As Atlanta continues to gain momentum as a technology startup hub, there also continue to be growing pains. It’s still tough to see a startup with a great team and tons of promise fade into nothing or individual entrepreneurs check out of the startup world and head into corporate America, but that’s part of it and always be.
But I think the hardest part of being an (almost native) Atlantan and being so immersed in the tech startup community is seeing a fantastic startup find its way and get real traction and see real success…and leave for Silicon Valley.
Such is the case with NewStory. I got to know Brett and Matthew months before they started NewStory, was an instant fan when they launched at Startup Village, and was probably just as excited as they were when they told me they had been accepted into YCombinator (only the 3rd Atlanta startup to do so). NewStory is indeed a great story that I believe will continue to disrupt the nonprofit sector worldwide, after building 100 homes in 100 days to bring a new story to 100+ formerly homeless families in Haiti. Simply amazing.
But now that they’ve completed their YC journey, and rung the bell to open the NASDAQ as a form of celebration, they’re staying in Silicon Valley. Good for them. I remain a huge fan of Brett, Matthew, and that entire organization and everyone that gets involved to help them do what they are going to do. It’s Atlanta’s loss, and we will be the worse for it.
But as I said earlier, that’s part of growing into a top 10 or top 5 startup community. Brad Feld told us a year or so ago on the Skype chat with Kyle Porter at ATV: “it’s messy.” So, we’ll lose some of these great startups.
But we’ll also gain some. I had the opportunity to have a cup of Octane with one of those that we’ve gained. Dave Brinkman, co-founder of Assuresign, had just slept in his own bed for the first time in many, many days as he laid out the story of Assuresign for me.
Assuresign is a direct competitor to Docusign, among others, but they found their niche in the telecom industry, for which they built a “verbal signature” product so you and I could sign up for a new phone over the phone. As he and his co-founder built the original company – 3PV – up into nearly 100 people, they started seeing the signs that Orlando was not really the best place to build what is essentially a fintech company, with a very strong presence in and tool set for the health IT, telecom, insurance, and public sector marketplaces.
[Tweet “”We were immediately plugged in when we arrived at ATV””]
Dave’s VP of Sales, Larry Torri, had already made the move up to Atlanta, and slowly but surely brought Dave into the light of everything Atlanta has to offer. “We were immediately plugged in when we arrived at ATV,” Dave told me. Now, after outsourcing their call center, moving two data centers completely into the Azure cloud, and slimming down the operation, Assuresign is firmly based in Atlanta and ready to scale.
Assuresign has traction, the one thing that Atlanta investors seek more than anything aside from a great team, in their 250 enterprise customers on 5 continents who process 250,000 transactions (signatures) every month. Dave expanded on that thought: “We looked at what Salesloft is doing with the SDR and predictable revenue model, and we knew that’s what we wanted to build.”
Proximity to that model and the talent pool in Atlanta, as well as the instant plugging-in at the Village made their decision to move to Atlanta very clear. Unlike many startups – including Docusign, who has raised more than $500 million to date – Assuresign isn’t just all about raising that next round. They’re running in the black, and are only considering raising money if they can’t scale organically. Right now, Assuresign is looking for great sales talent so they can begin that SDR/Predictable revenue model foundation in preparation to scale.
I remain a huge fan of NewStory, and I hope they can make a great return to Atlanta, but I am also a new fan of Assuresign and their potential to be a serious competitor to the likes of Docusign. That’s a win for Atlanta.