So much has occurred in the last 12 months of Atlanta’s Startup Community. Exits have been had, co-working spaces have cultivated a community, and entire buildings bought dedicated to Atlanta technology. New faces are showing up everyday to start real businesses. It’s never been more exciting to be in technology in Atlanta. I was conversing with some other Atlantans who are invested in this city about trends coming up. Nothing came to mind at the time but after some thought, there are four trends I predict occurring over the next 5-20 years.
First and foremost.
1. Atlanta’s Racial and Cultural Advances Will Be Our Greatest Asset
Atlanta has a storied history when it comes to race relations. Bike over to Old Fourth Ward and take a tour in the house where Martin Luther King Jr. was born. Grace the halls of Atlanta’s Metro Chamber of Commerce and take-in the diversity of business leaders on the wall. It was always said in the 09′ mayoral election by one of the campaign leaders: “blacks and whites don’t go to church together, they don’t socialize together, but they do work together in Atlanta.” Georgia is the 4th best state for black business owners.
In technology, where you went to school or where your parents went to school don’t matter. What does is getting the job done. Whether black, white, American, non-American, male, female, straight, gay, graduate or dropout, it doesn’t matter. If you can code, sell, or market, you’ll have a job.
Compared to cities like Boulder, San Francisco, and even New York, our level of diversity puts them to shame — it really does.
In the next 5-10 years, expect to see even more diversity in technology in Atlanta. Embracing this will be huge.
2. Old Money Meets New Money
Last week, I had the good fortune to grace the fairways of Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters Tournament — definitely one of the South’s most prestigious and exclusive organizations. There’s a list on the internet somewhere of Augusta National Golf Club members including their industries of choice. There may be 2 or 3 members in technology and one of them is named Bill Gates. Old money is either inherited or earned in industries that takes a ton of capital to enter: railroads, steel, banking, insurance, etc. All are fantastic industries and have put Atlanta where we are today, but the next Coke, Home Depot, or UPS won’t come from those industries.
In the next 5 years, look for Atlanta’s Old Money to pay more attention and dollars to the opportunities and success of early stage technology companies.
3. Fortune 500 Companies Start Using What’s In Their Backyard
Atlanta’s most successful startup, ICE, just recently bought the NYSE. There are 15 Fortune 500 companies in our state. Traditionally, innovation doesn’t occur from the slow moving 800 lb gorillas. Yet, the amount of frustrated employees just working for a paycheck aspiring to do something more impact-ful is high in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the next 5 years, expect many of these companies to keep an ear to Atlanta’s startup community. Who knows, if we can get some of the entrepreneurs in the same room as the executives, that’s a strong start.
4. High School Students Dive Into Tech
There are very few high school students shown the opportunity of entrepreneurship as a viable career choice. In other communities, high schools are groomed to build the next Google. This doesn’t happen anywhere I know of in the South.
In the next 5 years, expect more high school students to enter the Atlanta Startup Community and make a big impact.
These are four trends that will make Atlanta’s growth and prosperity accelerate even quicker.