Entrepreneurs and startup companies are flocking to a new breed of office space in Buckhead. These coworking spaces offer silicon-valley amenities (think scooters in the lobby, leather recliners, and beer/coffee on tap) with lots of camaraderie. Record-high office lease rates in Buckhead, limited availability, and a strong entreprenurial tradition are the perfect conditions for successful coworking spaces such as Roam, WeWork and Atlanta Tech Village. These spaces offer small businesses the advantage of short-term leases at a lower cost and with more amenities than a traditional office space.
“There was a massive explosion in the Atlanta startup scene two-and-a-half to three years ago when Atlanta Tech Village was introduced into the heart of Buckhead,” explains Liam Shanahan, Director of Marketing at Wela, a startup that looks to bridge the gap between traditional methods of financial management and tech. Atlanta Tech Village (ATV), founded in Buckhead in 2012, boasts 171 villagers on its website including Salesloft and Yik Yak. And to hear Shanahan describe it, they really do mean the word ‘village.’
“Atlanta Tech Village,” he says, “is the perfect name for what it is. You stand out if you’re not personable and open and interested in what other people are doing. People are open with their time and energy. It’s the best investment I’ve made in the last three years.”
And that village has grown beyond the walls of ATV, with new co-working spaces like Roam and WeWork opening up in Buckhead all the time, all offering top of the line facilities and amenities. And the more the merrier, if you ask Shanahan. “Roam and WeWork have both moved in a block away. It’s a great thing. Now these co-working spaces are popping up everywhere. The ecosystem is growing.”
Village. Ecosystem. You’ll start to notice words like these that keep coming up when describing the startup community in Buckhead. It sounds very collaborative and harmonious, and that’s very intentional. Being in Buckhead means being a part of an ecosystem that thrives on innovation, the exchange of ideas and collectively pushing each other to great heights.
The Buckhead startup scene’s amenities are built to suit the quantity and quality of business that’s done in Buckhead, made up of a workforce stratified among professionals living in the suburbs, creative businesses who used to set up shop in Midtown and the Millennial workforce looking for a more urban setting. Roam’s CEO Peyton Day has seen a shift in the workforce that has dictated what these spaces offer entrepreneurs. “Today’s workers do not want to sign long-term office leases nor do they desire to sign personal guarantees. Rather, they seek to make short-term decisions, keep overhead low and minimize risk. These same people do not want to work or meet in a coffee shop, yet they need a place to be productive.”
Just down the street at Roam’s coworking space, they’re seeing a trend in the businesses and individuals seeking Buckhead’s coworking spaces. “We’re seeing more and more independent contractors entering the market,” observed Day. “In the past, many of these workers were employed by Fortune 500 companies. Today, they are reinventing themselves. Many are starting their own companies. Additionally, we are seeing recent graduates from Georgia Tech and other technical colleges produce an immense pool of tech talent. Both types of workers need a fun and inspiring place to work. That’s the need we aim to meet at Roam.”
Fiscally and geographically, Buckhead would seem a natural choice to become the home of such a community, equally accessible to residents of both Midtown and those who live OTP by several major highways, and a MARTA ride to the airport. But it wasn’t always obvious to Shanahan. “When I entered the startup scene and people started talking about the ATV, I thought, ‘Village? It doesn’t make sense to have a village in that spot in Buckhead.’”
And what does he think now? “It’s the Mecca of the startup scene.”
More and more entrepreneurs are flocking to startup Mecca. “David Cummings and the team at ATV have changed the way that people think about Atlanta and Technology and opportunity,” says Shanahan. “You have a lot of people with big dreams who think, ‘I’m going to change the world with this big application.’ We’ll see more people in Atlanta trying to replicate what they’re doing in some way, shape or form with real extended value.” That means more innovation, more sharing of ideas, and more growth for Buckhead in the future.