Monday, December 17, 2018

Groundbreakers

When our November issue went to press, Amazon still had not announced its choice for HQ2. But the buzz has certainly kept Atlanta’s technology culture at the front of everyone’s minds this year. Certainly, our city has the educational, financial, and political chops to nurture state-of-the-art advances. But if technology’s next frontier is connectivity—the “Internet of Things”—then we would argue that Atlanta has an edge. Every one of this year’s honorees talked about the importance of community, networking, and mentoring. None of them stands alone. In Atlanta, entrepreneurs like Chris Klaus have endowed local universities; Fortune 500 companies like UPS have opened innovation labs to foster collaboration; and pioneers like Sig Moseley, Tom Noonan, and Mark Buffington have funded new ventures. Everyone pays it forward. As David Hartnett, the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s chief economic development officer and resident tech guru, says, our metro area’s technology industry is just the latest chapter in the Atlanta Way. —Betsy Riley

Groundbreakers MailChimp

Mailchimp

A marketing automation and email marketing cornerstone for small businesses, Mailchimp might be the most familiar name in Atlanta tech. The 17-year-old brand is instantly recognizable thanks to its colorful billboards, murals, and hyperlocal involvement in events.
Groundbreakers Kabbage

Kabbage

Founded in 2009 by Rob Frohwein, Marc Gorlin, and Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage provides small businesses with a convenient funding source. Once approved, small businesses can draw on their credit lines, immediately accessing a six- or 12-month installment loan issued by Celtic Bank.
Groundbreakers 2018

Engage Ventures

Engage Ventures is a hybrid venture-capital fund and business accelerator founded last year to bring together growth-stage startups with the money, experience, resources, and leadership of 11 Fortune 500 businesses.
Mike Cote Groundbreakers 2018

Mike Cote

Mike Cote is the president and CEO of Secureworks, an information security services company and Dell Technologies subsidiary, and has been leading the defense of highly sensitive data for nearly 20 years.
David Cummings Groundbreakers 2018

David Cummings

Before selling his company, marketing automation platform Pardot, for roughly $95 million in 2012, David Cummings says he used to play a game he called Real Estate Roulette. Cummings’s experience, coupled with his desire to kickstart a tech community, led him to found Atlanta Tech Village.
Groundbreakers 2018

Advanced Technology Development Center

When new tech companies emerge, they often join incubators to learn from others, develop business strategies, and hone their ideas into viable products. Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center is one of Atlanta’s oldest and consistently ranks among the nation’s top launchpads.
Atlanta Magazine Groundbreakers 2018

Venture Atlanta

The annual Venture Atlanta conference is basically our city’s version of ABC’s Shark Tank, where fledgling entrepreneurs pitch their concepts to investors from across the nation. In fact, “Shark” Mark Cuban delivered last year’s closing keynote address.
Jeff Sprecher Groundbreakers 2018

Jeff Sprecher

Jeff Sprecher, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has been at the apex of fintech, where technology and finance intersect, for nearly 20 years. Time after time, his company has consolidated, organized, and demystified the trading of financial assets.
John Yates Groundbreakers 2018

John Yates

John Yates, who had moved to Atlanta to practice law, realized that elements of the Silicon Valley ecosystem would benefit Atlanta’s nascent tech community and the Southeast as a whole. Yates has blazed a trail for Atlanta’s tech ecosystem for more than 30 years.
Groundbreakers 2018

The Weather Channel

For most of the 36-year-old Weather Channel’s existence, technology limited weather presentation to narration, archival footage, and basic graphics. The Weather Channel landed on augmented reality (AR) technology, the seamless blending of computer-generated imagery (CGI) with live content to better connect with its viewers.
Paul Judge Groundbreakers 2018

Paul Judge

Paul Judge has spent nearly 20 years developing, leading, and launching new tech companies in Atlanta. A graduate of Morehouse College and Georgia Tech, Judge holds a doctorate in network security, helping found and cofound companies like Luma, TechSquare Labs, and Pindrop Security.
Jeff Arnold & Dawn Whaley Groundbreakers 2018

Jeff Arnold and Dawn Whaley

Jeff Arnold founded WebMD because he thought health should have a homepage. Early on, he met Dawn Whaley, who was a pioneer in dotcom-era public relations. The two have worked together ever since, collaborating on the Convex Group, a media and internet investment organization that ultimately acquired HowStuffWorks in 2002.
Groundbreakers 2018

Emnovate

After a successful global career in information technology and innovation, Robin Bienfait returned home to Georgia to focus on accelerating startups. She’s founded Emnovate and Atlanta Tech Park.
Groundbreakers 2018

BitPay

As cryptocurrencies continue to gain traction, local startup Bitpay has stepped in to encourage mainstream acceptance. They provide payment processing of Bitcoin for online retailers.
Groundbreakers 2018

State Farm Regional HQ

Park Center, State Farm’s new regional headquarters in Dunwoody, has successfully coupled a suburban office location with the intermodal connectivity of an urban core campus.
Groundbreakers 2018

TechBridge

TechBridge provides IT, analytical data, and custom tech solutions for nonprofits—helping more than 50,000 groups, from the Atlanta Community Food Bank to Safe Kids Georgia, better serve their constituents.
Groundbreakers 2018

Creative Media Industries Institute

Georgia State’s Creative Media Industries Institute aims to train students in advanced media tech, nurture the field’s entrepreneurs, and collaborate with Georgia’s film, television, music, and gaming industries to explore new creative outlets.
Groundbreakers 2018

NCR Midtown HQ

NCR has moved 1,700 employees from various metro-area offices into its new headquarters in Midtown. Citing transit and proximity to Atlanta’s universities, NCR hopes the campus will become the focal point of Atlanta’s “Silicon Valley of the East.”
Groundbreakers 2018

IgniteHQ

IgniteHQ, a coworking space just off Marietta Square, not only allows members access to communal areas but also conference rooms, mailing addresses, reserved spaces, and private offices.
Groundbreakers 2018

Prototype Prime

Prototype Prime is a tech incubator focusing on startups’ early growth in Peachtree Corners. It boasts a Design and Development Lab stocked with 3D printers and electronics manufacturing equipment, audio recording space for podcasts, and regular educational events.
Groundbreakers 2018

Tech Alpharetta

With more than 600 technology companies already calling Alpharetta home, the city actively fosters innovation. Growing from an advisory board of tech leaders in 2012, Tech Alpharetta has expanded into a full-service incubator through its Innovation Center.
Groundbreakers 2018

VRGluv

We may be a long way from the world of Ready Player One, but VRGluv, a local startup, brings an interactive virtual-reality world slightly closer. They’re developing gloves with haptic feedback sensors, allowing users to “feel” the objects they see in VR games.

VIDEO: 2017 RECEPTION

2017 GROUNDBREAKERS

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank’s intentions for the dazzlingly complex, $1.6-billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium were to create a similar cultural hive for downtown Atlanta, the heartbeat of an entertainment and parks district that would bolster its neighboring communities. An instant landmark, the stadium’s wing-like exterior sections (an allusion to falcons in flight), 16-story “window to the city,” immense video halo board, and ocular roof of eight translucent petals have certainly made a splash.
Gamble + Gamble Architects

Gamble + Gamble Architects

Husband-and-wife-led architecture firm Gamble + Gamble has built a reputation for designing progressive single-family homes, modern-style townhomes, and striking hospitality design. But the restoration of the historic (and crumbling) Clermont Hotel presented challenges on a new scale.
Gene Kansas

Gene Kansas

Gene Kansas has an affinity for adaptive-reuse projects, especially those on imperiled Auburn Avenue, the heart of a district famously dubbed Sweet Auburn when it was thriving during the first half of the 20th century. Kansas knows how fragile community and history can be, having seen his hometown literally underwater.

PHOTOS FROM OUR 2017 EVENT

2016 GROUNDBREAKERS

Groundbreakers 2016

Clarkston Community Center Senior Refugee Program

Not long after the Clarkston’s community center opened, the staff recognized that older refugees face unique hurdles in adapting to a different culture. “They’re the last [in the family] to get any kind of services,” says director Cindy Bowden. “They’re the last to learn English. They’re the last to get involved in the community. It’s important to offer them an avenue to belonging.”
Groundbreakers 2016

TechSAge

The woman guided her wheelchair onto the sidewalk along Spring Street in Midtown and considered her options. She was only going a few blocks, but to get there smoothly, she had to consider potential barriers that able-bodied people don’t usually worry about. She consulted the new app on her smartphone, which directed her along Armstead Place rather than Fourth Street; there’s no walk signal or crosswalk across traffic-heavy Spring Street at Fourth.
Groundbreakers 2016

The Giving Tree Intergenerational Preschool Program

The Arbor Terrace assisted living facility in Alpharetta is typically a pretty quiet place. But on Wednesday and Friday mornings, the space is filled with an unexpected sound: the excited chatter and squeals of young children.

2016 INNOVATION INDEX

2015 GROUNDBREAKERS

Clark Howard and Habitat for Humanity

Clark Howard and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

Howard’s initial involvement in Habitat in 1996 was born out of remembrance for his father, who grew up during the Great Depression and whose parents were evicted twice. And the famous penny-pincher’s mission intersects nicely with that of the organization.
Decatur

The City of Decatur

The City of Decatur has garnered plenty of awards for its environmental work. Last year it became the first local government to reach platinum status in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Green Communities program, a designation that recognizes an all-encompassing effort.
The Imperial Hotel

The Imperial Hotel

On a Monday in June, 25 years ago, activists broke into the vacant Imperial Hotel, made their way to the highest floor, and lowered a massive sign emblazoned with the directive: “House the Homeless Here.” Soon the encampment inside the historic hotel numbered 100 protesters.

2015 INNOVATION INDEX

2014 GROUNDBREAKERS

Fugees Academy

Fugees Academy grew out of the acclaimed soccer program for refugee children. Today, the school enrolls 100 students from more than twenty countries, helping them thrive as they make the transition to a new home. Thanks to donations and sponsors, tuition is free.

Midtown Buzz

A partnership between Georgia Tech and the Midtown Alliance, Buzz brings together residents, businesses, and students to develop community-focused smartphone apps like OneBusAway and CycleAtlanta.

The Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

Founded in 2007 as the only all-girls unit of Atlanta Public Schools, the academy stresses science, technology, engineering and math courses. The first seniors graduated from the school this spring, and every single one was accepted to college.

2014 INNOVATION INDEX

2013 GROUNDBREAKERS

Neurotrack

Neurotrack is a testing system that uses eye-tracking and can determine with uncanny certainty who will develop Alzheimer’s disease in the next three to six years. It was developed based on decades of research by Stuart Zola of Emory University.

The Proctor Creek Project

The movement to rejuvenate Proctor Creek and the neighborhoods through which it snakes involves a coalition of federal, state and local agencies—along with nonprofits, city planners, and private investors.

Cancer Wellness

Tom Chapman, former CEO of Equifax, collaborated with Piedmont Hospital to create Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, holistic treatment centers for patients, families and caregivers.

2013 INNOVATION INDEX

2012 GROUNDBREAKERS

The Atlanta BeltLine

In the center of an old railroad bridge in Reynoldstown, a man pedaled a unicycle, arms outstretched. An odd-looking chap, he had spindly fingers made from motorcycle foot pegs and a red taillight heart that gleamed, E.T.-like, under horseshoe ribs. Visitors to last year’s Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition could bring him creaking and clacking to life with a separate set of foot pedals. Will Eccleston’s Uniman is gone now, dismantled in the artist’s backyard, just as the overgrown grass and rusted tracks will someday be transformed. But for a moment, Uniman was part of an unfolding history.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute

As you read this, programmers hover over laptops and lattes at the Technology Square Starbucks, designing the Next Big Thing. It has never been so easy (or so cheap) to turn a good idea into a global product. So they devise apps to entertain you, devices to save you energy and time, and stuff you won’t know you need until they invent it. Technology Square is the heart of Atlanta’s start-up community and site of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) of Georgia Tech. Stephen Fleming, a former venture capitalist, runs this incubator and the overarching Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Rosalynn Carter

Rickey Wingo, fifty-three, suffered from schizophrenia and got agitated due to a side effect of his medicine. The final time it happened, workers at Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital pinned him to the ground and beat him to death, according to the state’s chief medical examiner, who ruled Wingo’s death a homicide. No staffers were charged or punished. Wingo’s case was just one of 115 suspicious deaths and incidents uncovered in a five-year Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation of Georgia’s state psychiatric hospitals. No, this wasn’t Jack Nelson’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize–winning exposé about abuses at Milledgeville’s Central State. This series was published in 2007. Do you remember it?