Buckhead as the Heart of the Early Stage Atlanta Startup Scene

Midtown is the undisputed king of the Atlanta seed stage startup scene with the ATDC, Hypepotamus, and Georgia Tech (see Rob’s post). ATDC alone has dozens of startups in the building. With the seed stage being defined as under $1M in revenue and under 10 employees, it’s especially helpful to be in an area with great startup density. As startups grow from the seed stage to the early stage (10 or more employees with $1M or more in revenue), the ATDC becomes more difficult due to space constraints (there’s a waiting list for space) and the three year term limit (startups have to move out after three years) resulting in the startups that are most likely to be successful long term having to leave and move out.

Most ATDC startups that hit the early stage move north to the Buckhead, Vinings/Galleria, or Perimeter area — extremely large geographical areas with little startup density. Buckhead is the clear winner due to the central location between in-town neighborhoods and the northern suburbs. Here are some early stage and growth stage software companies in Buckhead:

Unfortunately, even with those software companies and more, there’s little serendipitous interaction as there are so many office buildings and such little walking around. Buckhead has great resources like access to interstates, train stations, restaurants, retail, and residential that it should become the heart of the early and growth stage Atlanta startup scene. This is even more true since it is centrally located to the metro area, more accessible to the northern suburbs (tech professionals eventually get married, have kids, and want an affordable house in a good school district), and more affordable than Midtown (Buckhead has many buildings with free parking).

What else? How can we make Buckhead more cohesive as an early and growth stage startup community?

5 thoughts on “Buckhead as the Heart of the Early Stage Atlanta Startup Scene

  1. definitely would like to see a particular building emerge as the heart of the buckhead early stage tech scene. why did you choose atlanta plaza to begin with? would you do it again?

  2. Just a thought, delegate this task to a organization in town who is endevoring to help support this type of growth. Put together an RFP, define the purpose and value to the property company with too much empty office space. I don’t know about Buckhead, but I know commercial office space is far from being close to 100%. This could be a Jones Lang LaSalle, or a larger local company who wants to be seen as a local company putting back into the community they have received so much from. The still have to pay for these spaces to be heated and cooled to some extent. I would think if the deal is structured right, a tax right off and or credit would off set some of these cost.

    The benefit to the office owner is a new customer who when they start making money, they begin to pay on a scaled basis, it gives them a great name and allows them to grow their own customers. The downside for them, is if they do this and treat these companies poorly, they’ll loose them. Keep in mind many of these large commercial companies have millions of sq. ft. all over the Atlanta Metro market, so a growthing company with a good experience is likely to move and stay with them.

    A good starting point is Building Managers and Owners Association (BOMA). Atlanta has it’s own chapter and they would benefit by doing some of this leg work. The stay afloat by annual dues by vendors / suppliers and building owners.

    If I can be of further help please let me know.


    Brian L. Mott

  3. The biggest help to Buckhead would be an emergent consensus over which subsection of Buckhead startups will coalesce around. There’s essentially zero chance of any serendipity between companies up near the malls and companies down bumping up against midtown.

    If there’s no density, there’s no benefit to being in the same area. We’re talking about 8 blocks by 8 blocks or so as a good target.

    If you’re talking about optimizing for commuters, I think Central Perimeter offers a better balance than Buckhead. Buckhead has good commutes ITP, and workable from 400, but the last leg of that commute from I-75 and I-85 is no joke.

    At the earlier stages, I think proximity to college students is a challenge in Buckhead.

    Ultimately, I don’t get to decide, but my gut feeling is that Buckhead is a better growth-stage startup market than it is for early-stage. Growth stage companies need many of the perks of a city with many startups, without needing much of the serendipity and density of an absolute startup core.

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