Laura Rich at FastCompany published a great article today on Why You Should Start A Company in… Atlanta.
I’ve lived and worked in & out of Atlanta since 1981 – I’m passionate about this town, the quality of life here, and so much that it has going for it. I know Alan Taetle at NMP and agree with a number of references in the article. Unfortunately, here are several fundamental points Alan didn’t mention:
- Lack of Ideas – Even with Tech and Emory in town, there are not enough compelling ideas being generated by intellectual curiosity and horsepower! Wonder how many quality and quantity deals Alan has looked at in the past month?
- Lack of Seed Funding – Atlanta has never been a strong capital market and we seem to lack visionary angel investors who are willing to put their money, experience and reputation behind budding entrepreneurs. In the past Angels would fund early, promising ideas – now they’re looking for proven market validation, i.e. customers! Wonder how many Angel deals of say less than $1M has been completed here in the last year?
- Lack of Institutional Funding – ATDC can produce great ideas backed by decent entrepreneurs. A handful maybe able to find Angel investors, but then what? Without a robust and competitive venture capital community, how can these early stage firms mature and progress their vision? Wonder of all of the deals Alan looked at last year, how many did NMP fund? How many were co-syndicated by other local VCs?
- Lack of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem – Detrimental to the entire picture is lack of any sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. Unlike other regions where successful entrepreneurial exits tend to reinvest their green- and gray matters back into the market, Atlanta’s successful entrepreneurs retire to Lake Oconee or move on to real estate development, depriving the ecosystem from much needed fuel to support the next generation of ideas.
- Lack of Leadership and Vision – The local business chronicle has yet to replace its technology staff writer from the last one they let go two years ago! Leadership Atlanta seldom selects class members from the technology entrepreneur ranks. The local technology association often confuses vibration with forward motion. And our last several governors and mayors couldn’t spell technology if they tried.
Atlanta is an amazing town with some amazing people – unfortunately, a technology entrepreneurial Mecca, it’s not. It’s about time we stopped kidding ourselves and started doing something about being seen as more than just the town that hosted the Olympics and home to Coke, UPS and Delta!