Badgy’s CEO, Rob Kischuk is talking about density

Rob Kischuk has once again delivered a thought-provoking piece on his blog titled: Startup communities are neighborhoods, not cities. Rob rocks because he’s writing about the Atlanta Startup Community. He’s also engaging major thought leaders and it’s all for the good of the community…erm, I mean neighborhood.

His post is a great start but let’s dive deeper into the neighborhoods. I view Atlanta having three different startup neighborhoods.

One: Tech Square – undoubtedly the biggest in the city. It’s proximity to Georgia Tech, ATDC, Venture Lab, TAG, provide the best density in the city. The Starbucks Tech Square is one of the most exciting places to be in Atlanta tech…anytime.

Two: The Westside – definitely the hippest tech neighborhood in the city. MailChimp and Scoutmob employees can be found grabbing lunch at Toscano’s and Sons, Bell’s Burritos, and WestEgg on the regular. Definitely a more creative side of the town that also contains art galleries, design studios, etc.

Three: Buckhead – more specifically Atlanta Plaza. David Cummings continues to build a mini-neighborhood of great companies in the top floor of the Atlanta Plaza building with numerous companies. It’s an awesome environment with free food, smart, positive people doing great things.

– Are we missing any?
– How and where do we create the density Rob and BFeld speak of?
– What areas provide the most serendipitous connections?

Great post Rob, keep writing.

  1. Should we concentrate on fostering multiple neighborhoods or focus primarily on one? Here in Boulder, there seems to be only one that stands out, the downtown area.

    Midtown being the runaway leader in Atlanta, how do we enhance the Tech Square neighborhood?

    Also, something to keep in mind, all the attractions you listed for Tech Square (sans Starbucks) are all government organizations. You forgot to mention Hypepotamus & Flashpoint, Hypepotamus being the non-govt of the two. So my last question is what can entrepreneurs do to build Tech Square outside of Govt. entities?

    Would love to see more elaboration on these questions here on the blog.

    • I believe Rob’s point in his post was that we should be fostering multiple neighborhoods here because Boulder is what we would consider a suburb here in Atlanta. It has a similar proximity to Denver as say Cobb County/Marietta has to Atlanta.

      That being said, I think that the way these neighborhoods are grown and fostered is through founders, co-founders and startup enthusiasts working together even with the difficult commutes in Atlanta.

      It is kind of sad that a place as large and vibrant as Atlanta isn’t one of the most talked about startup communities in the world.

      • I think we need one vibrant community before we commit to multiple. Multiple just dilutes energy and attention. I’m planning to write more on this next week.

    • faruqh said:

      This is the question we are asking. I believe the government can only do so much and that the wider benefit is gained by private sector development of these neighborhoods. Many cities and countries are struggling with developing communities and I believe hat a Neighborhood level Manifesto could be used to assist organizations to accelerate the process.

  2. North Alpharetta, centered around ROAM is certainly an emerging hotbed for technologists and startups.

    • PFreet, sweet! I’ve never been there but definitely should have been on the list.

    • Where do you say that North Alpharetta starts and ends? Our company is on the north side of Cobb county, not too far from Windward Pkwy.

  3. Great posts from both Rob and Jon. Agree with Kyle that we need to anchor on one community, but not sold on Tech Square. The government entities currently dominate the key relationships in the neighborhood, it is not a particularly open environment that fosters inclusion across a wide spectrum of startup stakeholders (current owners, founders in transition, developers, freelancers, investors, etc), and the community is not particularly enticing to sticking around after hours.

    West side is close enough to GA Tech to remain a hub for daily visiting, Westside community is informal, inclusive, runs deeper into the night and has two of the most successful self grown and here-to-stay startups in the Atlanta community to be ambassadors to the Westside. Between Octane, Goat Farm, the density of affordable housing, and the walk-able street level venues for casual bump-into meetings to occur I can’t think of an area of town better suited for an authentic startup epicenter. Far enough away from the ATDC to develop it’s own voice, close enough to synergize with the formal support at Tech Square.

    Love the debate, keep it up Jonny.

    • Great point Joe. Although I haven’t warmed up to the west side as much I do believe there is significant value there. I particularly like the live, work, play opportunities…the fact that you can bike around more easily and that there is good parking. Are there good (free) event spaces available?

      • Come hang out with us on Thursdays over at Octane then 🙂 We’ll get you warmed up? Size of space, event type, etc? Mailchimp has hosted numerous events at their offices, non-mailchimp related, same with High Groove Studios, 5 Seasons Westside hosts ATL Suds quite about (tonight actually), and there are galleries that would be open to reservations. That said, formal event space is probably the gap, but would need more details on what you are looking for and I can go dig/research.

      • Joe and Kyle,

        This is a great case in point of where we can leverage Atlanta’s natural advantages. We have dope places that foster community, creativity, and ideas, (the Westside) — all the while, being less than a mile from the talent machine that is Georgia Tech (man I hope my UGA friends aren’t reading these comments 🙂 – ) Great points, and would love find some awesome venues to host valuable events. Looping in Dave Payne of Scoutmob and the MailChimp teams will be big too. The future is bright!

  4. I dig this debate. I’ve worked at start-ups in Alpharetta, Norcross, Marietta, Sandy Springs, Tech Square, and Westside and have to say that my favorite was Westside. Its by far the more creative community of the bunch, reminiscent of a west coast vibe. However, with Tech Square you’re far more likely to bump into investors or fellow entrepreneurs. So I think it depends on your goals and needs: do you want to hang w/ the cool kids? Westside. Do you want to possibly run into your next lead investor? Tech Square. Do you want to die in traffic hell? Alpharetta 🙂

    • I realized I’ve also worked for startups in Buckhead, Midtown, and Westside. I never ran into anyone from the startup community in Buckhead. I sometimes ran into people on the Westside if we drove to lunch. Midtown has been the only area where I walked places and ran into other startup people.

      • Definitely agree with that. Either way, great post Rob. Identifying that one neighborhood and rallying behind it is a great way to enhance the start-up culture in Atlanta.

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