I haven’t been ignoring you, truly I haven’t. I’ve just been pre-occupied with an opportunity that came my way this summer. It was July, and there I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business when someone from Propeller New Orleans, a non-profit entrepreneurial accelerator program, contacted me about applying for acceptance into their fall program. I knew a little bit about Propeller, having read an article about them last year, and I was intrigued.
To be very candid with you, even after visiting their site and reading about what they offer and about the business ventures they have helped become successful in the past, I still wasn’t sure my Bayou Woman Adventures was a good fit; and I told them so. Whereas other entities were all about starting non-profits and businesses that seemed to address more social issues in New Orleans, BW is just all about getting her adventures off the ground and making a living while doing so. Oh, nay nay, they disagreed and encouraged me to apply. So I read over the lengthy, detailed application and and pretty much acquiesced, still thinking my three-day immersion trips in bayou country could not possibly make enough social or environmental impact to be worthy of such a program.
My thinking was, of course, full of flaws, because these are disappearing wetlands, and this is a disappearing way of life. Bringing folks down here to spend three days with me, staying at my little camp, eating local seafood, going out into the wetlands and learning about wetland loss, birds, wildlife, plants, culture, and way of life is priceless and shines a spotlight on the environmental, social, and economic issues facing coastal residents. My efforts educate and create awareness, foster stewardship and appreciation for the wetlands, the creatures, and the people who depend on those wetlands for survival.
Now, a little relevant history for our new readers who don’t know what a Bayou Woman Adventure is. Back in June of 2012, I launched the first Bayou Woman Adventure with a group of five women from several states. They went crabbing for their first time ever. They actually caught crab and returned to Camp Dularge, where they boiled them up and ate them. Then we took a back road trip stopping at scenic places along the way like Lapeyrouse Grocery, a 100-year old grocery store and community icon still run by the same family that founded it. We left there and traveled the back roads to Dulac on Bayou Grand Caillou where we enjoyed a meal at Schmoopy’s, the only restaurant in our area with the 100% Certified Authentic Louisiana Seafood rating. That means, ALL the fish, shrimp, oysters, and crab they serve are caught in Louisiana waters. You won’t find tilapia on their menu!
The ladies had a great time, and all the feedback was positive, so this became the model for future adventures, and I really thought I was onto something with my three-day immersion trips. However, I’m not a marketing genius nor an internet or social media guru; and while I attempted to market them via this blog, Facebook, radio, and several women’s internet travel sites, the idea just didn’t take off. In spite of that fact, the decision makers at Propeller decided that my immersion trip idea is a valid one, and out of 100 applications, mine was one of 29 chosen. Instead of giving up, I’m breathing new life into the immersion trip idea, with the help of the brilliant folks at Propeller.
The program runs for 12 weeks, and the “ventures” (as we are called) are divided into four sectors: Food, Health, Education, and Water. I’m in the Water sector, of course. Each venture is teamed with a lead mentor, and mine is Mike Eckert, who served as CEO of The Weather Channel for about eight years. Sitting across the table from him at our first meeting, visions of the TV show “Shark Tank” flew through my head, and I thought, “Man, this guy could be one of those sharks.” But unlike Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, Mike is a very nice man dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed.
Propeller partners with interns from New Orleans universities in areas of business like accounting, social media, advertising, marketing, and more and offers those services to the ventures free of charge. They pair the ventures up with those interns and workshops most needed to either get their venture idea rolling or to further a pre-existing venture, like mine. Along with those weekly meetings with my lead mentor and interns comes homework assignments. Well, I can’t just sit back and allow them to do all the work.
So, what am I leading up to? You’ve been wondering, I know. I hear your wheels spinning. This week begins the last very in-depth four weeks of the program. This is where the rubber meets the road. First big item? The marketing team decided that the venture needs a new name, and that name change will happen this week. Further, the target market of women has changed to 1)Photographers 2)Bird Watchers 3)College Students with a potential secondary market to small families. The five-person team of Loyola interns is working diligently to determine the best way to approach these target markets.
While this blog about Life in the Louisiana Wetlands will remain as is, where is, a new website will most likely be designed under the new name for these immersion trips. Additionally, the immersion trips business will have its own social media presence. I know, us old fogies aren’t into all that social media stuff, but many people of all ages now go to the Internet to plan their trips, and social media is one way to get your key words and business name higher rankings in online searches. I don’t pretend to know much about that, and I certainly don’t have time to learn, and that is just one of many reason why this Propeller opportunity is a blessing for my business. (At this juncture, I must thank LilSis and my current webmaster, without whose help I’d have been lost the past few years!)
Meanwhile, my blog posts have been and may continue to be few and far between from now to the end of the year because I’m spending so much time focused on my homework (plus running Camp Dularge and Wetland Tours, doing my part-time writing and radio gigs and executive director job). So, please don’t abandon me! I’m still here and will post when I can.
Even though I hesitated to apply for this program, I can say I’m very glad I did, and I’m looking forward to seeing my new and improved Bayou Woman Adventures take off in 2016 with the goal of booking four trips per month. Immersion trip, anyone?
Thank y’all for still being here, for being patient with me, and I’ll let you know significant developments as they come along . . .
I’m still your