Atlanta, GA

Atlanta forum discusses Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Sophie-Ann McCulloch

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Lara Hodgson, co-founder, president, and CEO of Now, and Guy Primus, CEO and board member of Valence EnterprisesAllison Carter/Georgia Tech News Center

The Kendeda Buildings for Innovative Sustainable Design hosted the Inclusive Entrepreneurship forum on Wednesday. Corporate executives, entrepreneurs, political leaders, venture capitalists, and leaders in higher education discussed how Georgia Tech and Atlanta could ensure and support inclusion in entrepreneurship.

“Atlanta has seen a lot of momentum in recent years and does seem ready for a real acceleration. But if you just look at the data, according to the National Venture Capitalist Association, despite that progress, last year 75 percent of venture capital went to three states: California, New York, and Massachusetts. Georgia got 1 percent,” said Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and investment firm Revolution LLC., in a fireside chat with Georgia Institute of Technology’s president Ángel Cabrera.

Furthermore, Case argued that there is still a divide between the ideas, the entrepreneurs, the creativity, and the potential to start a business. As a result, college graduates from the South or Midwest who wanted to start a business often felt like they had to go to Silicon Valley.

Despite those problems, however, Case also shared some encouraging remarks about Atlanta’s future and that opportunity to be successful exists, even though there are still lots of work to do.

“The biggest opportunity for Atlanta is to emerge as the most inclusive startup city,” he said. “It’s not about a particular sector. It’s about creating an environment where everybody has a shot.”

The rest of the session featured panel discussions on diversity and inclusion, which feature community leaders, Georgia Tech alumni and students, young entrepreneurs, business and financial executives, as well as Georgia Tech teachers and staff.

The event, which was hosted both in-person and virtually, was a collaboration between the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

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