5 Ideas for Atlanta to be a Top 5 Tech Startup City

Continuing with yesterday’s post, Atlanta in the Top 10 for Startups Funded, one of the most talked about ideas is what it would take to be a top five tech startup city. With Washington DC in the number five spot with 69 fundings and Seattle at 67 fundings (source), it would require almost 80% more fundings than Atlanta had to earn the number five spot, assuming no other growth from these cities and others (unlikely). Let’s assume Atlanta would need 90 deals in 10 years to be a top five tech startup city since other metro regions would make progress as well.

Here are five ideas for Atlanta to have 90 first-time fundings by the year 2025:

  1. Multi-Billion Anchor Tech Company – One massive success story, like Atlanta’s had with Home Depot and CNN, creates hundreds (thousands?) of millionaires, attracts thousands of employees from inside and outside the region, and helps spawn dozens of new companies (10 company first-time fundings increase per year).
  2. New Accelerator Programs – With only a couple accelerator programs in Atlanta, there’s a real opportunity to build several more, especially ones that are more industry or technology specific (e.g. SaaS, IoT, internet security, etc.). More accelerator programs will result in more first-time fundings (10 company increase).
  3. Increased Startup Density – As areas like Buckhead and Midtown continue to attract startups and increase in density, a number of benefits ensue and the chance of entrepreneurial success increases. With increased success comes increased first-time fundings (10 company increase).
  4. More Recycled Capital – As the current generation of success stories achieve strong exits, more entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs, and recycle a greater percentage of the wealth created. Creating a culture where entrepreneurs are expected to recycle some of their winnings will generate a number of new first-time fundings (10 company increase).
  5. Startup Relocations – Some percentage of the existing 39 deals last year in Atlanta were startups that relocated to Atlanta, especially from surrounding states in the Southeast. Assuming it was 10% (4 companies), doing a more proactive job and highlighting the strengths of our existing community, that number could rise to 14 companies (10 company increase).

With these five ideas turning into 50 additional first-time fundings per year, Atlanta has a real opportunity to be a top five tech startup city. Of course, it’ll take a tremendous amount of work, and a lot of luck, but with so many good things happening, momentum is strong and the opportunity is real.

What else? What are some other ideas to help Atlanta become a top five tech startup city?

3 thoughts on “5 Ideas for Atlanta to be a Top 5 Tech Startup City

  1. As a variation to recycled capital, my suggestion is offering higher equity stakes to founders and employees versus relying on trickle down from founders. For example at Blinq 60% equity was distributed to employees. This is the just immediate way to have financial and personal impact versus waiting for the next round of funding to mature. Also, I think ATL is too fragmented, whereas consolidating talent will lead to more big wins versus the current fragmentation that is taking place. Think consolidators versus incubators, or maybe that is what will happen when the markets adjust organically as it will never always be headed up!

  2. David, we have not met, but I have enjoyed receiving your post. My son-in-law forwarded to me your post a few weeks ago. I will be brief since I know you are a busy man. Your thoughts regarding what it would take for Atlanta to be a top 5 startup city is interesting. I realized your list was not supposed to be comprehensive, but a missing piece would be the leadership to make all this happen. This usually starts with the City of Atlanta or a coalition of the metro area or a coalition of business leaders that brings a unified effort to achieve this type of result. An investment of time, money and intellectual capital is needed. The effort is very similar to landing the Olympics, Super Bowl or other major attractions to Atlanta. Georgia has been successful in the past fifteen years in building the movie industry in this State. The movie industry has been attracted to the State of Georgia because of tax incentives, employment base, geography and many other assets that Georgia has to offer. The Movie Industry and the Olympics did not seek out the State and the City, but instead a coalition led by strong leadership made this happen.

    I agree that Atlanta could move up the list and maybe 5 or 6 is as high as they can get. The top 4 have some advantages that Atlanta clearly does not have and that gap cannot be closed during your or my lifetime.

    Very interesting thoughts on your part.


    Doug Daniel

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