Portland, Maine is a long way from Atlanta — exactly 1,177.7 miles by way of I-85.
But when Stacy Taylor and her business partner, Richard Kehne, looked for a place to build and grow their logistics technology company, Taylor Kehne Industries, they left New England and bypassed other startup hubs including Boston and New York to plant stakes in Atlanta.
The key draw: Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).
Founded in 1980, ATDC is the state of Georgia’s technology incubator and works with entrepreneurs to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in creating successful companies.
“I’m friends with one of the co-founders of (ATDC Signature graduate) Clearleap, and he said ATDC might be a great resource for us,” Taylor said. “We visited a few months ago, and ATDC was immediately a great fit. Everything we needed to build our logistics and technology company was available to us here—and the strong community of entrepreneurs and experts provided added value that couldn’t be measured in dollars.”
Taylor’s company is now a member startup in the competitive ATDC Accelerate portfolio and it’s just the latest in a number of tech firms that have relocated to Georgia from other parts of the United States.
In the last three years, at least five other startups in ATDC’s Accelerate and its top-tier Signature portfolios launched elsewhere — North Carolina, Florida, Kansas, and Tennessee, among other states — only to move their operations here.
The draw, founders say, is ATDC’s record of success with startups, its relationships with leading venture capital firms and angel investors through its Investor Connect program, access to Georgia Tech research and student talent, and community of startups.
Among the newly relocated companies is MedXoom. Its technology is a healthcare and financial technology (FinTech)-oriented patient engagement platform.
“We focus on patient identification, authentication ID and payment and price transparency,” said Jeffrey Toewe, MedXoom’s CEO. He founded the company in Boca Raton, Fla., but relocated the company to Atlanta in the past year to tap into ATDC’s business development expertise and the area’s financial technology ecosystem.
“Atlanta is the best location for FinTech in the Southeast, but beyond that, we’re proud to say we are a part of ATDC,” he said. “Just that alone builds awareness of our company, helps us develop the business more quickly, and attract top talent and grads from Georgia Tech. To be chosen by the top incubator program in the Southeast, it’s an incredible turn of events for us.”
Ben Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Bungii, an app that allows people to hire people with pickup trucks to move, haul, and deliver items across town, echoed Toewe’s sentiments.
He and his co-founder, Harrison Proffitt, launched the company in November of 2016 in Kansas City, Kan. The company closed a $3.5 million Series A funding round in January of 2018. Bungii’s founders learned about ATDC via one of their investors, who pledged that he would commit funds to the startup if they moved the company to Atlanta and if the incubator accepted them into ATDC Signature.
The metro area was already on Bungii’s radar because Atlanta is the second city for the app launch. The founders came to ATDC in December of 2017 for a tour and after meeting ATDC’s lead Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Frank Tighe, they quickly came to a decision: not only did they need to move to Atlanta, they needed to join ATDC.
“ATDC was a driving factor,” said Jackson, who projects the company’s current Atlanta team of four will eventually expand to 12, plus a development team of 20.
“We have successful entrepreneurs helping us think through our challenges, we have the fantastic network that ATDC and EIRs provide,” Jackson said. “We’re around other entrepreneurs with successful exits, and other people who are working hard to build companies and solve problems. Being an ATDC company is absolutely a game changer.”
That entrepreneurs from other states continue to be drawn to Georgia is a trend ATDC’s Tighe expects to continue.
“Our ecosystem leverages our experience and startup education programming, along with a proven track record of success with entrepreneurs across a number of industries, from FinTech to data analytics to cybersecurity,” Tighe said. “Coupled with the world class resources and research capabilities at Tech, access to a superb talent pool, and our investment and corporate programs, that makes for a compelling draw not only for Georgia entrepreneurs, but startups across the country.”