Announcing David Payne as Managing Director for the Techstars Atlanta Accelerator in partnership with Cox Enterprises

Today I couldn’t be more excited to announce that I’m joining Techstars as the Managing Director for Techstars Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises.

In 2015, Techstars partnered with Cox Enterprises to launch a global mentorship-driven accelerator in Atlanta. Three years and thirty startups later, this program is having a tremendous impact on Atlanta, and I’m excited to build upon all of the success of the previous team.

I’ve been working in startups since the mid-90s in NYC, San Francisco, London, and (for the last decade) Atlanta. The startup I’m best known for is a consumer app called Scoutmob that raised $9M and got to three million users entirely by word-of-mouth. For my next venture, I teamed up with my Scoutmob cofounder again to launch a startup hub in downtown Atlanta called Switchyards Downtown Club.

Now that Switchyards is three years old and 400 members strong, I’m excited to have a much deeper level of involvement with a hand-picked group of founders from across the Southeast.

The Techstars Advantage

When Techstars Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises launched three years ago, I was invited to be a mentor for the program. I knew the Techstars brand was well respected in the startup world, but that’s about all that I knew about the organization. When I was leaving the first gathering of new mentors, I told my cofounder, “that’s the most impressive group of successful founders that I’ve ever seen in the same room at one time in Atlanta.”

Fast-forward to today, and I’ve not only seen the power of pairing great founders with great mentors as part of the Techstars program, but I’ve seen up close how Techstars gives startups incredibly unfair advantages that greatly increase their odds of success. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and it really does help startups #domorefaster. The amount of progress that I’ve seen startups make in the three months of a Techstars mentorship-driven accelerator program is astounding.

Atlanta is the Capital of the Southeast

I grew up in Alabama.  When I went away to college in Pennsylvania in 1990, I said goodbye to the South (or so I thought at the time). I graduated college and proceeded to move just about everywhere BUT the South… I wasn’t going home.

But a funny thing happened as I lived and worked in some of America’s other great cities… I started to appreciate the South even more: that curious feeling that you get walking down Magazine Street in New Orleans; the comfort of sitting down at a soul food restaurant in Birmingham; the sound of someone finger-picking an acoustic guitar in Nashville. The American South has a spirit unlike any other.

There’s a quotation from novelist George Moore that sums up the feeling to me: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” I returned home to the South to find that it had changed, and I had changed—and it was exactly what I needed. It might be what you and your venture need, too.

Over the last decade the American South has changed dramatically. Young people are moving back into walkable city centers. Innovation hubs are popping up in every city of more than a half-million people. Talent from other parts of the country is taking notice and moving in for a better quality of life.

Techstars believes that founders should be able to build successful businesses wherever they want to live. Changes in technology and attitudes like this are having a major impact on startups in the Southeast.

As we would say in Alabama, this ain’t your momma’s South.

While these changes were taking place in the South as a whole, something else powerful has happened as well: Atlanta has emerged as the capital of the Southeast. There are great universities, an extremely diverse and creative culture, plus lots of Fortune 500 companies. All this (and more) has caused Atlanta to emerge as one of most dynamic cities in the country.

I love this video that Atlanta put together as a top contender for Amazon HQ2. Watch it—you’ll see what I mean about how vibrant Atlanta really is. It’s even better actually living here!

As the only global accelerator in the Southeast, Techstars Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises is the natural hub for the next generation of great startups that emerge from the Southeast.

What’s Next?

Applications for Techstars Atlanta in partnership with Cox Enterprises will open in mid-January for our class beginning in July 2019. Between now and then, I will spend a great deal of time meeting with connectors, investors, successful founders, and promising founders to join our next class.

If you are working on a startup in the Southeast and want to experience the Atlanta I’ve just described—please request Office Hours here, so I can learn more about what you’re working on and reach out to you.








Techstars Atlanta Demo Day 2018 in Partnership with Cox Enterprises

Techstars is the global network that helps entrepreneurs succeed.

Together we help accelerate the pace of innovation by strengthening the path for entrepreneurs, providing support for entrepreneurial communities, and helping to grow the worldwide entrepreneurial ecosystem. Techstars Atlanta Demo Day, in partnership with Cox Enterprises, will feature pitches from 10 startups that relocated to Atlanta for the 13-week Techstars accelerator program. This is an excellent opportunity for angel, seed, and Series A investors to evaluate startups at varying stages across a variety of industries.

Help us spread the word about Demo Day 2018! Click to Tweet, and share your excitement with the hashtag #TechstarsATL.


VIP reception to follow downstairs at The Cotton Club at 7:00 PM

Upon entry to the venue, all VIP ticket holders will be given a lanyard for access to the VIP seating area and reception.


Techstars Atlanta has partnered with Venture Atlanta for their 11th annual conference!

Held October 16 – 17, this annual conference creates opportunities for top tier investors to connect with and fund the region’s most promising technology companies. Showcasing top tech talent across the Southeast, it’s truly an event not to miss; make sure to register now to attend!








Techstars Atlanta Announces 2018 Class

Applications were received from 42 countries; the 10 participants selected represent six U.S. states and Israel.

Techstars Atlanta, presented in partnership with Cox Enterprises, today announced Techstars Class 133 – the 10 companies that earned coveted spots in its startup accelerator program for 2018. Applications were received from 42 countries around the globe, and the chosen participants hail from six U.S. states and Israel. This is the third class of the Techstars program in Atlanta, which boasts a worldwide network of successful entrepreneurs and investors.

“In 2016, Techstars Atlanta entered the ecosystem as a startup itself and we focused heavily on leveraging the global Techstars network to make a name for ourselves,” said Techstars Atlanta’s Managing Director Michael Cohn. “We traveled extensively, building relationships in cities from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, and from Tel Aviv to Miami. Throughout the Southeast, we left no stone unturned in our hunt for the best and brightest entrepreneurs to participate in this program. The broad network of supporters we have established enabled us to recruit 10 excellent startups for Techstars Atlanta this year, and we’re extremely excited to begin working with each of them.”

Techstars Atlanta continues to be housed at Ponce City Market. Over 90 days of rapid acceleration, the entrepreneurs will build their business network, receive individualized support and learn the building blocks of a successful business – all while being embedded in Atlanta. The program kicks off with mentor madness, where more than 1,000 hours of mentorship is provided by the region’s leading subject matter experts.

“Cox is proud to support our city’s startup ecosystem and bright, bold innovators through Techstars Atlanta,” said Cox Enterprises President and CEO Alex Taylor. “We’re excited to see the great energy and ideas each of these entrepreneurs will bring to life over the next 90 days and we look forward to helping them build successful businesses.” 

The program culminates in a Demo Day Oct. 15, where participants have a chance to pitch their unique business plan to hundreds of investors and community supporters. For a peek at Demo Day in action, check out this video of last year’s event.

“Techstars is the gold standard for accelerators around the world, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of such a global network,” said PowerSpike Founder Angelo Damiano. “We anticipate the next three months to be a period of tremendous change and growth for PowerSpike, but our team is prepared for the challenges ahead, and thrilled to embark on this journey. We want to take our company from a successful college dorm room startup, and build it into a world class business, and we couldn’t be happier than to partner with Techstars Atlanta and Cox to make that happen.”

Techstars Atlanta’s 2018 Class:

BigTeam (Atlanta, GA) | A platform that allows modern marketing, product, customer experience, and innovation teams to generate actionable feedback from employees, clients, and stakeholders.

CaribShopper (Miami, FL) | A platform that enables underbanked customers in developing nations with the ability to participate in e-commerce by providing them with accessible cash-to-credit facilities and simplified freight-forwarding.

Case Status (Charleston, SC) | An application that assists attorneys in keeping clients up-to-date on case status, allowing them to focus on more high-value work.

Cemento (Tel Aviv, Israel) | A commercial real estate construction collaboration application for general contractors and subcontractors that provides visibility to all stakeholders to ensure that projects are delivered on time and on budget.

CommissionTrac (Atlanta, GA) | A cloud-based software for commercial real estate firms that streamlines tedious back office accounting and commission management.

Fixel (Tel Aviv, Israel) | A fully-autonomous platform that helps marketers create and manage more efficient customer segments by ranking them based on their level of engagement.

Motivo (Chattanooga, TN) | An online platform that connects aspiring mental health professionals seeking licensure with clinical supervisors through live, HIPAA-compliant video.

PadSplit (Atlanta, GA) | A solution for landlords that enables them to provide affordable shared living experiences to the workforce.

PowerSpike (Albany, NY) | A platform that connects streamers with brands in a fully-managed eSports influencer marketing platform.

SAWA (Cincinnati, OH) | A virtual graphic designer that allows teams to create consistent, branded designs for commonly needed communications.








Team, Team, Team: Welcome Tyler Scriven to Techstars Atlanta

At Techstars, we are often asked the question, “what do you look for in a startup?” Our answer is “team, team and team,” (followed by market, progress and idea). Today I’m excited to announce my teammate and partner in Techstars Atlanta, Tyler Scriven, who will be joining as Director.

Most recently, Tyler helped scale the Silicon Valley-based software company Palantir. Titles at Palantir are fleeting, but suffice to say, Tyler did some pretty impressive things while there. After overseeing the operations of the business through a period of tremendous growth, Tyler relocated to Atlanta late last year. He and I met as investors in the same company, and quickly hit it off. I’ve gotten to know Tyler very well since then and I couldn’t be more excited to have him on board as my partner on this journey with Techstars.

Offering Founders a Diverse Set of Experiences

When you’re launching a startup, it’s generally a good idea to look for different strengths in your founding team members. The same idea most certainly applies to building and growing the Techstars program in Atlanta, which is why I’m so thrilled about partnering with Tyler.

Tyler and I certainly have a lot of similarities and share many of the same ideals, but our skills and backgrounds are actually quite complementary to one another, making us what I’d like to think is the perfect team.

Take, for example, our experience growing companies. As one of the co-founders and CEO of Cloud Sherpas, I grew the company from its inception to our first million in revenue, 10 employees, and first round of funding from Hallet Capital. I remained on the senior leadership team until the sale of our company. Tyler had a somewhat opposite experience at Palantir. When he joined the company, it was at about 100 employees. It then grew to over 2,000 employees during his tenure, in large part due to hiring he did and acquisitions he led. In other words, I’m the zero-to-one guy and Tyler is the one-to-scale guy, and that means together we can offer the organizations that come through Techstars the entire package.

Recruiting Talent and Ideas from Across the Spectrum

Tyler also brings a unique perspective to the table that complements my own. Whereas I’ve built most of my relationships in the south and along the east coast, Tyler is extremely well-connected out west. This geographic diversity creates a powerful opportunity for us to tap into his Silicon Valley roots and create a deep connection between the Atlanta startup community and the Valley.

Additionally, Tyler understands the value of having a diverse class of entrepreneurs come through the Techstars program, and I have no doubt that he will be an ardent champion for diversity in all forms, be it technology, geographies or anything else.

Playing to Our Strengths

Finally, I’m excited about the personality that Tyler brings to the table. From his strength as a communicator (Tyler has the rare ability to think clearly and calmly under pressure and set his emotions aside when necessary) to the surprising path he took to get where he is today (Tyler majored in architecture in college — I know, I wouldn’t have guessed it either!), Tyler is really an artist underneath it all. I often think of myself as an artist too, and I have no doubt that the creativity with which that comes will prove a valuable asset as we grow the Techstars program in Atlanta.

Welcome to the Team, Tyler

As complementary as Tyler and I are in so many areas, we’re entirely both aligned with each other and the larger Techstars program on the mantra of #givefirst.

For these reasons and so many more, I could not be more thrilled to have Tyler as my partner and to take this journey with him. Together, I am certain that we will have an indelible impact on those who come through our program, contribute to Atlanta in a meaningful way and build one of the most powerful nodes in the Techstars system.

What’s Next?

I’ve had a busier month ramping up with Techstars than I’ve had in a very long time. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:

  • Applications are open: Our immediate focus is on recruiting great companies, and we want to see everything there is to offer. Got something to bring to our attention? Start your application today.
  • See you next week in Israel: On a quest for a truly diverse program, I’m going to tech-savvy Israel to spread the word about Techstars Atlanta. I’ll be in Tel Aviv next week, where I’m hosting a panel discussion with Israeli founders who came through different US Techstars programs, followed by a happy hour. I’m super interested in meeting companies, so if you’re in the area, check out the event page to learn more and join us. Thanks to @lironrose and @wolkomir for helping to coordinate!
  • April 28th at Atlanta Tech Village: Thanks to our friends at ATV for hosting! Tyler and I lead a Techstars Atlanta information session in the Speakeasy Board Room starting at 5pm. Details and beer to follow.
  • Stay tuned for more events: We’ll be hosting more information events in the coming weeks, so check in with me on Twitter at @cohnhead for announcements about where to find us.

Originally posted on Medium.