I attended my first #ATLSV in April of 2013, back when it was on the 5th floor of the gutted ATV building and Jon Birdsong presided over serving free pizza to 250 of his closest friends. A lot has changed in 18+ months, mainly that each month the event seems to get more popular. Last night’s event was no exception. Standing room only. Empty beer kegs. Six great pitches. Lots of great questions from the audience. And a LIVE stream so other startups can watch from the comforts of home or work.
Here’s why I think this event is so attractive to the Atlanta tech startup community.
- Free beer. OK, I’m biased here, because I enjoy serving said free beer and meeting most of the people who come through the door, but seriously, who can turn down free beer? It’s free.
- Free event. The lack of friction to attend events like this is under appreciated. When I’m serving the beer, every month I get people pulling out their wallets ready to pay for the beer, and asking if they pay to get into the event at this table. These noobs are always surprised when they learn that the event – and the beer! – is free.
- Free parking. If you get there early enough, true. When the “parking scandal” hit ATV, there was much groaning and gnashing of teeth, but that has subsided, because you have to pay for parking in any big city. The fact that, if you get to ATV after 5pm to attend ATLSV, you park free in the ATV parking deck is very important.
- The unknown startup. The community has come to understand that Birdsong is going to curate great startups to present, and those startups are doing really cool stuff. People have an innate desire to see what the latest cool stuff is, and how new, small companies are solving big problems. Startups are often underdogs, and everyone loves the underdog.
- Networking. You never know who you’re going to meet at an event with 400+ people drinking free beer. Last night, I met someone that I went to high school with, back before there were cell phones. A few minutes later, I met someone that was in a Bible study with me 10 years ago, back before there were iPhones.
- Supply & Demand. You go to the restaurant that’s absolutely packed, not the one with an empty parking lot, because your perception is that the one that’s packed is packed for a reason. In this case, the perception is accurate. ATLSV is a superb event.
- Timing. Once a month is a great pace for this event. Not nearly as many people would come if it were every week, and the same would apply if it were once a quarter. Once a month is predictable, memorable, and regular enough to keep your attention, but far enough in between each event to make the audience want to come back next time and look forward to it.
- Simple. Birdsong & Co. have done an exceptional job at doing absolutely nothing to mess this event up. It’s so simple. Show up, drink beer, meet people, and learn about 5 (or six last night!) startups doing great things in Atlanta. That’s it. For the presenters, bring your product pitch, and tell us what you’re doing, what you’ve been through, and what you need. Answer questions honestly and humorously, and you’ll always get a good response.
There you have it, eight solid reasons why Atlanta Startup Village is such a great event. I’m sure there are other reasons that you can think of, but these 8 are why I’ve only missed one ATLSV since April 2013. Looking forward to January!