The Atlanta Startup Scene, Economy & Future.
TiE Atlanta hosted a high-profile panel at their monthly Business for Breakfast 10/19/2018 titled Atlanta’s Economy, Startup Scene, and the Amazon Effect at Tech Atlanta, Alpharetta GA, To set the tone for the panel Metro Atlanta’s Chamber of Commerce economist Tom Cunningham provided some outlook for the greater Atlanta economy.
TiE is a non-profit, global entrepreneurship organization founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley to support startups through networking and the raising of capital for entrepreneurs. As Atlanta has evolved in FinTech, as a University center, and serves as a major corporate headquarters (Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot), its economy is now larger than that of Ireland. While the U. S. as a whole grows labor at ½ of 1%, Atlanta’s rate runs 2-3% per year. Cunningham emphasized its diversity, comparable lower cost of living, and vibrant collaboration as success factors.
Besides Tech Atlanta in Alpharetta, Atlanta sports Tech Village, ATDC, Switchyards, and a publication called the Hyprpotamus which covers the tech scene. Additionally, Atlanta remains a finalist in the competition to become the second headquarters city to Amazon. Cunningham estimates if awarded it could bring 50,000 jobs to Atlanta over several years.
The panel consisted of David Lightburn from Atlanta Tech, Karen Ried from Client Command (a lead generation firm), and John Yates, manager of the tech practice at Morris, Manning, and Martin law. As Lightburn says everything happens at a faster pace when entrepreneurs are in one place. He should know because Atlanta Tech has produced 330 startups in six years.
Yates has practiced tech law for 37 years, has experience in Silicon Valley, and just hired an Entrepreneur-In-Residence engineer to assist clients. His mission is to “give entrepreneurs their best chance for success”. Karen pointed out their lead generation has recently added AI to their process, and all agreed venture capitalists are totally focused on ROI (return on investment) looking always for a growth path.
The key to a strong Atlanta ecosystem is an innovation engine, and Yates made the point the process will always depend on personal relationships regardless of the reach of automation.