The Backstory of the Atlanta Startup Battle
Next week, TechSquare Labs will hold its second quarterly Atlanta Startup Battle competition, where five companies go head-to-head for the chance to win $100,000 in investment. Since the inaugural one in October, the event has become a partnership between TechSquare Labs, Technology Association of Georgia, Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center, who all share the same goal: to help build, scale, and fund the next generation of technology companies in Georgia.
“The purpose of TechSquare Labs is simple: build companies,” said co-founder Allen Nance. He and the other co-founder Paul Judge launched the innovation incubator with first-hand knowledge of what it takes to build successful ventures. Both are seasoned entrepreneurs with decades of experience and extensive networks who are passionate about technology investing. Atlanta Startup Battle is their answer to connecting up-and-coming entrepreneurs with the resources they need to be successful.
"It’s hard to build something from nothing,” said Nance. “It’s hard to do it alone, it’s hard to do it with a team, it’s hard to do it with mentors, it’s hard all around.”
Familiar with the obstacles on the road to success, it was important to Nance and Judge that Atlanta Startup Battle offer more than a traditional pitch competition, which is why the five teams who make it past the application round go on to receive a full day of mentoring from experts in engineering, go-to-market strategy, and user-interface design -- even entrepreneurs who don't win the final prize walk away with a stronger company. The Battle culminates in five-minute pitches judged by a panel of venture capital investors with over $1 billion of investments in their portfolio.
“Being part of this community has been very valuable to us,” said Musheer Ahmed, PhD, who won the first-ever Atlanta Startup Battle last year. His company FraudScope grew out of his research at Georgia Tech, was cultivated with help from the GT VentureLab, and gained attention by winning the 2016 IISP Demo Day. It uses a data mining algorithm to detect healthcare fraud, a $290 billion problem in the US alone. While the money was the initial draw to participate in the competition, it’s the mentorship that has really made a difference. “Allen especially has helped us make the right decisions to grow the business,” said Ahmed.
“We specifically called the invent Atlanta Startup Battle because it’s bigger than TechSquare Labs,” said Nance, who attributes the event’s success to the strength of Atlanta’s innovation ecosystem. “In Tech Square, there is a real density around academic research, innovation, investors, entrepreneurship, programming, and students. This is one of the densest tech ecosystems in the world.”
All are welcome to participate in Atlanta Startup Battle, from corporate innovators to students. According to Nance, “this truly is an open event, and we want the Atlanta community, and hopefully, long-term the broader technology community and the broader business community, to participate.”
The next Battle goes down April 13. Learn more and register here.