Two years ago, the world was still reeling from the pandemic. Everything and everyone went virtual almost instantly—including Venture Atlanta. As everyone adjusted to the “new normal,” so did we, with a hybrid event last year that hosted both in-person and online attendants.
This year, it was time to move forward.
That was the theme of Venture Atlanta 2022: Forward. In the event’s 15th year running, we made our grand return to an entirely in-person conference—and it did not disappoint. Venture Atlanta 2022 saw the conference’s largest and first-ever sold-out crowd in our new, exquisite venue, The Woodruff Arts Center.
The event started off with a big news drop — Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens joined the stage to introduce the event and announce the appointment of Donald “Donnie” Beamer as the city’s new Senior Tech Advisor. He followed this up with a proclamation that Atlanta’s time is now, referencing Money magazine’s claim that Atlanta is the best place to live in America and doubling down by saying it’s actually “the best place to live in the galaxy.” Mayor Dickens then dedicated his morning to watching companies pitch, further exemplifying his commitment to tech in Atlanta.
Venture Atlanta 2022 may well have been the biggest and best Venture Atlanta yet—and many attendees agreed:
“One of the BEST investments I’ve made in years was to register for the Venture Atlanta Conference! Met so many amazing innovators, venture capital companies, and founders.”
“Over 1,300 people in attendance and amazing connections with investors and entrepreneurs. Congratulations to Allyson Eman and the team for an amazing event!”
“The conference was a huge success; by far the biggest and best yet!”
“What an awesome closing panel discussion! Maybe one of the best of all time — inspiring, classy, and hilarious.”
“What an experience! 24 meetings and am already following up with quite a few funds. Thank you to the amazing people who have introduced me to telehealth companies and other venture capital firms that have telemedicine companies in their portfolio.”
Venture Atlanta 2022 by the Numbers
- First-Ever Sold-Out Venture Atlanta Conference
- 1,300+ Attendees (most ever)
- 90+ Sponsors (most ever)
- 450+ Investors (most ever)
- 480 Applications to Pitch
- 85 Selected Companies (14 Sectors Represented)
- 42 Presenting Companies
- Over 56% From Outside of Georgia (11 Different States Represented)
- 64% Led by Diverse Founders
- 28% Led by Female Founders
Needless to say, this year was a huge step forward. This only builds upon the impact that Venture Atlanta has made in the Southeast heading into its 15th straight year. In that time, we’ve connected over 760 companies to $7.5 billion in capital and accumulated over $17 billion in successful exits.
None of this would be possible without our wonderful panelists, presenters, and investors. We feel honored to have hosted such a remarkable and diverse group of individuals and are excited to continue moving forward as we bid farewell to this year’s event. But first, check out Venture Atlanta 2022’s highlights.
Notable Moments from Venture Atlanta 2022 Speakers
The Talent Wars: How to Attract, Grow, and Retain the World’s Best Employees
Nicole North, Lightspeed Venture Partners; Peter Clarke, Accel; Melissa Taunton, NEA; Moderated By: Gabby Sirner-Cohen, Full Story
“Have an open mind. Right now, no one has the silver bullet, and huge complexity has been introduced with hybrid. Work from home allowed people with disabilities to be equally accounted for. Now, with the development of hybrid models, it’s going to be really important to not create a class structure within the hybrid model. Many people still feel more productive at home. And especially for women, that flexibility is of extreme importance. One size does not fit all.” - Melissa Taunton, Partner, NEA, on how to navigate post-pandemic work trends.
“There may be more people on the market, but they’re more discerning. Risk aversion and value creation are important to them. A big incentive for executives to come into a company is that value creation opportunity.” - Nicole North, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners, on what to focus on when hiring for executive roles.
“If you’re losing someone to compensation, it probably wasn’t the right person to begin with. A strong culture can overshadow compensation. Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Find the person that fits. As the founder, you’re the closer.” - Peter Clarke, Partner, Accel, on the importance of company culture in finding the right talent.
Creating Opportunities Through a New High-Impact Fund for Minority-Owned Businesses
Marty Flanagan, Invesco; Colin Meadows, o15 Partners
“There are over 20,000 businesses with more than $10 million in revenue led by people of color or women. Companies with diverse leadership historically have issues getting capital; many minority entrepreneurs don’t know who to call.” - Colin Meadows, Managing Partner, o15, on the reasons he launched o15 Capital Partners earlier this year.
“It’s not just about capital; it’s about putting these businesses in a position to be successful. It’s a combination of those things that is really going to improve the likelihood of success for these businesses.” - Marty Flanagan, President & CEO, Invesco, on the importance of creating meaningful partnerships.
Leading Through Difficult Financial Environments
Jeff Immelt, Former CEO of GE; Moderated By: Vanessa Larco, NEA
“Good times are better than bad times for sure, but the benefit of a downturn is that it does provide a more realistic, returnable investment level. So many knee-jerk reactions go on during cycles (like the one we’re in right now) that it can be easier to earn investors—and people tend to make better investment decisions when the risk-reward is out of balance.” - Jeff Immelt, Former CEO, GE, on why some people say now is the best time to start a business.
The State of Diverse VCs
Mandy Bynum McLaughlin, BLCK VC; Rami Reyes, NextEquity Partners; Moderated By: Tosh Ernest, SVB
“Right now in venture is a time we’ll look back on in 10 years and wonder, “Why didn’t I get into that sooner?” Right now, a lot of Black fund managers are starting to invest in the next amazing Black founders and women’s health systems” - Mandy Bynum, CEO, BLCK VC, on the current state of the venture capital market.
“A lot of newer diverse funds are being founded, but there are still gaps in hiring. One way to correct the under-hiring of minorities? The larger funds should hire more diversely. It’s the largest funds that go on to feed into more VCs and create the next generation of investors.” - Rami Reyes, Co-Founder & Managing Director, NextEquity Partners, on what VCs can do to increase diversity.
State of the Economy and What Comes Next: A Look Ahead to 2023
Dennis Lockhart, Former CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Moderated By: Katie Roof, Bloomberg
“There has been a long-term decline in labor participation, partly driven by demographics as well as the cycle we’re dealing with right now. When Covid happened, many 55+ people just retired with no intention of coming back. Additionally, many households have reevaluated their income needs and arrangement in the household and realized that both adults don’t need to be working. If good jobs become available and people start running out of savings, then they would be inclined to go back to work, but employers should expect the labor market to be tight for the foreseeable future.” - Dennis Lockhart, Former CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, on the decrease in labor force participation.
The Next Trillion-Dollar Tech Disruption That Might Just Save the Planet: Climate Tech
Sophie Purdom, Planeteer Capital; Bill Nussey, Engage and Tech Square Ventures; Moderated By: Jonathan Shieber, Footprint Coalition
“Air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths every year around the world. Weather and climate disasters cost the U.S. $145 billion last year alone. The good news? People are working on solutions.” - Jonathan Shieber, Chief Editor & Venture Partner, Footprint Coalition, opening the panel with some good news/bad news.
“Batteries and solar cells are going through the same technology transition as iPhones, as they’re constantly getting better and cheaper. Solar will eventually, by far, be the cheapest energy source.” - Bill Nussey, Partner, Engage & Tech Square Ventures, on the future of energy.
“Take a look at pre-seed and seed climate tech founders, emerging subsectors within climate (where the built environment overlaps with climate capture), tech that reduces and optimizes energy consumption, ocean tech, and CDR (carbon dioxide removal) technology.” - Sophie Purdom, Founder, Planeteer Capital, on what people should invest in within the climate space.
Hall of Fame Panel: The Power of Leveraging Your Brand
Marcus Allen; Jerome Bettis; Julius Winfield “Dr. J” Erving; Moderated By: Phyllis Newhouse, ShoulderUp Technology Acquisition Corp. and Xtreme Solutions, Inc.
In what may have been the most anticipated panel of the two-day event, trailblazing entrepreneur Phyllis Newhouse welcomed three legendary Hall of Fame athletes to the stage for a discussion on the power of leveraging your brand—especially in today’s age of NIL and influencer marketing.
It was a heartwarming and thought-provoking discussion that gave attendees a chance to get to know Marcus, Jerome, and Julius the people, not just the players.
“I put a premium on myself, but I love people just as much as I love myself. Giving back is important to me. Lots of times in sports, there comes a time when you’re being replaced. If you’re a good person, you’ll give that next guy the knowledge they need to succeed.” Marcus Allen, Hall of Fame NFL Running Back, explaining that he sees his love for people as one of his main “value cards”.
When asked what they would tell their younger selves before leaving the league:
“Understand who your target market is. Who are you trying to influence? Don’t ever put yourself in a position that alienates that group. Be aware of social media and how that influences your brand and who you are. Be conscious of what you present to the public, because social media doesn’t take a day off. Everything you present is telling a story, and if that story is inconsistent with who you are, you’re not being authentic.” - Jerome Bettis, Hall of Fame NFL Running Back
“Take equity instead of taking cash. I played Larry Bird in a game of 1on1—he took $15k in cash, I took mine in stock. I still have that stock today, but I don’t think he has that cash anymore. If we had taken equity instead of cash in 50% of our situations, the dynamic would be a lot different. To do that early enough would be a big differentiator for me.” - Julius Winfield “Dr. J” Irving, Hall of Fame NBA Player
The biggest curveball of this panel may have been when Jerome shared that his legendary football career was happenstance and that he actually wanted to be a professional bowler when he was younger. Funny enough, he did become a “Pro Bowler” in his own right (six times, as a matter of fact).
Venture Atlanta 2022 Companies
Seed Stage Companies
A HUGE Thank You to Our Sponsors & Partners
So many people came together to make Venture Atlanta 2022 our biggest and best conference yet, and we would be remiss not to extend a massive thank you to everyone involved. Thanks to the work of our 2022 Board of Directors and the support of our 90+ sponsors, we were able to host an unforgettable two-day event in the heart of the great city of Atlanta. A special thanks to our title sponsor Invesco, our presenting sponsors Intuit Mailchimp and SVB, and headline sponsors Cherry Bekaert, ExtensisHR, MMM Law, and Truist.
We also want to give a special shoutout to the sponsors who have been with Venture Atlanta for the past 15 years:
- Atlanta CEO Council
- Atlanta Technology Angels
- Bennett Thrasher
- DLA Piper
- Harbert Management Corporation
- Metro Atlanta Chamber
- Morris, Manning, & Martin LLP
- Noro-Moseley Partners
- Pacific Western Bank
- Technology Association of Georgia
- TTV Capital
Moving Forward from Here
This year saw our largest and most diverse lineup of companies yet. Among the 85 selected companies for Venture Atlanta 2022, there were 14 industry sectors represented. We heard discussions about digital healthcare, climate technology, cryptocurrency, and more. Across all industries, AI was a common theme, and it’s now apparent that AI-powered tools are being adopted by nearly every business as we continue to catapult through this next digital frontier.
Topping Venture Atlanta 2022 definitely won’t be easy, but with the community of founders and funders you’ve all helped us build, the sky is very much the limit. Already looking forward to Venture Atlanta 2023? Stay tuned for a “Save the Date”—coming soon. In the meantime, you can keep up with all Venture Atlanta news and announcements by subscribing to our newsletter or following along on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.