Atlanta is a tough market for early-stage companies, and I (along with many others) spend a great deal of time trying to figure out ways to make it better. No doubt. But one of the things that we don’t do enough of is tout our successes – I am guilty of that as well.
On Thursday, May 10th, the ATDC will be holding their yearly showcase event. They’ll be graduating a handful of companies and there will be some good networking and product demos all around. From what I understand, there are nearly 300 people signed up to go, so it should be a pretty big affair.
The graduating companies this year are Cambia, Jacket Micro Devices, FTrans, Qcept, Racemi, and ScanTech.
For more info on the event, click here.
Sidenote: Some of these companies will be at our Capital Connections event coming up in two weeks, so if you are an investor or entrepreneur, and want to get closer to them, check it out.
Graduation from the ATDC effectively means that the company is finally sustainable (or they have overstayed their welcome of 3 years – whichever comes first, I believe.) In either case, these companies have all worked very hard to reach this point, and I encourage all of you to head down and congratulate them on this achievement (and to learn more about some of the newer companies.)
I do want to make a few observations, however.
The ATDC is calling this year’s event the Billion Dollar Celebration. According to their promotional material:
Join us to celebrate the Billion Dollars that ATDC companies have raised since 1999!
In my view, they shouldn’t count the 1999-2000 timeframe in the calculation at all. That was the height of the dot com bubble (and some could make an argument that 2001 shouldn’t be counted either, but …). That timeframe easily represents half (if not more) of the billion dollars, and lets be honest, since the vast majority of those companies imploded (or were acquired at ridiculous valuations, and then imploded), I don’t think we should go there.
I believe that the $1B figure also includes acquisitions, exits, and IPOs – essentially, any capital activity that occured against an ATDC company. Unless the activity occured while the company was physically in the ATDC, I don’t think it should count either. Anything that happened to a company after it leaves a business incubator is largely a reflection of their leadership, not who incubated them. Caveat: It may not actually be counted – I’ve no idea, as I haven’t seen the detailed numbers behind the actual calculation. Subtract all that out from the $1B and divide by the five or six remaining years and a slightly different story might emerge. Not a bad story, mind you, just one grounded in a little more reality.
However, I want to offer a slightly different perspective on things. The mission of the ATDC is to incubate companies that will provide economic/job growth for the state of Georgia (as opposed to wealth creation for individual entrepreneurs or investors.) To me, a better metric would be telling us how many jobs have been created (and are currently active) that stemmed from ATDC companies. I would venture to say that there aren’t many jobs still around from the dot com flameout. So how many companies graduated post-2001 from the ATDC and went on to (and continue to) have a substantial impact on the high-tech job market in Georgia?
The answer is: it is too early to tell. Food for thought.
So lets not get hung up on the $1B number. Instead, focus the celebration on the graduating companies and their hard work, along with the new class of ATDC entrants.
In any event, I do like where the ATDC is going. They are beginning to expand their operations and reach, and I like what Lance Weatherby is doing in putting a more transparent face on things there (via his blogging and open outreach to entrepreneurs.) If anything, I’d like to see them get even more funding from the state, so that they can have more of an impact in other parts of Atlanta and Georgia.