Coworking in New Orleans: Launch Pad
Last month, Cambridge Space & Community Manager Ann Holland took a trip to our favorite coworking space south of the Mason-Dixon line: Launch Pad. With people flocking to New Orleans for upcoming Jazz Fest, we here at Workbar thought it would be the perfect time to feature Launch Pad and its amenities for visitors looking to find a temporary workspace while in town. Visiting New Orleans is like visiting a different country. As a transplant living on the East Coast for close to six years now, I’ve managed to shed most of my native Midwestern politeness in favor of a gruffer, scrappier demeanor influenced by Boston’s heads-down, don’t-bother-me-I-won’t-bother-you attitude (we’re nice, it just takes a little prodding to get our attention). Arriving in New Orleans for the first time, I pause for a minute to appreciate the dense head of humidity that hits my face as soon as I exit the airport’s automatic glass doors. This soupy atmosphere is a welcome change from Boston’s frigid temperatures, but I soon find that the differences between this southern wonderland and the city I call home aren’t just skin deep.
My first full day in the city, I take some time settle into my airbnb in the Marigny, a quaint neighborhood in close proximity to Frenchman Street and bordered by the city’s French Quarter and Bywater neighborhoods. Frenchman Street is famous for it’s string of jazz clubs and a thriving nightlife, as well as the Frenchman Art Market.
My first order of business that afternoon is to make my way to Launch Pad, a coworking space located about a ten minute walk from the French Quarter. It’s pouring rain outside but I decide to walk the 2 miles from my airbnb anyway, and as I amble along in the downpour I experience something of a culture shock. First and foremost is the array of candy-bright colors and intricate cast iron balconies that adorn the Colonial French and Spanish architecture- the visual landscape alone is enough to remind me I’m not in Kansas anymore.
Even more stark is the difference in the people. I am shocked to find that NOLA residents are friendly, and genuinely so. Friendly as in go out of their way to acknowledge your existence, say hello, and make pleasant conversation. The entrepreneurial spirit also seems to be deeply embedded in the residents and the culture at large. The streets are crowded with independent shops and businesses, musicians assemble full bands in the streets and squares, and houses and yards are strewn with DIY home, garden, and art projects. People seem to come to NOLA to make self-expression a way of life. I can’t even imagine the life, joy, music and art that thrives in this city during Jazzfest and Mardi Gras. I am immediately disappointed that I have only 5 days here.
By the time I arrive at Launch Pad, I’ve gotten my Bayou-legs so to speak. Katy, the Space & Community Manager, is the first face I see. I regrettably interrupt her lunch with my arrival. I learn quickly that Launch Pad is for the most part a one-woman show: Katy manages day to day space and member issues, sales and tours, and anything else that might come up over the course of the day.
While Launch Pad has a reputation as the more “tech-focused” coworking space in the city, their member base of 65 companies is varied in terms of company size and sector, similar to the Workbar community. Other coworking spaces in NOLA have more niche customer bases like Beta, which focuses on design and fashion; Propeller, which focuses on entrepreneurs out to solve social and environmental issues; and the Bio-Innovation Center, an incubator with work and lab space for the bio-innovation sector.
Launch Pad’s 11,000 square feet are split between three floors in a shared building, with the two upperfloors consisting of dedicated desk and private offices, and the first floor functioning as open workspace. Despite the three floor split, Launch Pad still has a community feeling to it. Common spaces dot the halls between offices and desks, giving room for teams to break out of their office and meet in less formal settings. The downstairs open work space seems to be a hub for everything from mail to casual conversations about where to get lunch. It’s down here that members suggest I try a frozen Pimm’s cup at St. Lawrence on my way back toward the French Quarter. This group of members is also the reason I find myself eating a muffuletta sandwich double the size of my head (not exaggerating) for lunch a half an hour later.
Launch Pad is getting ready to grow- Katy mentions a hopeful expansion along with a move to their own building and they recently hired a full time Events Director. They’re looking to broaden their appeal in creative ways as well. We discuss a gap in NOLA’s coworking market for people in sound production, filmmaking and similar audio/visual fields. With such specific space needs, Launch Pad is brainstorming ways to make their space functional and accessible for less traditional uses and help fill that gap.
With a list of great amenities and weekly Lunch & Learns, hackathons, meetups, and even an early morning Entrepreneurs Anonymous group, this vibrant and friendly space is a joy to visit.
If you’re in town for Jazz Fest this weekend, consider making this your remote working home away from home. They'll also be hosting their 5th annual Launch Fest, (or "Jazz Fest for Startups") which coincides with the 2nd weekend of Jazz Fest. Visitors interested in attending Launch Fest or just working out of Launch Pad for the day can tweet them at @launchpad to let them know you're coming and get discount codes.
For those who can’t make it to Jazz Fest, why not try out coworking right here in Boston? Click here to try a free day at one of our Workbar hub locations!
About the Author: Ann Holland is a Space & Community Manager at Workbar Cambridge. You may also address her as Potroast. Catch her on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @SamuelEnderby