Why Atlanta is a great place for startups

Published · 3 min read

Atlanta has long been a hub for big companies—think Home Depot, UPS, Cisco, and Coca-Cola—and now it’s quickly becoming the tech startup center of the South. The Atlanta Tech Village (ATV) houses over 600 startup companies, making it the largest tech entrepreneurial hub in the Southeast and the fourth largest in the country. The city has seen several large IPOs—most recently, Carvana comes to mind—and successful exits from small to larger enterprises including billion-dollar unicorns like AirWatch (sold for $1.4 billion to VMWare, who kept the company in Atlanta).

International enterprises choose Atlanta over Silicon Valley due to time zones and access to the busiest airport in the world, and over New York City or Boston due to affordability. European transplants TruRating and Algolia landed here recently from overseas and are successfully building teams with the talent they find here. The city’s FinTech industry is stronger than ever: more than 60 percent of payment processing companies are based in Atlanta and 70 percent of all U.S. payments processed run through Georgia, earning the region the nickname of “Transaction Alley.” We’re also growing in the marketing, software and cybersecurity sectors.

Thinking of growing your startup in Atlanta? Here’s why you should move down to ATL and join our thriving tech scene.

Affordability

Not too long, Atlanta’s quality of life topped Money’s City for Millennials list and Nielsen named it the #4 Metro Area with the fastest growing young population in 2015—in large part because those just starting their career can actually afford to live here. No matter how many CEOs or entrepreneurs we interview, everyone agrees that Atlanta’s affordable rents and low cost of living helps them thrive, take more risks with their startups, and innovate more.

Access to resources

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport gives you access to 80 percent of the U.S. market, including other major tech hubs like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. With Delta, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and other Fortune 500 companies nearby, you have access to major players and innovators.

In every neighborhood, there’s a co-working space full of connections waiting to be made—in addition to local mainstays like ATV, Strongbox West and Switchyards Downtown Club, there are multiple locations of international co-working spaces like WeWork and Industrious. Education is accessible and affordable, even for those switching careers, from places like General Assembly Atlanta to the numerous coding bootcamps.

Diversity and inclusion

Atlanta is the fifth best metropolitan city for women-owned firms and a hub for minority entrepreneurs. Organizations like the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative and pitch competitions like Startup Runway cater to entrepreneurs trying to get their startups off the ground. Diversity and inclusion are a major initiative and focus for Atlanta-area enterprises including VMware, Home Depot, Cox Enterprises, and Southern Company Gas.

Talent

With Georgia Institute of Technology (the only university on the Fast Company Most Innovative list!), Georgia State University, and Emory University nurturing students across Atlanta, the talent pool is unmatched. Add to that the large concentration of incubators and accelerators such as ATDC, Techstars AtlantaTechSquare Labs, and many others, nurturing and retaining talent is Atlanta’s number-one priority.

Last year, Metro Atlanta was named among the top 19 knowledge capitals in the U.S. and Europe, producing 4,000 new jobs in mobile app development alone and fostering over 3,000 new startups, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Thriving business climate

Georgia was named the top state to do business for the third year in a row last year, according to Area Development. Better yet, Georgia has your back during tax season and gives you some relief (and incentives) to continue building a startup here. If your company is planning to hire, re-train staff, or seek more funding, you can take advantage of the angel investor tax credit, retraining tax credit, job tax credit, and/or the research and experimentation tax credit.

Startup founders are busy people, and don’t have time for a city that doesn’t support them. It’s a good thing then, that Atlanta is known as “the city too busy to hate.”

Welcome to Atlanta, where the students learn, the community supports, and the founders build.

To hear more about why Atlanta is a great place for startups and entrepreneurs listen to our latest podcast interview with Ed Kless.

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