SL #43: Atlanta Technology Angels (Live at 151 Locust)

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Gordon Rogers, Atlanta Technology AngelsWelcome to SL #43! Recently, we got together with Gordon Rogers, the new President of the Atlanta Technology Angels (ATA), and had a great discussion about the current state of the Atlanta startup ecosystem, the angel investing landscape, and the merits of eating potato chips while trying to interview someone for a podcast.  This was our first ever “live” podcast, recorded on-location at 151 Locust, a hip new startup incubator here in Atlanta.

In addition to consuming copious amounts of “adult beverages” during the session (wheee!), we also discussed the now infamous Bresnitz paper, as well facilitating a lively Q&A session with the audience.

Banks go under the bus, and @Unblakeable comes with the smiley face on for a “Look Who Gets It” segment.  Another great selection of listener emails and a dash of StartupLounge humor to top it all off. Enjoy!

Sponsors for this episode:
Be sure to click the logos below and visit our sponsors – without them, we simply couldn’t do all of the things we do.

Ballard Spahr

Acuity Benefits Solutions Acuity CFO Adams Capital
Carabiner Communications CresaPartners Georgia Department of Economic Development
Habif, Arogeti and Wynne Imlay Investments Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce
Endorphin Entertainment PeachPodStudios Southern Capitol Ventures
ATDC Techdrawl Technology Association of Georgia

Shownotes and Interview Questions:

As usual, we had lots of related follow-up questions and side discussions, but here is a good sampling of the questions we asked on the show:

  • Give us the Atlanta Technology Angels elevator pitch.
  • More specifically, what kinds of deals are you looking for?
  • What are the criteria to be an ATA member?
  • Explain the process for a company to present itself for consideration by the ATA
  • How do most deals find you?
  • Tell us about 1-2 investments the ATA has made in the past year?
  • How has the economy impacted the ATA’s membership and by extension, the ATA’s funding activity?
  • How do deals get funded in the ATA?
  • Are you personally invested in any deals?
  • Once the ATA invests in the deal, how active is your participation in the company’s management?
  • Are the deal terms more or less standard or do they vary deal to deal?
  • How long does the evaluation process take?
  • How did your background lead you to angel investing and the ATA?
  • What do you think your strengths are as an investor?
  • Why did you want to become the ATA President?
  • What are your key agenda items for the ATA under your leadership?
  • Who are some of the other key leaders at the ATA?
  • What do you see as the key challenges of the Atlanta venture environment?
  • What’s your assessment of the funding environment today and a year from now?
  • What’s an instant turnoff for you when companies present?
  • What are your thoughts on the paper published recently published by Georgia Tech professor Danny Bresnitz?
  • What’s some advice you can give to companies to maximize their opportunity with the ATA?

Listener Emails Read and Answered on the Show:

AJ: Recently there was some drama around an academic paper co-authored by Georgia Tech professor Danny Bresnitz.  In the paper, the authors came to a number of conclusions about the Atlanta startup ecosystem – what do you guys think?  I’d also be curious to hear Gordon Rogers’ thoughts on this topic as well.

OTP4Ever: I am looking to raise some capital for my startup and have a corporate structure question. I know that outside investors typically invest in “C-Corp”, so there can be multiple classifications of stock and what not.  But obviously, as a green-field startup, I don’t want to do a C-Corp initially, because of the dual taxation.  If I form an S-Corp or LLC initially, is that going to be a turn-off for an angel investor or?  Can I switch the company structure when I have a term sheet, or do I have to start out as a C-Corp?  Any guidance you guys could provide would be helpful! Thanks!I am launching a new internet business and I need to get a quote for web design work.  My question is this.  How can someone get an accurate quote for Web design on their new internet business without giving away the idea?

Karl: Scott/Mike, I just discovered your podcast and absolutely love it! I have an issue that you guys can hopefully help me with.  I have been asked by a friend of mine to function as the Company’s CFO and Treasurer during the development phase of the Company. The agreement is for this not to be more than 20 hours per week and involves maintaining the accounting records, preparing corporate tax filings, develop the business plan and to assist in the search for venture or angel capital funding. Whatever equity interest I agree to take will be substantially diminished by the introduction of outside capital. I have some thoughts of my own, but I’m interested to see what you guys think is a fair way to go about measuring this?

Guest Bios:
Gordon Rogers, President, Atlanta Technology Angels

Gordon is an economist, entrepreneur and angel investor. After working as a financial analyst, in 1988 he established a business (Meliora Systems, Inc.) that created one of the pioneering products in the corporate e-learning & talent management field (Ingenium). He guided the growth of the company from a start-up to IPO through a merger in 1998 with Paul Allen’s company, Asymetrix Learning Systems (ASYM). This exit event yielded a 12X return for initial investors in the business.

After leaving ASYM/CLKS/SUMT in 2000, he spent the next several years investing in and serving on the advisory boards of various tech startups in the e-learning and online coaching sectors. He now focuses primarily on helping early stage ventures in the the digital media and edutainment sectors raise capital and create strategic partnerships.

He is President of Atlanta Technology Angels, and a member of Angel Lounge , the MIT Enterprise Forum, and the Atlanta CEO Council. He is also Managing Director of Vernon Bridge Ventures, an early stage capital/advisory firm. He serves on the boards of Rapid LD and Good Egg Studios.  He is also an angel investor in Elf Island, a new social MMO for kids.

He has extensive experience serving on boards of non-profit organizations (YMCA of Greater Atlanta, Interfaith Outreach Home, Teacher Support Network, The Lionheart School). He received the 2006 Volunteer of the Year Award from the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. He recently completed his first Olympic distance triathlon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Miscellany:

Enjoy! To play it, use the tools at the top of this post – you can play it via the embedded Flash player by pressing the big play button at the top, or download it to play on your computer or MP3 player. You can also take advantage of our iTunes feed.

Podsafe music used within this episode:

  • Underground by Roadside Attraction
  • Tweetin’ on a Jet Plane by Steve Goodie
  • All the Money in the World by Hutch

Our format is a little out of the norm as far as podcasts go. We treat our efforts as a true “show” rather than a super-concise (limited) vehicle for delivery of information. Therefore, the podcasts can run a bit long (actually, it is largely driven by the guests and their responses.) While we try to have very substantive discussions, we also try to have a lot of fun along the way (and that tends to elongate the programming a wee bit.) :) Our theory is that if we are having fun during the show, hopefully, you will be having a little fun listening as well.  And if you still think our shows are too long, frankly, we just don’t care.

Here is the breakdown for the show, in case you want to hop around.

Segment Starts At:
Intro: 00:00
Opening Dialog: 02:25
Under the Bus/LWGI: 06:58
StartupLounge Mailbag: 14:50
Comedy Break: 28:45
Main Discussion Topic: 32:31
Wrap-up/Analysis 105:00

A special thanks to Gordon for coming in and hanging out with us!  Also thanks to Ed Riecker and the gang down at 151 Locust for hosting us and throwing a great party!

We welcome your continued feedback as well! If you have an interest in appearing on the show, becoming a show sponsor (hint, hint), have some suggestions for topics, have feedback, or would just like to email us and tell us to “shove off”, we invite you to contact us.

Enjoy!

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1 Comment so far »

  1. K said

    on January 17 2010 @ 1:13 am

    Second part of the podcast sounds like a true story. Scott, Mike do do real life conversational records. It gives valuable authenticity.

    And of cause, Gordon is a champ. It seems that the troubled economy does something good after all. The startup ecosystem cleans up. Only devoted and dedicated people remain. The people, who understand the very tender roots and vital value of entrepreneurship, who can resist cynical labeling and diverting push of greedy public, will tech us the lesson of recovery.

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