Last week, I wrote about one great startup leaving Atlanta after being part of the YC Summer 2015 cohort, and another startup with solid traction moving into Atlanta from Orlando, Florida. Today is a follow up on the one that got away: NewStory. Brett Hagler, the co-founder and CEO of NewStory, responded to last week’s post, and we agreed to do a short Q&A on their time at YC and the pros and cons of Atlanta versus Silicon Valley.
KS: How was YC?!? worth it? best part? worst part?
BH: YC was all about growth and learning. We did $600,000+ in revenue during YC which funded 100 homes. The best part was that it formed the DNA of our company. It was an incredible experience and we would encourage any startup entrepreneur to apply to YC (happy to help).
KS: Did you know you’d be staying in SV before you left ATL?
BH: No. We were not sure and promised ourselves to do what was best for the growth of New Story.
KS: Compare ATL and SV at a high level for a tech startup.
BH: SV has more great, experienced founders and more resources. This isn’t a knock on other locations, it’s just the truth when you look at what’s been accomplished here. The net of this fact is you learn more, meet more experienced/connected people, and you get more inspiration.
One thing that surprised us was how willing people are to help in SV. This is one of the main reasons why we’ve decided to stay in SV.
The cons of SV are obvious: high prices, competition for talent, thousands of other startups. However, the only con that we feel will impact us is the high prices.
In all transparency, we found SV to be more generous and helpful than ATL. Maybe that’s because we were at an earlier stage before YC, or maybe because ATL is used to more traditional charities…not sure why. For right now, we believe SV is the best place for rapid growth, elite advisors/talent, but we love Atlanta and hope to be headquartered in Atlanta down the road.
KS: What – in your now experienced opinions – does ATL really need to focus on to get up there in the top 5 tech startup cities?
BH: In SV, everyone is obsessed with learning and growing. People are perpetually curious. We’ve seen “never stop improving” mindset with more people in SV.
It felt like some of the ATL tech community plays the “we do things different than the Valley” card, but maybe that should change. The Valley has the best track record in the world, so it’d make sense to learn from the Valley and try to replicate the ecosystem in ATL.
The Angels and Seed fund capital is obviously incredibly strong in SV…so if ATL had more early stage capital, that would obviously be very helpful.
KS: Was there one silver bullet that made the decision or lots of little things?
BH: The one silver bullet was probably the YC connection and the network of prominent donors/advisors that we developed in SF.
KS: What will you miss most about Atlanta?
BH: Our friends and family, all of our early supporters, and the fall weather with college football. Oh, and the cost of apartments!
KS: What does NewStory need most?
BH: Two different levels for engagement…
(1) People to start digital fundraising campaigns for reasons such as their birthday, Christmas, getting their company team involved, or a creative way to use our platform to fundraise money that will directly change a family’s life.
(2) Investors into our operations. We have a group of private donors (both individual people and companies) that fund our ops called “The Builders”. So far, only 1 (an amazing entrepreneur and an advisor), has given to our operations. That puts us at 10% from ATL, and 90% from SV.
KS: Where will you be building homes next? Why?
BH: We will stay in Haiti, with a different existing project we’ll be announcing soon. And we’ll be announcing our next country in November. During 2016, we will be in 3 different countries.
KS: How can Atlanta still be part of the New Story?
BH: We love Atlanta and want Atlanta to play a huge role in this story. We’re from Atlanta, have relationships with ATL startup friends that we’re super grateful for, and want companies + individuals to help us build New Story.
An example of an Atlanta company is Friendly Human. They have BLOWN us away with their generosity and excellence of work. They came to Haiti with us to shoot our brand video, Daniel flew to SF to surprise me at out launch party, and they were with us in NYC when we opened the NASDAQ.
Companies could partner with us to change lives and also improve their own story. Please ping email@example.com to hear more about that opportunity.