Number of Startups for Atlanta to be a Top 10 Startup City

Thinking about Atlanta over the next 10 years, we’ve talked about the goal of making it a top 10 startup city in the U.S. When thinking about the context of a top 10 city, it’s naturally derived by stack ranking it against other cities in terms of money raised, dollar amount of exits, etc. Of course, we don’t know where other cities will be in 10 years, so it’s also a moving target.

As an exercise for today, let’s guess regarding the number of startups for Atlanta to be a top 10 startup city.

Number of Startups

With ATDC having 300+ member companies and the Atlanta Tech Village having 100+, there’s likely 2-3x that number of startups in the rest of the city. So, if we take 400 startups and multiply it by 2.5x we get 1,000 startups in Atlanta. Adding the requirement that the startup has to have at least one full-time person actively working on the venture to qualify, that number is probably cut in half to 500. To be a top 10 startup city in 10 years, it’s likely that Atlanta needs 1,000 living startups.

Net of churn, we need to add 50 active startups per year. Is that doable? Absolutely. With the thousands of startup employees in Atlanta between the main clusters alone like internet security, marketing software, mobile device management, logistics, health IT, etc, we’ll easily have 100+ new ventures per year (assume 10% die each year, so the number of new ventures required will also grow each year).

From a talent perspective, we already have tons of amazing people in Atlanta and many more are moving to the city on a daily basis. At Pardot, the vast majority of our 100+ people had never been involved in a startup before, meaning that the right talent is already here that can shift from being in the non startup workforce to being in the startup workforce.

There’s no right number of startups to shoot for but I believe 1,000 active startups is a noble goal that we can work backward from and start tracking against.

What else? What are your thoughts on the number of active startups needed to be a top 10 startup city?

10 thoughts on “Number of Startups for Atlanta to be a Top 10 Startup City

  1. Unfortunately, many of the national publications count only venture-backed companies as startups. In a low cost city such as Atlanta, it is my belief that a much larger percentage of startups will be bootstrapped. And it would seem to be a bit misleading therefore to compare apples to the color orange. Not sure there will ever be a way to do this well.

  2. Before 2009 I had both worked at a startup and started a startup. I had never hear of ATDC, Shotput or any other sort of community. Similarly, my high school friends from metro Atlanta had started or worked at their own startup. I still talk to people regularly who have no idea of the large hubby’s but make several hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions. To agree with pfreet, I think that your 2.5x is very far off, but to be fair, those cant all be counted.

  3. Is there a way to begin tracking the actual # of start ups that exist each year? Otherwise it really isn’t a measurable goal. Isn’t there an institution in town that takes some responsibility for the startup “ecosystem” and could take on this responsibility? Thanks for all your thankful blogs. Reading them is a great way to start the day. Raymond King

  4. So somebody start a wiki page, populate it with ATDC and Atlanta Tech Village members (this will de-dupe them), then link to it from, and all the other startup blogs/newsletters about town. Have someone go through it once a year to remove dead links (must have company link to post to wiki). Let the crowd do it.

      1. That is fantastic! Just don’t try to own it. The whole issue (well at least a big part of it) is organizations wanting to stake their claim to something that can’t thrive if it is controlled. ATL startup enablers have to embrace the Cluetrain.


    Winners (TL;DR:):

    Top 10 Metro Areas for High-Tech Startup Density:

    1. Boulder, Colo.
    2. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
    3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
    4. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.
    5. Seattle, Wash.
    6. Denver, Colo.
    7. San Francisco, Calif.
    8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.
    9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
    10. Cheyenne, Wyo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.