22 People Positioned To Scale Atlanta's Growing Inclusive Technology Startup Ecosystem for Black Americans and Beyond

05/08/2017 05:23 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2017
Scooter Taylor, Cofounder of Looklive, an Atlanta based startup that graduated Y-Combinator last summer.
Scooter Taylor, Cofounder of Looklive, an Atlanta based startup that graduated Y-Combinator last summer.

During the conferences in Atlanta and Washington, DC during the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we asked over one hundred entrepreneurs and speakers on what they believed was required to build a thriving inclusive and equitable startup community.

From this, we developed and launched our thesis via Opportunity Hub.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were perfectly aligned with Brad Feld’s Boulder Thesis, which states:

  1. Entrepreneurs must lead the startup community. Check.
  2. The leaders must have a long-term commitment. Check.
  3. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it. Check.
  4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack. Check.

After three years of building Atlanta’s inclusive ecosystem (and a merger later), we fine tuned our thesis to realize that the following constructs were necessary to sustain an inclusive technology focused startup ecosystem. These critical constructs include:

  1. Technical (and non-technical) talent development
  2. Entrepreneurial and business education
  3. Founders solving very hard problems
  4. Experienced mentors
  5. Credible pre-accelerators
  6. Credible accelerators and incubators
  7. Safe spaces to build and work
  8. Founder-friendly capital (debt and equity)
  9. Creating more early stage investors
  10. Corporate partners; and most importantly
  11. Entrepreneurs willing to invest their own money in building the ecosystem

In hindsight, Atlanta has done well. If you look at the metrics that matter, then you can honestly say that Atlanta is the world’s leading technology startup ecosystem for black founders. Today, there are four workspaces (nearly 100,000 s/f of workspace) majority-owned by African Americans. Black founders have collectively raised over $150 million in capital since 2013. This includes Dr. Paul Judge’s Pindrop and Luma, which raised $122 and $20 million, respectively. Federal and corporate funding for talent and ecosystem development have reached $8 million.

Yet, there is so much more to do.

Candidly, we’ve got to have more than four technology co-founders raising over $1 million each in seed capital in a four year period.

To this end, I am excited to put forth a list of 22 people in Atlanta that I believe are critical to the future growth, scale and sustainability of an inclusive innovation, entrepreneurship and investment economy for all.

I’m counting on them to deliver the metrics that matter - more technical founders, investments, customers, jobs, exits.

Welcome to the ecosystem.

Let’s #buildsomethingfromnothing, together.

Nicole Jones

Global Innovation Leader, Delta Air Lines

Andre Dickens

Georgia Community Leader, TechBridge; Atlanta City Council-member–Post 3-At Large

Chimere Faison Barnard

Strategic Partnerships, Mailchimp

Michael Robertson

Executive Director, WorkSource Atlanta

Dar’shawn Kendrick

State Representative, Georgia House of Representatives; Managing Attorney, Kendrick Law Practice

Bill Taggart

Interim President, Morehouse College

Shawn Wilkinson

Founder & CEO, Storj

Dr. Erika James

John H. Harland Dean, Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Dr. Baratunde Cola

Founder & CEO, Carbice Corporation

Jeff Nelson

Founder, Cinchapi; Cofounder, Blavity

Dr. Tiffany Bussey

Founding Director, Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center

Kevin E. Woods, MD, MPH

Chief, Interventional Endoscopy, Gastroenterology & Nutrition at Southeastern Regional Medical Center / CTCA

Chrissa McFarlane

Cofounder & CEO, Patientory

Jennifer Bonnett

General Manager, Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)

Ayana Gabriel

Program Officer, Fostering Opportunity, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

Tyler Scriven

Managing Director, TechStars Atlanta

Rodney Bullard

Vice President of Community Affairs for Chick-fil-A, Inc. and Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation; Board of Directors, Endeavor

Dr. Eloisa Klementich

President & CEO, Invest Atlanta

Dr. Gari Clifford

Interim Chair BMI at Emory University, Associate Prof. Emory and Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Paul Judge & Allen Nance

Founding Partners, TechSquare Labs

The next Mayor of Atlanta.

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