Change to a city can happen through strategic partnerships and planning. For Peachtree Corners, its Mayor Mike Mason envisioned a new hub for innovators to grow ideas at the pace of his rapidly growing tech community just north of Atlanta. So, he co-founded Prototype Prime with serial entrepreneur, Sanjay Parekh. The new incubator, located in the same building as City Hall, will allow budding entrepreneurs to build software and hardware startups from the ground up, with mentorship and event programming provided by Parekh and the Atlanta Technology Development Center (ATDC).
Offering affordable office space for startups to scale, Prototype Prime also features opportunities for networking through their event space, lots of workshops, a customizable podcast room with cutting-edge equipment, a design lab with three 3D printers, and professional services provided by two law firms and an accounting agency. The goal for Peachtree Corners is to nurture early-stage companies and give them the key skills to build their companies beyond the ITP.
Parekh gave Hypepotamus a tour of its emerging facilities while sharing more about its mission, what kind of companies they are looking for, and the unique features of that make Prototype Prime shine.
How did this space come about as a partnership with Peachtree Corners?
The city decided to fund this incubator, and really what they’re doing is that instead of taking the money that they would spend on somebody doing economic development, they’re spending that money here. It aligns very much with what I believe is the right thing to do.
If you look at the stats, it shows that helping start small companies is a bigger impact on economic development and jobs than trying to convince big companies to come over. I often say this, as Americans, we should not like the fact that companies are being paid to move around because if you look at it on a country basis, it creates no value for us. I think we need to do more of this kind of stuff.
Our partnership with the city goes beyond just those dollars. After we mentioned it, they passed an ordinance, just like the City of Atlanta, that startups that are in an incubator in Peachtree Corners for the first 3 years don’t have to pay any business licenses.
How does the mission reflect back to Prototype Prime?
Our focus has been from the beginning the things that are needed in the Metro Atlanta area — to focus on hardware and software companies doing both of them. That’s why we’ve got the design and development lab. To be able to have teams that want to focus on hardware, that need things 3D printed, or have electronics and they need to manufacture small batches or be able to test and figure out what’s going on with their electronics.
We’re seeing this resurgence of podcasting being a thing. We wanted to give a people an easy way to be able to do that with our podcasting room. The biggest thing that we can do is create successful companies. That’s the way that we view the ecosystem.
What kind of companies do you want to bring onboard at Prototype Prime?
We want to build a culture that makes sense and that’s supportive and really does help generate successful startups at the end of the day. If somebody is doing something that we don’t believe, we’re not going to accept that. It has to be something we’re excited about and we think we can help them succeed. If we don’t think we can help you, then we shouldn’t let you in. You should go someplace else where you can get the help that you deserve to be able to be successful.
Our model is we want to start with 1, 2 person team startup, and we want to be with them as they grow. Probably the biggest that we can manage them is when they’re 6 to 8 people. At that point, we’re going to kick them out.
Why is Prototype Prime a good place for a first-time entrepreneur vs. their home?
The thing that you’re trading off there is the serendipity that happens. The opportunities when you’re standing waiting for the coffee to be made and you start talking to somebody that you never talked to before and discover that there is an opportunity to either partner or they know somebody that can help you, or you know somebody that wants to buy their product or service. That’s the thing that happens in a space like this. That’s the thing that happens in actually every single space that we’ve got here around town. That serendipity is key to making a vibrant community. That’s not going to happen in your basement, but for some people being in the basement is a better solution and that’s fine.
We’ve got 2 law firms, Troutman Sanders and Foley & Lardner. They’re going to be taking one of the offices here. They’re going to actually be offering a package of services to the startups that we’ve got here. Up to $25,000, it’s basically a line of credit. It alleviates that pain that happens early on that keeps somebody from saying, “I can’t start a company because of this reason or that reason.” We’re trying to remove as many barriers as possible for somebody that might start a company. That’s one. We’ve got an accounting firm coming onboard too.
What are your hopes for Prototype Prime?
Longevity. That is one of the things that we look for. We want teams that are going to have a longevity. They’re going to be around for a long time. I think the biggest gift that we can give them is by building something that is around for a long, long time. Even if our names are not associated with it, 84 years from now. At least it’s the effort and the work that we’ve done was the foundation for that to come to fruition. Being a non-profit, that’s a part of it, but also building up funds and an endowment that makes sure this lives for a long time after that. That’s why getting BMW Foundation on board was an important thing and we’re going to be approaching other folks as well.
Interested in onboarding with this Peachtree Corners’ incubator? Head this way to apply.