Loretta McCarthy, managing partner, Golden SeedsApril 18, 2018
There has never been a better time to be a founder — or an investor — in Georgia.
Last month, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported the Peach State is in the midst of its highest level of venture capital funding in the past 17 years (“White-hot market: Bullish venture capital firms plowing millions into Atlanta tech firms”). Startups in the region reportedly raised $1.7 billion in VC funding last year, and local firms are pushing to raise about a $100 million in new funds.
Golden Seeds has been watching the Atlanta market for a few years. We have had several managing directors based in Atlanta since 2012, and we’ve been eager to expand our network in the metro area. Our team of leaders working on that effort see attractive conditions for angel investors in Atlanta.
Susan and David Nethero are the founders and former co-CEOs for Intimacy, a $38 million chain of retail stores. Kim Seals is a former senior partner of global consulting firm Mercer. Together Susan, David and Kim are leading a growing number of Golden Seeds members focused on early-stage, women-led companies in the Atlanta area.
Here’s why they’re excited about Atlanta’s potential as a startup boomtown:
In a ranking of all 50 states, FitSmallBusiness named Georgia the №1 place for women entrepreneurs. Among its reasons: Georgia leads the nation in the percentage of women-owned businesses, with more than 40 percent of companies in the state led by women.
Dell also gives Atlanta high marks for conditions that help women entrepreneurs thrive. In its third annual women entrepreneurs report, Dell ranked global cities on their ability to attract and support high-potential women entrepreneurs. Atlanta was one of only two cities in the southeastern United States to make the list. (Miami was the other.) The company considers high-potential women entrepreneurs as those who are growing businesses that have the potential to break $1 million in annual revenue.
“As an entrepreneur, I found Atlanta to be an excellent home base for what ultimately became a successful, national business,” said Susan Nethero. “Those qualities have only expanded in recent years, so it’s an opportune time to connect angel investors with women entrepreneurs here whose business have the potential for high returns.”
Golden Seeds holds its monthly Office Hours at Atlanta Tech Village, a thriving ecosystem in the city’s tech community.
“Golden Seeds has been offering free Office Hours sessions to women entrepreneurs around the country since 2010. In Atlanta, these monthly events enable us to support women entrepreneurs as they navigate a complex environment to seek capital, and we have the opportunity to introduce our members to some of the most promising new companies in the city,” said Kim Seals.
Atlanta also boasts the only city-funded incubator in the country; the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) provides access to human, educational and financial capital to empower “early stage company-building entrepreneurs, who just so happen to be women.” (Golden Seeds Managing Director Kim Seals also sits on the board of WEI.) Meanwhile, Launchpad2X offers women entrepreneurs a three-day bootcamp, mentorship connections in the city’s business community and more.
The city’s educational institutions are also backing startups. Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center is the longest-running startup incubator in the country. And Morehouse College has partnered with Techsquare Labs and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to launch Ascend2020 Atlanta to support minority-led tech startups in the metro area.
There’s also the Techstars Atlanta accelerator, Atlanta Switch Yards’ startup hub and innumerable networking events around town.
In the past five years, venture capitalists put $5 billion into Georgia companies. That’s a significant climb over the previous five years, when the figure was less than half — $2.2 billion. This upward trend represents opportunity for angel investors, as well, particularly those who focus on women founders, as our network does.
As David Nethero put it, “Women-led companies in Atlanta are earning their place on the startup map, and there are good opportunities for returns on investment here. Golden Seeds members have the chance to immediately see the benefit of funding for the entrepreneur. That can be really fulfilling.”
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