As Techstars Atlanta‘s third Demo Day began to wind down, the accelerator’s current managing director, Michael Cohn, took the stage to announce his replacement as lead of the program. Scoutmob and Switchyards Downtown Club co-founder David Payne will take charge of the Cox Enterprises-sponsored accelerator through its next startup cohorts.
Cohn joined the accelerator three years ago and led the inaugural class along with then-Managing Director Tyler Scriven and current director Rachel Ford, along with two subsequent classes. This year’s group of 10 companies drew applications from 42 countries around the world.
“I could not be more excited because Dave knows the program and understands the value. He is full of founder empathy, and that’s what this role needs more than anything,” Cohn shares with Hypepotamus.
“I’m excited for the next group of founders to be able to benefit from his wisdom and insight into their company’s journey.”
Payne says that now is the right time to take a step back from his work at Switchyards, as the four-year-old business is stable with a solid team in place. “Michael Tavani and I were both thinking about what’s our next project. As I was trying to figure out what’s next, Pat from Saige, one of the Techstars Atlanta alumni, let me know that Michael Cohn was leaving and I should consider it,” Payne told Hypepotamus following the on-stage announcement.
“Switchyards was an opportunity to work with founders in Atlanta, working on B2C, and this is going to be a bigger platform with different industries all over the Southeast. I’m excited to be an investor in these companies,” says Payne.
During the demo day program, Cohn also shared that four companies from the 2018 program will be moving their headquarters to Atlanta: Chattanooga’s Motivo, Charleston’s Case Status, and Cincinnati’s SAWA, and Israel’s Fixel. Two other companies, Cemento and CaribShopper, will keep some staff in Atlanta as well.
Payne hopes to continue this trend as he takes the reins of upcoming accelerator programs. “The goal of the program has always been to get the startups to come here and stay here. That’s worked out really well over the last couple of years and I’m definitely going to continue that as a goal,” says Payne.
“Even though I’ve been working on B2C for the last decade, I’m looking forward to broadening that to more industries and working closer with startups.”