The Greatest Asset of Atlanta’s Startup Community

This past Friday night, a cluster of very passionate student-entrepreneurs were huddled around in Clough – Georgia Tech’s semi-new edifice built for collaboration and intense study. Yearning to soak up as much knowledge about building a company as possible, these 13 student-entrepreneurs sacrificed one of their few open nights of the week to converse with the SalesLoft sales and marketing team about accelerators, technology, and business.

All 13 entrepreneurs are part of a student-lead technology accelerator called Startup Semester.

Motivated by a passionate idea and executed with the same Georgia Tech ingenuity that’s led past alum to peace prizes and presidencies, Startup Semester organizers, Aswin Natarajan and Jerome Choo not only aggregated the once-perceived limited supply of student-entrepreneurs within Georgia Tech’s student body, but have matched high profile Atlanta entrepreneurs, including Sanjay Parekh, David MoellerCraig Hyde, and many others as mentors to each team. Impressive work guys.

Guerilla marketed by Aswin and Jason, Startup Semester is the beginning of a powerful movement occurring among Tech students who want to put their intelligence and expertise to the test, now. Best of all, it’s blossoming in the center of Atlanta’s most fertile area: GaTech’s campus.

(See: Startup Semester’s scrappy marketing campaign: professionally designed whiteboards throughout campus)

Over 50 Georgia Tech students applied and approximately 270 showed interest in participating. Application after application rolled in: “It was overwhelming. So many students wanted to be part of this program but we only had resources for 12 teams. It was very difficult to say ‘no’ to so many student-entrepreneurs,” said Aswin.

SalesLoft CEO, Kyle Porter and I walked into the meeting room in Clough to the anticipation of 14 students craving everything startups.

“How did you navigate so much mentor feedback at TechStars?” “What’s the number one mistake you’ve made while building SalesLoft?” “How do you get the most of mentor relationships?” “When do you know the best time to hire your next employee?”

Questions like these and many more showered the evening with a healthy exchange of suggestions and ideas from all parties.

Startup Semester is an organization that provides a reservoir for students to explore their entrepreneurial ambitions. This structure is integral to a constant flow of talent into the Atlanta Startup Community. If these students can learn to build companies while in university, they’ll be much more equipped after graduation to build stronger companies.

Student-driven, community-mentored, and progress achieved: this is an Atlanta Startup Community story worth telling.

The ingenuity of the Georgia Tech student is one of our city’s biggest comparative advantages; we want to foster it as much as possible.

  1. A lot of companies are being “formed” in the GT Library and Clough Commons (they’re connected). We are talking with Jerome and Aswin to support their efforts and foster this culture among Tech students even further.

  2. Greatness.

    Jerome and Aswin are doing great things. Feel free to reach out to the broader Atlanta Startup Community. The guys at Hypepotamus are creating a very vibrant cluster of folks right at 5th and W. Peachtree (the basement of the Biltmore). Check them out.

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