Friday afternoon, thanks to the ultimate Atlanta startup connector, Kyle Porter, I kicked back with the new head of the ATDC, Mike Hersh for a few brews over at Cypress Pint and Pub. Mike is a great dude, fantastic storyteller, and a proven entrepreneur/investor.

There was one question he asked as we ended the happy hour and it resonated with me all weekend. Writing about it seemed like the only option.

His question: if the ATDC could do one thing to improve, what would it be?

Disclaimer: I spent two years working in the ATDC for OpenStudy

So here are the following 4 Ways To Make the ATDC Fresher Than Ever

1. Connect the Students - The ATDC has a multi-billion dollar machine pumping out some of the world’s greatest talent within a 3 mile radius. Sharing the ATDC story with students is the most important and easiest way to stay fresh. Too many students are leaving the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. One of the biggest advantages to building a company in the ATDC should be access to a constant stream of Georgia Tech’s top talent. Solutions include holding student focused events, building better relationships with the individual faculty members, and reaching out to student leaders.

2. Create More Serendipitous Connections with What They Have – I remember the first day Blinq Media moved offices right next to our OpenStudy suite. At the time, they were 4 people which seems like light years from last year’s news. Anyways, I was so excited because I heard about this amazing CEO by the name of Dave Williams. I thought I was going to bump into him all the time, learn their sales and marketing strategies and enjoy their great ride with them. Not exactly. I maybe saw him 2 times in the year and half we were neighbors. Yeah he was up in New York a fair amount of the time, but the bottom line, with approximately 6 different exits out of the ATDC, you really have to search and find who you’re looking for in the building. Solutions include holding more value add events. Atlanta Startup Village is a great example of what value a 5 minute presentation does to educate the community.

3. Every Catalyst Should Send 20 Email Introductions a Week - If I were Mike, I would leverage the network and relationships of the current team — which I must add is fantastic. From PFreet, to McGreggor to Jen to Blake to Moyer and others, the team is solid. However, as a Venture Catalyst there are only a few things that produce real value add: introductions to customers and introductions to investors. Any other consulting, advice, or strategy can be worked out in between the introductions.

4. Write even more. Has anyone seen the reaction of Stephen Fleming’s posts on the Saporta Report? People are listening to what every member of the ATDC has to say. Not sharing the stories of the ATDC, the members, or the journey of the companies growing is free PR left on the table.

These are the top 4 ways (of many) to make the ATDC fresher than ever before.

I really enjoyed meeting Mike, learning his story and understanding the bright future the ATDC has in store.

Atlanta Startup Village #10 is upon us!

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The companies involved this month are superb.

280+ people have already booked their evening to spend it with you, the Atlanta entrepreneur; and the companies have not even been announced…until now.

RSVP here.

With no further adieu, we’re pleased to announce the presenters of Atlanta Startup Village  #10:

  • Dynoforms - help companies quickly mobilize their business and easily automate data gathering in the field using any mobile device.
  • M8Safe.com - makes it easy to get more dates.
  • Ego Ventures - is a privately held innovation lab with projects in mobile application and accessories including the commercially successful, Cycloramic.
  • Frozen Pints – craft beer ice cream
  • Moocdom – Making sense of the universe of MOOCs

Location: 5th Floor of the Atlanta Tech Village (Free Parking)
Starting Time:  Beer flows at 7:00 p.m. presentations start at 7:30 p.m.

Who: Anyone who wants to be constructive, respectful, pay it forward and learn about the Atlanta Startup Community.
When: Monday, July 29th.

We will have beer but no food this time, so eat before you come! 

Sponsors:

Smith Howard CPA is putting up money for the free beer! 
Atlanta Tech Village
is offering up their excellent space. Major major major thanks.
Hypepotamus is the eternal sponsor from their initial and continued support of Atlant Startup Village.

See you all there!

Every now and then an organization provides so much inspiration and hope for the future that it’s almost impossible not to write about them. This is the feeling I had as I walked the halls of Year Up’s headquarters in midtown Atlanta. Young Atlantans, dressed immaculately and smiling ear to ear are hungry to succeed and learn. This is Year Up – Atlanta’s premiere organization in training underserved young adults for the technical work place.

The following is an interview with Year Up’s Development Specialist, Jessica Harris.

Note: there is a meet and greet at the Atlanta Tech Village on July 31– hopefully you can attend! Details.

1. What’s the Year Up story and why should Atlantans pay attention to this organization?

We are wasting talent when we can’t afford to waste anyone. Millions of young adults in this country are facing social and economic injustice. Despite talent and motivation, they lack access to higher education and careers that provide them with a living wage. At the same time, our economy needs help. U.S. businesses are calling for more and better-trained talent to compete on the global stage, but there will not be enough skilled workers to meet that demand.

These are troubling realities, but they represent a tremendous national opportunity. Providing underserved young adults with the skills, knowledge and experience today’s businesses demand ensures those young adults will begin successful careers and earn a living wage. In return, employers gain access to a wider pipeline of well-trained talent than ever before —the talent they need to compete across the globe.

This is not charity, nor a handout. This is good sense.

In Atlanta, 1,100 underserved young adults applied for the 170 spots in our program—demonstrating the need for access to higher education and careers. Since 2008, we have over 300 graduates with 88% of securing employment or enrolled in school within four months of graduation.

2. What’s the value add Year Up provides to the Atlanta Startup Community?

At this very moment, there are thousands of unfilled, entry-level IT positions available in Atlanta. Despite high unemployment numbers, there simply aren’t enough skilled individuals to fill these positions.

Fortune 500 companies like Kaiser Permanente, The Weather Company, Vocalocity and others are partnering with Year Up and are overwhelmingly satisfied with the talent that Year Up provides them (90% satisfaction rate).

Year Up can provide the same value to the Atlanta Startup Community.

Year Up students leave our doors proficient in skills like IT Help Desk, Quality Assurance, Project Management and Customer Service. They perfect the professional soft skills that young college graduates often lack. Year Up Atlanta students also have the chance to earn 6 industry-recognized IT certifications and have the opportunity to earn up to 21 college credits through Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

The Atlanta Startup Community has the chance to add value to their businesses, while actively impacting Atlanta’s future IT workforce.

3. How can the Atlanta Startup Community embrace and help Year Up grow?

That’s an easy one! There are four ways to help:

  • Sponsor a Year Up intern: A huge part of our program is providing real-world experience to our young adults. Companies who need entry-level IT talent and want to help build a pipeline of talent for their company, are a great fit for Year Up.
  • Volunteer: There are many ways to help students achieve their professional goals! We have professionals join us as mentors, guest speakers and mock interviewers every six months.
  • Year Up Student Scholarship: Individuals and companies have the opportunity to invest in a scholarship for individual students, which helps cover the cost of students as they participate in Year Up
  • Spread the word: We no longer want to be the best kept secret in Atlanta! Sharing Year Up with businesses, media outlets or simply your network of friends is extremely helpful as we grow our impact on Atlanta’s workforce. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook!

4. I noticed most of the Year Up students are always polite and smiling, what did y’all put in the water to make everyone so happy and pleasant?

Last year, we had 1,100 applicants for our 170 spots in the program. With so many young adults in need of the Year Up program, we diligently search for motivated young adults who simply need access to opportunity.

Like ATV, we are an organization of values. From staff to students to corporate partners, it’s incredibly important that we all live by these values, which include ideas like being accountable, building trust by being honest, engaging and embracing diversity, striving to learn, respecting and valuing others and working hard while having fun!

It’s through Year Up’s incredible staff, partners and volunteers that we are able to cultivate a corporate culture rooted in respect and hard work.

5. What’s one of the biggest success stories coming out of Year Up?

With over 300 graduates in Atlanta, with 43% of internship partners hiring our students on as employees after graduation, and with Year Up Atlanta graduates making $14/hour, on average, in full time positions, it’s hard to choose!

Jelissa is an individual example that shows the incredible transformation that is possible when personal drive is combined with technical skill. Jelissa graduated from Year Up in 2011. She is currently working at Quality Technology Services and serves on one of our local boards. Here’s how she describes her experience (also see attachment):

“Two years ago, I needed a place to live, a job, and an education. Back then, you would have seen a young lady with all the drive in the world, desperate for an opportunity to reach her full potential. Today, you’re looking at a Customer Service Representative at Quality Technology Services, a proud mother of two, former President of Year Up Atlanta’s alumni board, and current member of Year Up Atlanta’s Leadership Council. Had it not been for Year Up, I never would have learned how to balance personal challenges with professional achievements.

At Year Up, I have learned how to reach my goals and aspirations. I’m excited to further my IT engineering career and to become a chief executive office at a major corporation one day.”

Hopefully you can attend the Year Up Mixer on July 31st.

Finished up an exhilarating evening at Startup Academy over Hypepotamus. The amount of students, entrepreneurs, and overall doers in the room was inspiring to be around.

We were talking at length with students spanning Georgia Tech, Emory, GSU, to UGA about storytelling and the value it plays in a startup.

The South is rich with stories and storytelling: from Joel Chandler Harris’ Brer Rabbit (if you haven’t been to the Wren’s Nest in the WestEnd is a must!) to Outkast and Andre 3000′s Da Art of StoryTelling – we are drenched in storytelling.

However, hardly anyone is telling the South’s story of startup successes. So my question posed this evening: who is going to write our (the South’s) startup stories?

Three theories:

1) Urvaksh Karkaria - name another person more passionate about breaking a tech deal in the South. His drive and persistence to find the scoop is downright awe-worthy. But is the new school age of journalism less focuses on deal reporting? Is PandoDaily-esque reporting all the tech community needs?

Urvaksh should be the next Arrington of the South; we’re just all waiting for him to step up to the plate.

2) An Organization like Hypepotamus or SouthernAlpha - Hypepotamus is definitely one of the most connected organizations in Atlanta when it comes to tech. Their exposure to students, startups, and news is well worth the mention. I’m not sure if they’re into doing anything other than creating Connected Awesomeness…which includes storytelling, but perhaps not the way PandoDaily does. Who knows. SouthernAlpha is the closest thing I’ve seen to a Southern PandoDaily. I’ve never met the writer(s) but they have great content and solid storytelling. The big question: will they be able to cover all the news located in Nashville — let’s hope so.

3) Sleeper’s Pick/ Dark Horse – there’s a recent English grad who just graduated from Emory or UGA who wants to make a name for themselves. There’s no better way than to explore compelling stories not being told…and where’s the best place to find them? The South and in technology. Guys like Sam Solomon of Signal Tower have drive, passion, and are honing their craft with serious dedication. There are a few passionate writers looking to be to the PandoDaily of the South, perhaps one of them will break out as the go-to new source.

The South’s technology stories need to be told even more. The market and readership is there, the real question is who’s going to execute and become the Arrington/PandoDaily of the South? Only time will tell.

Atlanta Startup Village #9 is upon us!

Atlanta_Startup_Village

 

and…

we have a new, slick Shot Clock (pictured below)

5:00 minutes presenters

5:00 minutes, presenters

The companies involved this month are superb.

180+ people have already booked their evening to spend it with you, the Atlanta entrepreneur; and the companies have not even been announced…until now.

RSVP here.

With no further adieu, we’re pleased to announce the presenters of Atlanta Startup Village  #9:

- Umenta - What’s Your Story? Tell Stories. Ask Questions. Connect Generations.
- Pliant Labs - Flex your data.
- Acuity Complete - Changing the face of bookkeeping.
- Innovare Solutions Holodeck – The future of display systems.
- Accelereyes - Fast, Simple GPU Software

Location: 5th Floor of the Atlanta Tech Village (Free Parking)
Starting Time:  Beer flows at 7:00 p.m. presentations start at 7:30 p.m.

Who: Anyone who wants to be constructive, respectful, pay it forward and learn about the Atlanta Startup Community.
When: Wednesday, June 26th.

We will have beer but no food this time, so eat before you come! 

Sponsors:

Atlanta Tech Village is offering up their excellent space. Major major major thanks.
Hypepotamus is the eternal sponsor from their initial and continued support of Atlant Startup Village.

See you all there!

NewMe

Every now and then, an organization reaches out and shares some of the interesting initiatives they’re doing. When it so happens to include Atlanta, it’s definitely worth writing about/interviewing. Below is a brief 3-question interview with NewMe’s Accelerator’s Program Manager, X’Zavierr Garland.

1. What’s the NewMe Accelerator story and why should Atlantans care?

NewME is a nationally-recognized startup accelerator that empowers female and minority-led startups. We’ve accelerated over 30 startups who have raised almost $6 million in startup capital funding. We’re making Silicon Valley accessible. We’ve been recognized by CNN, TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal, and other major publications for the work we do to empower underrepresented minorities in the tech industry. Our mission is to educate, accelerate, and empower underrepresented tech entrepreneurs around the world.

NewME is a 12-week accelerator program in San Francisco that gives entrepreneurs unprecedented access to Silicon Valley through workshops, coaching, speaker series, and immersion into the program.

This year we’re taking our 12-week accelerator program on the road to 13 cities across the country for three-night PopUp events that are essentially a condensed version of our Silicon Valley accelerator.

2. How is the NewMe Accelerator different than all the other accelerators out there?

We make Silicon Valley accessible to entrepreneurs who might not have the opportunity otherwise. Our vast network of Silicon Valley talent plays a large role in empowering our startups.

We’re able to connect the everyday entrepreneur to Silicon Valley resources that wouldn’t normally be available.

3. You guys have an event coming up in July, what makes it a must-attend event?

The PopUps provide one-on-one coaching sessions, workshops from our world-class pitch coach, and the ability to pitch your idea to a panel of judges as well as local tech community leaders including VC’s. Startups have a chance to win $45,000 worth of prizes from our partners, as well as a spot in our NewME Accelerator in San Francisco.

Thanks X’Zavierr.

Atlanta Startup Village is upon us!

Atlanta Startup Village

The companies involved this month are superb.

Besides, 170+ people have already booked their evening to spend it with you, the Atlanta entrepreneur; and the companies have not even been announced…until now.

RSVP here.

With no further adieu, we’re pleased to announce the presenters of May’s Atlanta Startup Village :

- VillageDefense - Turn your neighborhood into a network of awareness.
- NCrowd - Online customer acquisition for local merchants.
- DudeRanch.com - online home of the dude ranch vacation industry.
- SideWalk District – All your favorite local store in any category, in one place.
- Ionic Security - The unified data and mobility security platform.

Location: 5th Floor of the Atlanta Tech Village (Free Parking)
Starting Time:  Beer flows at 7:00 p.m. presentations start at 7:30 p.m.
Who: Anyone who wants to be constructive, respectful, pay it forward and learn about the Atlanta Startup Community.
When: Tuesday, May 28th.

Sponsors:

Trinet – your strategic HR business partner. They are buying the keg!
HPC - high-quality CPA services in a high-tech manner. They are buying the pizza.
Atlanta Tech Village is offering up their excellent space. Major major major thanks.
Hypepotamus is the eternal sponsor from their initial and continued support of Atlant Startup Village.

See you all there!

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