This week marks the 8th annual NOEW, and the city is buzzing with activities to support and celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation in New Orleans. As part of the week’s happenings, we’ve joined forces with 8 distinguished entrepreneurs and leaders so you can meet them in the back seat for a free 15-minute ride around downtown New Orleans. Get career advice, pitch an idea, or just glean as much wisdom as you can.
On-Demand Mentors Wednesday, March 16 12 pm – 2:30 pm
How it works:
On Wednesday (3/16) from 12 – 2:30 pm, open the Uber app in the coverage zone and slide over to the MENTOR option
If available, you’ll be randomly matched with a mentor and picked up curbside for a FREE 15-minute mentorship
At the end of the trip, you’ll be dropped off at your pickup location
Demand will be high and availability limited
Coverage zone map:
ProTip: Get the most out of your session by being prepared for your trip. Have your resume available or a clear list of goals you’d like to discuss during your ride.
Meet the mentors:
Jenny Blake, Business Strategist
Jenny Blake is an author, career and business strategist and international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One (Portfolio/Penguin, September 2016), and Life After College (Running Press, 2011), which is based on her blog of the same name. With two years at a technology start-up as the first employee, five years at Google on the Training and Career Development teams, and over three years of running her own business, Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients pivot their career or business.
Mike DeBoer, CIO at GE Digital Solutions Technology Center, New Orleans
Mike DeBoer has 28 years of business leadership in GE and the Financial Services industry spanning the Commercial, Consumer, and Retail Banking sectors. He came to New Orleans to develop a new Technology Center serving the GE Company. This new center, located in the New Orleans Business District, is providing Information Technology Services for GE with over 200 employees and growing. Mike joined GE in 1995 and has held many different leadership roles in the United States, Denmark, United Kingdom, and France. Prior to coming to new Orleans, Mike served as CIO of GE Capital Global Banking, leading IT for the Consumer Banking Platforms outside the United States.
Daryn Dodson, Private Equity and Venture Capital Consultant to Board of Directors, Calvert Funds
Daryn Dodson leads the Special Equities Program at the Calvert Funds, which has invested more than $90 million in impact investing funds and companies. Prior to this, Mr. Dodson served as Director of University and Corporate Partnerships for the Idea Village, where he coordinated more than 1,000 MBAs and corporate leaders to help New Orleans entrepreneurs after Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Dodson started his career at the Center for Responsible Lending, working as a policy associate on legislation to protect low-income homeowners from predatory lending. Mr. Dodson currently serves as a Board Director for Ben and Jerry’s, Heifer Foundation, and Impact Hub DC, and.is President of the Stanford GSB Alumni DC Chapter.
Mike Eckert, Chairman and CEO of Pathfire
Mike Eckert is a seasoned business executive with particular expertise in the early stage investment eco-system. He has extensive start up experiences as a member of the launch team of The Weather Channel/Weather.com where he served as its President and CEO for 14 years. He also served as Chairman and CEO of Pathfire, a leading digital video asset management and distribution company for the media industry. Mike currently is Chairman of the NO/LA Angel Network a group of 110 high net-worth individuals that invests in early stage companies.
Lauren LeBlanc, Founder of Fleurty Girl
Lauren LeBlanc is the woman behind the New Orleans brand, Fleurty Girl. Her personal story and “you-can-do-it spirit” has continued to motivate and inspire people. In May 2009, this single mother of three took her income tax refund check and invested all of it into her own idea, Fleurty Girl, a unique New Orleans collection of tees and apparel. Within a month, Lauren sold out of her initial inventory and continued to do so every time she came out with more items. Locals fell in love with the brand and tourists sought it out as well. Lauren opened her first shop six months later and today has five locations around New Orleans and turned her $2,000 tax refund check into a multi-million dollar company.
Julie Lenzer, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Julie Lenzer was appointed to lead the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in May of 2014. In her capacity as Director of the OIE, she is charged with driving programs such as the Regional Innovation Strategies grant programs, managing the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Secretary of Commerce, and working with the Administration to create policies that support innovative economic development such as innovation-based entrepreneurship and regional innovation clusters.
Chris Massingill, Co-Chairman of Delta Regional Authority
Chris Massingill was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2010 to serve as the second Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, an independent federal agency created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic and community development in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state Mississippi River Delta region. Under Masingill’s leadership, the DRA launched its Small Business & Entrepreneurship Initiative to focus investments into organizations and programs that support the cultivation of innovation and job creation that come from our small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Dann Schwartz, Entrepreneur
Dann Schwartz has started and grown multiple companies into successful enterprises over the past 20 years. These companies included medical devices, e-commerce, manufacturing and distributorships selling to specialty clothing stores, department stores and national chains. He is a founding partner of Optimum Return, LLC where he heads Business Development. Dan is also actively involved with Sesame Communications, Kidron Corporate Advisors, Idea Village, and the NO/LA Angel Network.
Sara Thomas, Principal at Maven Ventures
Sara Thomas has been working with startup founders for over seven years. In addition to investing in seed-stage consumer startups at Maven, she works hands-on with the 20+ companies in the Maven portfolio and manages the Maven mentor network. Prior to joining Maven, Sara ran early-stage startup programming at The Idea Village, an entrepreneurship engine in New Orleans which has been driving the entrepreneurial rebirth of The Big Easy post-Katrina. While at The Idea Village, she built and managed a team of over 40 employees, contractors, and mentors to deliver direct services to over 1,200 companies.
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