Atlanta has emerged as a growing software and technology hub, particularly in the B2B space. In 2021, Atlanta minted six new unicorns: will importAnd green lightAnd Full StoryAnd herd safetyAnd friendly, And Sales Loft. Moreover, in the spring, the launch of privacy, cybersecurity and data management ONE TRUST He raised Group C at a valuation of $5.3 billion, and in November Mailchimp It announced its sale to Intuit for $12 billion, the largest exit for a tech company in Atlanta.
In mid-December, I had the privilege of running a panel discussion in Atlanta with three entrepreneurs and investors behind much of the momentum and recent success in Atlanta.
Meet the committee members:
Lisa Calhoun – CEO and former founder of a digital marketing agency, also founded by Lisa Project value, the first female-led institutional investment firm in the South.
David Cummings – Entrepreneur and investor who founded ten companies, including for saleAnd Sales Loft, And End. David is also the founder of Atlanta Tech Village and a major investor in Cal Friendly.
Kyle Porter – CEO and co-founder of the Atlanta-based sales engagement platform, Sales Loft, which recently announced the majority of Vista Equity Partners’ investments, valuing the company at nearly $2.3 billion.
Dozens of technology and software leaders from in and around Atlanta came together, sharing ideas and knowledge in beautiful Bold Monk Brewing’s Abbey Space. In addition to some long-delayed personal and fellowship conversations, Lisa, David and Kyle participated in a panel discussion highlighting some key points about building tech companies in Atlanta.
Here’s what I learned from our conversation:
1. Grow faster than your company
Cale made a point that was impossible to miss. Entrepreneurs who consistently reach their peak need to pay attention to personal progress and growth more quickly than their companies. I think his exact words were, “Scale faster than your experience rate.” David did a great job capturing this particular lesson in a post on his blog,”Personal Growth > Startup Growth. “As a multi-time founder, I learned this myself, and applied it through professional organizations like YPO and development activities such as Conscious leadership. The results were transformative.
2. Put diversity at the top of your investment or entrepreneurial strategy
Lisa explained how diversity should be a primary goal for all entrepreneurs and investors. Her investment philosophy is to reflect the demographics of Metro Atlanta and the broader South in which her company operates. And I tied this back to how what makes us different is often our biggest competitive advantage. In a diverse area of Metro Atlanta, use that to your advantage and the good of your community (after all, startups are the number one source of wealth creation in the United States.)
3. As a founder, culture should be your top priority
Salesloft is known for its rich and vibrant company culture. Kyle made a great point about how a company’s focus shouldn’t be just on revenue or valuation. Organizational health should be a top priority for every founder and every executive team. Your company culture is the unique factor that sets you apart and is really the only thing that you have absolute control over, so focus on getting it right and everything else will fall into place. As Andy Bateman, Vice President of Talent at Chibob He told me after the event, “You can’t control the market, but you can always control who you are and who you become.”
A major theme unites these lessons. People. Specifically, attracting the best possible talent and then investing in its growth – as well as your own. Doing so is a vital sustainable advantage as you continue to build your business.
Thanks to Lisa, David and Kyle for their time and sharing their thoughts. Here’s more technology and software success in Atlanta in 2022!