Arthur Bart-Williams, 52, a civil engineer and serial entrepreneur (this is his 3rd start-up) moved to New Orleans after falling for the city’s charm during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. He enrolled his company, Vizzit, in the IDEAx accelerator program and the rest is history. Vizzit is an experience-based app where companies can promote their brand to consumers through self-guided experiences about interesting places. Through the platform, companies can engage and activate audiences through sponsored stories and branded content around destinations and events.
Q: How did you get started? Tell us your motivation for starting this business. *
A: Though we’re focusing on helping companies, the idea originated from a personal experience during my honeymoon in Maui. I’m planner anyway but we only had a few days to spend there so I went the extra mile and developed a detailed itinerary that cross-referenced a guidebook so we could make the most of it. We get there and I’m feeling pretty good about myself as we’re driving around the island until at one point my wife, Jess, says “I’m here in paradise and I’m missing it because my head is in this book, someone should come up with something that knows where I am and can tell me what’s around me.” That idea has evolved to what is now Vizzit and it was early lesson in listening to my wife.
Q: As an African American/Black entrepreneur, what were some of the biggest challenges and/or surprised you faced when starting your business? *
A: Being an entrepreneur is a big challenge regardless of your race and I’m not sure if what has surprised me is because I’m black but the biggest challenge has been sticking with it regardless of the obstacles and what some people may say. I look for the maybe 5% of people that want to support me and will do what they say.
Q: New Orleans is such a “robust” entrepreneurial ecosystem. What are the resources (people, networks, organizations, programs, books, articles, etc.) that you have found most useful in starting and/or growing your business? *
A: Organizations include Idea Village, New Orleans Startup Fund, NOLABA, GNOInc., NOEW, Propeller. Program is the IDEAx Accelerator Program. Books include The Lean Startup, Running Lean, Business Model Generation, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
Q: What are you most proud of (related to your business)? *
A: Creating mutually beneficial win/win scenarios for businesses, storytellers, destinations, and audiences.
Q: What advice do you have to fellow African American/Black entrepreneurs starting a business? *
A: Do something that you’re passionate about because it’s a marathon, not a sprint, work with people you really like, and don’t give up if it’s something you believe in.
Q: Is there anything you know now that you wished you had known earlier in terms of starting or operating your business?
A: Know who your customer is and that they will pay for your solution, and focus on how to clearly communicate your value as quickly and succinctly as possible.
Address: 900 Camp Street, Ste 437, New Orleans LA