Nothing makes me happier than seeing startups really nail their pitches. And last week, I got to see three companies I already follow take their pitch game to a whole new level, and discover two new (to me!) companies bring it like they were born to it. Switchyard's monthly Consumer Show: Giving you the chance to confirm and discover which ATL-based B2C startups to keep an eye on since ... okay, March 2016, but every good thing started somewhere.Read More
We're halfway through Atlanta Startup Week, "a new type of conference that builds momentum and opportunity around entrepreneurship," and it's been a really interesting mix of events, locations and topics so far. One of my favorites was a Tuesday morning panel at General Assembly, titled "Product Chiefs: How to Make It in Atlanta."
If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I've recently changed roles atSalesLoft and moved from Client Success to Product. As a blog reader, you probably have noticed how I love networking, learning new things, research and startups (not necessarily in that order). So when an event checked every one of those boxes, you know I signed up immediately.Read More
Somehow we're already in May (I don't know about you, but my April was merely a blur of Yellow Pollen Hell), which means we're also already up to round three of The Consumer Show (hooray!).
Not to be deterred by the fact that the first Thursday of this month also happened to be Cinco de Mayo, the Switchyards team looped in the Tex's Tacos food truck to provide appropriately themed fare. Event planners take note: Tacos and beer are a great way to loosen up a crowd.Read More
There's definitely been a heavy tilt towards the B2B tech space. This isn't surprising, considering that it's hosted at the Atlanta Tech Village, but it can also feel like a weird fit for entrepreneurs with a B2C focus or a more abstract concept.
If you're one of those entrepreneurs, fear not: There is now a place for you, too! In keeping with their mission of creating beautiful startups for consumers, Switchyards Downtown Club has just launched The Consumer Show, a monthly pitch event that is — you guessed it —only for startups that build products for consumers.Read More
On Friday, SalesLoft had a company meeting to prep for our upcoming national conference, Rainmaker 2016. (And by "upcoming," I mean, "It starts tomorrow!") Our CEO, Kyle Porter, and our outstanding marketing team walked us through the timeline and strategy for each day, and gave us the insider scoop on all things sales development.
And, y'all, I. AM. PUMPED!!!
I hope you are going to be there, because it is going to be amazing!Read More
A couple of nights ago, I was in a nightclub. I was standing on a balcony, chatting with friends, holding a drink and looking out at an overflowing crowd glowing green under tinted lighting. There was a waiting line out the door, the temperature was rising as people packed in, and the sound was deafening.
Okay, so it was 6 o'clock at night. On a Thursday. For a startup event. With one drink ticket. But still.
Hello, TechCrunch Meetup + Pitch-Off. We missed you!Read More
I know, it's been silent over here for a bit, but with the new year I'm finally getting a handle on a project that's consumed my life (and once I get over the PTSD of software implementation, I'll tell you all about it.... but that's another blog post). This week is also bursting with new events, new places, new people, so I had to get caught up so I could share.Read More
If you've never been to Atlanta Startup Village, you're missing out.
On the third Monday of every month (generally), hundreds of startup aficionados, entrepreneurs and generally motivated Atlantans come together over free beer to watch five companies pitch for five minutes each.
Inspired by Brad Feld's Startup Community Revolution (and, by extension, the TechStars program), the Atlanta Startup Community's self-described goal in 2012 was to follow that path "to make Atlanta’s startup community thrive."
Well, today it's doing that and more. In max-capacity crowds of 600-700 attendees in the Atlanta Tech Village event space, people jostle for standing room only for up to an hour before presentations, drawn in by the promise of discovering the next big investment, finding the next perfect company role, or locating the next awesome job candidate.
It's totally worth it. The energy in that room is palpable, especially with Rivalry CEO Jon Birdsong hosting. When the pitches start, the entire room comes to a halt and stands in mesmerized silence. And then there's five minutes of questions. Really hard questions. I'd venture to say that if you make it through this room, you probably have a viable product.
Last night, I watched five kick-ass companies do their level best to capture the room's attention. Here's the rundown:
• PartPic | Visual Search for Replacement Parts: You take a picture of a part, and it matches it up in the database. No more, "I need this little bendy thing that's shaped like an 'E' without the middle bar, with two prongs at this end, and a hole here..." I thought it sounded great but was unsure if it would work, but then they did a live demo on a strange little screw. And when it actually worked, found the part and popped up the specs and manufacturer, the whole room broke into spontaneous applause and whistles. I was sold! (Find them on Twitter)
• ParkENT Cycles | Secure Bicycle Parking Space (Faster than walking, cheaper than parking): How can you not love a company whose slogan is, "We just want to 'hug' your bicycle and keep it safe"? Aw, guys, my bike wants a hug too! Okay but seriously, this clever company lets you lock and unlock your bike from their patented rack system, just by using your smartphone. No more stolen bikes or awkward bike locks. With ATL traffic what it is, and Marta stations spaced as far apart as they are, this idea captured a good portion of the room, and I heard at least one person say he'd finally buy a bike if this system went in across the city. (Find them on Twitter)
• FogOptics | Fog Problems Solved -- Reliable Free Space Optics: So ... it took me a few minutes to get this, I'm not going to lie. I can't even adequately recount it to you, so I'm going to borrow a line from a Hypepotamus article by Carey Tucker instead: "Their flagship product, Fog Laser™, is the world’s only communication laser platform to deliver fiber-like reliability in adverse weather like fog, smog, clouds, smoke, snow, & scintillation." If this still does not make sense to you, you are not alone -- attendee @tonamok tweeted, "Hate to say that I couldn’t figure out what his product was supposed to do 4 minutes into a 5 minute presentation." Toward the end, though, it got a little clearer -- basically, the laser works even in bad weather, which equals better bandwidth without wires. (They had no social media that I could find, so ... not sure what to say about that. Maybe brilliant laser optic things don't need Twitter?)
• Carematics | Cloud-Based Healthcare Transition Management System (Better coordination, better outcomes): This system automates the hospital discharge process, improves tracking and provides insight into post-care, thereby also reducing readmission. While the demo made it look seamless, some in the audience were dubious of the reality being quite that smooth, but I have to say Carematics made a pretty good case. It seemed like an interesting solution to a growing problem, so I hope it's as good as it looks. (Find them on Twitter)
• Guild Quality | Customer Satisfaction Surveys for Contractors: Based on Guild Quality's reported metrics last night (nearly 2,000 clients monthly!), this was a big need in the market. Kind of a Yelp for home improvement, they provide the visibility, feedback, analytics and more to the building industry. If I have to hire a contractor, the fact that they use Guild Quality would definitely drive me to select them because it would mean that they listen and integrate feedback (and you know how that makes me happy). (Find them on Twitter)
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I love networking events. New people, new places, new things to learn -- what's not to love?
The best part of these meetings is that they're usually centered around a particular topic or industry, which means everyone there starts with some common ground. While I will definitely talk to the proverbial brick wall without this mutual understanding, it does generally mean the other attendees are more open to chatting with random strangers about random topics.
You never know where the chance relationships made at these events will take you. Among other things, I've had job leads, service discounts and product beta tests offered, and in general just had some really excellent industry conversations. There's plenty of research around the benefits of networking, but that's another post for another time.
Anyway, since I attend a slew of different networking events across ATL, I wanted to start recapping and sharing as I go. There are many options in the city every night of the week, and hopefully this will help bring one or two to light that you didn't know about but would love to try. (If this is not your thing and you prefer another thought-piece on client success or startups instead, you can skip this and I'll deliver something more in-depth in a few days, I promise.)
Last week, I went to #TechNightOut and spent some time chatting with ATL tech folks. Hosted by General Assembly Atlanta and Hypotamus, the premise is "bringing together the whole Tech community once a month to let loose and have fun at Tech Night Out."
While I'm not sure that the tech community needs that much loosening up (most of the tech spaces I'm familiar with are full of casual clothes and beer ... LOTS of beer), I like the premise. The tech world does have a tendency to get immersed in work to the detriment of things like social relationships.
This month's #TechNightOut was at Ormsbys, but the location changes each time, so you get to find little corners of the city you didn't know existed.
And although Atlanta's a big city, the tech scene is a small town -- while standing in line to check in, I ran into one friend-of-a-friend, one Atlanta Tech Village member, and someone I'd previously met at a Zendesk user group. Small world!
The ATV member and I had passed in the halls but never really talked, so we finally had a chance to swap names and companies. He was a recently appointed Client Success Manager, and as the only one at his growing startup, he asked for some advice. We had a really in-depth conversation about making clients happy versus successful, how to track metrics to show value to your boss, and where churn risks vary from industry to industry. He learned something, I learned something, and we both came away feeling a little smarter.
He also introduced me to a PR writer who was interested in a startup position, and I got a business card that I passed along to my marketing department. (We're looking for a full-time content writer, but it appears those are harder to come by than you'd think, what with the decline of newspapers and all.) Side note: That is exactly what these events help with, but I've found that often people only hit them up when they're job hunting. I really recommend building your interpersonal connections before you need them, and then these events will click into place at the right time.
Over an intense game of shuffleboard, I met a programmer who knew some of the engineers at SalesLoft, and begged him for some hot leads if they had any to spare (we're hiring engineers too. Shocker, I know). Fortunately, he had good things to say about SalesLoft, and promised to send some people our way.
I also had a quick chat with a woman who coordinates events and does branding awareness for General Assembly itself. She sounds like she really loves her job, and I know they're hiring for a variety of spots, so if you or someone you know is job-hunting, I'd check out the postings here.
Finally, I wrapped up the night getting to know the friend-of-a-friend and a few of his colleagues better, and now I have a new connection or two on social media. He's a networking addict too, so I'm sure we'll see each other at the next event. Not to mention that I made a new friend myself!
Overall, solid networking show. Good logistics at the event itself, which is key, though maybe a little more fanfare upfront to bring it to people's attention. I'll definitely be looking for the next #TechNightOut. Hope to see you there!