By Alejandra Guzman
Often, a long-term vision for economic development is hard to understand when you don’t see immediate results.
Two decades ago, many economic developers around town were rife with hope. They knew New Orleans had good people who believed in the city and were pressing for ways the community could connect and launch scalable entrepreneurial ventures. As a result, organizations such as the Idea Village were pushing for entrepreneurship as the agent of change needed in New Orleans to reverse decades of economic and social decline.
Years later, acquisitions of New Orleans companies like LUCID validate these ideas. For example, we learned that the Cint Group agreed to buy New Orleans-based analytics company Lucid for around $1.1 billion in late October, making it New Orleans’ first unicorn.
Startups that reach $1 billion in valuation for sure raise hope of innovation and entrepreneurship-driven growth for our city at a time when COVID-19 has caused so much damage.
In addition to LUCID, there have been other uplifting announcements in our ecosystem. For example, Levelset was bought in September for $500 million, and Latin American company Beliv bought Big Easy Bucha in November.
These transactions represent over two decades of efforts within the startup community. Exits validate New Orleans as a great place to start a business and continue with the cycle of investments and as inspiration to other entrepreneurs.
These acquisitions are proof of the value of supporting long-term economic development strategies. Both Levelset and Lucid were part of the Idea Village’s annual pitch competition and have benefited from their training opportunities and exposure to a broader network of funders and supporters.
Funding has been a long-standing concern for our city’s startups, and quite frankly, any startup in the country. The sales of these startups that local investors backed means that the investors will now have a cash pool for potentially supporting other local firms.
We hope this will be the case. Money that goes into a bank account does not help the ecosystem. Instead, the money needs to be reinjected into the community to fund other startups in the ecosystem.
We should all celebrate these exits as they are a big deal for our community!
The country needs to know what is happening in New Orleans. The more they hear about these accomplishments, the greater our chances of attracting talent and investors to continue growing.