In 2012, entrepreneur David Cummings arrived in Atlanta with a plan: to create a business community that would foster tech startups in the city.
Cummings’ idea has transformed into the Atlanta Tech Village, a tech incubator complex in the neighborhood of Buckhead. Powered by a 103,000 square foot building, the Village is now the fourth-largest tech hub in the United States. Since its founding, the Village has supported over 300 startups—together raising $826 million in capital—and created more than 6,000 jobs. The Village rents office space as well as individual desks to tech companies.
Through its physical setup and range of support services, the Village is designed to create smoother connections between talent, ideas and capital, and to foster community and serendipity. It provides connections to fundraising, angel investors, and mentorship programs.
The Village also partners with larger corporations like Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola to spark relationships between startups and broader industries.
A Burgeoning Tech Hub
You might know Atlanta as a city for established business—it’s been nicknamed “Transaction Alley” and acts as headquarters for sixteen Fortune 500 companies. But the southern city is rapidly gaining a reputation as a home base for tech startups.
The Village, which houses over 1,100 workers, aims to make Atlanta into a Top 5 tech city nationally. The city’s key attributes include a robust and diverse talent pool, convenient transportation, and citywide tech support.
Research universities like Georgia Tech attract top engineering talent to the region. Atlanta is also home to funds and accelerators numbering in the dozens, and is rapidly attracting large amounts of venture capital, according to Crunchbase. The city hosts two VC conferences a year: Pitch Atlanta, an invite-only event that connects entrepreneurs with investors, and Venture Atlanta, which typically draws over a thousand entrepreneurs.
The tech scene is not only growing, it’s also diverse. The combination of start-up culture with an established business presence creates unique opportunities to foster growth and innovation, according to John Yates, the chair of the technology group at Morris, Manning & Martin LLP, who has been working in Atlanta for close to four decades. In an interview with Crunchbase, Yates said that Atlanta is one of the only cities in the U.S. that can connect growing tech businesses with Fortune 100 Companies. Thanks to efforts by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Technology Association of Georgia, this process is streamlined and accelerated.
Behind the Scenes of the Tech Village
The Village’s founders say that it’s not just the office space that makes the Village ideal for start-ups—it’s the community. The core values of the Village are focused on mutual support and paying success forward. As a whole, it operates with a “double bottom line,” balancing profit with community.
To do so, the Village focuses on providing resources and flexibility that will allow startups with proprietary technology to grow, scale and meet their goals. They provide mentors and advisors, as well as pitch practices, workshops, enterprise partners, streamlined access to venture capitalists, and talent recruitment. The community mindset exists in the details, too: The Village’s infrastructure is designed to foster both business success and community interaction. Amenities range from free cloud storage and “crazy fast” internet to fully furnished offices, free lunches and even nap rooms.
Commitment to Diversity
The Village is committed to fostering diversity in its startups and in the tech scene more broadly. It uses social highlights to support Black entrepreneurs, and hosts Twitter chats to discuss issues of diversity in tech.
The Village also runs a pre-acceleration program, It Takes a Village, which focuses on supporting startups led by women and people of color. The program gives entrepreneurs access to a network of capital investors, education from expert mentors and other resources. The four-month array of workshops is designed to ensure that start-ups find seed investment, a spot in an accelerator program and/or a pilot with an enterprise company. Even in the recent pandemic environment, this has continued with a virtual presence.
In the Village, and in Atlanta more broadly, Black-owned tech startups such as Techturized have found initial success and scaled. The state of Georgia is also home to a variety of cultural-professional tech organizations—TechLatino is one example.
The Village is pivoting toward more virtual arrangements, helping tech startups to operate with hybrid remote models. Starting in 2020, the Village streams their program Atlanta Startup Village on YouTube. That program is a valuable forum for entrepreneurs that features five-minute pitches and business discussions, and is the largest bi-monthly gathering of entrepreneurs in the Southeast.
The Village is also beginning to offer the short-term virtual training program “Start It Up Georgia”. This free, 12-week program is open to everyone who wants to launch a new business; it aims to stimulate the economy and help Georgia bounce back from its high unemployment rate.
The program provides learning labs, mentorship, and community resources online, as well as the opportunity to apply for funding at the end of the 12 weeks. It is highly practical; labs include front-end topics like turning ideas into business models and completing tests, branding and marketing a venture, and developing an online presence, along with questions of pricing, company culture and funding.
“Start It Up Georgia” helps collate the many resources that Atlanta has to offer tech startups and hopeful entrepreneurs.
Is Atlanta the right fit for your startup company or tech career? At One America Works, we take a proactive approach to linking growth companies and jobseekers with the cities and work environments where they’ll succeed. Connect with us to learn more about what we can offer!