Since starting at ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center), I’ve gotten asked numerous times “what is an EIR?”
An EIR is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. You’ll find EIRs parked at venture firms and accelerators. The role is hard to define largely because it varies from place to place. What is common across the role is an EIR is typically an experienced entrepreneur looking to start his or her next company or join an existing start-up. Their role is usually some combination of advising companies and helping evaluate potential investments or member companies. The role is temporary by definition, typically lasting 3-18 months.
In my case at ATDC, the EIR role is new and has been a bit of ‘figure it out as you go’. It consists primarily of advising member companies, putting together ‘programming’ or events to help the member companies, and evaluating companies for the accelerator. I spend about 75% of my time with companies that are residents of the accelerator and about 25% of my time with other member companies and people in the start-up ‘eco-system’. This includes everything from helping them raise funding to making introductions to providing functional or domain advice. Our broad goal is economic development for the state of Georgia and we accomplish that by providing support for early stage technology companies.
In addition to working with the start-ups, I’ve focused on the CEO Roundtable and creating an ATDC Connect program. The Connect program aims to bring ATDC member companies seeking capital together with venture funds and angel investors, as well as connecting our start-ups with larger companies for initial customers and strategic partnerships.
For someone who loves growing technology businesses, I can’t imagine a better job. I get to spend time with the brightest entrepreneurs in Georgia, see a dizzying array of really cool new technologies and business ideas, expand my network, and learn from the investors we work with. I get an immense amount of satisfaction from helping the companies, and the entrepreneurs we support appreciate and value help from peers that have been in their shoes.
It’s also a challenging job. ATDC members span internet, mobile, software, fintech, healthcare IT, hardware, and biosciences. Our members are companies at the earliest stages. While they range from 2 to 50 people, most ATDC members have fewer than a dozen employees operating on shoestring budgets. The entrepreneurs are making decisions every day that will determine their success or failure. They are emotionally, and often financially, ‘all in’.
While I’m itching to ‘get back in the game’, I love what I’m doing. What could be better than working with scary smart entrepreneurs while I look to start a new company or join an existing early stage venture – all while getting to give back to the Atlanta technology community that has given me so many opportunities?