Typically, when one thinks of Atlanta, common staples come to mind: The World of Coke, Gone with the Wind, and Martin Luther King, Jr. among others. But if one looks a little deeper, he’d be sure to find the Capital of the South in flux, with innovation and exciting changes happening daily. Like other American cities, Atlanta has gone through boom and bust, and is rising from the ashes of the Great Recession to its full potential as an ideal city to start a business.
According to Atlanta native Jim Garrett, founder and CEO of Snapfinger as well as Chief Revenue Officer of Tillster, the city “offers a diverse and strong corporate environment,” with swaths of young talent attracted to all Atlanta has to offer. While it’s no Silicon Valley, the city has many “pockets of innovation,” with entrepreneurship centers creating a “density of startup activity,” says Ed Trimble, president of Bonds Cove. As serial entrepreneurs, these men are forward-thinkers and see what Atlanta can be, while growing quite a thick skin along the way. Both Garrett and Trimble sat down with Start-Opia Radio to discuss, among other things, why Atlanta has become a great place for burgeoning businesses. Here’s a list of 10 reasons why you should start a business in Atlanta today, according to Garrett and Trimble:
1. We have what you need. Young graduates are drawn to the city because of its affordability, warm weather and amazing airport. What more could you ask for? And with this constant migration of young people, Atlanta is definitely not lacking in talent and drive.
2. The economy is on the climb. In the 90’s, NASDAQ flew upward with 500 percent growth and the amount of venture capitalists increased by 120 percent. The economy grew like crazy in this decade, and while today similar trends and signs exist, compared to 1999, in Trimble’s view, the economy is growing at a healthy and sustainable pace. NASDAQ is rising at a 200 percent rate and VC’s are experiencing 25-30 percent growth. This healthy economic environment is needed in order for startups to thrive.
3. Large corporations are everywhere. With giants like Coca-Cola, AT&T, Delta and many more, Atlanta has big business covered. What does that mean for startups? They can easily go to these big companies and get help from them, according to Garrett.
4. Map out your plan, and you’ll get funding. Before the recession, a good idea was enough to get funding from venture capitalists. Then the recession hit, and now, Atlanta startups face hesitancy from venture capitalists. But, never fear! To raise capital, Trimble says that startups just need to prove their worth through results and thorough business plans. Garrett agrees that a strong management team and solid experience are key to raising the money. So while an idea on its own will never get you success in the long run, if you have a solid plan, VC's will take note.
5. The software business is cheaper. Because of the technology available today, startups in the software industry need much less capital than they did 10 years ago. Tools and innovation exist that make running a business much more affordable for these companies, according to Trimble. And with technology as big as it is in Atlanta, software companies fare well here.
6. A mini Silicon Valley. With Georgia Tech right in the city and other universities close by, lots of intelligence and ideas are brought to Atlanta. And programs like the University of Georgia’s Bulldog 100, which recognizes the 100 fastest growing businesses owned by alumni, foster an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation. And while Atlanta won’t be the internet consumer success story that Silicon Valley is, Garrett says we have areas in technology in which we succeed and should focus on.
7. The mobile industry is booming. Trimble’s company, Bonds Cove, looks for trends and how they may affect his clients’ businesses; mobile is a big one. Things are always changing in this industry, succeeding or failing, coming in and out of vogue. New technology in the mobile sector is released all the time, and there is often a dilemma over whether to pioneer it or see it proven first. Businesses in this sector also have to deal with the big tech and social media giants that are necessary to rely on for business, but are always changing. Atlanta, with its big focus on technology, is the perfect place for mobile startups.
8. Women taking charge. Georgia has the highest amount of women-owned businesses in the country, providing encouragement for women who have had a hard time obtaining jobs in certain industries elsewhere. Organizations like Startup Chicks, Rails Girls Atlanta, and Women in Technology hold events in the area often, promoting women in the business world and creating more opportunities for them to be successful.
9. Peer-to-Peer Economy. Another trend Trimble and his company notedis peer-to-peer business. These services have gained popularity globally because the middle class is still feeling the effects of the recession and is more comfortable making business transactions with their neighbors than big banks or corporations. People are shifting further away from big business and searching for local deals. He cites the fact that ride-sharing businesses like Lyft are trending big-time, stating that startups can find a good customer base today in Atlanta with Peer-to-Peer services.
10. Startups start here. With the high number of entrepreneur centers like ATDC and ATV on the rise, collaboration, communication of ideas and growth can occur organically among these new businesses. Every day in this city brings another great startup event or meet-up – ripe for collaboration and networking. After all, Atlanta wasn’t named one of the friendliest cities for startups for nothing!
With all of these trends in motion, young entrepreneurs can better understand how to enter the market and find their niche in order to succeed. Atlanta is a great place to be a startup these days, and if the city keeps improving like Trimble and Garrett think it will, there’s no telling what’s in store for the Capital of the South.
Jim Garrett is the founder and CEO of Snapfinger, and now resides as the Chief Revenue Officer of Tillster. You can contact him at http://www.tillster.com as well as via LinkedIn.
Ed Trimble is the President of Bonds Cove. You can contact him at http://www.bondscove.com/, via LinkedIn, or via Twitter @edtrimble10.