The 2018 Unofficial Newbie’s Guide to Collision

Collision, one of America’s fastest growing tech conferences, is in its third year in New Orleans and we’re super stoked to be going again this year. Below is our CEO Kenny Nguyen’s newly updated guide on how to master Collision and enjoy New Orleans.

For those of you attending Collision for the first time, it’s basically a giant tech conference with a little bit of everything for various audiences. From marketers, entrepreneurs, to developers, the content is geared to give different audiences a chance to learn about the latest and greatest trends in various fields from world-class thought leaders. Check out the schedule here for the lineup and diversity of topics.

While we had a blast the last two years, we learned the conference can be very overwhelming for anyone from the first timer to the repeater. Have no fear though as, to help other attendees better enjoy the Collision experience (especially for you New Orleans newbies), we wrote this guide just for you! Below here are five tips to maximize your experience at Collision followed by a curated list of local food/drink/fun recommendations for New Orleans first-timers (or those that have been here before but just need a reference guide).

1. Download the Collision app.

Collision developed an app that allows attendees to make a schedule and connect with one another through a messaging function. With so many people to see and things to do, it’s extremely helpful. Once the app is available and updated with all attendees, we definitely recommend utilizing it to garner new connections.

A way that we used the app to meet new attendees was to message people/speakers a list of recommendations of things to do around the city along with a little invite to swing by our after-party for fun (hint: you can send them this guide blog). Nothing like a little southern hospitality to help make our state seem like the ideal place to host the conference!

2. The real fun starts after hours.

Yes, we get it, you’re tired after a full day of listening to speeches and networking. However, you can suck it up. Real networkers go all day (our executive team went through three nights straight of less than 5 hours of sleep last year).  If you really want to get the true Collision experience, hang out after the conference at the pub crawls and after parties to meet some interesting people.

Here are some tips to stay in the loop:

  • Join the pub or culture crawls. It’s basically bar-hopping or tour guiding led by locals that ends at a single location. I’ll be leading a culture crawl myself this year on April 30th for Collision! You can sign up for pub crawls here and culture crawls here.
  • Keep posted on the Collision blog and app for event updates. Collision posted this helpful blog post last year to help attendees keep in the loop on the official after parties. Also, keep on the lookout for updates to the app. It’s updated frequently by the Collision staff with things to do at night.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask around. Last year, we just asked around to see where everyone was going and ended up bar-hopping across Fulton Street. New Orleans is a friendly, inviting city, and trust me, you’ll always find a place to party. Look for the afterparties that aren’t official to get some insight on the New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Check out our joint afterparty at CellarDoor. We’ll be around celebrating Collision all week. During this time, we’re hosting an after-party on May 1st with the Young Entrepreneur Council, one of the nation’s fastest growing entrepreneur groups. RSVP here! Last year we had over 125 people show up and had a wonderful time. This year, we will have special guest Kevin Lin of Twitch swing by for a toast.

See here for more photos of the afterparty hosted by us and the YEC last year.

3. Hang around the media areas to meet your favorite speakers.

This is sketchy, but there’s a media room where a lot of the speakers go for relaxation and to meet with the press. After some talks, I noticed speakers walking out of there that I wanted to connect with. As long as you’re friendly and sincere, the speakers don’t seem to mind if you approach them and ask questions.

4. Bring chargers. Dear god, bring chargers.

You will be on your phone most of the day/evening and it will die. Bring a charger and external battery to keep you going throughout the day (outlets can be scarce). If you totally forgot your charger, our client Mobilequbes may be there to save you with their kiosks that dispense batteries to charge your mobile devices.

5. Know why you're there ahead of time.

We’re not exaggerating when we say Collision can be overwhelming. One of the most important tasks for an attendee is to figure out ahead of time why you are there and your game plan. Is it for networking? Is it for investors? Business development opportunities? Look through the schedule, sift through the attendees/speakers list on the app for possible connections, find the right investor, and schedule your meetings ahead of time. Our goal in 2016 was to recruit speakers for Assembly Required, our community economic development conference series. Using the app, we scheduled meetings ahead of time with potential speakers and built relationships with them. Last year, we featured several speakers for Assembly Required like Lisa Wang that we met through Collision. For Collision, you don’t rise to the occasion in planning, but you go as far as you prepare.

Now for the local stuff...here’s our list of what to do when you’re in New Orleans hanging out for Collision and Jazz Fest!

Here are some restaurants we recommend nearby the Collision venue (chosen based on location and how fast you can get in and out):

  • Cochon Butcher – If you like delicious meat and sandwiches, this place is for you. Gets very crowded so we recommend getting there right when it opens. 
  • Maypop – One of Michael Gulotta’s new restaurants that specializes in Southeast Asian Cuisine. Definitely worth a check out. Fun fact, Michael Gulotta is a former Assembly Required speaker.
  • Stumptown Coffee – A great coffee shop in the Ace Hotel to handle some meetings.
  • Aglio Go here for the T.A.S.T.E – it will blow your mind!
  • Nine Roses Cafe – Everyone’s favorite Vietnamese spot is now in the French Quarter.
  • Josephine Estelle – Located nearby in the Ace Hotel. Very delicious trendy Italian food and fresh pasta.
  • Balise – Great modern New Orleans food.
  • Company Burger – Great burgers. Enough said.
  • Seaworthy – A great oyster bar for those who like them raw. Awesome vibe as well.
  • Peche – Donald Link’s seafood restaurant that’s killing it. Try the brussel sprouts.
  • Domenica – Ok, I know you’re thinking pizza, what the heck? But trust me on this one. They do it very well. Also by Alon Shaya/John Besh!
  • Borgne – A fancy seafood joint by John Besh. Pretty good for lunch and creative Cajun/Creole joint.
  • CellarDoor – Great, beautiful place to get drinks and food near Loyola Ave. This is also where we jointly host our afterparty with the Young Entrepreneur Council.

Here are some favorites that require an Uber, but are worth checking out:

  • Kin – This is my favorite restaurant in New Orleans when it comes to ramen and chicken wings.
  • Saffron – One of New Orleans’ top Indian spots.
  • Turkey and the Wolf – Amazing pothead type of food…very good stuff!
  • Bacchanal – Great trendy wine bar with some good eats. Definitely go if it’s beautiful outside!  
  • Blue Oak BBQ  A new hotspot for BBQ down in MidCity.
  • Dat Dog – A New Orleans staple for delicious hot dogs and crawfish etouffee fries. Found on Freret and Magazine.
  • Mopho –  A Vietnamese-American fusion restaurant near Mid-City. Very good chicken wings!
  • Willa Jean – This restaurant just opened in the new Paramount property downtown. Very good bakery and restaurant by John Besh’s team.
  • St. Roch Market – A food hall with a lot of great different vendors.
  • District Donuts – This place has very good doughnuts with creative flavors.
  • Angelo Brocato – A very delicious local Italian bakery with amazing gelato. Can be very packed, but a definite date spot.
  • Sobou  A good brunch spot for families. Get the steak and eggs!
  • La Boulangerie – A great bakery on Magazine with amazing bread and pastries.
  • Sucre – A dessert place where you can get delicious pastries and gelato.
  • Pho Orchid – Pretty solid pho place on St. Charles.
  • Dong Phuong – Very good Banh Mi that’s nationally regarded. A bit of a drive, but every bit worth it.

For trendy/romantic night, here are restaurants that are more intimate to try:

  • Mais Arepas – Ever had a Spanish fried cornmeal sandwich? Sounds weird, but you can’t miss this place in St. Charles.
  • Cavan – Very trendy American fare in an awesome venue uptown.
  • Compere Lapin – A new French dining restaurant in downtown by Top Chef’s Nina Compton that’s very approachable and delicious.
  • Three Muses – Great food and jazz! Slings amazing pork belly.
  • Avo – Another hot spot for trendy Italian food. Get the short rib lasagna!
  • Square Root – A molecular gastronomy experience.
  • Coquette – Very good creole modern dining. Also very good brunch menu.
  • La Boca – A ridiculous steakhouse that can hold its own anywhere.
  • Cochon – If you like meat, this place is for you.
  • Herbsaint – Donald Link’s flagship restaurant that specializes in seasonal southern-French cuisine.
  • Jacques-Imos – Fun New Orleans food with a loud music atmosphere.
  • Shaya – Alon Shaya’s new mediterranean restaurant that is killing it on Magazine street. Very hard to get a table so I recommend a reservation.
  • Commander’s Palace – An obvious New Orleans staple. Try the turtle soup.
  • Arnaud’s – Another beautiful and obvious New Orleans staple french type of restaurant.
  • Cure – A good mixology bar that also serves food.
  • August – A John Besh staple restaurant that pushes out amazing French dishes with new techniques.

For specific New Orleans staple food recommendations:

For fun stuff to do:

  • Ogden Museum of Southern Art – This is a really cool place downtown that has rotating art exhibits.
  • Magazine Street – Go shopping on Magazine Street as they have many local vendors and restaurants.
  • Shopping downtown – Check out national retailers on St. Peters and local stores on Royal near the French Quarter.
  • French Market – The market on weekends is really fun when you want to buy local wares and such. Down at the French Quarter.
  • Break Dancers – Go see the break dancers on St. Peters during the weekend.
  • Jackson Square – Go visit Jackson Square and visit the church St. Louis Cathedral.
  • New Orleans Museum of Art – The NOMA at City Park is really fun and has rotating art displays.
  • Riverwalk – Walk along the revamped riverwalk in downtown New Orleans.
  • Audubon ZooAquariumInsectarium –  Basic but can’t be missed: the zoo, insectarium, and aquarium here in NOLA are really nice too if you want to do cutesy stuff.
  • Jazz Music – Go to Preservation Hall for some good Jazz music (Jazz fest is also happening during this time).
  • WWII Musuem – The WWII Museum here is nationally famous if you’re into history. This is actually one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to, period.
  • River Cruise – Ride the steamboat or ferry over the water to soak in good weather.
  • City Park – Take a streetcar from downtown to city park.
  • Audubon Park – Hit this place up if you want to go for a picnic. You can get there through Magazine street.
  • Brewery Tour – Take a brewery tour at NOLA Brewing Company.

For you to get turnt up:

  • Bar Hop downtown – Go to Frenchmen street in the French Quarter. Bourbon street is cool, but super touristy. If you do go to Bourbon, go to Pat-O’s for an awesome dueling piano bar and hurricanes.
  • Go to Roosevelt hotel and get a Sazerac!
  • Go to the Carousel bar near Bourbon street.
  • Go see a show at the House of Blues, Howlin’ Wolf, or Tipitina’s.
  • Go party at Masquerade at casino Harrah’s.
  • You can always do voodoo or cemetery tours as well, but that’s mostly tourist filled.

For additional reading, here are two other posts that can help you better master Collision (let’s be real, you can’t master Collision but you can certainly get your fill).

We look forward to seeing everyone at Collision and if you can, please be sure to RSVP to our afterparty jointly hosted with the Young Entrepreneur Council at CellarDoor here. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, recommendations, or things that I may have missed to make this post better at kenny.n@threesixtyeight.com.

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Our new conference series, Assembly Required, is in full swing. Tickets for innovators in Food are available now.