4 Ideas to Improve the Atlanta Startup Community

The recent TechCrunch meetup in Atlanta with over 1,200 people was a great catalyst for talking about what’s working, and isn’t working, in the Atlanta startup community. Being an idea guy, I always love brainstorming ways to improve things and getting ideas from other people (R&D – ripoff and duplicate – is a great way to take ideas that are working in other startup communities and implement them in ours).

After talking to entrepreneurs in person, participating in discussions online, and reading about other startup communities, here are three ideas to improve the Atlanta startup community that stand out to me:

  • Regular Content-Oriented Meetups that are Startup Generic – We have a number of meetups for specialized topics (like PHP or Ruby), speaker series where entrepreneurs tell their stories, and service providers providing education on their area of expertise, but we don’t have many meetups that are content-oriented and driven by specialists working in startups (e.g. sales, marketing, support, etc — product management and engineering have a critical mass of activities). B2BCamp is an example of a great organization that is starting to fill some of the content-oriented startup education needed.
  • Startup-Oriented Event Space to Complement ATDCATDC has a couple great rooms for events but they are booked well in advance creating a need in the market for a few go-to event spaces that can accommodate 20 -100 people on a regular basis. This event space shouldn’t be formal event space, easily accessible inside the perimeter, and available at a good rate (free) for startup-related events.
  • More Successful Entrepreneur Involvement – We have a number of successful entrepreneurs, as defined as profitable, million dollar plus revenue businesses, that achieved their success without involvement in the startup community, and therefore don’t feel a need to give back or get involved. In the journey to their level of success, they found advisors and peers that fulfill their community-connectedness need, leaving little desire to do startup community events. We need to get them involved.
  • Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Exclusive NetworkingEntrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is an outstanding organization for entrepreneurs with at least a million in revenue built around trust, confidentiality, and experience sharing. Most startup entrepreneurs don’t have a million in revenue, but would appreciate the same values and peer networking EO members have in an environment that is entrepreneur-lead and not service provider-lead. One of the goals with this is more serendipitous connections and a stronger startup entrepreneur peer group to achieve a greater level of success individually and as a community.

These four ideas aren’t capital intensive but do require that entrepreneurs lead the charge as volunteer leaders to help make them successful. Atlanta has all the ingredients to be a more prominent and more successful startup community. Let’s do it.

What else? What do you think of these ideas and what are some other startup community ideas that you like?

4 thoughts on “4 Ideas to Improve the Atlanta Startup Community

  1. We need to meet the entrepreneurs, potentials or otherwise, wherever and whenever they want. In return we need to hold them accountable to making it happen.

    Broaden the formal support infrastructure beyond 8-5PM hours. If someone is willing to work nights and weekends, meet them there. More than lending an ear or buying a drink, sit with them, help them develop their business concept, help find resources and connect talent.

    We all know they have to quit and go full time at some point, but just like getting a hardcore drug user clean, you gotta ease them into it, make sure the body doesn’t go into shock. We are a bundle of habits, habits are transitioned from, not abandoned overnight.

    So some sort of formalized transition program that helps talented potentials to transition away from their 8-5 habits and walk into the work they really want to be doing.

    Food for thought.

  2. Joe, your comment is spot-on, especially in regards to getting people out of 8-5 jobs and habits. I’d like to add a thought. There is a lot of talent and vision locked up in the little one-off “agencies” around town – not just the big corporate guys. If we can get these folks to join our companies (even if they are early stage – and there is inherent risk), we will be unstoppable.

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