It Takes a Village…an Atlanta Technology Village

While in Atlanta on business, I went to the Student+Tech Entrepreneur Mixer last night at the Atlanta Technology Village. The Village has only been open a few months, and it’s already humming. Boy, I sure wish this had existed when I lived in Atlanta and was just starting my business. Being an entrepreneur, especially back then, pre-Web, was a very lonely pursuit. I left Accenture and went out on my own before it was fashionable. There were plenty of other entrepreneurs, but none of us knew who the others were.  There was no one to commiserate with. No one to celebrate with. No one to compare notes with. No one to answer, “No” when I was asking myself, “Is it me? Is it just me? Am I just an idiot, or is this typical?” Signing a lease for office space was more daunting and financially risky than buying a house. Managing employees and trying to drum up business were daily exercises in self-doubt. As one business owner on a conference panel once put it, “No adult bangs their head on the desk and cries more than an entrepreneur.”

In fact, it wasn’t really until years later when I got involved with the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) at Stanford University and immersed in the entrepreneurship education community there that I came to realize just how normal my experiences had been. Everything I had gone through had been completely typical. It is impossible to overstate how reassuring it would have been to know that while it was happening.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone these days, because there is such a fabulous ecosystem of resources, gathering places and communities. Thanks to the Internet, it’s now easy to find a plethora of resources, organizations, and events. On the work environment front, options range from incubators like the Plug and Play Tech Center to the trend of startup founders rooming together. (Also enjoy this article, “How to Find Awesome Startup Roommates,” by Jason Shen. As a side note, he and his buddy Kalvin Wang happened to meet during our first Stanford Global Innovation Tournament and turned the winning project into a social venture, Gumball Capital. That is a whole other {very inspiring} story…But I digress…)

Atlanta Technology Village image

Atlanta Technology Village Source:

What I love about the Atlanta Technology Village is that it’s the best of both worlds. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs fighting the same daily battles as you? Check. Affordable month-to-month office space you can scale up or down, starting with part-time use of a desk? Check. All the perks of an established tech company office environment, including free snacks, coffee, and game room? Check. A sense of community? Check. And the list goes on.

The best part is that it’s not just for startups. The Village is the whole building. The plan is to accommodate companies throughout their growth until they become so big they need their own building. This is a first in Atlanta. I haven’t researched it, but I’m sure the model exists elsewhere. Let’s hope so. It’s a terrific one.

Atlanta Technology Village building

It’s the Whole Building

They gave our group of about 50 a tour of the Village, and everyone in the room over 21 was saying, “Man, I wish something like this had been around when…”

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