Atlanta hasn’t always been a hotbed for startups, but in the past five years the city has seen startup activity multiply and grow to become an economic catalyst. What makes this possible? One reason is the increasing number of startup incubators popping up around Atlanta. With a more stable and growing economy, potential startups are feeling confident enough today to take the risk in order to start their companies, and similar to David Cummings’ Atlanta Tech Village, the new crop of incubators provides the perfect environment.
These upcoming centers for startups provide mentorship, instruction and events in addition to a place to work. With the multitude of influencers opening up across Atlanta, from Brookhaven to Downtown, a unique and nurturing community for startups has formed. Here are five entrepreneurial centers in Atlanta -- new and old -- that have had a significant impact on Atlanta’s startup scene:
1. Atlanta Technology Development Center (ATDC)
While this incubator was established long before this recent startup boom, ATDC continues to play a huge role in Atlanta’s startup community. One of the oldest university-backed incubators in the United States, over 150 successful companies have come out of ATDC since its beginning in 1981. It encourages entrepreneurship and innovation within the Georgia Tech community and harnesses the talent and research provided by the institute. It focuses on technology startups and mentorship programs, and its location in Tech Square provides close proximity to other startup resources like Flashpoint, a technology accelerator program. This incubator used to be the only option for startups looking for help before 2012 in Atlanta, but now, there are even more to help foster the encouraging community that ATDC began.
2. Atlanta Tech Village
This popular incubator was started late in 2012 by David Cummings after a very successful sale of his software company, Pardot, for $96 million. Unlike the typical successful entrepreneur, Cummings got right back in the game and invested $24 million from his exit into the Atlanta startup community—purchasing Atlanta Tech Village’s 100,000 square foot space in Buckhead that now holds close to 200 startups and growing. The biggest point Cummings was focused on when starting the Atlanta Tech Village was creating a community. Not only does the Village foster a better community for startups in Atlanta with meetings and talks hosted in its building, Cummings created a good environment for the startups housed there with an emphasis on collaboration and by providing unique perks like 24 hour coffee access, unlimited organic snacks and nap rooms.
Michael Tavani, co-founder of successful startup Scoutmob, decided to start this new incubator downtown to harness the intellect and talent of Georgia State and provide a good area in which startups can thrive even after they outgrow Switchyards. He looks to provide services to more consumer-based startups rather than the business to business tech and software startups that ATDC and Atlanta Tech Village focus on. Tavani is investing $2 million in the project, turning an old 19,000 square foot building downtown into the consumer and design startup incubator, which is planning on opening in early 2015. He plans for the space to host series of events for the startup community, like the project he has already started for this August, Startup X Month, which helps small teams to zone in on one idea and launch a product in one month.
Core Venture Studio, an Atlanta technology startup studio and investment partnership, plans on opening this new incubator in the old Hypepotamus space in the basement of the Biltmore hotel in Midtown. With the closeness of the Georgia Tech community and Flashpoint, the affordability and easiness to get to, the area is perfect for startups that would come to this new incubator. Much smaller than some of the other incubators listed here, they plan on housing 10-15 startups long-term, while also providing space for drop-in startups who would work in the incubator for a day or two at a time. They plan on beginning a corporate mentorship program, hosting events and bringing institutional venture capitalists to meet the startups and help them along.
5. Maverick House
The Maverick House is a $10 million project headed by Patrick Pittard, an executive-in-residence at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. He plans to open another incubator by the year’s end, this time in the Brookhaven area, which would house around 150 companies. The Maverick House would provide collaboration space and also business education led by some of his UGA colleagues. He wants the focus of his incubator to go beyond young tech entrepreneurs, and include startups that provide logistics, consumer products, and other retail services.
With a variety of locations, services and target members, these five incubators and coworking facilities will cover much of the startup scene booming in Atlanta. They are the driving force behind the rich environment found in this city, and while Atlanta is not yet a Silicon Valley, New York City or San Francisco, these incubators are helping us get there. They give startups direction and foster growth, and without them, Atlanta wouldn’t be close to where it is today.
Check out Start-Opia’s database to discover more startups, influencers, and capitalists in the Atlanta area and around the Southeast.