Atlanta’s biggest brands want founders to #ChooseATL at SXSW 2017

And one-on-one meetings with some of Atlanta's top corporate brass could seal the deal. Here's how to apply.

Atlanta, home to 18 Fortune 500 companies that can act as an "older sibling" to growing startups ... or be a possible acquirer. (Photo by Flickr user Jack Kennard, used under a Creative Commons license)

Many people know of Atlanta as home to a vibrant business ecosystem with multiple fast-growing industries and the worldwide headquarters of Fortune 500 brands like Home Depot, Delta, Coca-Cola and UPS. But did you know that Atlanta is also a thriving startup hub, with more than 1,000 B2B and B2C startups spanning fintech, health IT, cybersecurity, MarTech and mobility? It’s also quickly establishing itself as the epicenter of corporate innovation labs, with brands such as Honeywell, GE and Hewlett-Packard investing hundreds of millions of dollars in software development, R&D projects and jobs.

Atlanta’s success as a startup hub is in part due to the city’s big brands being ready and willing to serve as powerful revenue streams, partners and credibility drivers for young companies of all types. With the nation’s third highest density of Fortune 500 headquarters — more than double that of San Francisco — it is Atlanta corporations that are often the first, and most loyal, customers that startups benefit from.

(Editor’s note:’s coverage of Atlanta from last year’s Tomorrow Tour also found this to be the case.)

In fact, direct access to corporate institutions that value and support the startup ecosystem is just one of many reasons why Inc. previously named Atlanta the No. 3 Emerging Startup Hub to Watch.

This year at SXSW in Austin, Texas, ChooseATL — a movement dedicated to attracting and retaining top talent to metro Atlanta — is on a mission to connect startups from across the country with Atlanta’s top corporate brass. What we’re calling the Entrepreneur Invitational is a first of-its-kind event for a small group of entrepreneurs to connect with several Atlanta C-suite executives for one-on-one, 10-minute sessions to discuss their company, explore opportunities and seek input from these experienced executives. This unprecedented access to corporate decision makers will give entrepreneurs just a little taste of how valuable scaling their startup in Atlanta could be.


  • Who: Entrepreneurs from across the country
  • What: The Entrepreneur Invitational
  • When: March 13 at 2:30 p.m. CST
  • To Apply: Entrepreneurs interested in securing a time slot for these powerful and unique networking sessions should submit their executive summaries for consideration on or before Monday, March 6, 2017. A selection committee will decide which companies will receive sessions with panelists. The names of those securing meetings will be announced during the panel, which will take place in the ChooseATL House on March 13 at 1 p.m. CST

As an entrepreneur who founded my company in Atlanta in my early 20s, I know just how important access to early customers is. By choosing Atlanta, entrepreneurs can have all the opportunities and resources necessary to make their mark on the world, and who wouldn’t want that?

If you are interested in applying for the Entrepreneur Invitation, visit

See you in Austin soon, and hopefully in Atlanta shortly thereafter.


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