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Is Atlanta the New Tech Hub for VC Investments?

Staci Didner

When it comes to investment, Hot ‘Lanta is on a hot streak. A new report from PitchBook and National Venture Capital Association reveals that Q2 2019 saw a record-breaking number of deals for Atlanta, with regional companies raising $649.94 million – the highest capital raised of any quarter since PitchBook began tracking the city’s funding in 2013.

This comes on the heels of a successful 2018 for the ATL and the southeast region as a whole. According to reports, Atlanta came in second by dollar volume in the southeast with $1.1 billion in investment, right behind South Florida (which brought in $1.4 billion) and ahead of Durham, North Carolina (which brought in $746 million).

This isn’t anything new for the city. Named as one of the U.S.’s top 10 economies by city, there are many facets of Atlanta that make it an appealing location for businesses, both young and old, to set down roots. But what’s its secret sauce?

Photo from goodfreephotos.com

Why Atlanta?

Perhaps most notably, the city ranks third on the list of metros with the most Fortune 500 headquarters. Thus, businesses choosing to make the city their home are in good company, joining the illustrious ranks of Coca Cola, Turner Broadcasting, Home Depot and Delta Airlines among others.

Bolstering Atlanta’s appeal, especially for global entities, is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. As one of the largest airports in the world, the high volume of traffic ATL brings in has transformed the city as a transportation and logistics hub. This is often a key consideration for businesses with national and international reach. For example, Variotech, a German-based tray solutions company, recently cited the ease of worldwide connectivity as one of the reasons it selected Atlanta for its new North America headquarters

Another important factor is the quality of the workforce. Atlanta continues to be a leader in educational attainment, with nearly 48% of residents over the age of 25 having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of particular benefit to tech companies is the city’s emphasis on STEM disciples. Atlanta ranks among the top cities for STEM degrees in the nation and is the No. 2 metro area for quality of engineering universities. These factors translate into a phenomenal talent pool for start-ups and enterprises alike. 

Supporting companies from inception to maturation

Forget flying over – or through – Atlanta. In fact, an overwhelming number of young companies are coming in for a landing. Venture Capital firm Valor Ventures listed Georgia as one of the top “frontiers of first financing,” ranking the state among the most notable locations for start-up funding, despite a national decline in seed investments. 

A main driver is the city’s strong support for young businesses. Atlanta is home to some of the most influential start-up accelerators and incubators in the country, including Atlanta Tech Village, ATDC Georgia Tech and TechStars Atlanta. Furthermore, the city continues to offer incentives to help small businesses get off the ground – and keep them in the area once they mature out of their development hubs and university programs. For example, last month Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms introduced new legislation designed to encourage micro- and small-business development.

Atlanta is unique in that it’s rich in both early stage organizations and well-established global businesses. And while seed funding is a vital part of the VC landscape, the value these mature companies bring to the community cannot be understated. This is especially true as investments trends increasingly shift toward fewer, but larger deals, particularly in the tech sector. Unlike newer tech markets that are still refining their corporate incentives, Atlanta has demonstrated proven success in fostering companies as they evolve and while remaining attractive as enterprises grow.

Industries to watch

As marketers, we’re the people who help bring these up-and-coming brands to life. This means we’re constantly monitoring for emerging markets and sectors that have the potential to flourish.

Atlanta is poised for an exciting future, but there are several industries we’re most excited about, including:

  • Fintech – Fintech is a top industry for Atlanta, with 85% of all fintech transactions touching the city in some way.
  • Digital health – Home to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a recipient of more than $400M in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, there is major potential for Atlanta’s life science and healthcare markets.
  • Cybersecurity – Data breeches and the growing threat of cyber-attacks has led to a surge of cybersecurity companies. Atlanta legislature, as one of several governments that has fallen victim to a cyber-attack, has been vocal about the need for more funding for security technologies.
  • Proptech – While a relatively new sector, there’s already a huge push around property technologies among real estate investors, funds and property management groups. It’s predicted that billions of dollars will be heading into this market in the coming years. Atlanta already has a stake in the ground with companies like Knock, a home trade-in platform that raised $400 million earlier this year as part of a Series B funding round.
  • Customer experience – As all industries, from retail to healthcare, grow more competitive, brands increasingly lean on experience as a primary differentiator. These businesses rely on the latest in marketing, analytics and digital experience technologies to understand and engage with their audiences. We’ll be closely following companies like SalesLoft and FullStory, which were among the top Atlanta deals of Q2 2019, coming in at $70 million and $32 million respectively.

From a reasonable cost of living to top-notch education institutions, as well as attractive entertainment options and compelling business incentives, Atlanta has something for everyone. While competition is certainly heating up across the entire southeast region – with Miami, Tampa and Raleigh all making gains on this longstanding pack leader – there’s no doubt that Atlanta will continue to burn brightly.   

Whether you’re an emerging or established brand, or you’re located in Atlanta or Boston, it’s important that you leverage the right marketing resources throughout your funding journey. Let PAN’s NXT Stage program help.

Topics: Industry Expertise NXT Stage

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