Last week we announced the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is expanding our open membership program by launching the ATDC Entrepreneurs program. The ATDC Entrepreneurs program is designed to help entrepreneurs in Georgia launch and grow successful technology companies.
What is the ATDC Entrepreneurs program?
Over the past few years ATDC has increasingly incorporated the ‘lean startup’ methodology in our education series and coaching. We use the business model canvas to encourage continuous innovation and ‘pivots’ based on marketplace feedback.
Late last year the ATDC team set out to apply those same methodologies to our own business planning process. We are applying it to both our cornerstone ATDC Select incubator for high potential startups as well as our open membership program. As part of that process, we have listened to hundreds of entrepreneurs and ATDC stakeholders. And boy did we get an earful – lots of great ideas, critiques, and kudos!
Based on your feedback, we are expanding our open membership program by launching the ATDC Entrepreneurs program. The ATDC Entrepreneurs program replaces our open membership program. While the previous open program served technology companies in Georgia – the new Entrepreneurs program is open to any individual technology entrepreneur in Georgia. Membership is just $25 a year.
Why the ‘pivot’?
Over the past several years we have learned that the programs we originally designed to be delivered in a customized one-to-one manner with a limited number of ATDC Select companies don’t always scale for hundreds of startups. Expanding the ATDC Select incubator program takes a lot of resources (and many entrepreneurs don’t want or need the incubator program) so we are developing the Entrepreneurs program to deliver on our promise of opening up ATDC to serve more startups in Georgia. In addition, this will enable us to develop programming that can be shared outside our four walls with our partners and friends at other startup facilities and cities across the state.
We also heard a common complaint that individual entrepreneurs were not able to access our programming. Since the startup process often starts well before a company is incorporated, we were excluding folks at a stage they would most benefit from many of our events and programs. To increase access for individuals and students, we changed membership from company to an individual based model and lowered the membership fee to $25 a year (a big savings from the over the prior $50 per quarter). Georgia Tech students, faculty, and staff can now join at no cost.
Membership fees are not a significant part of how we pay the bills at ATDC, but we do need a registration process and small fee to know who our active customers are. As membership increases, some events and programs where food and drink will be served will have a small ($10) fee. We plan to seek sponsors to hopefully eliminate the food and drink charge for some programs in the future. If you are a current member, your most recent membership payment will cover the first two years.
What’s the difference between ATDC Select and the ATDC Entrepreneur program?
The Entrepreneurs program will have access to most of the same programs and events that ATDC Select companies can access and can book office hours with our Catalysts and EIRs at any time.
ATDC Select, our flagship incubator program, remains unchanged. The primary difference is ATDC Select is a 2-3 year incubation program for high growth potential companies chosen by a variety of factors including market, team, technology, capacity, ability to meet graduation criteria in 3 years or less, and most importantly – whether ATDC Select will benefit the company. ATDC Select companies must also meet milestones towards graduation.
Think of Select as a PhD program – it’s an advanced program where we surround the entrepreneurs with resources to help them succeed, but it’s largely a self-guided experience with milestones to graduation. Select companies are assigned a dedicated Entrepreneur-in-Residence, participate in programs and curriculum designed specifically for them (like the CEO Roundtable), and receive priority for space and some programs like Industry Connect. ATDC Select companies also receive priority for space in the incubator.
As a result of our customer discovery efforts, we are launching new programs, growing our staff, and expanding our footprint on campus. The new Entrepreneurs program will benefit from the resources of the incubator and Georgia Tech, as well as see new curriculum and programming designed to better serve the broader startup community. We have also updated our website to make it easier to find the resources available to entrepreneurs and register for events.
We recommend entrepreneurs new to the program attend an info session, held the second Tuesday of every month. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how to make the Entrepreneurs program awesome and we’ll keep iterating to improve!