Andrea Chen, Propeller, on Social Entrepreneurship in New Orleans

Twitter = @GoPropeller

Andrea is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Propeller, a social innovation incubator in New Orleans focused on systemic increasing equity in the systems of food, water, health, and education.

Andrea Chen.png

Propeller has accelerated new ventures that have generated over $86mm in revenues and financing in since 2011.  Successes include the Healthy School Food Collaborative, which has brought healthy school meals to 43% of New Orleans public schools.  Propeller’s 10,000 s.f. Propeller Incubator facility is now home to over 100 socially minded companies and 50 individuals.  Andrea was named “40 Under 40” by Gambit Magazine, 2014 Aspen Institute Scholar, 2014 BALLE Fellow, 2014 Norman C. Francis Institute Fellow, and 2010 City Business Women of the Year. She was named to the list of recognition in The Chronicle of Philanthropy's 2017 list of Influencers Quietly Changing the Nonprofit World.She completed her B.A. at Stanford University and M.Ed. at NO and Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Propeller’s accelerator programs help entrepreneurs get the resources and mentorship they need to launch and grow their ideas, startups, businesses or nonprofits. They support entrepreneurs need at every stage of development – from launching an early-stage startup to expanding an established business.

Propeller works out of its 10,000 square foot coworking space in the heart of central New Orleans.


In this interview, we discuss:

  1. How to launch a thriving tech incubator and accelerator. (3:30)
  2. Examples of success stories and programs that are having an impact.  (7:00)
  3. Dealing with the issues of inequality and racial disparity in starting businesses. (10:15)
  4. The challenges of launching a venture, and supporting an entrepreneurial community. (20:20)
  5. The uniqueness of working in New Orleans, including the people and the persistence. (27:30) 


"We can't just not do anything. We keep at it, we stay smart, and we stay hopeful." -Andrea Chen


  1. More about the Propeller Accelerator programs. 
  2. Article in the Times-Picayune on the program.  
  3. Profile of Andrea Chen in the Best of New
  4. Article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy
  5. "When Affirmative Action Was White" by Ira Katznelson (Book Recommendation


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