As the Venture Atlanta 2022 Headline Sponsors, we conducted a Tech Survey of attendees focused on the future direction of the tech community in Atlanta and the Southeast. The Tech Survey results highlight six key VA takeaways -- providing guidance for our tech directional compass next year.
1. Tech Talent Remains a Key for Growing Tech Companies – and More Talent is Now Available. Recent tech layoffs have increased the talent pool, and for the first time in memory there is a surplus of talent. Also, many California companies are jettisoning employees who may be moving back home to the East Coast.
2. We Need More Angel Funding. For Southeastern entrepreneurs, finding angel money remains a serious problem. Often, early stage companies have to prove their product-market fit by securing referenceable pilot customers. Until the economy turns around, this problem is likely to persist.
3. Valuations are Lower – and VC Funds are Still Active. Venture investors generally have money and are trying to deploy it. VCs are in the business of “selling” money and are unlikely to shut down just because of a bad economy. To the contrary, many funds view this as a buying opportunity with deals more in line with realistic valuation metrics.
4. Increased Coordination among “Tech” Cities in the Region is Important to Attract Funding. Despite the commonalities among cities in the Southeast, there is little coordination and virtually no common effort to attract investors to the area as a unified region. Several investors have viewed our region as a treasure trove of opportunity with bootstrapped, fast growing tech companies. It may be time to coordinate the region’s message to attract more funding.
5. Brand Awareness is Critical to Promoting our Tech Community. Atlanta and the Southeast need to embark on an active branding campaign to promote tech investment and migration to our cities and region. We need to establish a consistent drumbeat of our tech successes and a coordinated branding campaign to attract talent and funding to the region.
6. VCs Need to be Focused on Industry/Market Specialization and Building Personal Relationships with Founders – The Survey revealed our entrepreneurs are looking for more than money -- they want investors with specialized industry knowledge and contacts with prospective customers and strategic partners. For the founders in our region (especially ones with profitable, growing tech companies), personal rapport with the investor is critical.
In the final analysis, our Tech Survey revealed these important facts:
(1) Venture Atlanta 2022 has become the premier venture conference on the East Coast
(2) Atlanta is the capital of the region and epicenter of tech growth in the region
(3) Our region’s growing tech talent, Fortune 100 headquarters, and business friendly environment bode well for another successful venture Atlanta in 2023.
John Yates -- Morris Manning Martin
Nick Foreste -- Morris Manning Martin
Michael Valerio – Cherry Bekaert
Drew Graves – ExtensisHR
JC Boyanton – Truist Bank