Almost 12 months ago, I wrote the 6 Predictions for Atlanta’s Technology Community in 2014. I got some things right, many things wrong, but all in all it’s fun to make predictions. Before diving into what’s in store for 2015, let’s recap and analyze last year’s predictions.
1. Healthcare Companies Will Continue to Scale. Atlanta maintains a supreme fit for healthcare companies. The proverbial spine of Atlanta that we call Peachtree Street is lined with major hospitals. The lower back consists of Grady Hospital. As we move through the vertebrae containing Piedmont Hospital only to be capped off at the neck with NorthSide Hospital on Peachtree Dunwoody. These hospitals are filled with smart and ambitious youth from medical schools such as Emory and Morehouse. Top it off with hospital/healthcare’s sales cycle matching the traditional laid back reputation of the South and there’s no question steadily growing companies like QGenda, BrightWhistle, PatientCo, IngeniousMed and many more will continue to thrive in Atlanta.
Analysis: Spot On | Vendormate and IngeniousMed were both acquired. PatientCo continues to scale along with one of Atlanta’s biggest silent killers: QGenda.
2. HBCU’s Will Have a Much Greater Presence in the Community. During the Atlanta Tech Village Career Fair, I had some amazing conversations with a few Spelmanites and Men of Morehouse. As with most prestigious universities throughout the country, there’s a path of success predetermined for any accepted applicant who graduates an elite institution. Law firms, big banks, or comfortable consulting shops recruit most of the talent. However the pool of adventurous entrepreneurs in southwest Atlanta’s elite universities is growing. It’s in the city’s best interest to embrace this highly talented pool of students.
Analysis: Way Off | Atlanta continues to be a city of secluded hubs. Although, I believe the Atlanta startup community is one of the most diverse in the nation, connecting dots among universities and HBCU’s is still a big need to be filled.
3. The Octane Coffee in the Atlanta Tech Village Will Be a Hub for Deal Making. It doesn’t open until the Spring, but the Octane Coffee will be the coffee shop to take meetings. Anyone in Buckhead who wants another option from Caribou Coffee or Starbucks will now have Octane as an option. Meetings that are now held at the Disco Kroger Starbucks — and there are a lot of them — will now happen here. Octane Coffee at the Atlanta Tech Village will be a hodgepodge of ambitious Atlantans looking to make the next deal, hire, or company.
Analysis: Pretty Right | All throughout December, I’d walk down to Octane and it was packed — to the point where people were working outside on the patio. With construction finished less than two months ago, Octane is the perfect amount of busy (steady). Is it busier than the Disco Kroger or the renovated Tech Square Starbucks (with 30+ people waiting in line)? No. Right now, it’s still a quasi-hidden gem with a healthy amount of traffic. Will that change in 2015? Likely. As for a hub for deal making? Yes. Every major investor in Atlanta can be seen in or around that Octane at some point in the month.
4. More Georgia Tech Students Will Start Businesses. There’s a plethora of resources at Georgia Tech to build companies. Programs started in the last few semesters like Startup Startup have taken hold well. Successful companies like eCommHub with youthful Georgia Tech leaders are major inspirations for current students. Although relatively small, the culture of entrepreneurship is getting larger at Georgia Tech. Look for more students to start businesses.
Analysis: Pretty Wrong | Hackathons seem to dominate the student landscape. Are students at Georgia Tech forming companies and going to market? Not nearly the amount there should be. I’m hoping Paul Judge and Allen Nance will change this in 2015 with TechSquare Labs.
5. More Companies Will Move/Start Intown (This is more of 1-10 year prediction): There is a generation of Atlantans that want to spend as little time as possible in a car. Many of us grew up taking 40 minutes just to get to downtown. These days are changing. Ponce City Market is leading the way with relocations of MailChimp and Cardlytics. It’s only a matter of time before more companies build their company intown. Plus, that’s where all the talent is moving.
Analysis: Way Off | No technology companies moved downtown this year. Tavani’s Beltline & Co turned Switchyards is planning to close in March. Tavani’s bullish nature on downtown is correct but a real company with young, adventurous employees, and real revenue will be the tipping point here, not Switchyards. The vision is correct, though.
6. Tech startups Will Gain More Mainstream Media. This prediction is not a result of Urvaksh now only writing technology stories for the Biz Chronicle. Before he did healthcare and technology. I actually thought he turned into a “PR consultant” for Tesla. As more companies gain traction and revenue, look for more billboards, traditional advertising, and greater mainstream media about them.
Analysis: Correct | Pando, TechCrunch, and Venturebeat all covered startups in Atlanta. It’s still mind-boggling that The Atlanta Business Chronicle, Creative Loafing, or the AJC has not published one story on Yik Yak (the fastest growing mobile social media application in world).
6 Predictions for Atlanta’s Technology Community in 2015
1. People Will Finally Quit Yapping About Atlanta Being a B2B vs. B2C Town: Yik Yak has proven you can build a consumer-focused startup valued at more than $300 million in Atlanta (more specifically, in the Atlanta Tech Village). Is there anything else that needs to be written? Note: major overlook by Creative Loafing to not put either Brooks or Tyler on their “People to Watch List in 2015.”
2. TechSquare Labs Will Be a Culture Changer for Georgia Tech: There is arguably no one better to lead the charge on building businesses around Tech Square with student involvement than Paul Judge and Allen Nance. Judge has the pedigree, Nance just makes me want to break through walls for him, and both are incredibly successful and passionate about building. I’m very excited to see what’s created and built out of TechSquare Labs.
3. Atlanta Tech Village Will Create More Product-Focused Companies: It’s pretty clear in the Atlanta Tech Village that product rules supreme. How do I know this? Companies that’ve achieved product-market fit have sales reps making a lot of money, companies that haven’t achieved product-market fit have sales reps who aren’t making as much money. It’s that simple. What’s the difference? Product. Entrepreneurs in the Atlanta Technology Village will do well to prioritize product within the organization.
4. Buckhead Will Continue to Be a Hot Bed of Technology: the amount of companies who have moved to Buckhead and/or are planning to move to Buckhead are more than I can reference. It’s where investors live, nightlife is vibrant, and more density is happening. Is it the most adventurous area? Not even close. However, there’s a technology vibe worth writing about. One of the growing companies will move downtown one of these years, but until then Buckhead is the place for technology.
5. Deeper Investor Relationships, Nationally: Successful startups beget more successful startups. It takes time and work for an investor from the Valley to come to Atlanta. In order to make it worth while, these investors need to meet with multiple startups. There are many use-cases where startups don’t need to go the Valley in order to succeed. Real-estate trends seem to focus on building spaces to house startups. The real-estate leaders who are focused on building relationships with national, value-add investors (and entrepreneurs) will have the most long-lasting influence.
6. There Will Be Another Unicorn (1b+ valuation) in 2015: AirWatch was the biggest acquisition in 2014. It’s ambitious, but I predict there will be another unicorn in 2015. There’s only a small handful of companies (Share Care and Cardlytics to name a few) who may get it. I’m optimistic.
There you go, 6 predictions for Atlanta’s technology/startup community. Have a great year!