My thoughts after 1 week at Atlanta Tech Village

Since I started deductmor in December of last year, I’ve been working at home. But after visiting ATV a few times and attending a couple of events there, I decided to join up.

A little background on me: I’ve been involved in 7 startups, including deductmor, with my name on the founding papers of 5 of them.  But I’ve been out of the “startup scene” in Atlanta for a long time, since starting CWNP in 1999.  Part of my strategy for (a) finding a new business idea, (b) starting a new business, and (c) building that business, has been to connect with as many tech entrepreneurs as possible in as many ways, venues, and events as possible.

The energy, knowledge, and help that any entrepreneur needs to start a business from scratch is best found from other experienced entrepreneurs.  ATV fulfills this need in a big way.  Here are the four main values I have discovered at ATV, aside from free parking, free coffee, free snacks, and free lunch Friday:

  1. Energy – Not just from the free energy bars available in the second floor kitchenette. The energy at ATV flows from all the startups and their teams.  When I work from home, the thing I miss the most is the electric interaction from my teammates.  I don’t currently have any teammates, so I have to get that energy elsewhere.  ATV provides the proverbial water cooler, and surrounds it with high-energy new and experienced entrepreneurs who are all trying to start, grow, or run a tech business. It’s energizing just to be there and listen to what each entrepreneur is doing.
  2. Help David Cummings & Co. have made it clear that one of the principles behind how ATV will operate is “pay it forward”.  I’m also a mentor at ATDC, and I get more satisfaction from seeing the lightbulb click on in the head of the aspiring entrepreneur than anything except seeing pure, unadulterated joy on the faces of my kids.  If you need help – specific tech or application help even – you just ask anyone. If they can’t help you, they’ll point you to someone who can, and does.  You can’t get that working at home and you can’t get it in your own private office.
  3. Encouragement – similar to help, but vastly different when in its purest form, encouragement is the elixir, the juice, the balm, and the C4 explosive we all need at different stages of the startup. Any entrepreneur can tell you that, even in their 2nd or 20th venture, it’s a roller coaster ride.  There are days when you fly in and days when you have to hook your neck to a leash to drag you back in the next day because it couldn’t have gone any worse.  EVERYONE at ATV is on that roller coaster. Maybe in your car with you, maybe on a different train at a different time, but they are all there, and everyone needs encouragement to get to the next level, whatever that level is. I’ve found encouragement abounding at ATV.
  4. T-shirts – No, not an April Fools Day joke. Join ATV, get a T-shirt. I haven’t got mine yet because my first day at ATV was the day after the Atlanta Startup Village event, and apparently there was a run on t-shirts that evening.  But that’s not the t-shirt I’m referring to. I’m referring to the “been-there-done-that-got-the-t-shirt” t-shirts. Those are harder to come by, but nearly everyone at ATV has at least one.  What’s that mean? It means they have been where I am, and where you are, and more importantly, where we’re about to go in our startup adventure.  That’s the t-shirt that is very valuable.
After one week, that’s what I’ve found at ATV. What about you? What have you found at ATV? What do you need at your incubator, accelerator, co-working space, or startup office?

What do you think?