Charles d’Estries

"I hope to gain an appreciation of what a city like New Orleans must do to survive after a catastrophe. That insight will be useful to share with people in…"

Charles d’Estries

Location: Buffalo, NY  /  Category: Biosciences

NOLAbound Blog

The Life Science Market in NOLA Has a Decent Shot

The Life Science Market in NOLA Has a Decent Shot

I set foot in New Orleans last night for the first time sine 1997… here are my thoughts.

There’s a buzz here. You can feel it. People are moving pretty fast… faster than I remember the half dozen times I visited through the lens of corporate America, convention centers and the haze of Bourbon Street hangovers years ago. You can get a feel for a city by visiting its bars and restaurants… but the best intel comes from the waitresses, busboys and patrons. They’ll tell you what’s going on, if they’re thinking of moving out of town cause’ the job market sucks, or if there’s any fun in the city and a good reason to stay.  They are what make a city great, above average and a reason to visit… or even move to.

My new BFF Alex Williams and I had a chance to speak to several people last night including John and Jan from Florida (pictured above) and they were having a blast visiting NOLA. They told us cities have reputations that are tough to overcome - and they heard that New Orleans has too much crime - but John and Jan thought they’d find out for themselves. And they’re glad they did…  so they reserved a timeshare not far from our beautiful hotel (The Hotel Modern) and have enjoyed it so much they’re going to tell their friends to visit too. We spoke to a waitress who was working on the new Harrison Ford film in town and several others who had nothing but good things to say about their hometown prospects. If it was a restaurant in Buffalo, most people would tell you it snowed too much, there were no jobs and moving out is their #1 priority! Now I’m sure there are people who are naysayers about NOLA too, but in my opinion, the buzz here says ‘come and get it’.

What does that have to do with life science, biotechnology and a strong foundation for jobs? Plenty. People who build companies want to do so in a positive environment. They want to know that they can attract people from other cities because of the many advantages. They want big money VCs from cities like San Francisco and New York to happily invest in a NOLA start-up because they agree it is a good place to build. A city’s attitude comes from its people, and when the attitude is inviting, charming and friendly, anything can grow there. All it needs are the seeds and farmers.

posted: March 14, 2012

We are indeed, NOLAbound

Life is interesting.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved science and technology. At age 8, I was the only kid who owned a full rack of test tubes, a reflux condenser and several Florence flasks. Oh, and a Bunsen burner. Today, you’d think I was running a crystal meth lab. But science was my world, and has been ever since. Over the last 30 years – 20 as an independent consultant – I have really learned this business, and yet, I know I’ve only scratched the surface. There are so many brilliant people in this space; I am constantly amazed. But even brilliant people need fresh ideas, a different point of view and a voice of reason, especially if they go into the business of science. I’m proud of the work I’ve done in the world of life science, even though, at times, I go against the grain and speak my mind when the politically correct thing would be to keep my mouth shut (which is why I am forever unemployable).

So being invited to New Orleans to discover how the city is doing with their life science research and business infrastructure plans and dreams is wild; I am so excited to bring my point of view to a city who is excited about what they’re doing and where they’re headed. So here’s a shout out to all VCs holding a term sheet in their hands, science professors with an idea for a company, entrepreneurs with an itch, politicians with a cause and ordinary folks who want one more thing to be proud of… my colleagues and I are coming to town this week, so let’s chat. We promise to keep an open mind if you promise to be open to great conversations and new ideas. If we can all be real with each other this beNOLAbound experiment will be successful and possibly a model for other cities to study. I believe in grand thoughts. Why not, right?

I’ve been to NOLA about a half dozen times before but have always gone the convention – Bourbon Street route; I have seen little else. And I have not been back since Katrina hit. So I can’t wait to visit a city that has the courage to ask complete strangers – publicly – to come and assess their strengths and weaknesses in the arts, digital media, biosciences and sustainable industries. I’m so proud to be a part of this and I do plan to serve you, the city and people of New Orleans, to the best of my ability.

I came from a French family; my mother is from Paris and my father from Angers. My first language was French and I hold dual citizenship, and am very proud of my heritage. So heading to New Orleans is a little like coming home. I’ve had a chance to read up on NOLA and its history (thanks to Paul Marasco, my son-in-law, for providing the books!) and I find the culture, strength and persistence of its people inspiring. At 57 years of age (one of the older NOLAbounders!), besides marrying my high school sweetheart, having three great kids and 3.5 grandchildren, this promising journey to NOLA is one of the highlights of my life. So thank you for inviting me.

We are indeed NOLAbound, and look forward to crossing paths with great people from a wonderful city.

posted: March 12, 2012

NOLAbound Applicant Details

In what city do you currently reside?

Buffalo, NY

What do you love the most about where you live?

I live in the Buffalo, NY area where chicken wings were born. The area offers 4-season living and if you like snow, we have that as well. The people are great, the landscape is beautiful and the city is full of architectural charm and beauty. Buffalo also offers a solid foundation to its newest industries in the life sciences. With Roswell Park and the University of Buffalo as its anchors, the city is growing new companies and bringing technologies to life. It’s cities like Buffalo who offer the best surprises, so when you get a chance, check us out!

In what other cities have you lived?

Cleveland, Santa Rosa, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Rochester

What is/was your favorite city and why?

My favorite city is San Francisco (with Boston coming in a close second). I have spent much of my career working with Bay Area companies and have so many wonderful memories. What I love most is the laid back lifestyle, the great weather, the superb restaurants and of course, the history. San Francisco also offers an incredible international experience; people from all over the world come to this beautiful city to start new lives and businesses. And speaking of business, since I’m in the biotechnology field, it is one of the global hubs of life science technology.

What do you hope to gain from NOLAbound?

I hope to gain an appreciation of what a city like New Orleans must do to survive after a catastrophe. That insight will be useful to share with people in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, who need an inspirational message to hit home. They need to know greatness is once again possible. Cities like Buffalo think because they lost their manufacturing base they can never be what they once were… well, if New Orleans can regain its gleam after something like Katrina, couldn’t a city like Buffalo learn to do the same?

What is your overall opinion of New Orleans?

I love New Orleans and felt terrible when Katrina hit. To see the city rebuild and pick itself up to become one of the top cities of the world again is inspirational. But I also love New Orleans for its rich culture and tradition. Its amazing partying spirit and great food. Its sensuality and confidence. New Orleans has a personality that is unique and palpable; it may have been knocked down, but will be stronger standing up.

Single most important issue facing New Orleans?

I will not pretend that I know New Orleans in an intimate way, so if there is something unique to NO, I am not aware of it. However, what is true to all significant cities in America, especially in the inner cities, is the issue of education, employment, opportunity and inclusivity for people who are struggling financially. Especially minorities. There must be a way to provide the inspiration and funding to help this massive group of people. This is a problem we face all over the USA, and certainly in New Orleans. We can overcome massive obstacles go to the moon, why can’t we do the same at home?

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