Some of you might have read my little blog about heading stateside last month with the Department for International Trade and what I was doing in the ATL. Here’s a short summary of all the fun that I had and what I learnt about the technology space in a city that has some interesting similarities to Manchester.
The people I met
With me on my adventure in Atlanta, I had the pleasure of being surrounded by 11 completely inspirational female founders – the trip was for Northern Powerhouse Female Founders after all. They weren’t all tech founders and they weren’t all from Manchester. There were women from all across the North of England, from lawyers to startup founders.
The aim of the trip was to understand more about the social entrepreneurship scene across the pond and what the city of Atlanta is doing to support for profit and purpose businesses. It was clear that in somewhat turbulent times, there was an unintentional focus on doing good, making positive changes and supporting each other.
I had the opportunity to meet some of the most influential movers and shakers in Atlanta, dined with Her Majesty’s Consulate General and had great conversations with Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed.
Manchester vs Atlanta
Atlanta has one of the most diverse startup ecosystems that I’ve come across. Not just in terms of gender but the city also proactively supports black and minority ethnic entrepreneurs and SMEs – something which is particularly lacking in the UK and in particular in Manchester.
It was great to see WEI (Women’s Entrepreneur Institute) in Atlanta, a female only entrepreneur accelerator and coworking space, funded in partnership across the city and by the local government to support female entrepreneurs, the space itself was inspiring let alone the female founders who called it home.
Plus, one thing that struck me was the sheer number of female serial entrepreneurs in the tech industry, who are now opening the doors for more women in the sector. It was support network that I’ve rarely seen replicated in other cities and that really highlighted how far the UK has to go for the same to happen (and not just in terms of gender of course!).
And to top it all off, I was lucky enough to meet some exceptionally talented creative technologists. I had some really interesting conversations about how art can be used as a tool to innovate, which meant I could shout about FAULT LINES and the work that FutureEverything are doing to support and develop creative technologists and cross disciplinary artists. The arts and technology scene in the USA is something that’s getting more attention, particularly as Atlanta is also on its way to becoming a Smart City.
Two weeks later and I still feel like I’m digesting all of the information that thrown my way. My biggest takeaway was how much of an impact a support network can make to supporting innovation and that, similarly to Manchester, there’s an approachable and welcoming crowd of people to help support new businesses trying to do good things.
Along with that, it was great to be connected with some influential Female Founders from the North of England and the feeling of being able to accomplish anything when you’re surrounded by great people who are motivated to get stuff done and make things happen.