This week I (literally) handed over the keys to ATDC to Mike Hersh. It has been a huge privilege to man the helm at ATDC – a startup incubator at Georgia Tech that Forbes named one of the “top 12 incubators changing the world.” I agreed to chair the search committee and take on the interim role in part because I bleed ‘white and gold’ and it was an opportunity to serve my alma mater. But the main reason was I believe ATDC is an incredible resource for entrepreneurs in Georgia, is uniquely positioned to leverage Georgia Tech to drive innovation, and is a resource that has barely scratched the surface of what it could (and should) be.
When I stepped into the interim role, Stephen Fleming told me he wanted me to “do more than keep the seat warm.” So I dove in headfirst. Thanks to the support and ideas of the ATDC companies, we made a lot of progress in a short period of time and I can’t wait to see Mike take it to the next level.
My time running ATDC has been an absolute blast and one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my career. Running ATDC means wearing many hats – coach, psychologist, economic development, landlord, and operator. With so much going on in the Atlanta startup community, it was exciting to be at the center of it. Without a doubt, the best part has been getting to know so many incredible entrepreneurs. I learned a ton from all of our companies – new business models, industries, and technologies. And I made some awesome new friends.
So why was I crazy enough to walk away from a job I love working with such amazing people? The best analogy I can come up with is that heading ATDC is a bit like an alcoholic working in a bar. I handed over the reigns to Mike so I can focus on my next chapter and where I want to be at this point in my life, on the other side of the bar – building an innovative company.
I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity and I owe so many people in the Atlanta startup community a debt of gratitude for all the help and support I received. I will no doubt continue to stay active in ATDC and the Atlanta startup community. Wherever this chapter takes me, I am better prepared because of my time leading ATDC.