Social entrepreneurship in New Orleans
Robbie Vitrano is a co-founder and chairman of Trumpet, a venture marketing company that is a manifestation of the reinventing New Orleans. His point of view: New Orleans is the Social Innovation Silicon Valley, an urban microcosm of the economic, political, social, environmental and cultural issues being re-evaluated in the U.S. and around the world. As such, Trumpet has evolved its full-service brand communications disciplines to launch new ventures, incubating and developing them inside its 12,000 square foot renovated warehouse in the Creole district of the historic Faubourg St. John. Their work comprises advocacy, optimism and socially responsible capitalism.
Leaving a Legacy
It’s there at the Icehouse, a 12,000-square-foot, $1.5 million commercial real estate development in the once-flooded Seventh Ward. The building is owned by and serves as the headquarters for Trumpet, Vitrano’s branding agency. The development boasts an 80 percent occupancy rate; its 10 tenants include start-ups, nonprofits, and small companies that all share Vitrano’s passion for serving New Orleans.
Across town is Vitrano’s macrobiotic fast-food joint, Naked Pizza. When he discovered the place, in 2006, it was a single-store outpost called World’s Healthiest Pizza and was sorely in need of a makeover. “Their pizza box gave you a dissertation on your colon,” Vitrano, 47, says. He intervened, helped rebrand the business, and became a partner in the company last year. Naked Pizza has since begun selling franchises; it has six locations and plans to open about 75 to 100 more over the course of the next 12 months.
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