Three Reasons to Build Your Tech Startup in Atlanta

Explainer

In 2019, we introduced this post. At the time, many people were still unaware that Atlanta was gaining rapid prominence for its vibrant tech startup community. Since that time, our reputation has drawn enormous attention and as the recent Bloomberg article "A $100 Billion Wealth Migration Tilts US Economy’s Center of Gravity South" attests, not only are people and companies aware of the benefits of launching and scaling a business in Atlanta - they are doing it in droves.

We've updated this post to highlight some of the reasons why and provide updated statistics. Of course, the reasons to build business in Atlanta still include its likability - mild winters, and walkable neighborhoods, thriving restaurant scene, and exciting sports teams. As you'll see, the economic reasons are as, if not more, significant. And people have taken notice.

Atlanta Has Earned its Reputation as Base for Builders

For a long time, there has been a (mis)perception that the more established "Innovation Hubs" of New York, Boston, and San Francisco are the only - or at least the best - places to launch a tech business, especially for companies seeking investment capital. As the Bloomberg study shows so clearly, however, that's no longer the case. Without going into the population and business loss in those old guard cities, consider how rapidly Southeast cities like Atlanta have taken hold:

  • In 2020 and 2023, a flood of transplants helped steer about $100 billion in new income to the Southeast (based on Internal Revenue Service data)
  • The Southeast has accounted for more than two-thirds of all job growth across the US since early 2020 - almost double its pre-pandemic share
  • The Southeast is was home to 10 of the 15 fastest-growing American large cities - including Atlanta (based on U.S. Census Bureau data)

In our 2019 post, we noted that Crunchbase reported that 469 startups called Atlanta home. According to 2022 numbers, that figure ballooned to 599. And the Deloitte Fast 500 list for 2022 now includes 18 companies, just in Atlanta. We're excited to share that one of them, Kobiton, is part of the BIP Ventures portfolio!

Our annual report, The State of StartupsSM in the Southeast 2022, revealed that the overall rate of maturation of the venture ecosystem in our region is exceeding that of the Innovation Hubs. The data continues to bear this out. So why is Atlanta such a great place to start a tech business?    

Three Benefits of Atlanta for Startups

       
  1. Easy access to tech talent.
    Top-notch universities in Atlanta and across the Southeast offer a ready talent pool for startups. Schools with strong technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial programs include Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, SCAD, Georgia State University, and the schools of the AUC (Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University).
  2.    
  3. Experienced leaders.
    A considerable number of Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Atlanta, so there's no shortage of veteran business leaders here. Seventeen Atlanta-based companies made the 2022 Fortune 500 list, including UPS, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and Delta. Another 14 more made the Fortune 1,000 list. Across Georgia, that number is well above three dozen. The leadership base is potent across every corner of our city.
  4.    
  5. Lower cost of living.
    Atlanta is significantly less expensive to live in compared to the Innovation Hubs, as this calculator illustrates. Lower cost of living means lower taxes and more affordable housing, and also extends to business considerations such as commercial real estate and talent acquisition. These things contribute to a higher quality of life for all.
  6.  

Want more reasons and data? The Metro Atlanta Chamber Built for Business initiative highlights specifics about the talent, relative low cost of living, and thriving ecosystem.

Why it's a Great Time to Build a Business in Atlanta

With the ongoing recessionary talk, a recent banking crisis, a challenging real estate market, and rumors of a sluggish VC environment, it's fair to wonder whether now is the right time to start a business anywhere. While it's true there are always challenges for entrepreneurs, good companies can thrive - and Atlanta is a supremely supportive innovation market.

A recent Pitchbook research report notes that, in response to the challenges of the past couple of years, more and more programs are emerging in both private market investments and government-backed programs, to help founders build the companies and industries necessary to keep the US economy at the forefront of the global innovation market. It also makes the tried-and-true observation that challenging markets have historically paved the way for the emergence of industry titans. If you look at Atlanta's technology scene, you see them. Simply drive through the city and observe the skyline. Among many other companies leading the Innovation Economy, you'll see Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Google, Apple. And inside the labs and boardrooms of many smaller tech companies, the progress is just as impressive.

The point is this. In 2019, when we first posted this article, Atlanta was a great city to build a business that resolves a real and current need. And in 2023, that statement is even more true. Now is the time and Atlanta is the right place.

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