Hoping to ride the momentum of a growing tech sector, NOLATech Week kicked off this week with a slate of events intended to showcase the industry’s local growth and bent toward entrepreneurship.
The week’s events include three days of community-led programs, followed by a two-day conference beginning Thursday at New Orleans Jazz Market.
Events — found at nolatech week.org — include a free, hands-on coding course, a pitch competition, and roundtable and panel discussions hosted by industry experts and observers, including representatives from Microsoft and Twitter.
“You see a lot of connections made during this week because people are working on similar projects, and they combine them or find complementary ways,” said Jason Seidman, NOLATech Week’s executive director.
Scheduled speakers include Ethan Fedida, senior social media manager for The Huffington Post, and Carly Gillis, a deputy editor of Upworthy, a news aggregation site that focuses on sharable content.
The pitch competition, hosted by TechCrunch, is slated for Thursday. Ten companies will have 60 seconds each to pitch their products to an audience and panel of local judges, who will conduct a brief question-and-answer session before settling on a winner of a prime table at a major TechCrunch event.
Overall, Seidman expects that the week’s 70 events will draw participants from more than 30 states and four countries. “It’s growing every second, actually,” he said.
Hosting TechCrunch’s pitch competition is a coup, he said, because the news site more often sticks to established tech hubs such as New York or San Francisco. Taken together with the New Orleans sector’s slow but steady growth, Seidman described it as a positive sign that the local tech sector has gained ground in the three years since the conference launched.