Atlanta, you’re not made of Silicon. You’re made of Digital Stars!
I find it very disappointing when I look around the tech scene here in Atlanta and see the micro-replications of ecosystems that have worked in Northern California. There are so many misguided attempts to recreate the success of Silicon Valley by using it tactics, which are specific to its demographics and culture. It’s like attempting to bake a cake by pouring the cake mix into a pie shell. It’s simply just not right! I hearken on deaf ears when I say that we should not be building our tech ecosystem on the success of the white male start up model of Silicon Valley.
We have a different demographic and interest and because of this, we have opportunities to be more inclusive in our approach.
The demographics of the Southeast and Atlanta are vastly different than that Northern California. We must stop trying to become the next Silicon Valley and own what’s uniquely ours. Atlanta has a tech culture that is rich in interest and business opportunities around Connectivity, Digital Entertainment, Content Creation and Tech Innovation across many sectors. Our needs are more social in nature and the expected financial returns will be derived from companies that are founded and focused on solutions for our food deserts and safety and development of our latch key kids. We live in the real world, with real world problems and the sporadic tech bubbles that have sprung up in our environment tend to do little to better our broader socio-economic conditions.
We must ask ourselves do we need to throw our investments behind creating another frivolous app or do we need tech solutions to solve problems that are relevant to creating better living conditions for the whole.
I would advocate for the latter. VCs, Angels, and Bootstrappers should pay closer attention to the under-represented hidden in plain sight within Atlanta’s tech community.
Because Atlanta is such a fertile breeding ground for Social and Digital Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship can be used as an economic balancing tool and be used as a force for reducing inequalities.
As Entrepreneurship is essential for the US economy, Atlanta must do more to prepare and embrace it. Cities, Counties and State level entities need to make it easier on small businesses to not only start up, but stay up.
A huge layer of legacy business bureaucracy and tax burdens needs to be removed.
Let’s highlight the good things about this region and use those things to build a technology ecosystem that exemplifies equality and awesomeness. Let’s begin by revamping our formal and informal methods of instruction.
Atlanta has the opportunity to democratize its education and training mechanisms. Atlanta has the ability to groom both the business and technical talent that’s needed to crack the code of successful tech ecosystem building. It’s time that this Epic city stands up and be recognized for all of the vast goodness it brings.
The geographic location, the airport, the climate, the cost of living, and yes, even the traffic. All great reasons to build and grow strong businesses in this region. Atlanta has the ability to attract brilliant minds capable of building businesses and business models that uniquely solve our regional problems. There’s an old saying that goes,
“The way Atlanta goes, so goes the entire Southeast”.
With the reach of the Internet and our world-class, international airport, we now have the world-wide influence with regions that have similar economies.
So, let’s stop the madness. We’re better than this. Let’s stop building these Silicon Valley-type Bubbles in the midst of our economy. Let’s push our civic leaders and Fortune 500 companies to embrace our uniqueness and support our requirements to create environments that take our problem solvers seriously.
Let’s build a Tech Ecosystem that is more inclusive and equitable.
Let’s build an economy that’s conducive to their success for generations to come.
No, it won’t look like the Silicon Valley Ecosystem, it will be more Epic!
It will be a 50/50 Tech Ecosystem and unique to Atlanta’s code. It will be filled with stages, creativity, film, wearables, and Things (IoT) that will ignite this region and the world to take flight. We have all the makings that will give a new meaning to the definition of what it means to be a great, livable, sustainable, startup city!