The Atlanta Tech Village is off to an unbelievable start. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, which I believe indicates a huge demand for more connection and more community for startups, investors, and tech companies in Atlanta and the South.
One example is that on Saturday morning, we shared that we would be opening up the first 20 memberships on Monday morning at 10:30, but when they were all gone by Sunday afternoon, we had to decide to overflow into more empty space and keep the train rolling.
It’s exhilarating to be at the connection point for all these groups that want to be around each other. It feels as though Atlanta as a major tech hub for the U.S. has been sparking along trying to get some serious traction and we are about to pour gasoline on it!
Some of my observations so far:
- While we went into this project thinking we are going to be the guys who revolutionize coworking and office space utilization, we are finding that changing office space isn’t the primary need; the need is for people to be around each other. We thought that demand would be somewhat low until the renovation made the building one of the coolest, sexiest places in Atlanta; but people are literally showing up saying they will sit on the floor in 1980’s law-firm-style office space if they can be sitting on the floor next to the right people. Incredible!
- Not everybody gets it. We are seeing exactly why government sponsored programs for startups don’t get most people very excited. People who don’t line up with our (very) entrepreneurial Core Values stand out immediately. Some of these have been candidates to be in the building and property management functions of the Village and others have been interested in joining. Brad Feld, and any one else out there talking about successful startup communities have been saying, and add me to the list: startup communities must be led by entrepreneurs.
- Real-estate is fun, and everything is a compromise. One successful CRE entrepreneur gave us some advice as we embarked on this project. He said, “a development like this is a journey. It will be a challenge, but look at is as a journey rather than something that has to get finished and you will enjoy it a lot more.” Yeah, so our normal AGILE approach to building things like web apps doesn’t work in a 100,000sf urban office building renovation. It’s going to go slow and there are tradeoffs every step of the way. Speed for quality, creative overhaul for inconveniences during construction, and money for… well, money for everything.
If you’re in Atlanta, come join the ride or take a look. If not, I hope you’ll indulge me on the topic while I share the excitement of the gasoline being poured onto the fire.