The Big News
Last week marked a high-water line for the New Orleans startup scene and the ResTech community – Lucid agreed to be acquired by Cint for $1.1B. Admittedly, I underestimated the broader impact of this agreement and what it represented for my team and so many others in the space.
I had always thought that the billion dollar line, the “unicorn” status was because of the size of the transaction. Wow, was I wrong. I realize now that another very important “B” in a $1.1B deal stands for Belief – or rather, the change in the belief of what’s possible for a community, for an industry, or for any one of us.
The Origins of Lucid and #NolaTech
The impact of this agreement is far-reaching, but I’ll start with the New Orleans Tech community, or #nolatech. I landed in the Big Easy full-time in 2008 and quickly fell in with the nascent startup scene. We all worked at the IP Building alongside Idea Village, LaunchPad, TurboSquid, iSeatz, and many others. We ate and drank and dreamed at Capdeville. But there is a deeper and older story here, of folks working to change the innovation climate in NOLA. Stories of Metrovision becoming GNO. Of the founding of Idea Village. “What if it works?” Of Deb Elam, convincing the CEO of GE to open an office post-Katrina. From the early 2000s, there was a core group of people who shared a big vision for the region.
What did I learn from all this? The hardest part of entrepreneurship isn’t the business idea, or raising capital, or attracting talent, it is convincing yourself that you CAN do this. That you have the capacity, the skills, and the worthiness to achieve great things. And that belief isn’t just with the founder, it is with the community around them. And that’s what we’ve been working to build, change, and foster in NOLA for 20 years. 2021 is the VALIDATION year. It’s the year that we no longer have to prove whether this works. We have a Black-n-Gold Unicorn.
What This Means for the NOLA Startup Scene
It’s important to note that the Lucid + Cint agreement is not just one instance bringing attention to the New Orleans tech space. In fact, we’ve had several so far this year with almost $2B in tech deals from Lucid, Levelset, Turbosquid, and Geocent.
People will ask what does this mean for the future of New Orleans, the future of #nolatech. It means that we turned the flywheel one time, for the first time, and that first rotation was the hardest. It means that the next set of transactions will happen even faster. It means that there are talented people across the region who finally believe that THEY can create the next ‘unicorn’ and take action to pursue that goal. Yes, there will be jobs, and investments, and taxes, and wealth creation. But what really happened is that we now truly BELIEVE.
Impact on the ResTech and Sampling Industry
Now onto the data collection space. My pride n joy… little ol’ slinging sample game. For years, we were the back office, the operations group, the get-it-done anyway/over-the-weekend team. In the early years, no one cared about sample or the programming software; it was the research outputs that mattered. Well, now technology is eating this space as well (see: The ResTech Scape), and the fastest-growing and most valuable companies are not just consultancies but also technologies. Now the survey software, the sample platforms, and the DIY survey tools are leading the pack. AND, WE AREN’T DONE.
Cheers to a Big Future
I also want to give a shout-out to the visionary talent of Lucid. Since the launch of Lucid (back then, it was Federated Sample) in 2010, we’ve had truly stellar leaders who helped shape our organizational structure, operations, and culture. Without them, Lucid wouldn’t be where we are today.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some of the other significant “firsts” that Lucid contributed to the industry. Over the last 11 years, Lucid:
- Brought the term “programmatic” to the sampling industry
- Built the first APIs on sell-side and buy-side
- Coined key industry terms like ghost completes, quality score, and EPC
- Established conversion as more important than incidence
- Created and defined the Research Technology (ResTech) category
To say I’m grateful and proud is a profound understatement. People ask me what I’m doing next… but that’s not as important as this question: “What are YOU doing next?” Because you are the future of your community and this industry. And I’m incredibly excited to see what the future holds for all of us.