Why Innovative Tech Startups are Finding Success in Atlanta – Geoff Wilson, 325 Inc.

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The Atlanta Small Business Network was on-location at the Atlanta Corporate Innovation Summit hosted by The Bridge Community and Metro Atlanta Chamber. ASBN’s Jim Fitzpatrick was joined by one of the sponsors of the event, Geoff Wilson, president and founder of 352, Inc., a digital product development agency, to discuss web design and software innovation in the small business community.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION: 

Jim Fitzpatrick: Tell us a little bit about this event, and how important it is to you and your company.

Geoff Wilson: Absolutely. We’re big supporters of the corporate innovation community, and what we found a few years ago was a lot of enterprises, a lot of big companies in Atlanta, were trying to innovate. You know, innovation is something on everybody’s mind.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure.

Geoff Wilson: Of course, there are also great startups in Atlanta that wanted to get plugged into these big companies in Atlanta, but there was no central gathering spot for all of them to come together.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Geoff Wilson: So we saw a real need in the community to have events like this.

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Photo courtesy of 352inc.com

Jim Fitzpatrick: For the people that are watching right now, that there’s not as familiar with 352, kind of give us the 411 on it. I know you started as a young entrepreneur yourself, right? Right out of college.

Geoff Wilson: I did, I did.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Or maybe in college, right?

Geoff Wilson: Yeah, 20 years ago now.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, wow. That’s phenomenal.

Geoff Wilson: In Gainesville, Florida.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.

Geoff Wilson: That’s why we’re called 352, the area code down there.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, sure.

Geoff Wilson: We were originally, what you would say is like a web design company, or a digital marketing company.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay, right.

Geoff Wilson: I mean, originally it was mainly just me building websites and then I started to hire a few people as we got some accounts in, and that type of thing.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Geoff Wilson: Through a lot of our growth, we were really focused on web design and development.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. Did you do that while you were still a student?

Geoff Wilson: I did, initially. Yeah, I started the company while I was a student, and then actually by the time I graduated, it took me a little longer to graduate, by the time I graduated I had eight full-time employees working for me.

Jim Fitzpatrick: No kidding? Wow.

Geoff Wilson: It quickly became my career choice, even though it actually wasn’t what I was studying or what I was intending on doing.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. Fast forward, where is the company today? What kind of a-

Geoff Wilson: Today, we’re about 60 people.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Geoff Wilson: We’re headquartered up here in Atlanta now, but we still have a lot of folks down in Gainesville, Florida, as well. As well as Tampa, Florida.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Geoff Wilson: We still do a lot of web design and web development and software development work, but we also, in Atlanta, really work a lot with the innovation community and focus on that early stage innovation work. Because oftentimes that leads to the opportunity to build out digital products and websites-

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a good point, for sure.

Geoff Wilson: … and then eventually do growth marketing for that.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Atlanta has become, especially in the last 20 years since you’ve been in business and visiting Atlanta for your clients and such, it has become a hotbed of startups and fintech and technology, overall. Talk to us about those changes in the last 20 years.

Geoff Wilson: Well, you know, Atlanta has a real unique advantage in the fact that it has the, I think it’s the third most Fortune 500 company headquarters right here in this city.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Geoff Wilson: Atlanta has this amazing collection of enterprises that are here. Atlanta also, in more recent years, has made a ton of progress in the startup arena as well. So I think a lot of the change you’ve seen in the last few years, and with events like this, is like, how can we take this amazing talent of all these people who are starting companies in Atlanta, and then how can we take all of the great enterprises that are here, and their need to innovate, and how can we bring these two groups together?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Geoff Wilson: Whether it’s to do business together, transact in some way, or whether it’s simply to learn from each other. Because enterprises want to be more like startups, and startups want to be more like enterprises.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a good point. That’s a very good point.

Geoff Wilson: There’s a lot of teaching that can go on as well.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Geoff Wilson: There’s so many advantages to this city, that other cities don’t offer. I mean, obviously access to transportation, we’re the busiest airport in the world.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Geoff Wilson: You’ve got a great livable environment that’s becoming … Even the growth is a lot in the urban center, which is really great to see. Atlanta’s really the headquarters of the southeast United States without a doubt, where there’s a ton of business opportunity.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Geoff Wilson: I think for all of those reasons-

Jim Fitzpatrick: So we can go head-to-head one day with Northern California?

Geoff Wilson: If you were going to be a successful startup, there was a period of time where if you were really going to be successful, you had to be in the Valley, there was nothing else.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Geoff Wilson: But now you’ve seen companies in Atlanta. I mean, we heard earlier today from the founder of Roadie and the founder of Cabbage, and of course, there’s companies like SalesLoft and Terminus.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So many of them.

Geoff Wilson: There’s so many companies like that now, that have had these wonderful success stories.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, Pardot.

Geoff Wilson: Pardot, of course, you know a big one a few years back. These stories prove that it can happen in Atlanta.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Thanks so much for joining us on ASBN.

Geoff Wilson: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I appreciate it.

Geoff Wilson: Like being here, thank you.

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