Survey of the Entrepreneurial Scene in Atlanta

ImageAtlanta is rich in history, culture, the arts. It is also a hotbed for entrepreneurship. Georgia is home to 30 Fortune 1000 companies and Atlanta has approximately half of those. Our local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), reported that “going out on your own has become a way of life in America” and Atlanta, Georgia is a great place to do it.

According to the Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, Georgia led the nation in new business start ups in 2010, and Atlanta tied for the second-most among the 15 biggest metro areas. During that year in metro Atlanta, 580 people per 100,000 adults launched a business each month, coming in second behind Los Angeles.

The study also found that entrepreneurship was highest for the 35 to 44 age group followed by the 55 to 64 age group. The increase in entrepreneurship could be due to high unemployment and job cuts at established businesses.

Why is Atlanta the best place for a start up? It has excellent economic advantages, according to the Entrepreneurship Review, a publication of MIT. Atlanta is home to the fastest growing airport and fastest growing seaport in Savannah, GA. There are many universities that graduate thousands of students each year providing a vast labor pool. Atlanta also has an emerging technical infrastructure.

Big hitter companies headquartered in Atlanta like Delta, Home Depot and Waffle House have deep pockets ideal for B2B startups. Also, the metro Atlanta population grew by 20% over the last decade and the median household income rose from $34,000 to $50,000 over the same period. Add that in with the lower cost of living in Atlanta compared to San Francisco, New York, or Boston, and you’ve got a recipe for putting more money in your pocket. It’s simply cheaper to do business in Atlanta.

Atlanta is the financial gateway to the south; however, very little of its wealth is focused on venture capital and even less on seed capital. But capital is mobile and can be raised in one place and moved to another. As far as the talent scene is concerned, Georgia Tech has developed entrepreneurial programs that will produce interested graduates and other schools in the area will likely follow suit.

Organizations in Atlanta are increasingly dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship. Some of these “startups for startups” such as the Technology Association of Georgia, Startup Atlanta and Venture Atlanta are growing quickly. The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE) see talent, ideas and enterprise as the core values in building the entrepreneurial ecosystem. They hold monthly meetings with different themes like “nonprofit social ventures” and “how to scale your business internationally.” They also have specialized groups such as Social Business, Enterprise Entrepreneurs and TiE Young Entrepreneurs. TiE expects to create over $100 million in new wealth by 2017.

Some of these startups for startups focus on or have dedicated groups for young people. Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia (YEGeorgia) teaches students how to become entrepreneurs or to think like one. IXOYE Global Entrepreneurship Network (IXGEN) has a Youth Empowerment Program (iYEP) that teaches kids how to link their stories to entrepreneurism through telling their stories, seeing how those stories influence their lives, and how to use them to create, develop, and grow their personal or business brands. 

The Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s Entrepreneurship Center assesses the needs and capabilities of minority business owners in the Atlanta area. They look to grow small and medium-sized minority-owned businesses as a way to close the wealth gap in America.

The entrepreneurial scene in Atlanta is alive and kicking. From big businesses with deep pockets to do business with to it’s rapidly growing customer base and lower cost-of-living to a very deep pool of entrepreneurial resources, the ATL is ideal for start up businesses.

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