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ATDC Spreads Footprint to Mold Entrepreneurs Across the State

by Muriel Vega

You’ve heard us talk about all the success stories that come out of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) for the past 35+ years — the program’s over 170 graduates (Emrgy, GROUNDFLOOR, and Luma to name a few) have collectively raised more than $2 billion in capital. While we often hear about ATDC’s contribution to Atlanta, the top technology incubator also makes its mark in cities throughout the state of Georgia.

“We’ve been working really hard over the last two years to expand our programming and be able to think about: how do you help technology entrepreneurs wherever those technology entrepreneurs chose to live, work, and grow their businesses,” says Jennifer Bonnett, ATDC’s general manager.

The incubator offers their startup growth curriculum in their Atlanta campus for a small fee (free to Georgia students). Classes start every other Tuesday (unlike most programs that start cohorts on a longer-term basis) as ATDC “wants to give as many people possible a path forward.”

But what you may not have realized is that ATDC is not just helping entrepreneurs out of its Georgia Tech HQ. Their Atlanta footprint goes far beyond that, stretching across the city to a program in Downtown Atlanta’s Flatiron City and Peachtree Corners’ Prototype Prime.

“They say 90 percent of all entrepreneurs fail in the first five years,” says Bonnett. “Hopefully we’re helping them fail fast through our customer discovery process and curriculum so that they can understand whether or not they should truly spend the next five to 10 years of their life building this product and company.”

Beyond the city’s borders, ATDC has a presence in Savannah where it tests programs aimed at local startups in smaller cities. “To see if we can jump start entrepreneurship as a economical development tool for those cities,” says Bonnett. One of those programs is Startup Bootcamp, a 12-week program based on the lean startup model offered to Savannah area tech founders and product-based startups looking to learn more about validating and launching their product.

Most recently, ATDC also launched programs in Athens and Augusta with the help of grants and support from local universities, University of Georgia and Augusta University. Local entrepreneurs were encouraged to stop by ATDC’s social and educational events to gauge their interests and see what programs would work.

It’s all about community building, says Bonnett. “Every community is slightly different and we have to go at the pace that they want to go at. They set the pace and we see how we can help them and make sure we have the right partners.”

The ATDC-led 8-week Idea Accelerator bootcamp in Athens will kick off again this month and Augusta’s first startup bootcamp begins February 13. The core curriculum includes the same topics being taught in Midtown Atlanta every day, from customer discovery, creating a successful pitch and financial literacy to basic marketing and sales training. The programs also encourage support and a sense of community among the entrepreneurs.

“Somebody might be three steps ahead of you, somebody might be three steps behind you, but you all learn from each other,” says Bonnett. “They see each other’s mistakes and they celebrate each other’s successes — building a stronger community in those cities.”

Check out more details on ATDC’s upcoming programs, including workshops and speaker series. 

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