It's New Orleans: Out to LunchIt's New Orleans: Out to Lunch

Meta Business (not that Meta)

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There’s a term in theater called “meta.” It’s used to describe a scenario where actors call attention to the fact they’re performing. For example, the play within a play in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Except for the name of the company that used to be Facebook, we don’t have a similar term to “meta” in business. But we do have a similar concept. We have businesses that make other businesses do better business. And we have businesses that help individuals conduct business better.

One of the most common business contracts most of us navigate in everyday life is a rental or lease agreement - for a house or apartment. Signing a lease is a seemingly simple act of appending a signature. But it is in fact deceptively difficult, both for the renter and the manager of the rental property.

It gets especially problematic at the end of the rental period when the renter wants their deposit back and the manager claims they can’t refund it because of the damage the renter caused to the property during the term of the lease. This is precisely why Marco Nelson and his partner created RentCheck.

RentCheck is an app that a rental agency, a landlord, or a renter can use when they sign a new rental agreement. It records the rental details and, probably most importantly, photos of the property which can be compared to photos of the property when the rental period ends. There is definitive proof - in the date-stamped, cloud-based app - of what damage was there when the renter moved in, and what wasn’t.

Marco and his partner founded RentCheck in New Orleans in 2019.  Today they have 24 employees. RentCheck is used by 700 property managers in the US and Canada, and manages a total of 500,000 properties.

Marco and Peter first spoke in 2020 when RentCheck was getting rolling and we were doing Out to Lunch on Zoom because of the pandemic.

Kristen Dufauchard grew up in New Orleans - and left for 20 years. During the time she was gone, Kristen was Associate Director of Communications for New York University and Global Marketing Lead for the market measurement company, Nielsen, where she focused on DEI and multi-cultural consumer trends.

Kristen moved back to New Orleans in 2022 and discovered there are a bunch of folks back home who could use the kind of expertise she’d picked up over the previous two decades. So, she founded a corporate marketing, event planning, and training firm called aKrewe NOLA – krewe is spelled the New Orleans way – and a networking platform called The Business Exchange, where diverse professionals can make new connections, exchange ideas, and support each other.

In a statistic that might make the point about how much New Orleans changed while Kristen was gone, The Business Exchange has 1,500 members – entrepreneurs, creatives, and innovators who identify as Black, Brown, LGBTQ+, or women.

There was a time in New Orleans, and not so long ago, when the term “entrepreneurial ecosystem” sounded about as exotic as lobster rolls or bubble tea. Now you can get lobster rolls and bubble tea every day in New Orleans, and we most definitely have a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.

RentCheck is a great example of the type of nationwide success that’s grown out of our entrepreneurial community, and helped shape it. And aKrewe NOLA and The Business Exchange are building on the city’s first-generation entrepreneurial foundation, taking it to more places and including more people.

Thanks to the efforts and talents of people like both Marco and Kristen and the success of their companies, New Orleans is continuing to be a great place to start and grow a business.

Out to Lunch was recorded live over lunch at Columns in Uptown New Orleans. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at

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