You may or may not know that I’ve just graduated from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. If you’re wondering if it’s hot, yes it is. One of my classmate, Yaniv (who’s great!), posted this blog link on the problems with the Atlanta start-up community (and how to fix it!). Well, I couldn’t help but reply with the below comment to the blog. I come from the start-up world in Boston (another interesting article on the CIC in Cambridge, where the first two start-ups I was part of were housed… and a specific shout out to Nabeel at Conduit!) and I was heavily involved in the Entrepreneurship community at Emory, which had significant contact with the Atlanta community of Entrepreneurs and Investors, so i feel pretty strongly about the topic. I could easily write more than the below, but at least it’s a start:
I’ve just graduated from the Emory MBA program, and you’re right, more of my classmates should be clamoring to get jobs in the start-up community, but part of that situation is getting administration to realize the importance of entrepreneurship. I took a very active part in starting (back) up the Entrepreneurship Club, and was a teacher’s assistant in multiple entre. classes. One of the major pushers for increased traction in that arena is local serial entrepreneur/investor Charlies Goetz, who pretty much teaches all of the MBA-level Entrepreneurship classes at that school and gets students excited about it. And a lot of us are. But it take more than one professor. When the Dean of the school and the Career Center are more concerned about placing people in more “visible” companies (read: safe and guaranteed visibility), they won’t put any effort into pushing entre. programs. So that’s another thing that local entrepreneurship and investors can do, is reach out to those communities that can offer prime talent (we tried to do a LOT of work to get y’all in there, and for the most part, I think we accomplished a lot, but it’s got to keep going and growing!). I can name a handful of classmates who went into start-ups after graduation, but it’s still an area that students are exploring, and most go back into big corporations. They need more than job postings from local start-ups (which takes no more than an email to the career center). They need convincing, encouragement and more entre/investor presence around.
Another opportunity I see: I’ve just started up my own business consulting group, and we focus primarily on marketing strategy, but definitely offer overall business strategy and consulting (I must admit, it’s located in Boston, where I’m from). After experiencing the Atlanta entre/investor community, I walked away feeling that investors were, as you highlighted, timid, and that perhaps collaboration could be useful. I don’t mean combining funds. I mean making partnerships between Entrepreneurs, consultants and funders to make the most successful business out there. I’m currently trying to reach out to investors both in Boston and Atlanta to see if some sort of partnership can be achieved, one where the start-ups get the business side up-to-par (let’s be honest, a lot of start-ups have great ideas or products, but sometimes lack on the business side) to a point where the investors start getting more confident in the company. If people tried to work together on this problem, Atlanta could really move forward. It’s the fastest growing major city in the US right now, and that means HUGE opportunity.
I could write a TON more right now, but your post really hit the nail on the head, and someone needed to say it.
I wish you luck in the Valley!