After a four-month search across the country, Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) has named a new director in John Avery. The serial entrepreneur most recently served as an engineering manager at the Panasonic Innovation Center, as well as a mentor at the ATDC.
Before his six years with Panasonic, Avery had a long startup career. In his first company, wireless device software maker Convergence Corp., he served as CTO until an acquisition by Amazon in 1999. After working at Amazon for a few years, he joined an early-stage mobile and messaging solutions company which went on to be acquired for $15 million.
He also owns Onboard Now, which develops software for embedded devices.
“I do think my split career in both startups and large companies gives me a unique perspective,” Avery tells Hypepotamus in an email interview. “Creating something from nothing is hard! Founders carry a huge weight and need lots of support. Having felt that personally I have a desire to reach out and support those going through it.”
Avery is joining ATDC during a period of growth for both the incubator and the state’s startup activity. The state-sponsored incubator, one of the oldest in the country, now has a staff of 26 with outposts in Savannah, Athens, Peachtree Corners, Alpharetta and Augusta.
In the last few years, under the leadership of former Director Jen Bonnett, the incubator launched several industry-specific programs to serve founders, including fintech and healthtech. They also began a week-long Venture Roadshow to bring high-potential Georgia-based startups for investor meetings in venture capital hubs like New York, Silicon Valley and Boston.
“While there are a growing number of startup incubators and accelerators these days, I feel like ATDC is uniquely positioned (because of its public funding and association with Georgia Tech) to support new companies focused on the more difficult and important problems facing our world,” Avery says. He plans to “continue supporting the current people and activities at ATDC,” including all of the above programs.
ATDC current portfolio startups raised $56 million in funding in the first half of this year, slightly above 2017 figures and more than three times the amount raised in the same period of 2016.
“It’s unbelievable to me what has happened around Midtown in the last 5 years,” says Avery. “I don’t think people realize how dramatically the environment here has grown in that time. And it still feels like just the beginning.”
“My external goal will be to position ATDC as a strong supporter of this larger environment by growing lines of communications with all parties. But my internal goal is simply to love founders, to surround them with all the support they need to be successful.”
Avery will officially begin his work as Director tomorrow, November 6.