Incubating in the Big Easy’s Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

By Salesforce.org | May 19, 2016 | Arts, Culture & Humanities, Grants and Philanthropy, Nonprofit, Public & Social Benefit

Earlier this Spring, Salesforce participated in New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (or NOEW) produced by The Idea Village, a nonprofit organization focused first on rebuilding and second on driving positive change in New Orleans through entrepreneurship. NOEW 2016 was the largest ever with 13,000+ entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, students, and community members thoroughly engaged in 119 unique events.

NOEWIt is a self-described week long festival drawing together “locally relevant and globally significant network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, nonprofits, students and professionals to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial successes through discussion, debate, education, competition and celebration”…and that description can’t even begin to describe the way that they channel the spirit of the city and its colorful inhabitants while building inroads for new businesses and just doing good.

EntrepreneurshipFor the sixth consecutive year, Salesforce partnered with Silverline CRM to kick off the week in style by hosting the Salesforce Silverline Challenge, where nonprofits and for-profit entrepreneurs prepare and pitch in a “Shark Tank” style competition; each presenting a 5-minute pitch to a combined panel. The winner of the challenge would be awarded Salesforce consulting services and licenses valued at ~$15,000 from Silverline and a Salesforce Not For Profit Kick Off courtesy of the Salesforce Power of Us Program & the dedicated consulting services of our onsite team of volunteers.

After a dizzying array of compelling pitches, we evaluated the pitches based on presentation style, Salesforce fit, and business value but most importantly we wanted to ensure that the winners had immediate consulting needs that could be met with the Salesforce and Silverline teams. Propeller, a nonprofit business incubator & accelerator, and funder, won best in show. It just so happens that their CEO, Andrea Chen was showcased in Southern Living Women of Worth in 2015 too. IDIYA, a member-based Makerspace that also is the number 1 Makerspace teacher training facility, was our for profit winner.

 Image Credit: Jill Harrison Silverline

While Propeller and IDIYA took down the featured prizes for the Challenge, everyone was a winner. All pitch participants were offered follow-on consulting opportunities with the team throughout our week-long engagement with the Idea Village at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Salesforce engagement at NOEW is 50% planned engagements with vetted non profits, 40% organic engagements with Challenge winners, runners up, and organizations in need of technical guidance.

Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation

PropellerThe nonprofit winner, Propeller, is dedicated to help launch social and environmental ventures to address local challenges in the New Orleans region. They support the local community through their Propeller Incubator facility, which is a 10,000 sq ft collaborative shared space that is used to receive advisory services, as a meeting space, or event space. In 2016, their Impact Accelerator program is focused on growth and sustainability of local ventures across their four core causes: food security, water management, healthcare, and educational equity. This year they are kicking off a not for profit venture fund to extend their capital outside of their primary causes.

PropellerThey came to the Challenge to get help managing their pre-existing Salesforce instance used to manage their clients and donors, program participants, fundraising opportunities, and network of resources. The joint Salesforce and Silverline consulting team was honored to spend three days in discovery deep dives discussing their priorities, addressing their architectural challenges with Salesforce, and identifying next steps to help their team scale and grow.

The Roots of Music

The Roots of MusicAnother incredible non-profit that the team was able to work with was The Roots of Music, an organization that organizes after school programs for music education, academic support and mentorship. Each year, the students that participate in the organization become part of their marching band that has performed at the world famous New Orleans Mardi Gras parade annually since 2009 and has even performed for President Obama when he visited New Orleans on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Roots of MusicRepresentatives from The Roots of Music participated in consulting deep dives during NOEW to get help to set up their Salesforce instance. The team was able to set up a brand new trial Salesforce instance via the Power of Us program and work with The Roots of Music to establish their objectives for using Salesforce. Their focus areas were to track their contacts (students, parents, teachers, volunteers, donors), payments integration with NPSP, courses and attendance, bus scheduling, inventory management, and their impact to the community. Leveraging Salesforce will help their operations team manage assets, track student progress and maximize their vision.

The team partnered with The Roots of Music Development lead and mapped out an initial transformation journey to complete the initial scoping for their go-live release (R1). The team also began initial training in terms of Salesforce best practices as well as Agile development training. Kickoff of the R1 sprints is planned for April 5 with a mid-July initial go-live. With a little luck, the team is crossing their fingers for a repeat performance of their awesome parade march at NOEW!

The Idea Village

The Idea VillageWe also had the privilege of working with NOEW’s host organization, the Idea Village, to identify their Salesforce consulting needs. What the Idea Village is able to do with Salesforce is impressive—they produce the NOEW event and manage their attendees using various tools that ultimately integrate with Salesforce so that they can track their communications against attendance. The Idea VillageOutside of the large NOEW event, the Idea Village provides focused accelerator and brainstorming programs that help set up new entrepreneurs and help established entrepreneurs grow. They track client participation and services provided using Salesforce. Just like any other business, the Idea Village’s business concept and how they track their business has evolved—and it is reflective in their evolution of Salesforce functionality. Leveraging Salesforce’s pro bono consulting services, the Idea Village is looking to optimize their instance, simplify their data entry and reporting and continue to provide incredible services to the local community.

OHANA the Crescent City Way

Our week in New Orleans was a wonderful adventure: meeting and connecting with great local non-profits, growing our network through the NOEW event, and of course, enjoying the unique life of the Big Easy. Just as New Orleans Gumbo brings together the best spices and ingredients to create one of the best New Orleans dishes, the unique combination of Silverline CRM and Salesforce top tier talent brought the best to the NOEW event. Here’s a flavor of some of our secret sauce:

Phuong Tran“This was such a unique opportunity to live the spirit of Salesforce’s 1:1:1 program. Having grown up in New Orleans, I grew up in the city’s poverty and violence. Being able to come back to my hometown, and help great organizations like Propeller and The Roots of Music was an opportunity I could not pass up. Sometime we get stuck in our day to day priorities working with our enterprise customers. It’s refreshing to come back and give back to the roots of where you came from.” – Phuong Tran, Program Architect

Darshil Vora“It has been emotionally and spiritually fulfilling to help local non profits in New Orleans, by providing solutions and optimizations for their business processes. I am grateful to NOEW for this opportunity to interact with people who care deeply about other people and their goals to bring renewable energy to low-income homes, help local children learn music, help startups grow and find resources. This is literally the tip of the iceberg. This was my second year attending NOEW, the growth of the conference is mind blowing.” – Darshil Vora, Customer Experience Designer

Anh Phuong Ta“NOEW brought together multiple facets of passion of mine: volunteering, social and economic empowerment, great food, southern hospitality, and of course consulting. Being able to give back to organizations that are locally focused with a global impact allows me to make a difference. I am proud and grateful that I am able to experience this amazing opportunity.” – Anh Phuong Ta, Service Cloud Sr. Consultant

Tim Miner“This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Not only was the time in New Orleans filled with great cultural experiences, but it brought about an even greater appreciation for what we were doing there in this great city to make it greater than it ever was. New Orleans has the ability to be a shining light for economically deprived regions to not wait for government handouts, but to bootstrap growth one entrepreneur at a time. It made me proud for what we did as a group, it made me proud for what our partner Silverline was able to achieve and it made me proud to be a part of Salesforce – all to see how our little time and effort could enable hope and instill a greater sense of business capability. I cannot wait for next year!” – Tim Miner, Industries Alliance Director.