Karen Houghton played a serious game of chutes and ladders, sliding her way from business, to sales, to nonprofits, before climbing her way to the finish as the Director of Atlanta Tech Village. Not only does Houghton have a serious heart for the startup echosystem, but she’s got brains to boot (earning a master’s degree in psychology). Hear the head honcho of the Village gush about her love for the startup community and the incredible people within it.
What’s your current role?
I am currently the Director of Atlanta Tech Village. I have the great honor of managing our incredible team, curating the startups who apply for membership, creating a positive and supportive culture, and promoting faster connections between ideas, capital, and talent to help Village startups in their quest to change the world.
When did you join the Village team?
I was the first hire for the Atlanta Tech Village team as the Community Manager in January of 2013. I started just a few weeks after David Cummings bought our 103,000 square foot building with the dream of turning it into one of the top 10 largest tech hubs in the US. I am proud to say I have been a part of the team from the beginning that has helped shape this incredible community.
What aspect of the Village do you get most excited about?
I love coming to work every day! I love the energy of our community and all of the positive, supportive, and incredibly smart people who fill it. We know how to work hard and to have a good time while doing it. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at Atlanta Tech Village and I love being a part of the startup ecosystem.
What other startup/tech projects have you worked on?
My background is pretty unique to the tech world. I have a Masters Degree in psychology. Out of grad school, I worked as business consultant that helped fund the start of a sustainable coffee company, Land of a Thousand Hills, that I helped build from the ground up. I also founded a non-profit, the Do Good Initiative, that partnered with rural communities in Rwanda and successfully built a primary school for 400 students. From there, I was referred by an investor to David Cummings at Pardot, a marketing automation startup. That was my entry to the tech world. I was a Marketing Manager at Pardot for 4 months before David sold the company and tagged me to come over to the Village. I’ve never looked back since. The move from business to sales to nonprofits to tech has given me unique experience that I am very grateful for.
What are your best technical or creative skills?
I am a relationship builder who is passionate about culture, innovation, and community. I love to write, build our social profile, and create a brand that is strong, positive, and something Atlanta can be proud of. I am also great at making and closing any type of consultative sale.
What’s next on your list to learn?
I am around some of the most incredible people in Atlanta on a daily basis and there are always things to learn from the latest in cyber securities, to the newest and latest social app, to how I can continue to improve myself as a leader and team member. I hope to learn something new every single day.