Atlanta startup companies look to become next big thing - FOX 32 News Chicago

Atlanta startup companies look to become next big thing

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ATLANTA -

Technology stars took a concert venue to showcase some of Atlanta's top startup companies on Wednesday.

Facebook, Wikipedia, Skype – all those companies began as startups. Tech experts say that Atlanta has all the ingredients to be one of the hubs for startups, but doesn't yet crack the top 10 of startup cities.

At Startup Riot, held at the Tabernacle on Wednesday, local companies got three minutes to make their pitch before a room full of potential investors and fellow entrepreneurs.

"We want to keep them here, have them create jobs here or go to work for startups here," said Sanyah Parekh of Startup Riot.

Lauren Miller, a former Atlanta Public Schools teacher and a Harvard Business School graduate, had a much-buzzed startup called Excelegrade.

"I actually had the idea when I was in the classroom, wrote the idea down," Miller said.

It wasn't until the iPad and other tablets came around that Lauren's idea became possible. Miller's app transforms test writing, test taking and test grading – what she thought was the worst part of being a teacher.

"It's unsustainable. One of the things that I thought all teachers should have is a decent work-life balance. They should be able to focus on what they're really, really good at," Miller said.

With colleges like Georgia Tech and Emory churning out talent not to mention all the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the city, one would think Atlanta would be a top spot for startups. However, it doesn't even crack the top 10 list of startup cities.

That hasn't stopped venture capitalists in the know like Yanev Suissa from flying in and searching for promising startups to invest in.

"Don't tell anyone because we make good money in Atlanta because we come down here and find the companies that aren't always on everybody's radar screens," said Suissa.

Excelegrade went on to be the big winner at Startup Riot. Miller hopes it will her find vital new funding.

"We want to build Excelegrade here in Atlanta. We thought about should we move out to the west coast but this is where we really want to be," Miller said.

Industry leaders want Atlanta to be a top 10 startup city within a decade. They say the key is to keep talent here rather than having people and companies move west to Silicon Valley.

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