Last night TechCrunch hosted the “Southeast Mini Meetup” http://techcrunch.com/events/southeast-mini-meetup-atlanta/ at Sweet-water Brewing Company. According to its website, “TechCrunch is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.”
And what an event it was! There were so many people. Who were all those people? I guess they were drawn to the free food and free beer. I know I was. Some came to try to get their early stage companies on the radar screen of TechCrunch. Indeed, that was one of the stated reasons for the event. But there were too many people for that.
I did catch up with Margaret Martin, CEO of Merlin Mobility [www.merlinmobility.com], who was invited to the event to talk with the TechCrunch folks. I don’t know if she ever connected with them, but she does have a good story to tell, so I hope she did. You may recall that I highlighted Merlin Mobility in a previous posting.
Alston Mason was there. We share office space, but somehow never discussed the event. Alston has started Source Uno [www.sourceuno.com], which is creating video libraries, accessible online, that provide information about various types of jobs. The videos help students to assess the types of jobs students might like and be suited for, and inspire them to pursue the right course of study to qualify for those jobs. Recently I introduced Alston to TAG to Michael Robertson, the Executive Director of the TAG Education Collaborative.
I met a nice guy named Sam Wheeler, who recently moved to a job in Atlanta from a Seattle start-up. For many years he worked for Amazon. It was interesting to hear about the culture and business model of Amazon, as well as his reason for relocating to Atlanta and taking a job with Kabbage [www.kabbage.com]. Hopefully more on Sam and his move in a future blog.
I also met Heather Estenson, who, as a lawyer/entrepreneur, is something of a kindred spirit. By day she is a technology lawyer with Silverpop, having been an M&A lawyer before developing expertise as a technology lawyer. During nights and weekends, she is launching Mycluckcluck, named after the chickens she raises! Her start-up is a closed social network for parents and caregivers. It also facilitates babysitter bookings and provides a payment engine for paying babysitter. All of this would have come in handy when my wife Martie and I had small children. Although the company hasn’t gone into commercial operation, its future appears promising. She has started development, and is represented by Wilson Sonsini, arguably the nation’s premier technology law firm.
One of the coolest businesses is being run by Ross Baird, who like me, is a graduate of UVA and Westminster. Ross is the Executive Director of Village Capital, an entrepreneurial accelerator program that provides socially-conscious early-stage companies advice and sometimes funding. According to a recent article in the AJC http://www.ajc.com/business/village-capital-seeks-to-1464168.html, examples of participating companies that hope to make a positive impact on society include “viaCycle, developer of a bike-sharing system that uses mobile phones; Ballers Bridge, an online networking community that lets athletes of all levels market themselves; and SmartGaon, a mobile technology that helps provide affordable health care in India.” Atlanta-based Village Capital also has operated 13 programs around the world, in countries including China, India, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
Finally, I ran into my friend Kathy Harris, who is enjoying her job leading the corporate development effort at Sharecare [www.sharecare.com]. Sharecare provides an interactive question-and-answer (QA) platform that allows industry experts to answer health and wellness questions. Sharecare was founded by Jeff Arnold (founder of WebMD) and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Kathy has closed four acquisitions this year, including its acquisition in March of RealAge®, the leading consumer health assessment website centered on the groundbreaking RealAge Test.®
It was a great event. I wish you could have been there. On second thought, you probably were…