Growth Connection for Leading CEOs

One of the areas I’ve been interested in for many years is how to help CEOs/presidents of the fastest growing companies. Organizations like YPO and EO are amazing for peer learning and personal development, but don’t have a component for high growth companies. Inc magazine has the excellent Inc. 500/5000, and a corresponding conference focused on these fast growing companies, but it’s an annual thing, not a local, on-going program.

Cities have programs like Leadership Atlanta that connect high potential people across all types of organizations from non-profit to business to government to religious in an effort to build community, and train the leaders of tomorrow. These are important programs, but not focused on CEOs during the most crucial period of exceptional business growth.

Over the years, I’ve hosted a number of dinners for CEOs of the fastest growing local companies in order to build relationships, share learnings, and help grow our community. These are worthwhile, and very fun, but sporadic in nature. There’s an opportunity for deeper peer learning, connecting with more experienced leaders that have already gone through hyper growth, and more structured events.

My brother, CEO of SpanishDict, went through the MindShare program in D.C. and felt it was valuable. MindShare bills itself as “an exclusive forum of CEOs from high growth technology companies designed to foster collaboration and innovation among its Alumni Network.” MindShare has been around for nearly 20 years and has had over 1,000 CEOs in the program.

Some questions:

  • Are there programs like this in other cities? Are they worthwhile?
  • What would be the ideal Growth Connection program? Class size? Meeting frequency and format?
  • Should it be limited to just technology companies or is it better to have CEOs from all types of fast growing companies?
  • How do you define fast growing? Minimum revenue in the millions and trailing three year growth rate over certain amount?

Growth Connection is simply a non-profit idea to help the CEOs and presidents in the community connect, grow, and learn while in the crucible of hyper growth. All feedback and ideas are much appreciated.

18 Ideas to Accelerate the City’s Entrepreneurial Trajectory

Last week I put out a tweet to collect ideas for accelerating the entrepreneurial trajectory of Atlanta, and received a number of excellent ideas. Now, none of these ideas are limited to Atlanta and most are needed in all cities.

Here are 18 ideas for accelerating entrepreneurship in a city:

  1. Run a billboard campaign highlighting local startups
  2. Provide free training and courses for local founders
  3. Develop and support free/subsidized office space for startups like the Atlanta Tech Village
  4. Organize an accelerator program like Y Combinator
  5. Launch a YouTube video channel of local startup stories
  6. Connect local mid-to-large companies with startups
  7. Get large companies to commit to working on their procurement process to accommodate a certain number of startups
  8. Drive a public relations campaign to spotlight local entrepreneurs
  9. Coordinate an “after hours” program for entrepreneurs that have full-time day jobs
  10. Facilitate formal internship programs across startups
  11. Engage with local K-12 schools and get kids involved in entrepreneurship at an early age
  12. Run speed dating events between entrepreneurs and angels
  13. Partner with the local universities to help more students build businesses while in college
  14. Educate potential angel investors so that they feel comfortable investing more
  15. Bootstrapping programs to help startups do more with less
  16. Curate entrepreneurs-in-residence that help startups
  17. Find local mentors that want to help startups with no ulterior motive
  18. Acquire housing options for startups

Wow, that’s a great list. I’m really excited about the ideas and eager to help accelerate the entrepreneurial growth in our community.

What else? What are some more ideas to accelerate a city’s entrepreneurial trajectory?

The Simply SaaS Forum – Network and Learn from SaaS Pros

Next month we’re hosting the first of many Simply SaaS Forums in the Southeast. Taking a page from Jason Lemkin and SaaStr Annual, we’ve set out to build a community for SaaS entrepreneurs and professionals that want to network and learn from other experts. The faster you learn, the faster you grow.

As for the structure, it’s a 4.5 hour event from 1-5:30pm with an optional dinner afterwards. Being in Atlanta, we have direct flights and short drives for more than 80 million people in the Southeast whereby you can travel here in the morning, get a tremendous amount of value in the afternoon, and be home that night without having to even get a hotel room. We understand the grind and are providing a program and format to take actionable insights across a variety of functions for SaaS pros.

As for the program, we’ve broken it out into sales, marketing, product/engineering, and people/culture followed by a founder discussion on scaling from $0 to millions in recurring revenue. Here’s our first lineup:

  • Tonni Bennett, VP of Sales at Terminus – Tonni will share her lessons learned as a sales leader growing Terminus from $0 to tens of millions in ARR.
  • Tami McQueen, Co-founder of 31south – Tami McQueen, formerly of SalesLoft, will share marketing lessons learned when growing SalesLoft into one of the largest sales engagement platforms on the market.
  • Hubert Liu, Engineering Lead at Atlanta Ventures – Hubert Liu will share experiences from his time as CTO at Rigor about what it takes to grow a product from $0 to Inc. 500.
  • Karen Houghton, VP of Atlanta Tech Village – Karen has been with Atlanta Tech Village since the beginning and will share lessons learned on building great culture for startups.
  • Craig Hyde, CEO of Rigor – Craig is the founder/CEO of Rigor and was recognized last year in the Inc. 500 as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.

Overall, we’re on a mission to connect the Southeastern SaaS community with great content and programs to ultimately increase our quantity and scale of success. Please join us on our journey.

Here to Serve Entrepreneurs

Early on in life I was lucky to find my true passion: being an entrepreneur. Everywhere I looked there were opportunities to create new products and solutions; most of my ideas failed but a few succeeded. As I developed my passion for entrepreneurship, I also realized my passion for helping other entrepreneurs.

In college I started an entrepreneurship house course called Internet Startups and Entrepreneurship with an amazing faculty sponsor. Over the course of three semesters I had the chance to teach — really, learn with my peers — some of the things I’d already been working on for years.

At Pardot, we started an accelerator for idea stage startups called Shotput Ventures where we hosted the entrepreneurs for a weekly dinner, speaker, and idea sharing. It was a labor of love and a great learning experience. After Shotput, we incubated a number of startups in the Pardot office to help the next generation of entrepreneurs. Some of those startups included Clickscape, Rigor, and SalesLoft.

After selling Pardot, we dreamed big and built the Atlanta Tech Village. At 103,000 square feet and over 1,000 people, it’s one of the five largest tech entrepreneurship centers in the United States. There, we helped launch Calendly and Terminus.

Now, with the launch of Atlanta Ventures, we’re serving SaaS entrepreneurs through community, content, and capital:

  • Community – Regular events and programs for SaaS entrepreneurs ranging from idea stage meetups to curated SaaS forums to exclusive scaling SaaS dinners
  • Content – Fresh stories and lessons learned from some of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the country
  • Capital – Investments from $100,000 to $2 million in idea, seed, and growth stage SaaS startups

We’re here to serve entrepreneurs; it’s what we do. Nothing less, nothing more.

Please reach out and let us know how Atlanta Ventures can help.

Endeavor Atlanta’s First Class of Entrepreneurs

Endeavor Atlanta just announced its first class of entrepreneurs. Endeavor, as mentioned before, is a global non-profit organization that seeks to help entrepreneurs maximize their potential and grow the entrepreneurial communities around the world. Endeavor is especially powerful for entrepreneurs that are looking to expand to other countries as well as get plugged into a worldwide network. Atlanta’s own chapter of Endeavor opened earlier this year and we’re excited to announce our first cohort of Endeavor entrepreneurs:

  • Dave Keil / QASymphony – Dave and his team at QASymphony have quietly built one of the fastest growing software quality assurance platforms (think software to test software). They’re at the forefront of the trend where most companies are moving away from traditional waterfall processes to agile processes (more iterative and responsive to customer feedback).
  • Hatem Sellami + Bahadir Ustaoglu / Cognira – Hatem and Bahir, along with their team, have built a retail analytics platform that helps large retailers get more value from their data. The platform is centered around customer insights, forecasting, and generally using data science to deliver better business outcomes.

Congrats to Dave, Hatem, and Bahir as Atlanta’s first class of Endeavor entrepreneurs!

Know an entrepreneur that might be interested in Endeavor? We’d enjoy meeting them and sharing the vision of Endeavor.

Atlanta Startup Village #49

Atlanta Startup Village #49 just finished up at the Atlanta Tech Village. The event is free and open to the public. Join us.

Here were tonight’s presenting startups:

  • Fetch: Truck Rental Made Easy
  • Leadkit: Real Estate Technology & Lead Generation for the Modern Agent
  • Zenway: Data analytics for the next generation of super-efficient clean vehicles
  • Profound Studio: Expert home recording help
  • BashBlok: Make your Bash a Smash

Visiting Atlanta in the future? Join us at an Atlanta Startup Village event.

Atlanta Startup Village #48

Join us tonight at 7pm for Atlanta Startup Village #48. The event is free and everyone is welcome. Here are tonight’s startups:

  • Atlas Bay: Bring your spaces to life with virtual reality for real estate
  • Shofur: Bus reservations made easy!
  • GATE: Interception-proof authentication and encryption system
  • ReThinkingStartups: Startup whatever! The Whatever Network
  • accessnow: Improves productivity by governing your automated, on-demand elevated access with audit logging

June Atlanta Startup Village (#ATLSV #48)

Monday, Jun 26, 2017, 7:00 PM

Atlanta Tech Village
3423 Piedmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305 Atlanta, GA

546 Entrepreneurs Attending

Doors open (and beer flows) at 7:00 p.m., presentations start at 7:30 p.m. sharp.Follow the conversation on Twitter (https://twitter.com/atlsv) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/atlstartupvillage/) with #ATLSV #48!Livestream will be available at: http://atlantatechvillage.com/events/live-event/June Presenters:• Atlas Bay: Bring your spa…

Check out this Meetup →

See you tonight at ASV #48!