Last night at the end of the work day I walked down the hall at Atlanta Tech Village to a The Founder Instituteinfo session. I did it primarily because I wanted to hear what The Founder Institute was all about.
It's good stuff. The Founder Institute rightly positions itself somewhere between Startup Weekend and tech accelerators such as Atlanta Ventures and Flashpoint. The group is set up to help gainfully employed thirty or forty something corporate director/VP types that have an itch to strike out on their own.
They take the folks that are accepted into the program, charge them about $900, and put them through a rigorous curriculum. A curriculum that gets them to the point of either stopping or to graduation. In order to graduate a founder needs their concept validated by program mentors, a business plan of some sort, work done toward a funding event, incorporate a company, and complete all the program assignments. Basically get them in a position to quit their day job.
During the meeting I was asked my thoughts on the program by an entrepreneur. My honest assessment is that their positioning is spot on and if someone has not started a company before this program seems to have the expertise and rigor to increase the odds of success.
If you have an interest you can apply here. The initial application can be completed in less than 30 minutes.
Last night I braved the weather and traffic to attend the GigaOm Mobility Meetup at Opera (partially owned by tech entreprenuer Dave Williams). Maybe about a third or so of the 600 registered attendees managed to make the event and those that decided to stay dry missed a good one.
While the show started late and I had to jet early for a rendezvous with my SO, there was some good networking and high quality discussion from the stage.
The thing about the event that stood out to me is that there were three tech startup accelerators supporting the event and in the crowd. ATDC, Atlanta Tech Village and Hypepotamus. That is about two more then you would have seen two years ago. Progress.
Atlanta has a strong mobile technology cluster and GigaOm a big focus on the sector. Despite the weather the event was a winner and I hope to see our friends from SF stay commited to the hosting a series of these events.
I was joined at the front of the room by VillageDefense which I regret to say I don't fully understand cause the demo had some technical issues; DudeRanch, a TripAdvisor for wannabe Cowboys and an interesting domainer story; Sidewalk District, which is going to need some serious UX work to to work; and Ionic Security, fresh off a $10 million Kleiner/Google Ventures round.
Mr. Cummings claims the meetup is the largest startup event in the South. Mr. Bird claims I am OG, which I think is a compliment. Regardless it is worth a trip if you want to see the new edge on the Atlanta startup scene.
Nice video from the Metro Atlanta Chamber highlighting the 2013 ATDC graduate companies and the strategic benefits of that technology hub. Great to see companies like BrightWhistle, KontrolFreek, PatientCo, and Urjanet, which I helped in some way, growing up.
While Atlanta Tech Village seems to be getting all the attention these days ATDC continues to be an important node in the Atlanta startup ecosystem. Kinda interesting that the fourth 2013 ATDC grad company, AccelerEyes, is now my neighbor at ATV.
This move came about shortly after David Cummings announced his plans for the Village. I reached out to him, told him we were about to sign a lease, and wanted to see if there were a possibility for a company of our size to get some space. The reply was "we have a perfect suite" for you. And they did.
While not a big fan of Buckhead (I have spent the vast majority of my time in Atlanta working within two miles of 14th and Peachtree in Midtown), we decided to make the move for four reasons. It was less expensive then our current cost and the Midtown options we were considering. The lease was shorter in duration. There is more flexibility if our space needs expand beyond expectations with the option to rent co-working spots and pay in advance additional offices in the building. Finally, like ATDC (which nCrowd is a little mature for) the ATV setup promotes serendipitous interactions.
The Atlanta Tech Village was a pretty easy call for me. David and his team were both flexible and easy to work with to get the deal done. To give you an example the lease was only four pages long compared to the twenty one page version that was provided by an alternative building. Our employees that have seen the space love it and are looking forward to the move.
In a short time ATV has created a second hub beyond Tech Square for technology companies to consider. Looking forward to being a part of this new community.
A little behind the times here but David Cummings seems to be the frist of the three guys I wrote about in my last post to make his next move.
David is starting Atlanta Tech Village by throwing down $12.5 million of his gain from the sale of Pardot to ExactTarget. With his investment and "mission to help grow the Atlanta startup community into one of the top 10 in the country" David is certainly setting the standard for successful technology entrpreneurs staying involved in and giving back to the technology community.
Flashpoint, Georiga Tech's accelerator program is now accepting applications for its third cohort to begin in January, 2013.
Of the 30 teams that participated in the first two Flashpoint cohorts, 28 continue to develop. The first cohort received over $8 million in follow on funding in six months. The second cohort, just finishing, already has raised more than $1.25 million in follow on funding.
If you are interested in learning more here are the Flashpoint FAQs. The deadline to apply is November 19.
While in many respects it is to soon to tell, the capstone of the program begs the question "is Flashpoint a success?" The early answer is yes.
This answer is based on my involvement in the formative stages of Flashpoint back in the second quarter of 2011. Call me a bit player but I was a member of Flashpoint's formative team. I was there when we hashed out the concept of "startup engineering", an idea of Merrick Furst's that I thought was brilliant when he first pitched it. I there when we defined winning (we actually used the word) as creating two or more fundable companies after four months. It is a real metric. So how is Flashpoint doing against it?
Flashpoint is winning. Pindrop Security recently received an investment from Sand Hill road based Andreessen Horowitz (a little cherry picking perhaps from Flashpoint's valley demo day event host). And word is, while a bit odd to be jumping from accelerator to accelerator, that two Flashpoint companies will be joining the next Y Combinator class where they are assured to get $150k in funding from Yuri Milner's and Ron Conway's Start Fund. Add in Social Fortress' executed term sheet to raise $2 million (they still have to fill out the round and that is often quite difficult), and you have between three or four companies that have become fundable. In terms of the goals of Flashpoint, that is winning.
And it is still early. The Flashpoint companies have come a long way in four months. It is going to be most interesting to see how they are received next week when they enter the land of Fred Wilson for demo day at Union Square Ventures in NYC and they week after at Andreessen Horowitz in Menlo Park.
So I have known Paul Stamatiou for nearly four years now. We met at Atlanta Startup Weekend in 2007. He pitched Skribit at that event and my thought when he did so was great idea, we can build it, not so sure about the market. The market turned out to be small.
About a year ago Paul packed up and moved West. He ended up working on a Y-Combinator startup called Notifio. That one I did not get at all.
Well earlier this summer we shut down Skribit and Paul got involved with yet another startup (seems like one of the big benefits of YC is safe landings). It went through the monster size YC class this summer. I had no idea what he was doing except working hard.
Last week I got a note from Paul. Essentially said, go take a peek at this. This was Picplum. Picplum is aiming to be the easiest way to send photo prints. Nice service and I can see how this would be a big winner with parents of young children. Those grands in faraway places really like to have prints.
Picplum is a monthly subscription service starting at $7 per month. You upload or email them photos, add a list of recipients and they automatically print and mail photos. Automatically being the key term.
Picplum has an interesting back story. They acquired the assets of previous YC company Picwing, and took over its printer relationship and initial user base. It seems that another Paul, Paul Graham, was a big fan and user of Picwing. The Picwing founders had gone off in another direction and PG was looking for someone with some passion to take it over. As I recently minted uncle Stamatiou was just the guy to do it.
The Picplum product is built fresh from the ground up. But they have a built in customer base and lots of interesting data to help them to understand the business.
PicPlum is offering a special to the readers of FoG which enables you to give the service a whirl by offering your first batch of photos free to two receipents. Here is the landing page to use the promo code.
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