The TechRise Addition to Atlanta’s Startup Community

Urvaksh broke the news earlier today with his article 100,000-square-foot startup hub ‘TechRise’ planned for Buckhead. Atlanta entrepreneur Greg Benoit sold part of his SaaS physician scheduling company QGenda earlier this year and founded TechRise Ventures to invest in startups. Now, he’s purchased the building next door to the Atlanta Tech Village, 3405 Piedmont Rd., and added another 100,000 feet of space to Atlanta’s startup community: TechRise.

TechRise is geared towards startups that have raised a Series A or have at least a million in recurring revenue (often 15+ employees) and want a shorter term lease (typically one year) in turn-key space. This is perfect for companies that graduate from the Atlanta Tech Village as well as other co-working spaces in town.

More startup space in town is great for all the right reasons:

  • Density – Clusters of like-minded people that help each other and share ideas increases everyone’s chance of success. Now, this one section of Buckhead in Atlanta has more startup space in a city block than almost anywhere else in the United States.
  • Community – Educational events, networking, and programs are all important elements of building community. Now, there’s even more scale to the community.
  • Giving Back – Greg’s continuing to set the tone as a community that gives back and helps pay it forward for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Congratulations to Greg on the purchase of TechRise and here’s to the continued success and growth of the Atlanta startup community.

4 Year Anniversary of the Atlanta Tech Village

Today marks the four year anniversary of purchasing the Atlanta Tech Village and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished. David, Karen, and the entire team have consistently pushed the limits creating the best environment for entrepreneurs to increase their chance of success. Naturally, it’s time to reflect.

Here are a few takeaways from the first four years of the Atlanta Tech Village:

  • Community – Building community is both more rewarding, and difficult, than it looks. Everything starts and ends with people. Get great people in the right spots and let them do their thing.
  • Initial Startups – Week one of the Village we had several entrepreneurs move in to support the movement. Guys like Craig at Rigor, Kyle at SalesLoft, and Devon at InsightPool set the tone from the beginning as hustlers that get things done. Today, every one of them has millions in recurring revenue.
  • Civic Pride – The Village continues to be a source of civic pride for the Atlanta startup community. As one of the five largest tech entrepreneurship centers in the country, the Village is helping put Atlanta on the map for current and future tech entrepreneurs.
  • Success Stories – This is the hardest part. For the Village to be a success on a larger scale, we need to have more successful graduates that build meaningful tech companies. We’re four years in and only have a handful that are on their way. We need more.

We’ve laid the foundation for success at the Atlanta Tech Village but still have more work to do. We’re on a mission to make Atlanta one of the top 10 places for tech entrepreneurs in the United States and won’t let up until we get there.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the first four years of the Atlanta Tech Village?

Local, Fast-Growing Million Dollar Revenue SaaS Startups

Earlier today I was talking with an entrepreneur and the topic of the $1 Million Annual Recurring Revenue Milestone came up. After thinking about it more, I realized I could name 10 Atlanta B2B SaaS startups that had hit this milestone in the last 18 months, and every one is still growing fast. As a community, this bodes well for several reasons:

  • Some small percentage of these startups are going to scale and turn into large companies (hopefully, even an anchor technology company)
  • Look for some really nice exits from this group over the next 3 – 5 years creating more success stories and local wealth
  • More successful startups will train more of the next generation of entrepreneurs contributing to the virtuous cycle
  • More institutional capital will come to the region since traction is one of the key elements for this type of investor

There’s a great class of local, fast-growing million dollar revenue SaaS startups that are going to make a real impact on the Atlanta startup community — I’m excited for the future.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the benefits of fast-growing million dollar revenue SaaS startups on a local community?

Atlanta Startup Village #43

Tonight is Atlanta Startup Village #43 at the Atlanta Tech Village. The Atlanta Startup Village is the largest monthly gathering of entrepreneurs in the Southeast with 400+ attendees. The cost is free and the energy is high.

Every month entrepreneurs show their product and ask for help. Here are tonight’s presenters:

  • Partnr: A collaboration platform for the new age of creatives and businesses
  • Unbrokerage – The easiest way to buy business insurance.
  • TrustStamp – Be Known – Be Safe – Be Trusted.
  • YayStack – The best finds from your best friends.
  • ShoutyApp – Create, post, and view streamed events happening anywhere around the world.

Come see the Tech Village, network with other people in the startup community, and hear entrepreneurs tell their story.

It Requires No Talent

Vala Afshar, from Salesforce.com, sent a great tweet out earlier today.

It requires no talent to be:

  • hard working
  • generous
  • polite
  • positive
  • kind
  • teachable
  • humble
  • hopeful
  • grateful
  • honest
  • mindful

Too often, people get bogged down by what they can, and cannot, do. Instead, follow Andre Agassi and focus on controlling what you can control.

4 Year Anniversary of the Pardot Acquisition

Today marks the four year anniversary of the Pardot acquisition by ExactTarget. As a part of Salesforce.com now, it’s incredible to see the company thrive and scale to hundreds of millions of dollars of recurring revenue. Looking back, here are a few lessons learned post acquisition:

SaaS Market Opportunity is Huge

In hindsight, it’s clear that the SaaS market is much, much larger than expected. Within SaaS, marketing technology has exceeded expectations. Historically, in the pre-Internet client/server era of technology, marketing was never a major tech area because it wasn’t as people driven (e.g. there weren’t that many seats to sell). Now, the four major marketing automation vendors are approaching $1 billion in annual recurring revenue and still growing fast.

Startups are Hard

After we sold Pardot, I invested large sums of money in several startups that went under. Hubris is real and should be acknowledged when present. It’s better to take things slower while building expertise and traction. Then, ramp when there’s a clear market and demand (ramping early often results in failure).

Giving Back is Fun

Engaging with other entrepreneurs and helping build the startup community through the Atlanta Tech Village is fun. There’s something special about trying to do the impossible and help entrepreneurs grow a business. Easy? No. Fun? Yes.

As I look back on the four years post acquisition, I’m grateful for the journey and lessons learned.

What else? What are some more lessons learned post acquisition?

The Perpetual “Access to Capital” Question

During last week’s panel on sports and technology, the perpetual question came up: how’s the access to capital for startups in Atlanta? I’ve heard this question hundreds of times over the years, both pre and post Atlanta Tech Village. The question is worthwhile, especially as most people asking the question aren’t in the startup world, and are genuinely curious.

Here are a few thoughts on the “access to capital” question:

  • Funding for entrepreneurs with an idea is still limited to the three Fs: friends, family, and fools
  • Once there’s a modest amount of traction — say, $100k in revenue or 10,000 daily active users — there’s a very limited number of angels and micro-VCs that will write a check (most entrepreneurs at this stage still aren’t able to raise money)
  • After more substantial traction — $1 million in revenue or 100,000 daily active users — there is a tremendous amount of capital available, primarily from outside the region. Capital is more mobile than ever and investors are actively looking for fast-growing startups with traction.

So, regional capital is still very limited, but startups that have the basis of a working business, and great growth, have access to plenty of capital.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the “access to capital” question?