Tim Dorr is the Managing Director of Techstars Atlanta in Partnership with Cox Enterprises. He is a co-founder of Salesloft (Techstars Boulder 2012), one of the largest startups to come out of Atlanta, Georgia with a $2.3B valuation. Prior to that, he created the first coworking space in Atlanta, Ignition Alley, was an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, and has been an advisor at Atlanta Tech Village.
It starts with the founders. Are they driven to succeed, no matter what? Do they have a passion for what they are building? Are they creatively solving problems? Is their vision ambitious? Techstars is an accelerator for founders, so I'm looking for those that are going to grow the most through the program and go build the most exciting startups we'll all be talking about soon enough.
Then it becomes about impact. Whose lives are these startups going to touch? What effect will they have on ecosystems? Are they going to change the status quo? I want to see big ideas with big impact that will put positive change into the world.
As a founder, there is only one thing you have complete control over: your culture. You don't know how your marketing plan is going to go. You don't know what kinds of problems you'll encounter building your product. You don't know how fast or slow your sales pipeline will fill up (or empty out). You don't know what's going to happen to your market over time. You don't control what happens with your customers.
But what you do control, very directly, is the culture you cultivate and the people you bring into that culture. Your first 12 hires, your Dirty Dozen, are key to how your company operates and coworkers interact. It's tough to do but you have to be willing to let folks go early on if they're not a good culture fit. That becomes systemic very early on and is basically impossible to fix later. You don't need to agonize over every hire in exhaustive detail, but do keep an eye out for warning signs and act quickly. Your team is your source of power as a founder.
Our startup ecosystem is so accessible and well-connected. Founders of all skill levels and backgrounds can jump right in and access a wealth of resources that only Atlanta can provide. If you look back just a decade ago, Atlanta's startup scene was much more isolated and hard to find. Folks were doing meetups at bars, but not actually getting anything done. We had too many wantrepreneurs, not enough innovators. But since then we've created groups, programs, events, physical spaces, and more that has propelled us to be one of the best places to build a startup in the southeast. And we're now poised to be one of the best places to build a startup in the country.
As I've worked with the team over at Cox, I've learned they have a consistent goal: help grow the Atlanta startup ecosystem. It's amazing to have a partner where everyone truly believes in their goal and is in complete alignment. And because of Cox's deep connection to the Atlanta ecosystem, they bring unique resources and opportunities that can only happen here. Cox puts an incredible amount of effort into Techstars and has been crucial to the success of the program.
I've met him very briefly at a party before, but I'd love to sit down for a longer chat with Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox. The tenacity and drive he showed when starting the company has always been extremely impressive to me. I'd really want to know what it was like overcoming the status quo and early objections to the product that has since become indispensable to so many people.
If you are interested in applying to Techstars Atlanta in Partnership with Cox Enterprises, submit your application by April 6.Learn more about Techstars Atlanta in Partnership with Cox Enterprises