5 Key Takeaways from Venture Atlanta 2014

by John Yates, Partner at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP.

This year’s Venture Atlanta conference once again brought together the most exciting startups and investors from Atlanta and the region. Sitting next to Beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium, the audience was treated to six-minute pitches from companies during the 2-day event. With MMM representing 12 presenting clients this year, it was great to see these entrepreneurs showcase their companies. Following up my friend David Cummings’ takeaways, here are my insights from the event:

  1. M&A activity should continue to surge in 2015 – equity funds have cash and want to put it work fast!  It was a good week for M&A deals – MMM announced two tech M&A deals.
  2. Atlanta tech companies are hidden gems to VC and PE funds seeking new deals – valuations are often inflated elsewhere making ATL attractive M&A turf.
  3. “A key to Atlanta’s entrepreneurial success is the ability to build connections between the tech community and the city’s Fortune 100 businesses” commented Jim Robinson, former CEO of AMEX and leading VC, during our fireside chat at the VIP dinner. The Metro Atlanta Chamber can be an important catalyst.
  4. “For Atlanta tech companies to build value, you must be able to articulate how you will accelerate revenue and scale,” remarked Alec Ellison, chair of Tech Investment Banking at Jefferies during his presentation to the Tech Executives Roundtable on the first day of Venture Atlanta.
  5. Resounding comment from VCs – focus even more on selecting the “best” presenting companies  and open the selection process to add more businesses from outside of Georgia – but just the best ones.

It’s exciting to see the startup and tech community thriving in Atlanta, once again confirming Atlanta is the tech epicenter of the southeast. What were some of your takeaways/insights?