Atlanta’s ‘start up’ community — turning hype into reality

By Saba Long

Bash it all you want but the beauty of Twitter is moments like the one I had a week ago. I stumbled upon an online conversation about the ecosystem of Atlanta’s startup community and its relation to the city’s transit access –  namely connecting the Atlanta BeltLine to MARTA.

The irony is hours before that tweet exchange took place, Scott Henderson, the executive director of Hypepotamus – an open gathering space for startup companies – gave me nearly the same line in an interview. “Density begets serendipity.”

Hypepotamus – a mashup of hype, hypothesis and hypotenuse – opened nearly a year ago in the basement of the Biltmore Hotel just steps away from Georgia Tech’s hub for all things startup – Tech Square. The entire space is rent free, but it’s most known for their programming by routinely hosting successful entrepreneurs from around the country, sometimes in person and others via Skype or the like.

A few weeks ago, in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club, Mayor Kasim Reed challenged Atlantans to realize the numerous successes the city has bore witness to. Henderson and other tech leaders have issued that same challenge to their respective community. Atlanta is home to Mindspring, now EarthLink and ISS which was sold to IBM in 2006 for $1.3 billion.

Henderson along with a handful of key players in the Atlanta startup community are developing a groundswell of energy and focus to develop the next great wave of Atlanta tech companies.

He likens the activities at Hypepotamus to a neighborhood basketball court. Interested parties have the opportunity to meet and collaborate in a casual setting, it’s not fancy but it’ll do the job.

Just a block away, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech is the health club for Atlanta startups. It has the state-of-the-art meeting rooms, dedicated office space and that corporate office look – but it’s perfectly normal to peek into a room and see someone in a T-shirt and flip flops tapping away on a Macbook Pro.

For those prepared for the tech sector’s version of a Crossfit bootcamp, look no further than Flashpoint, Georgia Tech’s startup business accelerator.

These various organizations are breaking down the silos that have previously plagued the city’s technology sector. And before we know it, they will challenge the commercial and residential development communities, and local government to do the same.

Within a few weeks time, Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, will host its first hackathon, bringing together designers, coders, community leaders and subject matter experts together to tackle municipal issues.

Sometime after that, Startup Georgia – the regional chapter for Startup America – will officially launch.

On putting the city and the state on the startup map, Henderson opines, “We have to increase our talent pool via massive awareness, peer-to-peer conversations and diverse collaboration.”

While we may not now put Atlanta in the same startup success category as Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City or even the Research Triangle that doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

It’s about time we give ourselves permission to lead. And what better place to start doing so than in the small business community. The effects of our success will be seen in conversations about transportation, land use, education and stop us from operating in a “business as usual” mindset.

Do believe the hype.

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SomaAtl 1 Like

It would be nice if this could come to downtown Atlanta  or the newly opened he M. Rich Building

sabalong 1 Like

 @SomaAtl I've been told there is a tech incubator in the works for the M. Rich Building. The new owners are hoping to cultivate a "creative class" environment in downtown; it's one of the reasons they signed a lease with C4 Atlanta.

RickStevens 2 Like

P.S. half the battle is getting our local media (you guys, Atlanta Biz Chron, AJC, etc.) to spread the word.  Keep pumping out articles like these because there is a lot happening across the city.  It's a very exciting time to be in Atlanta as we see this being community being built from the grassroots.

mariajoyner 2 Like

 @RickStevens Agreed- very exciting time in Atlanta! All the blame can't be put on the media for the lack of press. Our startups need to reach out to journalists, invite them to see offices, and pitch compelling stories. Journalists love a good story; it's our responsibility to reach out to the press. Journalists would rather hear from the founder/CEO than a PR firm. I've been working on a PR for Startups bootcamp. Details coming after Startup Rally.

Cityzen 1 Like

Startup Atlanta launched last year to bring together entrepreneurs and resources across the spectrum from Tech's high-tech commercialization emphasis to a range of other incubators.  It's all happening on the startup front here in Atlanta.

ChrisCChan 1 Like

We're hoping that "hype" also stands for hyper growth as well (which it's doing largely to Scott's awesome efforts)! And of course Hype wouldn't be possible without the generosity of Heath Hyneman and Kevin Wallace of National Builder Supply.

mariajoyner 1 Like

@sabalong Fantastic post! Startup Georgia launches officially on February 18 at the largest gathering of startups since 1895. Startup Rally kicks off in The Biltmore Ballroom at 3 pm with a Startup Expo and Summer Internship Fair and is followed by the Startup Georgia launch at 5:30 pm. There are quite a few tech events happening that week as it is Atlanta Tech and Startup Week. 


@mariasaporta @atlantatechvillage and @davidcummings are worthy mentions creating hype & reality


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