The Switchyards of Atlanta

A deeper look at incubating design-focused companies 

Michael Tavani
Apr 30, 2014 · 3 min read

It’s easiest to describe Switchyards by saying what we aren’t.

We are not a co-working space.

We are not a fund.

We are not an accelerator.

We are not a design/talent agency.

We are not an event series.

Everything else is noise.

In support of our mission we might sometimes look like an accelerator, a co-working space, a fund or an event series, but only if they support building top-notch consumer-facing brands right here in Atlanta.

We believe that the biggest impact we can have on the Atlanta startup and design scenes is to successfully launch 3 strong brands over the next 3 years. We’ve even gone on record with the goal. Kinda like announcing you’re going on a diet. No pressure.


To accomplish this goal, our ideas need four things…

A solid team

Switchyards is laser-focused on design and product. If this past month is any indication, we’re well on our way towards becoming the hub for the best consumer/design talent in the city. Attracting and assembling the region’s best brand talent is a must for us to succeed. If you’re a designer, engineer, growth hustler (analytics, etc.) or all-purpose creative (copy, brand, video, photography, craftsmen, etc.) aspiring to build quality brands with soul, we should be talking.

Runway

Contrary to popular belief, money is not necessary to accomplish our goal. However, a long enough runway is. Easiest way to build long runway? Pay for it. Switchyards will financially support all of our projects long enough to hit runway milestones — a financing round or revenue break-even. We’ll build the model with this goal from day 1. If hitting the runway milestone doesn’t occur within 6-12 months, we’ll shut it down. We think 6-12 months is the right length of time as tools nowadays (ie pre-demand) allow for gauging consumer demand earlier in the lifecycle.

High-level conversations

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ll systematize consumer brands by leveraging learnings across projects. David Cummings does this extremely well with Atlanta Ventures companies. The challenge will be that consumer brands are tougher to systematize because they’re more art than science. At first, we’ll focus on all consumer ideas — from tech to mobile to physical products. We’ll only focus on ideas we’re passionate about — things we can spend all of our waking hours thinking about. The ultimate goal is to get the smartest consumer and brand talent together in one room elevating the level of conversation here. That way these companies are talking at a high-level every day.

Space

We’d just assume work at Octane but we need to plug in some honkin’ Mac displays. Yes, we like inspiring spaces, the idea of placemaking and filling rooms with like-minded projects to create a culture of design focus, but we’ll only set-up shop in places that allow us to focus on creating and building. That could be ATV or PCM or ATDC or SBW or Hype or Means/Boss or any other place that has a good nickname. We like them all. More to come on this topic in the coming months but this is priority 4 out of 4 in terms of need at the moment.


Next steps

If you’re ready to quit your job and co-found a company with Switchyards, I’d love to hear from you. No need for an idea, we got you covered.

If you have an idea that needs the four things above, I’d like to hear from you as well.

If you want to try on Switchyards for size, sign up here for our Consumer + Design Weekend Accelerator on June 6-8.


    Michael Tavani

    Written by

    Founder of @switchyards. Made with soul in Atlanta.