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Last week, 352 hosted a panel featuring the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, which serves as Georgia’s technology incubator, founded in 1980. ATDC has developed a global reputation for fostering technological entrepreneurship. President & Founder of 352, Geoff Wilson, moderated an insightful conversation about how entrepreneurs, startups and corporate enterprises can leverage ATDC for growth, especially during uncertain times.

Our panel featured:

  • John Avery, Director of ATDC
  • Corbett Gilliam, MBA, Corporate Development Lead at ATDC
  • Paul J. Noble, Founder and CEO at Verusen
  • Nakia Melecio, Founder and CEO of iDesignproject

Below is a brief recap of our conversation:

Tap into Georgia’s Startup & Corporate Innovation Ecosystem

John kicked things off by sharing a deep-dive into ATDC’s programs, which serve the entire state of Georgia. Their tiered approach offers a wide variety of ways to get involved for anyone interested in startups or exploring becoming an entrepreneur. ATDC provides curriculum for those seeking startup fundamentals, coaching, connections with investors, corporate organizations and the broader community. John shared that several members may take approximately 5 years to complete ATDC’s offerings with some of the longest, deepest connections a startup or founder would have with an accelerator because they are committed to success. The higher-level of dedication and communication reach pays off, because John noted half of the venture capital money raised in Georgia can be tied back to ATDC.

Maintaining Connectivity & Creating Collisions Remotely

When asked about how startups, corporate innovators and organizations are staying connected in a remote setting, the panel shared a lot of insights. Nakia mentioned that although the energy of being physically at ATDC is missed, they are curating other moments for startups to engage virtually with coffee hours, meetups, and game days via Zoom.

Paul shared that as a startup founder, Covid has added some unforeseen challenges to running a growing startup. Hiring and onboarding employees who can’t participate in the typical in-person culture. “We’re cognizant of transferring that team environment virtually, all while running the business,” Paul said.

One might assume that corporate partnerships would be less interested in connecting with startups, but Corbett said the opposite has been true in his experience. He has seen an increase in aggressiveness when it comes to innovation. Corbett said that people are embracing new ways of thinking about innovation and they are seeing quicker turnarounds.

Leverage Experimentation During Uncertain Times

With so much uncertainty about the future and rapidly shifting consumer behavior, Paul recommended running a lot of little experiments internally with employees and with your customer base. In-the-moment insights are incredibly valuable as everyone adjusts to change.

Nakia delighted us with his optimism when he said, “We’re all hitting the reset button and leveraging technology in new ways. People aren’t ok with how we were thrust into this situation, but entrepreneurs are creative people. We are adapting.”

Increasing Diversity in Atlanta’s Tech Space

Atlanta has recently been thrust into the spotlight as the community and leaders respond to police brutality, Black Lives Matter protests and Covid-19. Which led Geoff to ask the panel, “How can we make startups more diverse and inclusive moving forward?”

John responded that with 34% of ATDC’s portfolio having a minority member on the founding team, he surmised that they are missing talent. Nakia added that having diversity at the table is an advantage, not just the right thing to do. He is passionate about making minority founders feel welcome at ATDC and providing them with every resource they could possibly need to be successful.

The entire panel agreed that Atlanta is uniquely positioned, especially in the tech space. ATDC is committed to helping make this space more inclusive and diverse.

Join us on July 7th at 9AM for our Off the Record with Alan Magee, VP Digital Marketing & Technology at Church’s Chicken. You can RSVP today.

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352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.