Here’s the answer that I provided to them:
Interestingly enough, a young man from Canada phoned my office on Tuesday (2 days ago) inquiring about my services for startups and new businesses. In his case, he invented a new accessory (add-on) to make ladders safer (i.e., to prevent falls, stumbles, missteps, and accidents), which I found inspiring and innovative. In his case, the product is launching soon (according to him), and he stated that he wants to attend a conference for startups, innovation, incubation, and activation in the city of Atlanta this summer, and he is in need of a US sponsor, including one that provides office/development space. And, I expressed to him that while my small business incubator, accelerator and activator, The Atlanta Small Business Incubator (ASBI), does provide guidance, tools, methods, strategies and advice, we don’t provide physical office or development space, which he indicated was a priority in order to gain entrance to the upcoming conference.
When I inquired how it came to be that he found my practice (The Atlanta Small Business Incubator), after having likely done multiple Google Searches for “Small Business Incubators and Accelerators” or “Startup Hubs and Developers” in “Atlanta”, he indicated that he had already attempted to contact many of the organizations who came up in the search results, but I was the only person yet to answer his call. He also expressed that some didn’t even list an actual phone number. And, I found that experience on his part telling, sad, and typical of today’s business environment.
As I spoke with him, in the background I found results from The Founder Institute, Sharp Sheets, Failory, The Georgia Department of Economic Development, Starter Story, Atlanta Tech Village, Tracxn, Startup Atlanta, The University System of Georgia, and Georgia Tech showing dozens of startup and small business incubators, accelerators, activators, developers and hubs in Atlanta, including these:
1. ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center)
2. ATV (Atlanta Tech Village)
3. ATP (Atlanta Tech Park)
4. AVS (Atlanta Ventures Studio)
5. EEVM (Emory Entrepreneurship & Venture Management)
6. ESL (Emory Startup Launch)
8. Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) Atlanta
9. FIA (Founder Institute Atlanta
10. GTVL (Georgia Tech Venture Lab)
11. SM (Start: Me)
12. TSL (TechSquare Labs)
13. TSA (TechStars Atlanta)
14. TF (The Farm)
15. TIF (The Innovation Factory)
16. TEC (The Edge Connection)
17. EA (Endeavor Atlanta
18. EG (Echoing Green)
Some of these organizations require nothing to start, while others require up to a minimum of $250,000 to enter their programs. And, most of them focus on technological products.
So, “What resources in Georgia do you recommend to entrepreneurs just getting started (grants, programs, organizations, books, videos, etc.)?”
In my opinion, the most important thing that an entrepreneur, startup, or new business needs to have is a firm business plan/foundation, and that’s something that many incubators, accelerators, activators, launchers, institutes, hubs and development environments fail to provide. In my opinion, the foundation is everything. And, without a firm foundation (which should include a strong, feasible business plan), most startups will fail. In my “Welcome Email” to new prospects who have requested an appointment or more information from my practice, The Atlanta Small Business Incubator (ASBI), I share with prospective clients that the most important ingredient in realizing their goals is a strong, feasible business plan. Other ingredients are also required (passion, commitment, money, time, energy, etc.), but the most important one is a foundational business plan. And, that requires planning, thinking, forethought, insight, honest criticism, sector and market research, and the willingness to compromise. I could supply you with a wealth of data providing reasons why most small businesses and startups fail, but a firm foundation (which requires a good business plan) is the primary reason. I share this concept in my self-improvement books and in my podcast, “Fresh Start with Dr. David” Whether you’re talking about general health, mental health, your child’s development, or your business idea, the foundation is everything.
In other words, no amount or degree of incubation, acceleration, activation, innovation, mentorship, or development are going to make a bad business idea, product, service or novelty work. Success begins with good ingredients. There’s no way to avoid that, no matter how much money or resources you have. Success in Business (and in life) comes down to a lot more than incubation & acceleration. No think tank can save a bad idea.
Finally, I’d over this piece of wisdom and advice: If you contact an organization or a business in order to receive help and assistance, and you can’t get anyone on the phone, no one responds to your call or emails, and you can’t speak to an actual person in English, that’s a BAD SIGN. And, that’s going to be the foundation for what you experience with that organization from that point forward. You’re just going to be another startup number or client number in the factory lineup. Say goodbye to personal, individualized assistance, help, attention, and mentorship. When people (and organizations) show you who they are, believe them.