Introducing Switchyards Design & Development

Switchyards Downtown Club started with a single mission…help create more B2C winners in Atlanta. This mission set in motion a series of decisions to lay the foundation to accomplish this goal.

Step #1 Buy a building

In the very beginning we noticed that something was happening in newer startup towns (like Atlanta) that was having a noticeable impact on local startup ecosystems across the country. This was the emergence of founder-led buildings & communities that were pulling in the best local startup founders and teams. The very best research on this topic has validated the impact of these entrepreneur-led efforts, so buying and renovating a building was the first step we took.

Step #2 Events

Once the building was open and good B2C founders were working at Switchyards, we began to launch a bunch of events. Some events (like Made in Atlanta) are open to the public and designed to communicate our mission citywide. Others (like Friends of Switchyards) are members-only and focused on giving our B2C founders actionable ways to help their businesses immediately.

Step #3 Switchyards Design & Development

Today we are super excited to announce the next step in our mission to help create more B2C winners in Atlanta. We are calling it Switchyards Design & Development.

Now that we are eighteen months into having an open building with lots of members and events, we are starting to see more clearly what other building blocks are needed for the B2C ecosystem and that led us to launch this effort.

Why was this the next step for Switchyards?

Over the past six months we’ve been working more closely with some startups and we’ve noticed three common hurdles that local B2C founders face at the very beginning.

Common hurdle #1

The first hurdle is finding development talent locally. The B2C founders that we meet either aren’t able to find good developers or they pay way too much for them (in cash or equity). And even once a B2C founder is lucky enough to get a developer to say “yes,” these founders aren’t experienced at selecting developers, so oftentimes they choose poorly, or they aren’t experienced with managing developers, so the process takes way too long, costs way too much and too often the founder is unhappy with the final product. Other times B2C founders decide to skip all of this and hire development shops/agencies. With this route the build cycles are too long and the entire process is way too expensive because traditional agencies are structured to serve larger companies with longer timeframes and much larger budgets. Due to this local development mindfield, the vast majority of promising B2C ideas in Atlanta die. Startups fail at a high rate and there’s nothing you can do about this fact, but Atlanta won’t have great B2C successes until good founders can quickly get access to good developers (at a good price) from the very beginning.

Common hurdle #2

The second big hurdle is design talent. There aren’t many overlaps between the creative community in Atlanta and the startup community. Atlanta has great design talent, but — because Atlanta’s startup community hasn’t needed them historically — they are locked up in agencies working on projects for huge companies. As a result, designers are even more difficult to find than developers, so most founders end-up ignoring design and this significantly damages brand and at the early stages…something critically important in B2C startups gaining trust with early customers and investors.

Common hurdle #3

The third hurdle is less obvious, but maybe the most important one to get right. It’s not well-known locally, but there’s a well-worn B2C playbook that is known by founders in more active B2C startups hubs (eg San Francisco, Brooklyn). The best way to increase your odds of creating a great B2C company is to surround yourself with B2C founders and advisors who know this playbook. And, of course, the developers and designers working on your product need to have experience with this playbook as well to give your B2C startup the highest likelihood of success.

We believe that Switchyards Design & Development is the right next step for Switchyards, so that idea-stage B2C founders have a single source for design and development talent that’s curated, priced right and experienced at building B2C startups.

How will it work?

If you have an idea for a B2C startup and are ready to start building, drop us an email. We can meet-up and discuss working together.

At a high-level, some of the best design and development talent for B2C startups is located right here at Switchyards. We’ve created a partnership with them, so that their pricing and process works for local founders who want to get the right resources to validate their idea, but lack angel and seed capital that they might have in other startup cities around the country.

Once the resources, timeline and budget are in place, we’ll start building your product. And — since you’ll be working with resources located at Switchyards — you’ll get SDC membership, office space and parking as part of this program along with all the mentorship that goes along with working around the best B2C startup founders in the city.

Announcing an addition to our team

Lastly we are excited to announced today that Pete Bernardo has joined the Switchyards team to run Switchyards Design & Development.

Pete has two decades of product, design and strategy experience at a top agency in the southeast and now his efforts will be focused exclusively on supporting local B2C startups.

Please join us in welcoming Pete to the Switchyards team!

What do I do if I’m interested?

We aren’t folks with lots of processes. We are fellow founders who prefer to talk over coffee, so drop us an email and let’s meet-up to see if working together makes sense.

You can learn more about Switchyards Design & Development at www.switchyards.com or go directly to our site at “Founder Happy Place dot com.”

MWSA,

The Switchyards Team