At Opportunity Machine, start-ups are getting a boost, which helps diversify the local economy
The Acadiana Advocate
Sep 10, 2018
OM Featured in Acadiana Advocate
While many in Acadiana know about Opportunity Machine and only some know what goes on in its offices on Cajundome Boulevard, even fewer know the success stories that have come off its business assembly line.
Opportunity Machine is a partnership that helps Lafayette's economy grow and foster business and entrepreneurship in Acadiana to create jobs and help diversify the local economy.
"The Opportunity Machine is Lafayette's incubator. It's a center for entrepreneurs," said Opportunity Machine Director Destin Ortego. "It's a center that has not only space for new businesses but also mentorship and training and other benefits for startup companies."
Some of these benefits can be paid for at varying tiers depending on need.
The benefits include conference rooms, private desk space and team space along with access to standard office equipment. Opportunity Machine also offers its fledgling businesses classes in marketing, accounting, sales, business models and human resources.
Using these resources, businesses grow within the program before graduating into their own office spaces as fully realized companies.
Some of Opportunity Machine's success stories include newer local businesses like The Integration Group of Americas, Stonewall Engineering, Fly Guys Drone Company and Waitr all of which grew up within its walls.
"It's really a great place to come in," Ortego said. "You have some skin in the game, but it's affordable for you if you're not quite doing a lot of business yet or you're still working on your idea and you can just come in get access to all the assets you may need to start your business."
While Opportunity Machine has support from Lafayette Consolidated Government and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, it also see support from their graduates. Ortego said Waitr, along with other graduates, have been giving back to help other startups grow and flourish in Lafayette.
"I think you'll start to see a lot of success stories come out of the OM into Lafayette Parish because as we have more success stories and successful companies come out of the OM, those companies want to give back to help other new businesses and startups," Ortego said.
One of those is Digital Twin Studios, which builds video games for training purposes. During their time at Opportunity Machine, the agency has received funding from Acadiana Angels and are vying for a big contract later this year.
"Aside from the obvious like having access to office space, free coffee, access to a copy machine, the most valuable part of this has been the connections, the networking," said Digital Twin Studios CEO Shane Istre. "There are so many people coming and going in this building. They've introduced us to some of the people that led to us getting funded.
"I know they're just a cog in this whole economic development machine, but this the key cog. This is the golden cog. This is where everything comes together. We wouldn't exist without this place."