Funding To Atlanta Hit A 5-Year High In 2020 As The City Produces Unicorns

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While Florida and Texas person been astatine the halfway of the speech astir the Silicon Valley exodus and tech’s adjacent large hub, different southeastern metropolis has softly been producing unicorns astatine an unprecedented pace: Atlanta.

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Georgia’s largest metropolis has produced astatine slightest 3 unicorns successful the past six months, with Greenlight, SalesLoft and Calendly each reaching oregon surpassing the $1 cardinal valuation mark. A look backmost astatine 2020 finds yet different unicorn with fintech startup Bakkt reaching the coveted presumption successful March. 

While Silicon Valley churns retired unicorn-valuation startups astatine a predominant clip, seeing 1 metropolis nutrient galore billion-dollar companies successful a abbreviated clip framework is beauteous rare. And that could assistance the aboriginal of Atlanta’s startup ecosystem, peculiarly during a clip of distant enactment and much discussions of gathering companies extracurricular of accepted tech cities similar San Francisco and New York.

“I deliberation immoderate occurrence stories make much gravitational propulsion to the city,” David Cummings, co-founder of Atlanta-based robotic lawnmower startup Greenzie, said successful an interrogation with Crunchbase News. Cummings besides co-founded and invested successful SalesLoft and invested successful Calendly.

Cummings has been portion of a fig of occurrence stories successful Atlanta. He started a bundle institution erstwhile helium was an undergraduate astatine Duke University, and its biggest lawsuit was successful Atlanta. While astir of his friends made the determination to New York oregon California aft graduation, helium opted to determination to Atlanta to beryllium successful the aforesaid bureau arsenic his customer.

“Really, from an Atlanta constituent of view, it was evident determination was thing peculiar going on,” Cummings said. “Something undiscovered astatine the time. It wasn’t the astir evident place. But being determination with an unthinkable assemblage and, again, the method endowment … it was 100 percent the close move.”

Since then, helium started and sold different institution and utilized the wealth to commencement the Atlanta Tech Village, the co-working abstraction and assemblage that’s go the city’s tech hub. Cummings co-founded and invested successful SalesLoft there, and Calendly besides called the Tech Village home. Cummings invested successful Calendly’s effect round, and earlier this week the institution announced a $350 cardinal Series A astatine a $3 cardinal valuation. The backing is Calendly’s archetypal since raising its $550,000 effect circular led by Atlanta Ventures successful 2014.

Atlanta’s startup maturation isn’t conscionable owed to young companies mounting up store successful the metropolis and raising money, but alternatively is “companies with important gross growing,” according to Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Chief Innovation Officer Alex Gonzalez. 

Funding for venture-backed startups based successful the greater Atlanta country deed a five-year precocious past year, reaching astir $2 cardinal crossed 188 deals, according to preliminary Crunchbase data.

“There’s that tangible facet of companies and money, but the different happening is the infrastructure has grown successful presumption of the innovation centers, the programs, the boots connected the ground, the mentoring, much corporations getting involved,” Gonzalez said of the city’s startup and tech ecosystem growth. He pointed to Apple helping motorboat the Propel Center, a tech hub for historically achromatic colleges and universities, and the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Both centers purpose to enactment Black entrepreneurs and tech talent.

Atlanta’s agelong been thing of a concern superior for the southeast. Plenty of ample companies, including Delta, Coca-Cola, Cox Enterprises, and the IntercontinentalExchange, each person their office successful the city, with others mounting up determination offices there. And Atlanta is location to astir 40 firm innovation centers. That’s peculiarly adjuvant some for startups to merchantability into companies—especially business-to-business companies—and successful presumption of the fig of income professionals already successful the city, according to Cummings. There’s been a batch of occurrence getting salespeople from different industries to travel into tech, helium said.

“We’re a immense hub for a batch of these Fortune 500 companies, truthful what I recovered truly absorbing is simply a batch of the clip during the transportation competitions oregon meetings with founders, I conscionable radical who were erstwhile executives astatine Coca Cola, oregon a erstwhile enforcement astatine Home Depot,” Kylan Kester, a assemblage coordinator astatine the nonprofit Startup Atlanta, said successful an interrogation with Crunchbase News.

One challenge, though, of doing concern successful Georgia is sometimes having to navigate the governmental landscape, according to Kester. For example, erstwhile Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a arguable anti-abortion bill, that caused immoderate companies to propulsion retired of contracts successful the state, impacting businesses, Kester said. Some movie and tv accumulation companies, including Disney and Netflix,  said they would reconsider doing concern successful the authorities if the instrumentality was implemented.

That’s changing though, considering the result of caller elections successful Georgia, which flipped to bluish successful the statesmanlike predetermination and elected Democratic senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

“I deliberation successful this past twelvemonth we saw a batch of what’s been happening successful Georgia and the alteration that’s happening successful Georgia, and that gave immoderate airy and anticipation for immoderate startups who are acrophobic astir the governmental landscape,” Kester said.

The city’s established concern assemblage combined with its proximity to ample universities similar Emory and Georgia Tech provides a robust endowment pipeline, peculiarly for engineering. Georgia Tech graduated 4,039 engineering students crossed each of its engineering undergraduate and postgraduate programs successful fiscal twelvemonth 2020. According to the university, it awards much engineering degrees to underrepresented minorities and women than immoderate different schoolhouse successful the country.

Atlanta is besides location to a fig of historically achromatic colleges and universities, including Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Those schools volition beryllium cardinal for the city’s tech ecosystem maturation arsenic well, Gonzalez said, arsenic volition Atlanta’s divers endowment excavation and manufacture base.

“It’s conscionable a beauteous playground for entrepreneurs to beryllium portion of,” helium said.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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