The Metro Atlanta Chamber's "Backed by ATL" initiative looks to help emerging businesses create new jobs.
The companies, selected from applicants in 42 countries, were connected to mentors and provided an intensive course in the “building blocks” of a successful business. Last week, the program ended with participants “pitching” their business plans to about 1,000 people, including investors.
Techstars, founded in 2006 in Colorado, has worked with about 1,000 companies in a number of cities. The Atlanta branch, which is located at Ponce City Market, partners with Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Techstars Atlanta has now run three sets of companies through the 90-day training. Among this year's companies were firms from Miami, Chattanooga and Israel. Three of the companies are based in Atlanta:
Since starting the Techstars Atlanta program, PadSplit’s business has improved, said Atticus LeBlanc, company founder. “We’ve doubled the number of high-quality affordable units for residents and increased profit margins by more than 30 percent for our property owners.”
The idea of offering expertise to entrepreneurs is not new.
The Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech has been cultivating young companies since 1980. Unlike an accelerator, ATDC is an incubator: it works with a company for months or even years, graduating a business only when it is confident of reaping revenue of more than $1 million a year, said Jane McCracken, interim director.
The ATDC currently has a "portfolio" of 180 companies, she said.
“We are not Silicon Valley and there isn’t as much venture capital here as in Boston,” she said. “But we have talent and a support system and venture capital is growing.”
Last year, the companies in the ATDC raised $130 million in venture capital.
“The technology climate is very robust in Atlanta,” she said. “We create growth tech companies here and give them a firm foundation of success.”
A few days after the Techstars finale, a separate group of organizers held the Venture Atlanta conference, a two-day effort to connect companies and investors. Organizers say the event has thus far raised about $2.5 billion for the companies involved.
Jobs in tech, by category
Software and Information technology: 96,648
Various other: 43,599
<em>Source: Technology Association of Georgia</em>