I’m often asked about the mission of ATDC. It’s straightforward.
ATDC helps technology and life science entrepreneurs build viable companies that disrupt their market and drive economic value. How do we do this?
By orchestrating connections to coaching, capital, customers and university resources and talent – that increase our entrepreneur’s likelihood of success.
And, we don’t take an economic position in our companies.
That is a unique combination. At our best, we provide support to startups that are science focused with deep IP, and can fully leverage the world-class capabilities of Georgia Tech. However, it should be noted, that half of our companies have no direct Georgia Tech connection, but instead come to us for our hands-on coaching program and ability to help them meet important customers.
Before I continue, I would like to make a confession.
As many of you know, several years ago we broadened our reach. Almost overnight, we went from focusing our resources on 30 “Select Companies” here at the incubator to more than 300 companies across the state of Georgia. Adding fuel to the fire, we also experienced budget cuts.
Let’s just say that expanding your reach with fewer resources doesn’t work.
So, we pivoted.
Under Blake Patton’s leadership, we refocused our efforts back onto our “Select Companies”, which now go through a rigorous screening process to make sure they’re ready for us to help them build viable businesses that drive value to the State of Georgia. We presently have 40 Select companies in our three-year incubator program.
At the same time, we recognized that the best way to help entrepreneurs not yet in the Select program – those in our OPEN or Entrepreneur Program – is to prepare them for application to the Select program. We extended our extensive slate of educational programs to any Georgia-based entrepreneur. They also can ask questions of our Mentors and Community Catalysts, and even our in-demand Entrepreneurs in Residence.
In addition to our community outreach for applicants, we are extremely fortunate to have a world-class feeder system for our Select Program. Venture Labs, which is part of Georgia Tech, combs the campus year round looking for deep science and IP that can be commercialized. The result? We now have more quality applicants asking to be accepted into our Select Company program than ever before.
Recently, Forbes named ATDC “one of the top 12 business incubators changing the world.” Our vision is to increase our graduation rates to 50 Select Companies in the next five years. We’ll do this without sacrificing the quality of the companies in our Select program.
To make this goal a reality, we have increased our budget. We have added four resources this year and are looking to fill four more positions by year-end. One of the key roles we’ve added is an experienced, full-time “Industry Connect” director, Betsy Plattenburg, who already has organized 25 Fortune 500 company visits, resulting in 20 signed contracts and/or investments with our Select Companies. That is a stunning result by any measure!
While ATDC serves a vital support role to our Select Companies, it is the ingenuity and tireless effort of the ATDC Select Company founders that really matters. The success of ATDC Select Companies is what allows ATDC to exist.
I invite you to come on by and meet the soul of who we are – the ATDC Select Company founders and co-founders. If you are like me, you will leave with a big smile on your face as you get a glimpse of Atlanta’s future today.