Tech Center: Atlanta’s Southern Charmed Tech Industry Heats Up

Atlanta, Georgia, is so much more than just another southern city to pick up sweet tea and politely “bless someone’s heart.”

Home to companies like CNN and Coca Cola, Atlanta has made a name for itself in a variety of industries. Some may also know Atlanta for its hip hop music scene, as it’s home to artists like Lil’ Jon, Jermaine Dupri and Ludacris.

As Atlanta continues to expand, so do the businesses that flock to the area or choose it as a starting point for their tech startup. Since 2010, Atlanta’s total amount of tech jobs has increased by 46.7 percent, and Forbes ranks it at number three on its list of the next tech meccas. In this week’s Tech Center tracker, Gururaj Rao, CEO of nuVizz, a logistics tracking and supply chain management software company, spoke with PYMNTS about how Atlanta is shaping up to be the next hot tech center.

Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Atlanta and its tech scene:

  • Atlanta’s population is 463,878
  • GDP of Atlanta is $339.2 billion (2015)
  • Atlanta’s medium household income is $47,527 (2015)
  • Atlanta has more than 1,100 startups
  • 30 startup companies have been founded in Atlanta since January 2017
  • Total Atlanta company fundings raised in the last 12 months is $1,375,867,101

Here is an excerpt of the conversation:

PYMNTS: Can you describe your personal and/or professional experience with the tech community in Atlanta?

GR: In the last 20 years, I have seen Atlanta consolidate its position as a hub for some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world, while setting itself up as a center of [the] startup ecosystem. The combination of old school business expertise combined with … [an] innovative startup community makes Atlanta a unique place.

PYMNTS: What do you think makes Atlanta (or Georgia as a whole) an attractive location for both entrepreneurs and investors? Is there anything people may find surprising about operating a business there?

GR: For entrepreneurs, Georgia provides a wealth of expertise in a number of industry verticals, such as logistics, FinTech and healthcare IT. The affordability of resources and cost of doing business is definitely a huge plus for companies. One unique aspect of startups in Georgia is that a number of them are started by industry veterans who have [learned] the ropes working with some of the most admired companies, and most of them are built on sound business principles … not merely chasing the elusive unicorn success. It makes these companies very attractive to the investment community.

PYMNTS: What are some of the challenges facing startups in Atlanta? Are there any initiatives to help address those barriers?

GR: Atlanta has grown into a vibrant city from a sleeping and mainly suburban metro. But, as the startup ecosystem started to blossom, the supporting infrastructure has failed to keep up with it. Real estate and transportation are two key areas of concern. The region also needs better ways to attract new talent and investment.

PYMNTS: How has Atlanta’s startup changed in recent years, and what do you think has sparked this transformation?

GR: The transformation in Atlanta’s startup ecosystem can be attributed to:

  • Some of the [largest] and most innovative companies with roots in Atlanta and Georgia
  • The talent pool that supports the innovative entrepreneurs to make it happen
  • A thriving startup support ecosystem like ATDC, Tech Village, etc.
  • And the angel investment community that is getting active in the local investment scene

PYMNTS: Which sectors of the technology landscape are thriving in Atlanta? How do you see these industries evolving in the coming years?

GR: Atlanta is becoming a major hub for startups in all verticals. But some of the dominant sectors are logistics, FinTech and healthcare. Atlanta has a unique advantage in these sectors, as the ecosystem is supported by a number of leading companies with abundance of expertise. The entrepreneurs are well supported by not only technology talent but also a much-needed business expertise to build a successful company.