There’s a lot to like about living in Atlanta, from its generally mild winters and walkable, tree-lined neighborhoods to its thriving restaurant scene. But what you might not know is that the city is also gaining prominence for its vibrant tech startup community.
For a long time, there’s been a misperception that the more established “Innovation Hubs” of New York, Boston, and San Francisco are the only places to launch a tech business, especially if you’re seeking investment capital. This notion is changing, however, as more startups call Atlanta home.
Our own The State of StartupsSM in the Southeast 2019 report revealed that the overall rate of maturation of the venture ecosystem in our region is exceeding that of the Innovation Hubs.
But what makes Atlanta in particular a great place to start a tech business? Here are three big reasons:
- Easy access to tech talent. Top-notch universities in Atlanta and across the Southeast offer a ready talent pool for startups. Schools with strong tech programs include Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Clemson University, and many more.
- Experienced leaders. A considerable number of Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Atlanta, so there’s no shortage of veteran business leaders here. Sixteen Atlanta-based companies made the 2020 Fortune 500 list, including UPS, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and Delta, and 14 more made the Fortune 1,000 list. The 30 companies had a combined revenue of $438 billion in 2019.
- Lower cost of living. Atlanta is significantly less expensive to live in compared to the Innovation Hubs, as this calculator illustrates. Lower cost of living means lower taxes and more affordable housing, and also extends to business considerations such as commercial real estate and talent acquisition. These things contribute to a higher quality of life for all.
Is Now Really the Right Time to Build a Business?
Considering the pandemic and corresponding recession, it’s rational to wonder whether now is the right time to start a business anywhere. While it’s true there are extra challenges, the reality is that good companies are still out there and they’re still raising capital. While the investment cycle has lengthened, good deals are still being made.
In many ways, the pandemic has actually compressed the technology adoption curve by several years. Remote-working solutions are thriving, and other digital technologies that address current needs have boomed, such as in fintech and healthcare IT (think digital money transactions and telemedicine). In such market segments, the pandemic has driven digital adoption forward at a much more rapid pace.
During my time at The Weather Channel, I witnessed the transition from broadcast to digital, something that took a number of years to happen. It’s amazing to me to contrast that with the pace of innovation I’ve seen in the tech world over the last six months alone.
That innovation is happening in Atlanta especially. If you’re building a business that resolves a real and current need, now is the time, and Atlanta is the right place.
We’ll be taking a deeper look at how the pandemic has impacted entrepreneurship and venture investing here and throughout the region in our next The State of StartupsSM in the Southeast report, coming in October 2020.
Have you registered yet for Venture Atlanta? This year’s event has been transformed into Venture Atlanta Live Online and will stream two days of immersive events. Attendees will be able to use the Venture Atlanta app to connect with others at the conference, chat in real time, set up one-on-one meetings, watch startup pitches, and more. Venture Atlanta Live Online will take place October 21-22. For more information, go here.