Investors from across the country descended on Atlanta Monday for the first-ever Pitch Atlanta event. The invite-only gathering at Atlanta Tech Village connected some of the best local startups with accredited investors from across the nation.
“At the Village, we’ve created an ecosystem of support and inspiration that promotes faster connections between talent, ideas, and capital,” said Karen Houghton, vice president of Atlanta Tech Village, the fourth largest tech hub in the United States.
“Pitch Atlanta is our way of showcasing to investors from across the country what the Atlanta startup community has to offer while amplifying opportunities for top-tier Atlanta startups seeking seed or Series A funding.”
The idea is to facilitate dialogue between twenty early-stage startups and vetted investors in an intimate and authentic setting, say the organizers. In fact, the daylong experience stayed true to Atlanta’s southern hospitality roots, with a warm, accessible, and welcoming vibe. Houghton and David Lightburn, President and Co-founder of Atlanta Tech Village, also served as lively and entertaining hosts.
John Willmoth, founder and managing partner at Poplar Ventures, flew in from Louisville, Kentucky, to attend. “I’ve just raised a $25 million investment fund and I’ve done investment in Atlanta previously so I wanted to come here to network with investors and founders. Just get to know the market. If you get outside Silicon Valley, New York, and some of the other traditional markets Atlanta definitely has a lot going on.”
“One of the biggest issues here is access to capital,” said seasoned angel investor Mike Ross, who has invested in a slew of Atlanta-based startups such as Luma, PartPic, Axis Replay, Techturized, and The Gathering Spot. “Any event that puts startup companies and venture capitalists in the same room is a credit to the Atlanta community, a much-needed resource, and something that needs to happen more often. We have a vibrant tech ecosystem here and it’s starting to get recognition all over the country,” adds Ross.
One of the Southeast’s most prolific investors Sig Mosley echoed this sentiment. “It shows us the wide variety of companies that are here,” said Mosley, managing partner of Mosley Ventures. “It brings investors together to see what else is going on in the community.”
The day comprised founders pitching in groups of five, punctuated by tasty grub, engaging on stage discussions, and colorful entertainment. The teams came from all walks of life, with solid representation from women- and minority-led startups. This diversity was extended to the broad spectrum of startups presenting.
Barbara Jones is the founder and CEO of Freeing Returns, a B2B platform that helps retailers stop fraud. She was one of the entrepreneurs that presented her firm. Her startup has already receiving non-dilutive capital from EnrichHer and this year alone they have already generated more than $350K in sales going into Q2. Projected revenue for 2019 is $1.5 million.
“This is huge because they have brought in investors from all over the country,” said Jones. “We didn’t have to fly to the West Coast; I’ve met people from New York, North Carolina, and San Francisco. I appreciate Atlanta Tech Village for curating this event.”
“Any event that puts startup companies and venture capitalists in the same room is a credit to the Atlanta community, a much-needed resource, and something that needs to happen more often. We have a vibrant tech ecosystem here and it’s starting to get recognition all over the country.”
— UrbanGeekz 🔥 (@UrbanGkz) April 15, 2019
Key activities included a fireside chat with Robert Frohwein, CEO and co-founder of Kabbage; and David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Tech Village and Atlanta Ventures, where they discussed Kabbage’s history-making venture round in the Southeast. Another compelling session was “Lessons for Startup Investors and Founder,” hosted by Michael Cohn (TechStars) and Jared Belski, CEO of 360i and author of “The Great Client Partner.”
The event was also to host all-star panelists including Kyle Porter (SalesLoft), Andy Powell (CallRail), Kathryn Petralia (Kabbage), and Tope Awotona (Calendly). Moderated by Dr. Paul Judge —investor, entrepreneur, and computer science Ph.D.— the panel discussed scaling in Atlanta’s growing tech space.
Proceeds from Pitch Atlanta benefit Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.
Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti
Photo Credit: Skip Blankley (courtesy of Atlanta Tech Village)