Panelists Say Path To Success For Startups Not Easy, Equity Important

By Richard Thompson
The Advocate

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)  This article takes a look inside one of the panels at the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, an eight-day lineup of seminars, workshops and social gatherings supporting and spotlighting local entrepreneurs.  (As an aside, the Junior league of New Orleans is offering a Women Entrepreneurship fellowship which includes a grant, mentoring and access to workspace, for more info

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA

Brian Bordainick had some advice for entrepreneurs still undecided on the best way to raise capital to grow: Celebrate getting a bank loan on your own instead of giving up a piece of your fledgling idea.

“At the end of the day, you’re an entrepreneur. Your equity is really the only thing you have in this world, and you should be stubborn as all hell not to give that up for any reason whatsoever,” said Bordainick, the founder and CEO of Dinner Lab, a New Orleans-based membership-driven catering and events business that operates in 31 cities.

Bordainick spoke on a panel Tuesday on the fifth day of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, an eight-day lineup of seminars, workshops and social gatherings supporting and spotlighting local entrepreneurs.

Juggling the pressures of “dancing for the investors” is enough of a challenge, Bordainick told the crowd of a few dozen at The Chicory, “when you’re tasked with the very difficult task of running a startup company.”

“All of that is just a straight-up distraction,” he said.

Now in its eighth year, Entrepreneur Week — sponsored by the nonprofit Idea Village — was expected to draw thousands of entrepreneurs, business executives, investors and business students to the city to take part in more than 100 events.

Bordainick’s panel included Trey Fayard, the founder and CEO of New Orleans-based regional charter operator GLO, which launched last year and offers nonstop service from New Orleans to multiple Gulf Coast cities.

“There’s no easy path, and it took us many years,” Fayard said of raising capital, a process that took him years of work.

Asked what separates New Orleans’ business climate from high-profile entrepreneurial cities like Austin, Texas, the panelists agreed that the region needs to notch a few wins. Those would be home-grown startups that are nurtured here and later sold for a big, eye-catching sum. That would put the city on the map of more investors and also pump new money into the hands of the company’s employees, who can then reinvest funds into other local businesses.

“What this city is missing right now is people who have gotten rich off of startups, off of investing in startups,” Bordainick said. “You need to have that happening, I think, before the ecosystem becomes where it really needs to be.”

The week’s events are slated to culminate with the Big Idea, a live pitch competition that pits local startups against each other for prize money. The competition will be held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday on Fulton Street in downtown New Orleans.

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