Atlanta’s startup community is thriving, producing successful new businesses across a variety of sectors: fintech, healthcare, digital security and entertainment, to name just a few.
So, what makes the climate in Atlanta so vibrant? What advantages does Atlanta have over other cities for new businesses? For starters, many large companies and the world’s busiest airport call Atlanta home, along with an established network of successful entrepreneurs. Atlanta boasts other advantages that aspiring entrepreneurs should consider and leverage as they work to bring their dreams to reality:
- Atlanta has the ecosystem to help you get off the ground.
Incubators, accelerators, mentors, seed funding. New businesses need help. There are plenty of places around Atlanta to get that needed assistance to hit the ground running. And since businesses that work through an incubator or accelerator improve their chances for success, it pays to do your homework. Founded in 1980, ATDC (the Advanced Technology Development Center) at Georgia Tech is probably the best-known incubator in Atlanta, but there are plenty of others: Atlanta Tech Village, Switchyards, and Atlanta Tech Park, among others.
TIP: Make sure you are up to date on all of the incubators and accelerators based locally. Atlanta Inno recently published this list, which will help you get started.
- B2B VCs are geographically agnostic, but VC support in Atlanta is growing.
You may think that you have to pack up and go to Silicon Valley to succeed, but the truth is that venture capitalists don’t care where you are. They do care that you have a good product or solution and successful track record. That said, there are a number of VCs based in Atlanta: Atlanta Ventures, BIP Capital, and Moseley Ventures, to name just a few. VC activity in Atlanta has been brisk of late, with more money coming in to support startups since before 2000. So, if you have a great idea, chances are, you can get access to the funding you need, either locally or from another source.
TIP: Get to know our local ecosystem, but focus on building a funding pipeline and solid revenue so you can be more attractive to other VCs. That means first and foremost, build something that people want.
- Your money goes further in Atlanta.
Let’s face it; Silicon Valley is expensive. In the high-density, tech and startup powerhouse, costs are high regardless of what you do. That’s not so much the case here; your funding goes much further. Cost of living is lower. Add in the support you can get from incubators and accelerators and the proliferation of co-working space, and you can stretch your dollars further, longer.
TIP: Take advantage of low costs and stretch that capital as much as possible.
- You have a captive, well-educated and stable workforce; seasoned employees and a readily available pipeline of new skilled talent.
Unlike in Silicon Valley where people are hopping from one job to another for the next big thing, the cycle time is longer and more forgiving in Atlanta. That means you get to keep a longer-tenured, stable workforce. The diversity of industry in Atlanta means there is plenty of seasoned talent available. Combine that with the pipeline of talent coming from our great local and regional universities, like Georgia Tech, and you can pick and choose the best candidates to build the winning team your startup needs.
TIP: Make your startup the place people want to be. As a startup, you have flexibility to mold your workplace into what people desire to keep your people happy and committed.
- The addressable market is huge.
Atlanta is home to more than 20 Fortune 1000 headquarters and is a transportation and logistics hub for the United States and the world. You can’t overlook the scale of your addressable market when you focus on the right industry and market segment. As a bonus, when you break into these flagship clients, you will earn instant credibility with future clients, too. More importantly, the businesses based here span a variety of industries, which is great news for startups. No matter your idea or the industry it serves, chances are, Atlanta has available partners to help you get your idea off the ground and a ready-made customer base.
Atlanta also is becoming a hotbed for innovation; many large companies have opened or will open innovation centers here (Accenture included!), and that kind of climate lends itself well to innovation, collaboration, and opportunity for startups.
TIP: See how you can break into global and large enterprises based in this market. What will they need and whom do you personally know that may lead to decision makers?
About the Author: Mike Redding is the Managing Director of Accenture Ventures. Accenture Ventures partners with and invests in growth-stage companies that create innovative enterprise technologies using an open innovation approach. He’s also a popular speaker on Accenture’s Technology Vision report, which predicts the technology trends that will impact businesses over the next three years.
Credit: Featured Picture from Getty Images