So, I’m on a mission to help grow the Atlanta startup community into one of the top 10 in the country. Much like Austin and Boulder are mentioned as two up-and-comers, my goal is for Atlanta to be mentioned in the breath. Atlanta has all the natural resources to be a major player, including an awesome engineering school (GA Tech), tons of young professionals, a low cost of living, the world’s busiest airport, low taxes, and a mild climate (if you don’t mind humidity). Some of the knocks on the Atlanta startup community include a risk-averse culture, lack of high-risk capital, geographic dispersion of startups, no anchor billion dollar tech company, and few venture backable entrepreneurs.
On the risk capital and venture backable entrepreneurs front, the debate is around what’s needed first. If we have more high quality entrepreneurs, we’ll attract more capital vs if we have more capital here, more quality entrepreneurs will emerge that will be successful. My personal belief is that capital is portable such that it will find the best opportunities, regardless of geographic location. Even with the theory of the Series A crunch, there’s plenty of money out there to fund the best ventures.
Here are a few ideas to grow a startup community:
- Increase the density of startups in a geographic area (see Atlanta Tech Village and ATDC)
- Recruit talent from outside the region to the region
- Keep more of the talent that’s already in the region (e.g. get even more of the GA Tech engineers to stay in Atlanta)
- Facilitate recycling of talent so that there’s rapport and awareness of talented team members to join other teams in the event their startup fails
- Actively work to build community to learn, share, and create relationships
- Highlight successful startups and great exits
- Accelerate the rate at which startups achieve profitability so that they can then control their own destiny
- Coordinate more introductions between entrepreneurs and capital providers including angels, venture capitalists, and family offices
At the end of the day, the sure fire way to grow a startup community is through cultivating more successful startups. More successful startups will then breed more successful startups in a virtuous cycle.
What else? What are some other ways to grow a startup community?