Our Story

What started on a cocktail napkin has turned into a global movement.

Like a startup, The Idea Village has iterated over time to achieve our goals. What began with a small group of emerging leaders and young entrepreneurs seeking to hack the chronic complacency of New Orleans has become an army of passionate individuals and intelligent organizations creating opportunities, choices, and a new generation of leaders. Entrepreneurial leaders are inspiring others and paying it forward with their success.

  • 2000

    The Loa Group

    The Idea Village is conceived on a napkin by founding partners, Allen Bell, Sally Forman, Sam Giberga, Darin McAuliffe, Michele Reynoir, Tim Williamson, Robbie Vitrano, at the Loa Bar. Petro Designs wins the self-named Loa Group’s business plan competition and receives a prize package of cash and in-kind services worth over $125,000.

  • 2002

    It's Official

    The Idea Village formalizes as an independent 501©(3) nonprofit organization, sets up shop in Trumpet Advertising, and launches its first business accelerator program.

  • 2003

    Catalyzing an Ecosystem

    The Idea Village launches “Roundtables” to discuss strategies for building an ecosystem in partnership with Pan American Life and GNO, Inc.

  • 2005

    Entrepreneur Cohorts

    The Idea Village’s first entrepreneur cohort program launches as ACE, just before Hurricane Katrina hits in August.

  • 2006

    Rebuilding New Orleans

    The Idea Village launches IDEAcorps, an experiential learning program for top MBAs, in partnership with Tulane, to help businesses rebuild post-Katrina.

  • 2007

    Seeding Startups

    The Idea Village introduces Strategic Industry Challenges to seed startups in emerging local industries.

  • 2008

    The IP

    The Idea Village teams up with GNO, Inc. and local real estate developer Brian Gibbs to transform the McGlinchey Stafford law firm in the heart of downtown New Orleans into The IP or Intellectual.

  • 2009

    NOEW Begins

    New Orleans Entrepreneur Week begins as the “IDEAcorps Challenge”, engaging MBAs and corporate volunteers from across the country.

  • 2010

    Introducing IDEAx & Coulter IDEApitch

    The Idea Village launches IDEAx to support the best new New Orleans startups, introduces New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), and teams up with Jim Coulter of TPG Capital to host the Coulter IDEApitch for local companies seeking venture capital.

  • 2011


    The Idea Village launches IDEAinstitute to engage and connect the general community.

  • 2012

    Community Engagement

    The addition of IDEAsessions allows for deeper support of more ventures during the Season, and The Big Idea allows for broad community engagement during NOEW, a tipping point for the movement. Power Pitch is also unveiled, connecting startups with angel investors.

  • 2013

    Growth Through Partnerships

    NOEW outgrows The IP building and all public programming is moved to and hosted at Gallier Hall. A focus on growth through partnerships solidifies the NOEW platform as a powerful tool for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

  • 2014

    Engaging Expats

    The Idea Village launches the New Bienville Society, an initiative focused on scaling the New Orleans renaissance by engaging expats with indelible ties to the city, with Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of The Aspen Institute, and Jim Coulter, Founding Partner of TPG Capital.

  • 2015

    A new home for NOEW

    NOEW moves its headquarters over to Fulton Street in downtown New Orleans, with select, sanctioned events taking place around the region. Closed to drive-through traffic, the Fulton Street festival grounds give attendees their pick of places to continue networking before and after sessions.

  • 2016

    A Record-breaking Year

    New Orleans Entrepreneur Week achieves record attendance and positions itself a critical asset for New Orleans’ future.

  • 2017

    The Idea Village moves to The Shop

    In 2017, The Idea Village moved its operations to The Shop at the Contemporary Arts Center, where it became an anchor tenant. The Shop is a co-working space that serves as a hub of entrepreneurship in the developing Downtown innovation corridor.