The past five years have given way to a brand new meaning for the word “social”- what used to be spring socials and social mixers have now turned into social media and social influence. Add to that 40 sessions, 100 speakers from globally-renowned brands, and a hotel filled with minds eager to learn and you’ve got The Social Shake-Up 2015.
The Social Shake-Up, hosted by Social Media Today, was a three day conference designed to uncover every social aspect of different organizations. A couple of highlights included “Marketing in the Participation Age,” touched on by Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter, and “Selfies, Sharing and Smart Social: How Coca-Cola Keeps Millennials Buzzing,” from Julie Goodwyn, Senior Activation Manager at Coca-Cola. However, since we’re in the business of startups, we took a front row seat at “Look out, Silicon Valley: Atlanta’s Startup Scene is Hot, Hot, Hot!” hosted by digital public relations agency AR|PR and paneled by Hull.io’s Stefan Koening, BIP Capital’s Jamie Hamilton and Insightpool’s Devon Wijesinghe.
Anna Ruth Williams (AR|PR) began the event by asking the panel how they saw Atlanta’s current startup environment. “For me, it’s been the experience of euphoria and fear for your life every other minute of the day. Atlanta has turned into a city for competitors, and especially now a lot of repeat entrepreneurs, which is crazy,” explained Devon. “Serial entrepreneurs are a lot like serial killers- they know what they’re doing is crazy but it doesn’t matter to them. It’s an attitude you have to have for startups.” For Jamie, Atlanta has been so successful because of the mix of competition and collaboration. “We live in an entrepreneur-friendly city, and that’s rare to find. Venture capitalists are working together on deals for clients, and with those funds increasing we’re seeing the competition increasing as well. Atlanta is becoming a go-to destination for young tech minds.”
Next, a question was asked about the decision process to choose Atlanta over another location. Stefan, who just named Atlanta as the home of his second office (he is from Paris), explained, “first, my company would have been 45% more expensive in Boston, and 70% more expensive in New York. From the get-go, that’s already a barrier for a startup because every penny counts. Second, there is so much new and raw talent in Atlanta, which is great when you’re looking to expand and don’t want to pay for someone to move across the country. But everyone knows that the talent is coming from this city, so it’s definitely getting more dog-eat-dog to snag potential employees.”
Could Atlanta become the next Silicon Valley? “Maybe,” answered Devon. “In tech, it’s kill or be killed, and I’m not sure we’re there yet. We have southern roots, and that’s something I admire, but you also ought to be willing to go to war against your competition if you need to. It has to be all about the win at some point, Atlanta needs to be all about the win.”
We all pride ourselves on living in a city where people hold doors open for you and where “y’all” is the most used word in everyone’s vocabulary, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be tough, too.
[Photo Credit: The Umbrella Syndicate]