By Jared Braud
For many generations, food has always brought people together. And on Nov. 15th, Propeller, a social innovator non-profit, hosted its Pop Fundraiser to support its mission of reducing inequities by preparing and launching entrepreneurs in the city.
“Propeller…values businesses other than its own and wants to continue to birth new entrepreneurs in the future,” said Catherine Gans, the marketing and communications manager for Propeller.
Created in 2009, Propeller, located on Washington Avenue, set out to invest in and grow entrepreneurship as a way of tackling social economic disparities, Gans said. Since 2011, Propeller has graduated over 200 entrepreneurs from its programs, and has generated over $150 million in donations to finance its work of supporting entrepreneurship in the City. Propeller uses funds to support its programs like its startup accelerator, its growth accelerator and other services ranging from technology to legal services that small businesses require to launch and sustain themselves. The goal is to help minority, women and veteran-owned businesses to compete and thrive in the city.
Through its Propeller Pop event supported by JP Morgan Chase & Co., at its Incubator, the non-profit showcased its graduates who served up samplings from their pop-up restaurants. Since its inception, Propeller estimates it has created over 460 jobs for New Orleanians.
Graduates at the event have been trained through Propeller’s accelerator program, of which one feature recommends places for pop-up restaurants, to attract customers. A pop-up restaurant is an emerging food business that uses a temporary space to promote signature dishes as well as their brand. David Hargrove, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, was one of the new entrepreneurs who participated in the Pop event. Hargrove served lamb yassa, a West African dish from Senegal. The places he pops-up at are the Restaurant R’evolution, Urban South Brewery, and on Sunday Nov. 18th, he popped up at the Music Box on North Rampart Street. He picked up cooking as a part-time job to pay for his wedding, he said. And although he went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York City and cooked in Brooklyn for a year, he turned to the non-profit to help him launch his business in the city.
“There should be more of these events because it showcases people cooking with passion and puts a smile on people’s faces,” Hargrove said.
Not only did this event promote the pop-up chefs, but also entrepreneurs such as construction workers like Glenn Moore who was one of the graduates of Propeller’s programs. He knows that Propeller is a non-profit organization, but he believes that its impact makes it akin to a million-dollar corporation, he said.
“Propeller tried to make sure that everyone feels included and wants to help its students’ companies get to the next level,” Moore said.
Byron Bradley, a colleague of Hargrove, served in the Navy. Bradley served coconut prawn briouats at the Pop fundraiser. The New Orleans native said he has popped up locally in places such as Lilette, a French restaurant on Magazine Street.
He has been cooking professionally since 2013 and after his time in the service, he chose to pick up cooking because he has a strong passion for it. Cooking is one of the core values that runs in his family, he said.
“I think that the event is great for entrepreneurs to get more exposure and access to space,” Bradley said.