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Why Tech Transplants Come to New Orleans - and Why They Stay

Posted by Jillian Firnhaber on April 26, 2016

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We'll never again have to "know what it means to miss New Orleans"...because we decided to never leave. LookFar is interviewing transplants in tech and entrepreneurship on why they chose to call the Crescent City home. Share your story by emailing jillianf@lookfar.com

Welcome to part 1 of this 3 (and counting) part series! Follow the links to read our second and third installments, each featuring new founders and techies. 


Sean CarriganCarrigan.png

CEO, MobileQubes

Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland

"I moved to New Orleans from NYC in 2011. I moved as part of the founding team at my first start-up after we raised a round of funding that included participation from the New Orleans Start-Up Fund. We wanted to be part of the growing entrepreneurial community in New Orleans and successfully built up the business which led to our Series A round. Once that round happened, the company moved operations to San Francisco, but I stayed here in New Orleans to pursue my next venture, MobileQubes.

I quickly fell in love with New Orleans, made it home, and MobileQubes continues to grow with New Orleans as our home base. My hope is to stay in this great city and create jobs and opportunities as we scale MobileQubes into a home grown success. The support from the community here is amazing and we are starting to see more access to capital in the market. There is much more work to do, but we are on the right path and I am thrilled that MobileQubes is part of the entrepreneurial growth in New Orleans."

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Rupa MohanRupa.png

Founder, The Sweat Social

Hometown: New York City

"When my inner pressure cooker was screaming and my anxiety was at all time highs, my husband jumped up from our co-working desk in Singapore and said “Hey! There’s this big entrepreneurial festival in New Orleans called NOEW, we have to go!” That was it.

We arrived in New Orleans from New Delhi for NOEW 2015 and never looked back.

After our 5th day in the city, I knew I had made the right decision (likely because my neighbors gave me free Jazz Fest tickets as a welcome present).

I can’t thank the people who put the NOEW 2015 conference together enough and the team at the Idea Village. Without their help, our company, The Sweat Social, wouldn't be where it is today.

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KG Charles-Harris
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CEO, Quarrio

Hometown: Sweden

"I’m originally from Sweden. I spent my teenage years in the Caribbean and moved back to Europe for education. Then it was time for my stint in Silicon Valley; first with a tech company we brought from Norway to prepare for an IPO, and then building a bootstrapped company and selling it in 2000. I am now building Quarrio, a software company that enables users to ask questions of databases in ordinary English.

PowerMoves NOLA brought me to New Orleans the summer of 2015 for their conference, and I had an immediate reaction to the city. The food, friendliness and budding entrepreneurial ecosystem were impressive. After the conference, PowerMoves staff followed up with information on incentives and other positive factors in the environment. Yet again I was amazed at the zeal with which everyone worked together to make New Orleans great. After discussions with different organizations and people, and being informed of the benefits, we decided to build Quarrio in NOLA.

It’s been a great experience — moving away from Silicon Valley was scary at first, but the value of the supportive environment in New Orleans trumps most of the benefits with being in California.

In addition, where can you find food, music and art on this level? There are only 3 cities in the USA; New York, San Francisco and New Orleans.

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Chris ReadeChris.png

President, LookFar

Hometown: New York City

"I moved to New Orleans because of a vague notion that it was where I belonged.  At first I wasn't really sure, frankly. I blathered some "culture", "music", and "food" platitudes but didn't really understand the appeal myself.  My wife used to say "there's an atmosphere here" but she didn't quite grasp it either, although she was closer. 

Eventually, and I think it was Katrina that really ended up focusing it for me, I realized that I stayed here because I love the values that this place has at its core.

The value that I mean specifically is the idea that living a good life is a worthwhile goal in and of itself.  I know of no other place where money, fame, and power are secondary to the goal of a life well lived."

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Crystal McDonald
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CEO, Acrew

Hometown: Houston, TX

"I moved to New Orleans because I married a New Orleans boy, and New Orleans boys stay in New Orleans! That worked out beautifully, because the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our city is growing fast. What makes it unique is this sense of connectedness that you just can't find in any other start-up community." 

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Felipe MassaFelipe.png

Assistant Professor of Management, Loyola College of Business

Hometown: São Paulo, Brasil

"I came to New Orleans after finishing my PhD because it was a wonderful place to conduct research on entrepreneurial ecosystem development. I wanted to figure out what siren song was bringing entrepreneurs, developers, and investors to a place that had never been associated with disruptive innovation. I stayed because of the food, the charming people and that nagging, amazing feeling that you are helping to build something really special."

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David Denny
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Partner, Joule Energy

Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland

"After driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile around the country for a year (no joke, real job), I had a good appreciation of the people and cultures throughout the U.S. and how much overarching similarity there is nationwide.

The first time I visited New Orleans, I was struck by how different it felt - totally unique and heterogeneous.

An additional visit for my first Mardi Gras, which happened to line up with the Saints Super Bowl celebration, was more than enough to convince me to move to the Big Easy and embrace the city wholeheartedly. 

My first job was with a contractor doing oil spill cleanup work during the BP Oil Spill in 2010, and several months of doing manual labor along the coast taught me that I never wanted to work with oil again. Instead, I joined the burgeoning renewable energy industry, and now I help people and businesses throughout New Orleans and the Gulf South go solar."

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Brian JonesBrianJones.png

President, Mirliton Media

Hometown: Nebraska, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, among others

"A chance opportunity brought me to New Orleans for two years.  That was 1998.  I was told once that New Orleans either gets under your skin, or gets into your soul.


Have a great story about why you moved to New Orleans? Know a tech-whiz or entrepreneur who does? We want to hear it! Email jillianf@lookfar.com.

Tell the story of your startup city
Jillian Firnhaber

Written by Jillian Firnhaber