This year will see the ten-year anniversary of Venture Atlanta, the largest investor conference in the Southeast and a part of the history of some of the most iconic Atlanta names: from Silverpop to Kabbage to Parkmobile. Both B2B and B2C Atlanta successes have taken the Venture stage to pitch to investors and scale their growth.
Along the way, Venture Atlanta has helped companies raise just under $1.8 billion and alumni have seen $14 billion in exits. The list of founders that have taken the Venture stage read as a veritable Who’s Who in the circles of the Atlanta tech community — many of whom are still building companies, serving as advisors, or moving over to the investor side, but still remain involved in the newly-launched Alumni Advisory Board.
Here, Hype takes a look back at the last decade of tech in Atlanta. We’ve come quite a ways!
- The Atlanta CEO Council’s Ion Venture Forum becomes the Venture Atlanta conference as technology leaders come together with a shared vision to create the premier Venture conference in the southeast. Original leaders of Venture Atlanta included Allen Moseley of Noro-Moseley Partners, Tino Mantella, David Hartnett of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, John Yates of Morris, Manning & Martin, Ashish Mistry of BLH Partners; and Palaniswamy “Raj” Rajan of the Atlanta CEO Council.
- The Metro Atlanta Chamber announces the goal to recruit more technology companies to Georgia and Venture Atlanta holds its first event featuring 20 companies and 400 attendees; 20 funds are in the room.
- Kasim Reed is elected Mayor of Atlanta and proves throughout his tenure to be highly supportive of innovation and the Atlanta technology scene.
- StrongboxWest opens its doors in West Midtown to provide space for entrepreneurs; it remains the city’s longest-running and largest independent co-working space.
- Forbes names The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech to its list of “Incubators Changing the World.”
- Venture Atlanta splits its showcase into two – early stage and venture spotlight for later-stage companies, thus doubling the number of companies showcased. Attendees surpass 500 for the first time.
- Serial entrepreneur David Cummings opens the 103,000 square-foot entrepreneur hub Atlanta Tech Village after his company, Pardot, sells to Exact Target for $95 million.
- Flashpoint@GeorgiaTech sees its first accelerator batch.
- Panasonic Automotive Systems Company opens an innovation center in the Centergy Building of Tech Square.
- AT&T Foundry Innovation Center opens in Tech Square to serve as a launching pad for companies that want to quickly get to market.
- Venture Atlanta grows to 75 funds and 725 attendees.
- IBM acquires Silverpop for about $300 million.
- Techsquare Labs announces opening of its 15,000 square-foot center in Midtown; they grow to become a Google for Entrepreneurs Center, $25 million fund, and incubator.
- Switchyards Downtown Club, B2C tech startup hub, is started by Scoutmob co-founders and startup advisors Michael Tavani and Dave Payne.
- Tech Square named “Outstanding Research Park” by the Association of University Research Parks.
- Coca Cola launches The Bridge commercialization program to connect select startups with major global corporations and executives.
- Venture Atlanta sells out and sees a standing-room-only crowd for the closing keynote by successful inventor and entrepreneur, Lori Greiner, The Warm Blooded Shark of Sharktank fame. The conference expands its reach and adds a Southeast spotlight and for the first time features growth stage companies from Southern states including Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida (though the majority of the featured companies still come from Georgia).
- Cloud Sherpas is sold to Accenture for around $400 million.
- Clearleap becomes the second Venture alum acquired by IBM and becomes IBM Cloud Video.
- International accelerator TechStars launches in Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises, with Cloud Sherpas co-founder and Venture Atlanta alum Michael Cohn at the helm.
- The Southern Company Energy Innovation Center opens and Delta Air Lines Innovation Center is announced.
- Worldpay FinTech Accelerator at ATDC launches.
- Venture Atlanta partners with TechStars for conference kick off and moves the venue to the College Football Hall of Fame. Atlassian’s Jay Simons delivers the keynote. The conference hosted 120+ funds, representing its widest range of national venture capitalists, along with almost 900 attendees.
- Georgia Tech announces the $375 million Coda project, a 750,000-square-foot, mixed-use building that will expand Tech Square.
- Venture Atlanta alum Rubicon is named Next-Billion Dollar Startup by Forbes.
- Alpharetta is named Technology City of the South by Inc. Magazine.
- Atlanta Tech Village becomes the 4th largest tech hub in the country.
So what next for Venture Atlanta? In its anniversary year and as they look toward their biggest event yet, Venture Atlanta launched a brand new website this week.
Along with making a strong commitment to alumni engagement, the conference has also forged partnerships with TieCon Southeast, female entrepreneur bootcamp Launchpad 2x, young adult education resource Year Up and the TAG Diversity Council to develop a diversity initiative — acknowledging the fact that it is significantly more difficult for women and diverse founders to receive funding.
The conference will continue providing a robust set of resources for entrepreneurs accepted to pitch in front of the 120 funds in the room — each entrepreneur is matched with dedicated coaches for 3 rounds of coaching on their pitch, presentation, and business plan. Applications are open through August 4th.
As the tech scene in Atlanta continues to rack up accolades across the country, there’s no doubt that Venture Atlanta has — and will continue — to play an important part in the Atlanta tech scene and beyond.