Ryan Jones is the co-founder and CEO of em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.florencehc.com/"">>Florence Healthcare, a leading clinical trial software company.
Atlanta has emerged as a hub for health IT software, with Georgia currently boasting more than 200 healthcare IT companies and almost all of those companies located in or around the Atlanta area. This growth inspires the question: Why are so many healthcare technology companies choosing to set up shop in the South, rather than in traditional hubs like Silicon Valley or the Northeast?
When we look at Atlanta, where my company is based, we can see that the city benefits from the same ingredients that supported growth at the tech hubs that came before it: a regionally-focused area of expertise (healthcare), an educated workforce and a tech-friendly regulatory environment and culture.
By looking at how Atlanta has succeeded in attracting healthcare tech companies, we can see the benefit of betting on a niche. Then we can turn to look at other characteristics all tech entrepreneurs should search for when choosing where to start their businesses. Based on this, here are four characteristics tech entrepreneurs and leaders should look for in a prospective hub before they set up shop.
1. Find an industry niche where your city has momentum.
Entrepreneurs who want to enter a given tech space should search for cities with momentum in that field. When a niche has gained momentum in a particular city, you’ll notice a few telltale signs. The first is that one or two of the businesses from the new industry are experiencing exponential growth.
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Second, you’ll notice that those businesses are receiving support from the surrounding community. Researchers from local universities are drawn there, and the state or city governments seem eager to recognize or provide incentives to the fledgling industry.
Once you see these signs, you can look for gaps in this growth. Of the businesses that have already taken root, what product is missing? How can you jump into the growing industry but focus on a new aspect of it? For example, we chose to focus on clinical trial software because while healthcare tech was growing rapidly, clinical trial sites were still underserved.
2. Fuel your progress with a diverse, educated workforce.
Like many major cities, Atlanta has no shortage of diverse talent. The city’s population is roughly 51% Black, 4.4% Asian and 4.3% Hispanic, and 4.2% of residents identify as LGBTQ+. Silicon Valley is also diverse, with many Asian, Latinx and LGBTQ+ residents. This gives tech startups in Atlanta an advantage when it comes to finding diverse talent. Tech startups should prioritize settling in a hub that has rich diversity; research shows that diversity increases companies’ innovation and financial success.
Startup entrepreneurs should also search for cities with an abundance of universities. Boston became a biotech hub thanks to its excellent schools, and Silicon Valley businesses relied heavily on graduate students in their early days. Atlanta, for instance, benefits from schools like Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Emory, as well as HBCUs like Morehouse, Spelman and Clark. Tech entrepreneurs should consider the number of HBCUs in a prospective location, as these colleges produce 25% of African American graduates with STEM degrees, which is a huge boost to tech startups searching for employees.
3. Seek out resources and communities for entrepreneurs.
All tech startups can benefit from networking, mentoring and education opportunities. The Bay Area excels at providing these resources, but the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest are stepping up their games in an attempt to compete.
When trying to determine if a hub has the resources you need, you can begin by searching for startup alliances or accelerators. A quick Google search should reveal what accelerators a city has and whether those accelerators have produced other successful startups. In Atlanta, for instance, our program is the Advanced Technology Development Center.
When you find one or two of these communities, begin networking and attending events before you focus on funding. By attending pitches and social events, you can see if the community is a good fit for you and if other startups have experienced the kind of success you want before you start joining pitching events yourself.
Building a stronger sense of community with more mentorship and funding opportunities will help newer hubs grow and compete with established hotspots.
4. Learn from other startups.
When a few startups survive and grow, others are likely to follow. In Atlanta, we’ve seen this trend with billion-dollar unicorn companies like SalesLoft, OneTrust, Calendly, Greenlight and FullStory. The healthcare industry has seen examples of this trajectory, too.
In addition to researching startup accelerators and the successful companies they’ve produced, form professional relationships with other startup founders in your area. Many startup accelerators bring back successful companies who they’ve helped for presentations and workshops. When you attend these events, take the time to talk to other founders afterward about their challenges and what they’ve learned.
Learning from other entrepreneurs is important, but so is sharing your own knowledge. If you meet a company that is in a similar field to yours, think about ways you can collaborate and share your expertise or technology with one another. You may be able to form an official partnership that garners more local support for both of you.
However, a few startups succeeding won’t be enough if those startups don’t invest in others. When our startups succeed, we need to use that experience — and the investable cash that comes from startup success — to inspire, mentor and fund other entrepreneurs.
Finding The Right Home For Tech Startups
When entrepreneurs understand cities’ strengths and weaknesses as startup hubs, they can determine which communities will best support their businesses.
Technology start-ups can thrive in any city with a strong regional industry, an educated, diverse workforce and tech-friendly resources. Entrepreneurs willing to look beyond traditional hubs like Silicon Valley or New York may be amazed by the communities they can find to support their growing start-ups.
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Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/10/15/creating-a-hub-for-tech-startups-four-lessons-for-tech-entrepreneurs/1546