Flipping through Twitter today, I saw that Jen Bonnett, the GM of ATDC, is leaving the incubator to take over economic development for the city of Savannah. Wow! I hear the water got a little deeper in Savannah as well so they can bring in more bigger ships, too. That means some serious economic opportunity. Congratulations, Jen! That’s a big change. Jen has been at ATDC since 2011, during which time there have been more than a handful of GMs there at ATDC. But that’s the nature of startups. Most fail, some survive, a few win. And the ecosystem is messy. Startups mean change, and change means opportunity.
The West is Moving South
How many times have you heard lately that a company is relocating its HQ to Atlanta or that software developers are tired of sharing a 2/1 bungalow in Silicon Valley with 10 of their closest friends just so they can eat?? Commercial and residential rent is expensive in SV. It’s way, way cheaper here in Atlanta. Businesses big and small are taking advantage of that savings. While many are choosing Atlanta, some are choosing smaller markets. Change means opportunity.
Georgia Tech or Auburn?
One of those smaller – much smaller – markets is Auburn, AL. Did you know Apple CEO Tim Cook is an Auburn Engineering Grad? Auburn is smaller than Georgia Tech, and a few years behind GT in its startup ecosystem. And, by “a few”, I mean a lot. But because the world is being eaten by software, anyone can create a startup anywhere. Auburn has a great engineering school and a great business school, and they are eyeing their more experienced neighbor to the northeast to learn how to build something similar to ATDC.
Full disclosure, I serve as a part time EIR for Auburn’s Harbert College of Management. Harbert is a solid school with great vision for creating and building a startup ecosystem as powerful as that of GA Tech, even in the small town of Auburn, population 63,118. We’ll be coaching and mentoring a handful of AU startups in customer discovery, Pitch Practice, basic financials, and the realities of being a startup entrepreneur.
Change means opportunity
Can they do it? Can an Auburn grad lead the world’s most valuable brand? A great startup ecosystem can bring big change, and change means opportunity.