Buckhead resident David Cummings is a prototype for the modern entrepreneur. After selling his second startup at the age of 32 for $100 million, he developed a desire to help other tech entrepreneurs. This was the origin of his wildly successful startup hub Atlanta Tech Village. Atlanta Tech Village has been the birthplace of over 1000 tech companies since 2013, and these companies have created over 8000 jobs.
An early start
David was given the book, “Teach Yourself C in 21 Days” in eighth grade. This got him even more excited about building computers and writing software, and he obviously had a knack for it. He began exploring his entrepreneurial nature and his innovative ideas while he was in college in North Carolina.
“I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug as far back as I can remember. And so that led to building websites that led to my first real software company, I went to a professor of mine in undergrad and I told him I had this idea to make software to make it easy to update websites. Now this was 20 years ago, and back then we didn’t have tools like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and all the great things that we use now to update our websites. I set out with a few classmates of mine, and we built one of the first content management systems.”
The Buckhead connection
His first big customer was Noble Investment Group in the Monarch Tower near Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square. David sublet an office space from Noble after college, and moved his software company to Buckhead.
“Atlanta really defined the start of my entrepreneurial career. From an entrepreneur’s perspective, one of the hardest things is getting that first real customer. That first customer that’s going to provide honest feedback, that first customer that’s going to help with the direction of the product, and that first customer that’s going to make introductions to the next customer. And so Atlanta, and Noble Investment Group, and Raj and Mitch Shaw really opened the door to getting involved in the community here.”
Booming in Buckhead
By 2010 David had started his second software company, Pardot. This marketing software made it possible for businesses to run online email marketing campaigns and clearly demonstrate the return on investment from their activities. Pardot received an Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter award, and the AJC named the company the best place to work in Atlanta.
David says they weren’t the best place to work because of the benefits or vacation policy, but because of their aligned company culture. The business was focused on creating the best place to work and the best place to be a customer. Besides those two mantras, they looked for particular qualities in their employees.
“We focused on three core values. From a people perspective, we focused on people who were positive, self starting, and supportive. Everything we did around our recruiting process, our quarterly check ins, our daily stand ups, everything we did, inside the business, and on the recruiting front was to reinforce those three values, people who are positive, self starting, and supportive.”
The next BIG idea
David and his partners sold Pardot in 2012 for $100 million. He wanted to put his experience, drive, and resources to work for the good of the tech community. When he decided on his next move, he was virtually unstoppable.
“I told my wife, I’m going to buy the biggest building that I can find, and I’m going to make it the greatest spot for entrepreneurs to increase their chance of success.”
David bought the Atlanta Tech Village building at the corner of Lenox and Piedmont Rd on Christmas Eve 2012. The $40k he spent on Ikea furniture was only the beginning.
“By the end of the first week, we had rented out every desk in every office. At that point, I knew that there was way more demand than I even expected So we spent a year designing a master plan. We spent two years renovating the building, every single inch. Now from a building point of view, we have one of the most successful entrepreneurship centers in the entire United States.”
Tech startups thrive
David speaks with pride when he talks about the businesses that have grown within Atlanta Tech Village, and rightly so. The facility has been a huge boon to the technology industry in Atlanta.
“Sales loft, Terminus, and Calendly alone are worth nearly $5 billion dollars, and have raised nearly a billion dollars of equity just from those three companies. We’ve had over 1000 startups at the Atlanta tech village. Right in Buckhead at Piedmont and Lenox. We’ve created over 8000 jobs from the startups that are in the building and the ones that have graduated. We’ve created over a billion dollars of investments from the companies that are in the building and have graduated.”
David is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and tech startups through the Atlanta Tech Village for years to come.
“Over the next 10 years our goal is to create 20,000 more high paying tech jobs in Atlanta, by way of startups that start grow and graduate from the Atlanta tech village. The next time you’re in Buckhead at Piedmont and Lenox, and you look up and you see the sign on the building that says Atlanta Tech Village, just know that we’re doing everything in our power to put Atlanta on the map as one of the best cities in the country for tech entrepreneurs to succeed.”