Atlanta: A tech hub to watch in 2014

The South is getting a lot of attention this year from tech entrepreneurs, and Atlanta is leading the charge for the New South.

Although there are plenty of companies like AT&T, Dell SecureWorks and First Data in Atlanta, the city is also home to more than 150 mobile tech-related startups and one of the most exciting small-business entrepreneurship communities in the country. Atlanta is 12th in the nation for number of tech start-ups. There have been been several new co-working communities, start-up incubators and funding organizations working together to develop and retain home-grown talent.

One of the biggest players is Atlanta Tech Village, a co-working environment for emerging tech companies. The Tech Village has grown from 20 members to 300. Founder David Cummings had cash to spare after his company was sold to He bought a midrise office building in the heart of Atlanta and (developed) one of the largest entrepreneurship centers in the country.

Cummings said he vets Village prospects based on core values: “Be nice, dream big, pay it forward and then work hard and play hard.”

One of the biggest areas of emerging technology is mobile tech. The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s new mobility initiative is adding fuel to the fire. Mike Zeto, co-chair of the Chamber’s Mobility Task Force, came to Atlanta after launching a tech company based on mobile technology. Having raised some angel money, he knew he had to go somewhere with development talent.

“We started to look at all the usual suspects,” he said. “I had been in technology for 15 years and had contacts in Boston, out in Silicon Valley, and there was a large mobile ecosystem in Austin. I was referred by a friend to Atlanta. I met some of the folks at the chamber and some of the large companies, and I started to see that from a cost-of-doing-business perspective, and being an entrepreneur and making the money stretch, Atlanta was the best place to do that. You had a market with a lot of Fortune 500 companies, access to talent, and an airport that you can easily get anywhere else in the world you need to go, and a community that’s really business-friendly.”

Along with the tech community, Atlanta has an important ingredient for start-up culture — a great music and food scene.

“There’s a very vibrant live music scene,” Zeto said. “It’s obviously a big sports town. The restaurants are fantastic, and this is turning into a foodie heaven. You’ve got that cultural aspect that an entrepreneur likes, but at a much lower cost of doing business and living. And one of the things that I’ve found, both working for companies here in Atlanta and owning a company and having employees, is that there is a level of loyalty here in Atlanta in this tech scene that you will not find in Silicon Valley, and I guarantee you that.”

Dan Blacharski is the CEO and editor-in-chief of, where this article first appeared.