Startup Atlanta is the City’s One-Stop Shop for Entrepreneurs

Startup Atlanta is the City’s One-Stop Shop for Entrepreneurs

By Traci Washington

How convenient are the large superstores where you’re able to buy a new flat-screen television, the frozen pizza you’re planning to cook for dinner and new windshield wipers, all in one place? It saves time and maybe even money.

Now imagine a superstore for entrepreneurs. On aisle one you’ll find resources for funding your business. Aisle two has an array of groups, events and associations dedicated to assisting and educating entrepreneurs. Looking for a workspace? You’re in luck. On aisle three there’s more than a dozen of workspace options in Metro Atlanta.

It gets better: this place is real. Startup Atlanta is not an actual store, but it’s an all-in-one, free resource created for local entrepreneurs.

“Obviously people are in various stages when starting a business,” says Charlton Cunningham, executive director at Startup Atlanta. “One may have an idea. Another may already have a prototype or customer base and is looking for funding. We want to make it easier for people to find what they need and make it readily accessible.”

The nonprofit’s only mission is to help small businesses and startups grow. According to Cunningham, startups need a thriving ecosystem that can cultivate and nurture them to their full potential.

Since 2015, the organization has worked to develop a diverse network of resources called the Ecosystem Guide.

The Ecosystem Guide: An Entrepreneur’s Map to Success

“The ecosystem guide contains all the resources entrepreneurs might need or want in the startup community. There’s no other resource in Atlanta that hosts all of these things in an easy, accessible and digestible format,” Cunningham says.

The guide is divided into six parts: groups & events, design & coding schools, funding, incentives, media and places. Each section lists organizations, their specializations and how to get access each resource.

“There’s a lot out information out there. We’re helping people cut through the clutter,” Cunningham explained. The ecosystem is regularly updated to fit the needs of local startups and to add more resources.  

The Guide’s Proven Track Record

According to entrepreneur DeShawn Stevenson, cofounder of OurErrands, the guide works. Stevenson utilized the ecosystem guide during the company’s early stages.

“When I started forming what would become OurErrands in August 2016, I really didn’t know what to expect. We relied on Startup Atlanta to answer questions and to help scale our business,” Stevenson says.

Stevenson admits that starting a brand-new business was a challenge. Luckily, OurErrands had Startup Atlanta in its corner to help get through the tough times. “Every time we faced a problem, we were able to attend an event and meet people to bounce ideas on, which helped us solve many issues,” Stevenson adds.

2017 you’ve been truly great to us! When we decided to launch OurErrands in October at the @a3cfestival we didn’t imagine how many doors would open for us. From getting to meet the great @thesharkdaymond at his private shark round table to laughing it up with the gorgeous @kerihilson at the @rideconference. Let’s not forget the amazing time we had helping @iamtherealdp on his grand opening of his new gym @hxfitness. We’ve competed in pitch contests from Atlanta @switchyards all the way to California. And who could forget meeting @cyrenelovette and @jeweltankard at @cau1988 Financial Literacy Conference. Never in a million years would we’ve predicted we would be featured on @11alive. From On Boarding 100 assistants at our monthly training sessions @atltechvillage to ending the year off with an amazing partnership with @delta. 2018 we’re READY for you!! . . #OurErrands #newyearseve #newyearseveready #newyearsresolution #newyearsgoals #2017bestnine

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As Cunningham watches companies like OurErrands evolve from ideas to successful businesses, Startup Atlanta is able to flourish with them. When the startups become successful, many of the CEOs make pledges to give back to the ecosystem through volunteer work, mentoring entrepreneurs and hosting networking events. Cunningham believes through this process, everyone wins: jobs are created and the local economy is boosted.

“Atlanta needs us because we’re the champions of the ecosystem and we’re the connectors of the ecosystem,” he adds. “It’s our job to make sure that we promote individual members of our network so it becomes stronger. As each node gets stronger, the whole ecosystem grows.”

Stevenson agrees and says the ecosystem’s track record speaks for itself. “I would highly recommend Startup Atlanta as the first step for entrepreneurs. Since joining startup Atlanta, we have been afforded many opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs who have gone through some of the same struggles that we’ve gone through.”

For more information on the ecosystem guide and how it can help your startup, visit Startup Atlanta.