Mar 112012
 March 11, 2012  Posted by at 4:30 am 1 Response »

Each year TAG showcases Georgia’s Top 40 Innovative Technology Companies and gives the Top 10 the opportunity to showcase their company at the Georgia Technology Summit.

If you are an innovative technology company and you didn’t apply – you should next year.  As an entrepreneur, I know all to well it often feels you spend more time ‘pitching’ your company than building it.  So why should you apply for the Top 40?  The main reason to participate is these events help the local startup community by highlighting the innovative technology companies in Georgia.  This helps attract more investment and talent to the area.  However, the event is also a great opportunity to create awareness and recognition for your company.  Being selected is something your team can celebrate. If you are a candidate for the Top 10 you’ll be invited in to meet with the selection committee.  Regardless of the outcome, you’ll get valuable feedback and contacts with people that can help you grow your business.  If you are chosen, you’ll get to share your innovation with over 1000 people in the technology community.

This year I had the opportunity to sit on the ‘other side of the table’ as a member of the selection committee.  In addition to getting to see so many really cool companies – I learned a lot in the process.  Now that the selection is complete, I thought I’d share some of what I learned to help companies applying in the future – and many of the lessons apply to other similar competitions.  Here are 5 tips I learned:

1.  Submit Early

Believe it or not, every member of the selection committee reviews every bit of that information you submit.  They also meet and discuss each and every applicant as a group.  Applicants are initially sorted into ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Maybe’.  By the end of the process, I noticed the group getting more selective as we compared applicants against the dozens of innovative companies we had already reviewed.  It’s easier to make it to the short list if you submit your application early.

2.  A Page Full of Buzzwords Won’t Work

I have no doubt that some of the most innovative companies that applied won’t make the list.  Why?  Because nobody understood what they did or why they were innovative!  Several applications were long on marketing gobbledygook, but short on clear descriptions.  Some of the committee discussions were dominated by trying to figure out what the company did – or worse – complete silence.  Sometimes we even pulled up the company website to try to figure it out.   Other times a member of the committee knew the company and was able to ‘fill in the blanks’ for the rest of us.  If the selection committee doesn’t understand what you do then it doesn’t matter how innovative or successful you are – you won’t make the list.

3.  Don’t Use Your Standard Pitch

With the almost obsessive focus the startup community has on pitch events, it’s no wonder most companies that are invited in to present to the selection committee come armed with their standard pitch deck.  Don’t do that.  This is an innovation contest – not a startup event.   The most compelling companies used their 3 minutes to talk about the problem they are solving, their solution, and most importantly – what makes them innovative and why it’s hard to do.  The winning presentations were given as if they already won.  That means telling your story in a way that will resonate in a room with 1000 people – and having slides that can be read in the back of that room.

4.  Size Matters Less Than Success

There’s a lot of ‘gee-whiz’ cool technology in Georgia.  The selection committee is looking for the innovative companies that are – or are going to be – a big success.  Highlight evidence of that success and future potential by talking about the market opportunity, customer wins, growth to date, or other signs of traction.   The  Top 40 included companies of all sizes from seed stage to Fortune 500.

5.  Repeat Winners

Whether you’ve applied and been selected in the past – or not – doesn’t matter.  However, if you’ve been a Top 40 company in the past, you need to highlight progress or new innovation to be selected again.

Next time your company applies for Georgia’s Top 40 Innovative Companies or other similar contests, keep these tips in mind.  I really enjoyed being a member of the selection committee.  We may not be Silicon Valley – but Georgia is an innovation hotbed and it was inspiring to see so many awesome companies and ideas.  So who are the Top 40 innovators?  Sorry – I can’t spill the beans.  TAG will announce the winners at the Georgia Technology Summit on March 28th at the Cobb Galleria Center.

Jan 182012
 January 18, 2012  Posted by at 11:51 pm No Responses »

The State of Georgia is undercapitalized for very early stage technology companies – particularly those with ‘big idea’ business models or deep technology bets that need $500k to several million in the seed stages.  Last week, HB 718 was introduced to the Georgia General Assembly.  It establishes a fund to invest up to $200 million in venture capital in Georgia.  Stephen Fleming wrote a great summary of the bill on his blog.  Here’s my thoughts on how to best utilize those funds:

  • Invest in Venture Funds.  They got this right.  Privately managed funds will do a better job investing the money.  If done right, it will also help them raise additional funds and attract funds from outside the state.
  • Address the ‘top of the funnel’.  To attract more investment into the state of Georgia we must increase the quality deal pipeline.  That means starting with increasing capital for seed and early stage companies.
  • Seed and early stage are the most difficult stages.  Not only is this Georgia’s biggest shortage, but it is also the most difficult stage for a fund to be successful.  Early stage investors take enormous risks and have a higher failure rate.  When their investments are successful, the companies often go on to raise larger sums of money from later stage funds and the early investors are significantly diluted.  Seed and early stage investments in successful startups can be virtually wiped out if the company stumbles on it’s way to success.
  • Later stage ventures have an easier time attracting out of state funding.  Seed stage investors need to be more hands-on during the formative stages of a company.  This is difficult to do when you are a plane ride away.  It takes too much time away from sourcing new deals and raising funds.  The more mature the company is, the more likely they will attract funding from out of state ventures.  The bigger the pipeline of these companies, the more likely out of state money will be invested in Georgia and more funds will locate here.
  • Spreading the funds out over time will be more effective than a large short-term infusion.   To put that much money to work quickly would mean a significant portion would need to go to later stage funds.  Without an increase in deal flow to support it, the unintended consequence might be having the allocated money invested in Georgia while more money from other LPs is invested outside the state to meet the goals of the funds.  If the money is invested over a period of say 5 years, it can follow the evolution of the pipeline with an increasing portion going to later stage funds.  Early in the program a majority should go to closing the seed and early stage funding gap.  This increases the chances of a more permanent increase in the deal flow rather than a one time bump.  To make it more sustainable, have it be an ‘evergreen’ fund where the returns continue to be invested in local venture capital.
  • Government should support investment in innovative startups.  I believe government investment in innovation and startups is necessary for job creation.  To find out why see my earlier post on startups and job creation.  That investment is most appropriate in areas where it is less profitable and there is less incentive in the private market.  That is why grants are so effective at spawning innovation by supporting early research.  Since early stage investing is the most difficult, it is also the best target of government funded investing.

Do I support HB 718?  Yes.  I’d like to see the administration of the fund focus on seed and early stage initially and spread it out over more than 3 years.  I don’t think that would necessarily alter the 30/70 split given the size of early stage investments.  But overall, this will certainly help address the early stage funding gap in Georgia and enhance Georgia’s position as a technology startup hub – as well as lead to significant job creation.

Jan 042012
 January 4, 2012  Posted by at 10:59 pm No Responses »

Last night I attended the final Flashpoint GT practice session before kicking off Demo Days next week at GTRI.  Later in the month, Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz will host Flashpoint demo days.

I’ve sat through countless pitches since starting as an EIR at ATDC four months ago.  Last night I had a chance to simply be an observer.  So rather than focus on what I thought about the pitches – I focused on listening to the feedback the mentors were giving them.

Flashpoint has assembled a talented and experienced group of mentors. The feedback was excellent – deeper than the typical “too many words” or “wrong font size” (not that those aren’t important).

Here are a few takeaways from the feedback the mentors gave the presenting companies:

  • Get the audience into your story early.  Don’t just tell them what you do – tell them why.  Allen Nance told one of the companies “a good presentation is all about getting the audience to believe the problem”.   That is awesome advice.  If potential investors believe you are solving a problem that keeps customers awake at night – you are half-way there.
  • Don’t just talk about features and capabilities – talk about how your solution solves the problem.
  • A theme that resonated with mentors for software companies was talking about how they automated or digitized something manual.
  • Show real examples.  Real customer examples are more powerful than hypotheticals.
  • Spend $ to differentiate the presentation.  If you are going to have slides, they need to support what you are saying, not detract from it.  Professional looking presentations with clean graphics were more memorable and effective.  On the logo page, have a tagline that says what you do.
  • The mentors wanted to hear more about the business and pricing models than revenue forecasts.
Dec 282011
 December 28, 2011  Posted by at 5:17 pm 2 Responses »

A year ago this week I lost my Mom to Alzheimer’s.  She passed away quietly in her sleep just a few days after Christmas and a week before her grandson, Luke, was born.

At the time, her passing was a mixed blessing.  We were at the end of a long, exhausting, heartbreaking journey.  She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2005 at the young age of 58 – but looking back her symptoms started several years before.  One of the cruelties of Alzheimer’s is early on my Mom was fully aware that she was slowly slipping into the depths of this cruel disease and she feared what she knew lay ahead.  By the end, those fears had come to fruition, as she was unable to move, eat, or communicate without assistance.  When she passed, we took a measure of peace knowing she would not want to continue in that state and she was headed to a better place where she would be reunited with her lost memories.

When she died, I buried myself in the flurry of details and activity that comes with planning a funeral, burial, and the birth of our son.  Reflecting back a year later, her journey puts much in perspective, and I hope I will remember these life lessons.

Alzheimer’s is my greatest fear

My Mom’s story is not unique.  Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and it threatens to reach epidemic proportions by the middle of the century.  We aren’t doing enough to prepare for the epidemic or fund research to find treatments and cures.  Our health care system isn’t ready and the costs of care and impact on families and caregivers will be staggering.  Having watched my Mom’s heartbreaking battle, I can’t help but be haunted by the fear of Alzheimer’s.  I worry not only about going through the confusion, anxiety, and pain she went through – but I don’t want my kids to have to go through what I went through as a caregiver.  That’s what motivates me to stay actively involved in the Alzheimer’s Association.

Circle of Life

I sometimes wonder with a measure of guilt if she somehow decided it was time to go for my sake. Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is mentally, physically, and financially draining.  Juggling her care, my family, and career was a constant challenge.    Although she was well into her Alzheimer’s journey when my daughter Alexa was born, I was glad she got to experience being a grandmother.  With Luke’s birth around the corner, I was worried how we would add yet another child into the juggling act and it made me sad to know my Mom wouldn’t be aware enough to get to know him.  Perhaps she felt the same and decided it was time.  That would be like her.  Her neighbor, Sharon, once told me my Mom was the “sweetest lady in the world – until someone messed with her kids, then it was watch out Mamma bear”!  That’s a spot-on description of my Mom.


Three weeks from now will also mark 15 years since I lost my father.  Losing both parents creates a giant hole and emptiness that is hard to describe.  I think having kids highlights that hole.  There are so many reminders – so much you want to share with them, and so much you wish you could learn from them.

It also makes me realize that along with my faith, family is everything.   I am blessed with a beautiful wife and two amazing children.  Since my brother joined the Army I don’t get to see him very often, but we are closer than ever.  My Mom’s sister has become a second mother to me and grandmother to Alexa.  Steph’s family has been a blessing as well. Having lost my father and been a caregiver for my mother by the time I met my wife, I am re-learning how to be a ‘son’ to her parents.

God’s Plan

I have often questioned why this was God’s plan for my Mom.  I still can’t answer that question.  But as I look back at some of the early successes I had in life, I believe God was equipping us with the resources to provide the care and assisted living facilities she needed.  I don’t know what His plan is for me, but I know He’s at work in my life.

Less is more

Nothing makes you want to de-clutter your life like having to figure out what to do with deceased relatives stuff!  Out of my parents’ lifetime of possessions, nothing more than a few pieces of furniture, photos, and my Mom’s quilts had any sentimental (or material) value.  Having grown up with modest means, I used to find it hard to discard anything functional.  Now I can’t stand clutter.  Even with photos, less is more. It’s hard to hit ‘delete’ on those digital photos, but I’m trying to get into the habit of saving only our favorites.

Do It Now

Having lost both my parents at a relatively young age, I no longer take my health for granted.  For the same reason, I also know I can’t take tomorrow for granted.  My Mom had recently gone back to school and learned to program.  She had a job she was proud of and was happier than she had been for a long time when she lost it all to Alzheimer’s.  My father’s dream for retirement was to live at the beach.  He planned to work at a pier and spend his spare time fishing.  He never got to live that dream.  I need to do a better job of prioritizing how I spend my time.  I want to make sure I don’t put off opportunities to spend time with my kids, travel, and realize my own dreams for tomorrow.


I’m thankful that a year later, my memories of my Mom are of the strong willed, independent, loving person I knew before Alzheimer’s.  As the years pass, I’m sure I’ll continue to reflect on her journey.  Most of all I hope she knows how much she is loved and missed.

Dec 192011
 December 19, 2011  Posted by at 5:44 pm No Responses »

Last month ATDC announced a new ATDC Select membership level and I’ve started to get questions and comments about what it means.  Before proceeding I should add that my thoughts in this blog are my views and opinions, not necessarily those of ATDC!

ATDC has gone through a lot of changes in the past 2 years.  It has grown from 40 companies to more than 500 early stage companies ranging from concept stage to venture-funded and revenue generating companies.  While that is unquestionably great for the Georgia economy and technology community, it has also been a challenge for ATDC to try to provide support to that many companies without diluting what has made it a leading accelerator for the past 30+ years.

The ATDC Select membership group is new, but it is actually what much of the technology community already knows ATDC to be – an incubator that Forbes magazine recognized as one of the top 10 incubators in the world.  The ATDC accelerator has helped launch over 100 successful companies that have raised over $1 billion in outside financing.  The companies residing in the incubator have raised over $40 million this year alone.

The way I see it – the ‘Select’ membership isn’t what’s new – it’s the focus on developing scalable programs for the open membership that was launched 2 years ago that is new.

Some will insist a largely taxpayer funded organization should provide ‘equal access to all’ and the Select program is exclusionary.  I disagree.

The over riding mission of ATDC is economic development.  A few years ago the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration released a report stating that incubators are an effective and efficient way of creating jobs.  The study found incubators are “More effective than roads and bridges, industrial parks, commercial buildings, and sewer and water projects.”  In fact, incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than local infrastructure projects at 1/20th of the cost!

But that is only true if the incubator is able to provide the coaching, services, and space that make a difference in the success of the start-ups they are supporting.  ATDC has limited resources – money, space, and team members.  The best use of those taxpayer funded resources is to apply them to the technology start-ups that are poised for rapid growth and can most benefit from the support, and build programs to help the broader start-up community get to that point.

That does not mean ATDC is trying to ‘pick the winners’ – anymore than an advanced class in a public school is picking the students most likely to succeed.  ATDC will evaluate companies for the Select program by looking at the team, the technology, the market, and most importantly the ‘fit’.  Since these are often new technologies and new markets, it’s a highly subjective and in-exact science.  ATDC helps companies grow rapidly and ‘graduates’ them when they are sustainable companies.  If ATDC team members don’t think they can help them get to the point they are fundable and sustainable, they can’t help them succeed.

This also doesn’t mean that ATDC won’t continue to focus on the open membership companies.  Quite the contrary.  The broad technology community will find no bigger champions than Stephen Flemming, the VP of the Enterprise Innovation Institute that oversees ATDC and Nina Sawzuck, the GM of ATDC.  Stephen championed the effort to open up ATDC membership two years ago – and he remains committed to serving the broader community.

ATDC will continue to develop programming, coaching, and networking opportunities for all ATDC members.  The hope is many of them will progress to becoming ATDC Select Members.  The goal for both groups is the same – coaching, connecting, and community for Georgia’s technology entrepreneurs.

The new ‘Select’ membership group will launch on January 3rd, 2012.  I think it’s a great move.  Will there be start-ups that could benefit from ATDC and are qualified to be part of the Select group that don’t get in?  You bet.  I’m sure ATDC will be looking for ways to increase it’s resources to expand the program to serve more companies.  But for the companies that are chosen for the Select program, ATDC will be able to provide the customized level of support to help them succeed.  More success stories are good for Georgia’s economy.  More successes will attract more venture investment in Atlanta, create more jobs, grow the local talent supply, and benefit the entire technology community.  The Select designation will differentiate those companies and signal to partners and the investment community that those companies are getting help and mentoring that will help them succeed.

The initial ATDC Select companies I’ll be supporting are Brightwhistle, Digital Assent, PlayOn Sports, Provider Web Capital, SecureHealthPay, Simple C, and Soneter.  All great companies with terrific CEOs – I look forward to working more closely with them.

Kudos to Stephen and Nina for making this happen.


Dec 022011
 December 2, 2011  Posted by at 3:25 pm No Responses »

I met with an entrepreneur this week with a well thought out idea for a new business.  She had done a lot of homework.  She knew her market, had lined up friends and family to invest, had talked to customers, and had a solid vision of her offering.

Looking for help on how to get the product built,  she pulled out a huge roll of newsprint with her detailed product design.  It was an impressive document – and to build it as laid out would be a huge, expensive undertaking.

I didn’t spend much time looking at the document.  Instead, I asked her what were the key features to test the idea and introduced her to the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

The ‘MVP’ gets talked about a lot here at ATDC and is one of the most important strategies for startups.  Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup, defines the minimum viable product as “just those features (and no more) that allows you to ship a product that resonates with early adopters”.

Following this approach gets your product in users hands faster and minimizes time wasted on features no one cares about.  It’s subjective, not scientific.  It’s an iterative process based on customer feedback that allows you to test your idea and pivot to hone in on a solution customers will adopt and pay for.

Sometimes the MVP isn’t even a functioning product.  It might be a demo, a presentation, or screenshots.  Before I helped my wife build her ecommerce store, we tested keywords on Google Adwords to see if the products would generate interest.  When we decided to move ahead we did so with a limited number of products across various categories until we find out what sells.

For more on MVP, sign up for ATDC’s Customer Discovery program and see Eric Reis’ presentation here.

Nov 232011
 November 23, 2011  Posted by at 9:21 am No Responses »

In last week’s post I took a look at data from the PWC MoneyTree Report to answer the question “does Georgia have a venture funding shortage?”.  The data supported what I keep hearing from Atlanta entrepreneurs – we have a venture funding shortage, especially seed funding.  This is to difficult to digest while reading stories that other areas are experiencing a ‘bubble’ in early stage funding.

Adding to the shortage is the fact that two sources of local seed funding have recently stopped making new investments. Imlay Investments, the most active seed stage fund in Georgia in the last decade, made their last new investment last year and are now focused on their 37 active portfolio companies.  The Georgia legislature stopped funding the ATDC Seed Fund several years ago and “reallocated” $5 million in previously allocated funds, essentially halting new investments.

Since writing the Does Georgia Have a Venture Funding Shortage post, the Atlanta Business Chronicle published an article stating the General Assembly is expected to take up a proposal this winter to establish the Georgia Venture Capital Program establishing a $180 million fund that would follow a fund-of-funds model that has been successful in other states like North Carolina and Texas.

I hope this happens.  It seems to have strong support and the right mix of legislators and leaders in the technology community supporting it.  I also hope a meaningful portion of that $180 million is directed to a privately managed seed fund (or funds) to help more seed stage companies succeed.  It’s the first step in any plan.

In order to accomplish one of the goals mentioned in the article of “serving as a financial magnet” to attract out of state funds to have a presence and invest in Georgia, we’ll need to increase the deal flow of quality companies.  To have more quality early stage, expansion stage, and later stage companies for VCs and private equity firms to invest in, we first have to address the ‘top of the funnel’ by starting with supporting more (ambitious) seed stage companies.

What else can we (Georgia, technology community, ATDC) do to increase access to funding and grow more companies pursuing ‘big ideas’?

Nov 162011
 November 16, 2011  Posted by at 4:32 am 4 Responses »

Prior to joining ATDC, I didn’t think Georgia suffered from a lack of investment dollars as much as a shortage of quality startups to fund.  Since joining ATDC, my views have changed somewhat.  I decided to dig into the data and see if the facts supported that change.

I looked at seed and early stage company funding data from the PriceWaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree Report from years 2005 to 2011 (through Q3) to compare Georgia to other tech hot spots.  I excluded Silicon Valley from this comparison.  We already know the answer – it is not a realistic comparison, and is unique for a host of reasons.  Instead, I focused the analysis on more direct comparisons with North Carolina (Research Triangle Park) and Texas (Austin).  I also included larger hubs New York and Boston.  I compared Startup / Seed stage and Early stage investments by amount and number of deals.

Before diving into the results, it’s important to note that while this is the best source of data I know of, the report doesn’t capture every deal and doesn’t capture most angel funding.  It seemed to include 2 of the 3 local venture firms I specifically looked up.  Therefore, the numbers are clearly inaccurate.  However, the same issue exists for all regions so I’ll use this as ‘directionally correct’ rather than exact.

During the nearly 7 year period I looked at, the four comparison states had between 20% and 900% more invested in early stage companies than here in Georgia, and up to 6 times as many deals.

But the root of the problem becomes evident when you look at the seed stage investments.  During that same period, the comparison states had a whopping 380% to 4000% more total dollars invested in seed stage companies and between 2 and 15 times the number of deals!

<insert chart>

Not only is it harder for seed stage companies to get funded in Georgia, those that do receive less than in the other states.  The average seed stage deal size in the comparison states was 1.5 to 2.3 times the size of deals in Georgia.  The average deal size in early stage companies was 1.1 to 1.9 times the size of deals in Georgia.

The significant gap at the seed stage also leads to a shortage of quality opportunities in later stages.  In order to have more early stage, expansion stage, and later stage success to attract additional investment, we have to address the ‘top of the funnel’ first  – the seed stage companies.

There’s no reason Georgia shouldn’t be on par with other tech hubs – and we should certainly be competitive with Research Triangle Park and Austin.  Georgia arguably has a greater abundance of many of the key ingredients.  We have a track record of successful tech startups and a growing talent pool of entrepreneurs.  Three leading research universities – Georgia Tech, UGA, and Emory – are within easy driving distance of each other.  We have EII, GRA, and VentureLabs to help commercialize technology from those universities.  Technology Square has become a hub for entrepreneurial activity and home to ATDC, an incubator Forbes named one of the top 10 in the world and Flashpoint.  There is a base of local angel investors and venture funds.  TAG, StartUp Lounge, StartUp Chicks, and numerous other organizations support the entrepreneurial community.  Georgia is home to Fortune 1000 firms and regional headquarters.  And we’ve already established leadership positions in transaction processing, security, and healthcare IT.

So – what can we do to close the funding gap – especially the seed stage funding gap – in Georgia?

Note:  Click here to see more detail on the data, including breakdowns by year.

Nov 012011
 November 1, 2011  Posted by at 4:45 am No Responses »

I attended Venture Atlanta last week – the largest annual start-up technology conference in Atlanta.  The event filled the Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium, an appropriate setting for start-ups looking to ‘swim with the sharks’.  Founders of healthcare IT, software, fintech, and digital media companies seeking funding gave 6-minute pitches hoping to attract funding from the investors in the audience.

I wasn’t able to attend last year, but compared to two years ago the event was a big step up.   Kudos to the VA 2011 team.  The companies received countless hours of coaching leading up the event – and it showed in the quality of the presentations.  I don’t have exact numbers – but there were easily over 500 attendees and hundreds of venture capitalists and angel investors.  The large number from outside Georgia including tech hubs Silicon Valley and Boston was encouraging.  The biggest change was the event added a second day focused on earlier stage ventures seeking seed financing or series A financing.

ATDC’s impact on the start-up community was evident.  I was proud to see 13 of the 20 early stage companies presenting were ATDC Companies.  At least a third of the later stage ventures were ATDC Companies or recent graduates as well.

Jesse Dwyer of TechDrawl described the atmosphere at Venture Atlanta as “high-brow, high-tech, more regimented and community celebratory”.  Investors I talked to from out of town consistently shared two observations about Atlanta’s technology community:

There is a sense of energy and support for Atlanta’s technology entrepreneurs.  

The number of organizations and volunteer assistance available to Atlanta start-ups is incredible.  This ‘eco-system’ is helping to fuel the start-up community.  We have ATDC, a technology accelerator at Georgia Tech, Flashpoint, Start-Up Chicks, TAG, and numerous other for profit and not for profit organizations providing invaluable assistance to our local start-ups.  Previously fragmented organizations and local venture capitalists are starting to work together and that is part of what created the ‘celebratory’ atmosphere Jesse Dwyer referenced.

Atlanta start-ups seeking funding are farther along than start-ups you’d see at similar events in other parts of the country.

Ryan Gembala of Azure Capital, a Silicon Valley venture firm, commented that Atlanta start-ups find revenue earlier in their life cycle as a funding source in light of the undercapitalized market.  That works well for many internet capital light ventures, but is more difficult for ‘big ideas’ and deep science or technology start-ups.

You couldn’t help but come away excited about Atlanta’s start-up technology community.  John Yates of Morris, Manning & Martin put together a great video that was shown at Venture Atlanta capturing the ‘celebratory’ atmosphere of the technology community.  The video featured tech leaders in the Atlanta Community discussing the history of Atlanta’s technology start-up growth.  Click Here to view it.


Oct 302011
 October 30, 2011  Posted by at 4:21 am 2 Responses »

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.  In this stumbling economy and time of high unemployment, there is a lot of noise out there about how to stimulate the economy and create jobs.  Political parties have turned it into a ‘raise taxes’ vs. ‘cut spending’ debate.  However, it is clear that to get the economy back on track we have to create more jobs – and startups create jobs.

A report by the Kauffman Foundation in 2010 says it best:

 “Startups aren’t everything when it comes to job growth.  They’re the only thing.”


We often hear small business is the job growth engine in the US.  But it’s not small businesses – it’s NEW startups.  The report uses government data and shows that since 1977, in all but 7 years, existing businesses large and small have had net job losses.  Virtually all of the job growth has come from startups – to the tune of an amazingly steady average of 3 million jobs a year.

Sure, but don’t many of those new businesses go under in subsequent years?  Yes.  Half will go under in 5 years.  70% will go under in 10 years.  However, the same data shows companies 5 years old have about 2.24 million employees.  Simply put, netting job loss from the firms that go under and job creation from those that grow, about 75% of those 3 million new startup jobs will exist in 5 years.

Any strategy for job growth needs to start with a focus on new business creation.  The sooner our national and local politicians start focusing on what we can do to support startups, the sooner we will see the unemployment numbers go down.