BATON ROUGE – Entrepreneurs across the state will have the opportunity to apply for venture capital funding and business development resources as part of a new start-up accelerator program funded by Techstars and Louisiana Economic Development.
Techstars, a global investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship and programming for early-stage entrepreneurs, will operate the new program as part of the $80 million Advancing Cities Fund raised through the J.P. Morgan Private Wealth platform last fall. New Orleans was among nine cities selected to house the program, which is designed to create opportunities for wealth creation among a diversified range of founders often constrained by institutional, structural and systemic barriers.
“This public-private partnership with Techstars further strengthens Louisiana’s already thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “The state’s investment in program operations ensures that entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses across Louisiana have equal access to this unique opportunity, which benefits the economy of the entire state.”
The program will invest in 12 companies in 2023, with the possibility of additional cohorts in 2024 and 2025. The application period opens March 13 and concludes May 10. Founders will be notified in late June. Beginning in mid-August, the selected founders will go through Techstars’ unique 13-week accelerator program, during which they are supported by a community of mentors, investors, alumni and partners.
Founders interested in applying for the program can apply online here.
“We’re thrilled to be working with J.P. Morgan, LED, and GNO, Inc., on this accelerator. We’ve seen again and again the role a Techstars program can play in supercharging the local startup ecosystem,” said Nate Schmidt, Techstars General Manager of Americas East and Head of Product and Founder Experience. “I can’t wait to meet the first 12 companies, and to show off all the amazing resources waiting for them in New Orleans and throughout the Techstars Network.”
New Orleans joins New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Oakland and Washington, D.C. as host cities for the program. J.P. Morgan Commercial Banking mentors in each market provide support and financial guidance throughout the program, leveraging the breadth and depth of the J.P. Morgan network to help advise each founder and company.
“The startups in the inaugural class are an inspiration to us all with their innovation, drive and grit, and it’s a great privilege to be part of their growth stories,” said Leyonna Barba, managing director, Technology & Disruptive Commerce, Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries, J.P. Morgan Commercial Banking. “We’re focused on building community ecosystems to improve access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs and provide support and expertise that goes beyond traditional banking.”
Although program participation is not limited to New Orleans companies, GNO, Inc., will have an active support role as LED’s regional partner on the project.
“This programming is essential for the New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem to continue its growth and support of founders from across the state of Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Giving startups, many of them underserved, access to Techstars programming will supercharge their rate of success, leading to increased economic activity, job creation, and wealth in emerging industries that know no borders.”
LED offers a wide range of programs for entrepreneurs and small businesses at every stage of development, such as the Small and Emerging Business Development program, Hudson and Veteran Initiatives, and the LED Growth Network, including CEO Roundtables and the System for Integrated Growth, as well as special initiatives for women, minority, rural and veteran entrepreneurs. The department’s support of small business continues to grow with additional capital access programming being made available through the State Small Business Credit Initiative and one of the top state-funded Small Business Innovation and Research grant match programs in the country.
The state’s support for entrepreneurs is consistently recognized among the nation’s best. The International Economic Development Council gave Louisiana Gold Awards for entrepreneurship in 2019 and 2021. And one of the nation’s oldest and most respected business leadership development organizations, the Edward Lowe Foundation, presented LED with its inaugural Founders Award in 2022.