Atlanta’s startup ecosystem is part of the primary commercial hub for the Southeastern United States – a tremendous boon for its entrepreneurs. Sixteen Fortune 500 companies make Atlanta home, including Delta Airlines, UPS, Coca-Cola, and CNN, which provide the ecosystem with talent and avenues for a potential exit. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) alone employs over 15,000 people and attracts top talent to Atlanta’s healthtech scene. The presence of Georgia Tech, along with dozens of high caliber universities, churn out a combined 200,000 graduates annually, which means that recruiting promising young engineers is realistic. Community anchors like the Atlanta Tech Village, Hypepotamus, Switchyards and ATDC provide ample support to emerging startups, and make it easy for new entrepreneurs to get engaged. Still, some have raised concerns that the startup market in Atlanta is too disjointed and accused the city’s entrepreneurs of ‘batting for singles and doubles, rather than pursuing home-runs.’ And, like other nascent ecosystems, it also suffers from a distinct lack of capital. Nevertheless, the city has a long history of successful exits and excels in enterprise, healthtech, fintech, and sales & marketing innovations.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.


  • Atlanta’s central location is just 2 hours away from 80% of the US market, and Hartsfield-Jackson is the most traveled airport in the world. Access to a large customer base is of great importance to startups.
  • As one of the country’s fastest growing cities, it has gained over 1 million people since 2000. Atlanta’s population growth is projected to stay positive for the next decade.
  • As a regional research hub, Atlanta universities spend close to $1.49 billion in annual research expenditures. 200,000 students graduate from universities in Atlanta annually, which provides a great talent pipeline for the tech scene.
  • With the cost of living factored in, software developers in Atlanta earn the second highest salaries in the country.
  • The presence of the headquarters of 16 Fortune 500 companies, such as Delta Airlines, UPS, Coca-Cola, and CNN, means that corporate talent is never far away.
  • Particular sector strengths include health, fintech, and enterprise. Startups that focus on these sectors should perform well. There is also ample opportunity for entrepreneurs pursuing innovations around logistics, given the presence of some of the world's largest logistics and supply-chain-oriented companies.

Risk Factors

  • There is a lack of capital in early stage startups because many investors are unfamiliar with angel investing and lack experience.
  • At 1,652 square miles, urban sprawl in Atlanta makes getting around challenging for those who don’t have a car. And those with a car spend an average of 50 hours a year sitting in traffic jams, providing a disincentive for startups to move to the city.
  • The ecosystem lacks demographic diversity, which can make it difficult to attract new talent from other parts of the country.
  • According to the Brookings Institution, Atlanta is America’s most unequal city: the top 5% of households make 19 times as much as those in the bottom 20%. Economists believe that income inequality negatively impacts the product differentiation offered by producers in a given market.

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