Learn from failure, entrepreneurs advise

Entrepreneur Panel
Leaders of four business incubators discuss the boom of entrepreneurship in New Orleans and how law students can contribute at an Aug. 27 panel on the Tulane University uptown campus. (Photo by Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo)

The best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs might sound counterintuitive: “Be comfortable failing,” Tim Williamson, CEO of New Orleans startup hub The Idea Village, told Tulane Law School students learning how law intertwines with new businesses.

“Great entrepreneurs welcome failure because they learn from every unsuccessful venture,” Williamson said during a panel discussion on the thriving entrepreneurship climate in New Orleans.

Matt Candler of 4.0 Schools, Andrea Chen of Propeller and Colin Grussing and Jason Seidman (a 2012 Tulane Law School graduate) of 52Businesses explained how their incubators are helping develop opportunities to boost the local economy.

The Aug. 27 presentation during law professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard’s Law and Entrepreneurship class provides another example of the ways in which Tulane University is expanding the reach of experiential learning. During the fall semester, students in the class plan to create their own venture so they’ll better understand the hurdles that future clients are likely to face.

“Make a resume of what you stink at,” Williamson advised. That’s because the best entrepreneurs know their limitations and then surround themselves with others who excel in those areas.

Chen, executive director of Propeller, said it’s vital to clearly articulate the mission and measures of success. Propeller assists businesses that address specific social, environmental and economic problems.

“To move big problems, we need many pieces working together with a clear picture of our endgame,” she said.

The city’s newest business accelerator, 52Businesses, aims to help one fledgling venture per week test and crystallize goals, preparing them to apply to larger incubators. Seidman said New Orleans’ climate of fast-paced, collaborative growth makes that mission possible.

Williamson called that spirit invaluable: “Like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, each group has their own way of doing things, and they try to help each other along the way.”

The panel was the first event for the Law/Culture/Innovation initiative with the Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship program.

Originally posted by The New Wave. Written by Ali Mansfield, a communications and marketing coordinator in the Tulane Law School.