The entrepreneurial spirit in Atlanta has never been more alive. Over the last 3 to 5 years, there’s been a growing buzz in Atlanta’s technology community. As an Atlanta implant (North GA native) and entrepreneur, I’ve had a strong sense that something has been brewing in the city–a visceral feeling without much tangible explanation; a feeling of excitement, optimism, intensity. In the world’s biggest small town this is truly an exciting time. All of this contagious energy has been an element and driving force behind a renewed creative culture, generating activity in Atlanta’s tech startup scene. We already have a good number of hotspots that are ripe for entrepreneurial ideas and ventures. In fact, just recently, Atlanta was recently named as one of the Top 5 Tech Meccas by Forbes, placing 3rd above progressive Portland, Oregon. It was also named the number one in New York/San Francisco startup city in the United States by FitSmallBusiness. So what makes Hotlanta the place to be in this new era of innovation? See below as we dive in.
To start to put things in perspective, we have 4 very well established tech incubators (Tech Square Labs, Atlanta Tech Village, ATDC, SwitchYards Downtown Club), and hundreds of thousands of square feet of coworking spaces (4 WeWork locations in Atlanta alone). In my experience, Atlanta is much more focused on B2B technology than Silicon Valley. However, also remember that B2C YikYak was also founded and based in Atlanta during its rapid growth/decline as one of the fastest growing social media networks in the world. So the consumer scene is also here. The reason I say Atlanta is still a more B2B focused ecosystem because of the function and role of the companies that have traditionally succeeded in Atlanta like security (ISS, Airwatch), finance (FirstData, TSYS) and sales and marketing (Mailchimp, Pardot). The best part of Atlanta is the pool of students coming in from Georgia Tech with more than 3,400 students graduating each year. This provides a huge tech talent pool for any startup. It’s also much more affordable to be based out of Atlanta than many other tech hubs around the country.
Now, the thriving spirit in the tech community is manifesting into global recognition. With our southern culture of boasting much traditional industry Fortune 500 HQs such as Home Depot, Coca Cola, Delta Airlines we have the talent, mature local economy and infrastructure to move in as the not only the tech center of the south but the entire east coast within a decade. Dozens of high rise real estate projects under construction are also popping up throughout the city such as Tech, another 100,000 square foot tech incubator, and the No2 Opus Place which would be the tallest skyscraper in the city. Combine this with access to nearly every major city on Earth from the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta is a no-brainer city that has received billions in foreign investment in the past decade. Speaking of this, Amazon is looking very closely at Atlanta for many of these exact reasons. A potential Amazon investment could easily turn Atlanta into one of the greenest, busiest, and most tech-enabled cities in the world.
Not only have we received direct investment from abroad, but VC’s and other investment firms have been looking to Atlanta’s high growth tech scene. But let’s take a closer look, and you’ll see that Atlanta’s potential for innovation lies deeper than growth in the tech sector. While growth in venture capital, tech talent, and new blockbuster startups can certainly help, Atlanta’s greatest and most unique asset ultimately boils down to one thing: culture. In other words, it’s a great time to be alive and an even better time to be an ATLien.
We’re not striving to be “The Next Silicon Valley”. We’ve always been a unique city since our founding, full of entrepreneurial spirit, and getting to work. We were, and still, are, the city that is too busy to hate. As Atlantans, we know this. We’re also in a unique spot to also become the nation’s cultural capital. Atlanta’s has been a hub for all things cool for a while now. From reaching the Super Bowl final (We’re not losing again to Boston) to being the De Facto Hip Hop capital of the world. Also, in the past decade alone more and more film productions have taken place in Atlanta than in any place in the United States outside of Hollywood. Everything from The Blind Side to The Hunger Games to Captain America: Civil War and Hidden Figures filmed in the city, while TV shows like Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead and Greenleaf all shoot in Atlanta, not to mention my personal favorite, Donald Glover’s Atlanta. We have aspiring artists, actors, students, and startup founders all flocking to Atlanta for an opportunity. With that, I’ll conclude my reasons why the “A” is the place to be if you’re working on your dreams.