people to do, but it's going to be completely up to individuals," says spokesman Michael Azzano, emphasizing that a big part of the trip is exploring the city. "We don't want to lock anyone into a schedule."

The hope is that influential outsiders can lend their perspective to help the local business community get better at what they're doing. In turn, they'll spread the word about the city's creativity energy through their social media. "We want people to come down and meet the businesses in new Orleans... and give us the assessment of where we are," says Azzano. Applications are open for a month; click here to apply.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user David Reber

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