Why You Can’t Afford to Miss The 2020 TAG Summit – Kyle Tothill and Ron McMurtrie

On this episode of The Atlanta Small Business Show, we welcome Kyle Tothill and Ron McMurtrie, co-chairs of the 2020 TAG Summit. The SummitThe Summit, an annual event hosted by the Technology Association of Georgia, brings together technologists and entrepreneurs for a 2-day conference right here in Atlanta. Considered Georgia’s largest technology showcase, The Summit attracts over 1300 attendees. Once again, The Summit will be hosted at The Cobb Galleria on March 3rd and 4th. For more information on the event, please tune-in to the interview above. Be sure to join us, ASBN at The Summit where we will be conducting interviews and sharing our experience on our social media feeds. Register for the event at http://www.tagsummit.com/.


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Video Transcription

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Hi everyone, Jim Fitzpatrick with The Atlanta Small Business Show. Thanks so much for tuning in today. Today I’m excited to have with us Mr. Kyle Tothill and Ron McMurtrie. Gentlemen, you’re here to talk to us about the incredible TAG Summit. You’re co-chairs, congratulations to you on that, and congratulations to an incredible event last year.

Kyle Tothill:
Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I can’t believe we’re sitting here talking about this year’s event.

Kyle Tothill:
Time flies, doesn’t it?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, it really is. Talk to us a little bit about that. What’s going on? What are the big things to look out for this year?

Kyle Tothill:
Well, for those people that didn’t go last year, the TAG Summit is Georgia’s largest technology showcase, and it’s the Technology Association of Georgia’s annual forum, where we bring together leaders from small businesses, big businesses, practitioners, CEOs. Our entire technology community comes together for two days on March 3rd and March 4th to celebrate what’s going on in the marketplace and-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure-

Kyle Tothill:
The technology ecosystem in Georgia.

Ron McMurtrie:
The Summit is at Cobb Galleria, March 3rd and 4th. We’ll bring in about 1300 to 1500 guests statewide.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure-

Ron McMurtrie:
A lot of them members-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure-

Ron McMurtrie:
A lot of them future members, and it’s all about promoting the future of technology in Georgia.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, that’s fantastic. So talk to us about some of the notable keynotes that you’re going to be having.

Kyle Tothill:
Well, I’ll let you talk about Duncan.

Ron McMurtrie:
So we have two keynote sessions the way we run it. Duncan Wardle, Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, former Head of Innovation for the entire Disney suite.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great.

Ron McMurtrie:
He’ll be coming in and helping instill a sense of creativity and innovation and help everyone master that. A brilliant speaker, advises companies around the globe actually.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

Kyle Tothill:
And then we have Will McIntosh who’s the President of Comcast’s new sports technology platform which actually they’re going to headquarter here in Atlanta-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Fantastic-

Kyle Tothill:
Which is really exciting and it’s going to talk a lot about the innovations of gaming and sports science, which actually lead to, ultimately, employee science. So it’s going to be really exciting. We’re going to have a couple of Olympic athletes there-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure-

Kyle Tothill:
And we’re going to talk a lot about how to measure that, and it’s great.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure.

Ron McMurtrie:
We’ll bring Mallory Weggeman, who’s a two-time Paralympic athlete who will give a whole talk on leadership. She has a really fascinating, well, kind of somewhat tragic but fascinating story of her own self-perseverance and how she’s created a whole life system around it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s incredible.

Kyle Tothill:
This year’s theme is engage, innovate, and transform, and her story is one of transformation. But our entire platform is focused on those three pillars and those three elements about engaging with the community, the art of innovation, and the transformation that happens when you do those two things together.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Kyle Tothill:
So you’re going to hear stories and vignettes, breakout sessions, keynote sessions around those thematic topics outside of celebrating the state of the industry report, talking about the state of the ecosystem, celebrating some great volunteers, and actually we’re going to induct a great technologist here in Atlanta into the Georgia Technology Hall of Fame.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
To be named at the event?

Ron McMurtrie:
That’s right.

Kyle Tothill:
That’s correct.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Fantastic.

Ron McMurtrie:
The Summit also features Top 40 innovative companies and celebrate each of them and then pick the top 10 for the year, and then that’s supported by about 75 different future tech demos that are spread throughout the program.

Kyle Tothill:
So it’s a broad conference with one primary theme which is come, get engaged, learn from some of the best innovators in the country and-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
For sure-

Kyle Tothill:
In our ecosystem and transform your organization to be competitive in the future.

Ron McMurtrie:
The Summit is the Lollapalooza of tech in Georgia. We are literally bringing in-

Kyle Tothill:
Minus the Chili Peppers-

Ron McMurtrie:
But we literally touch all aspects from realtime demos to those icons that have helped shape Atlanta and Georgia for what it is today as one of the fastest growing tech communities, and-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right-

Ron McMurtrie:
And then bring in the talent to help all the members and leaders within Georgia benefit from it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
On the Top 40, why is that? What kind of an impact does that have for a company if they’re part of that list?

Kyle Tothill:
Well, that’s a really great question. Actually, this year we’ll be celebrating the top 10 of the last 10 years.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Oh wow, okay.

Kyle Tothill:
And you’re going to hear a lot of household names, certainly in the Georgia business community of organizations that got their start being a Top 40 company. So we send out to our entire 30,000 members that request for Top 40 applications, and that’s whittled down to 40 companies. So you can imagine how many submissions that we have, and it’s a really unique opportunity for them to expose what they’re doing, they’ll all have demo tables, and we’ve heard many, many, many stories of success from meeting investors, prospects, employees-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Nice-

Kyle Tothill:
Partners, you name it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic.

Kyle Tothill:
And I think when you think of some of the great big brands like SalesLoft or ISS, those are two big brands that you can see that everybody knows about-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No question-

Kyle Tothill:
That got their start being Top 40 companies.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow, that’s pretty cool. So who’s the perfect candidate to go and attend this?

Kyle Tothill:
It’s a great question. Actually, it’s a little bit of a diverse audience. Multiple personas actually can get a lot out of it. So if you think about the C-suite of the organizations, a lot of our board members are C-level officers. They are going to interconnect there, they’re going to network there, all the way down to small business owners, entrepreneurs, practitioners, technology practitioners. There’s a little something for everybody, so it’s a great place to meet other people.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It sounds like it’s the tech scene in Atlanta. If you’re in the tech scene or you want to be, you need to be at this event.

Ron McMurtrie:
You have everyone from practitioners to business founders, to C-level executives and everything in between that attend, and it’s literally split balanced that way.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
As well as investors, too-

Ron McMurtrie:
And we source the content that way- So that depending on interests, you’re going to get what you need. It’s a great use of a day.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
It’s got to be crawling with a bunch of money people too-

Kyle Tothill:
Hundreds, yeah-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That want to place their bets, right?

Kyle Tothill:
Listen, Georgia had its most investment last year and it was really close to the year before that. So the tide absolutely arising-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, there’s no question-

Kyle Tothill:
In terms of investment in the technology community in Georgia.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, for sure. How do companies or can companies exhibit at this? Will you have exhibits there?

Ron McMurtrie:
Yeah. They can sponsor, they can attend but we have demo sponsors, we have table sponsors. There’s lots of ways to activate depending on what size you are and where you’re at in your marketing journey. We have everything from exhibit sponsors to those that are sponsoring big components of the program.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Kyle Tothill:
If any of our audience is interested in doing that, you can go to the tag summit . com website. It’s tagsummit.com-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Okay, we’ll show it on the screen here.

Kyle Tothill:
And you can apply to the demo section there. You better hurry up because The Summit is coming up quick-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, that’s right-

Ron McMurtrie:
And it can be as simple as just sponsoring a table and bringing your colleagues in as a learning and development experience.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, that’s a great idea. That’s a great idea. How much does it cost to attend?

Ron McMurtrie:
$250 at the door, just a small-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s not bad.

Ron McMurtrie:
Yeah, nothing for a day of … Compare that to any other program around, it’s the best admission-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And it’s a two day event?

Kyle Tothill:
And it’s a two day event. And so the night before, the 3rd, starts at 5:30 and that’s when we’re going to have our society showcase. So all 27 different technology societies that exist inside of the Technology Association of Georgia will actually have a table and be presenting there. And that’s a really unique opportunity. It’s going to last probably three or four hours. We’re going to have our Top 40 demos there, but that’s probably one of our primary networking opportunities.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Gotcha.

Kyle Tothill:
So if you’re interested to meet and greet and find out how you can engage with TAG, that’s the best opportunity because the second day is very programmed and it’s what we call our mainstage day.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Can anybody be a member of TAG? If I just am dabbling in technology or coming up with an app, but I’m just a solo entrepreneur, is it the right organization for me?

Kyle Tothill:
100%. There’s nowhere else like this in the country or in the world.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Really?

Kyle Tothill:
Number one, TAG’s the largest business networking group in the state of Georgia. It’s the largest association in Georgia as well.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow, no kidding?

Kyle Tothill:
So it’s really a unique place. Like Ron said, it really doesn’t matter where you are. And you can be a corporation and join as a corporate member and your employees can go, or you can be an individual member and you can sign up at the website.

Ron McMurtrie:
And the best stories are you join TAG, engage in societies and focus on where you need to develop your business plan.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right-

Ron McMurtrie:
Whether it be understanding how you can apply technology to that or join a marketing practice and understand that, that’s the way the system works, and the 26 societies are probably the best developmental and networking opportunity you can buy.

Kyle Tothill:
And it’s really the tangible way that’s organized for you to get engaged in the community in Georgia, period.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right, yeah. How does the technology landscape look right now in Atlanta? There’s a lot of money on the sidelines to invest. It’s a good time to start-

Ron McMurtrie:
Count the cranes.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Count the cranes, that’s exactly-

Ron McMurtrie:
Count the cranes, I mean-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s exactly right-

Ron McMurtrie:
There’s a great indication of what tech’s doing and the amount of companies both big and small that are headquartering here and opening here. We’ll have an economic report as part of the program, and I think you’ll see it shines a pretty positive light on the future for Georgia.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
How does it compare to Northern California?

Kyle Tothill:
They’re different ecosystems. The West Coast is largely focused on consumer technologies and here in the state of Georgia, we’re focused a lot on enterprise technologies and business-to-business, so a little bit different.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Kyle Tothill:
Silicon Valley is a different type of environment. Where Georgia really is successful is it’s a great place to live and work. You can get to 80% of the population in the United States here in two hours-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right-

Kyle Tothill:
From the airport.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great universities as a support.

Kyle Tothill:
It’s a really deep ecosystem. It’s a great place to build a company and that’s what you’re seeing now in Atlanta. And Georgia was ranked the top state to do business within our union for the seventh year in a row.
So if you kind of extrapolate, we’re in the greatest economy the world’s ever known, we’re the greatest state to do business in the United States, which is the greatest economy in the world-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
This is the place.

Kyle Tothill:
It’s a pretty good time right now and-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
This is the heartbeat right here.

Kyle Tothill:
I would argue it is as good as anywhere and a great place to be.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, that’s for sure. And so many different support elements that are in Atlanta from such an incredible talent pool.

Kyle Tothill:
It’s very diverse. We have a lot of pillars of this economy and we’re not exclusively focused on logistics or supply chain or fintech. It’s a combination of all those things that creates a diversity.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Kyle Tothill:
And it’s the number one destination for college students, for college graduates in the country. So we have a lot of people coming to this marketplace, we’ve got a lot of diverse industry sectors and it creates a pretty thriving ecosystem.

Ron McMurtrie:
And over 120 universities that are bringing great talent into the system also. So not only do we have a great infusion and a great melting pot, but we’ve got a great education system that is highly affordable for anyone to enter into.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. What are some of the things to look out for down the road? What are the things that keep you up at night as somebody that plays such a big role in the tech scene in Atlanta? Is there anything lurking around the corner that you say, “We’ve got to fix that or at least be aware of it?”

Kyle Tothill:
I think there’s challenges to any ecosystems development. Obviously, you can look for unseen economic headwinds that always cause problems.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Kyle Tothill:
I don’t think we’re in a bubble right now. I think we’re in a really a growth acceleration zone and I don’t really see anything outside of the hidden stuff, if coronavirus or something crazy gets out of hand.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure.

Kyle Tothill:
Those are always risks, but you can’t plan from those. So I’m not giving financial advice, but just from my perspective right now, what I’d like to see is continued reinvestment from successful entrepreneurs, continued engagement from our corporations and folks that are in this community to invest in where they are-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Back in Atlanta?

Kyle Tothill:
And if that cycle continues, that’s what builds great ecosystems. Great ecosystems like Silicon Valley is a sharing economy. They share a lot of information with-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I know they do-

Kyle Tothill:
Each other-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
A lot of money.

Kyle Tothill:
And a lot of money changes hands there, and that really helps each other. So we want to continue that rising tide. And as long as people are reinvesting back in Atlanta, we’re in a really good place.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And guys like David Cummings, who’s kind of set the model of doing just that, to say, “Hey, I sold my company but I’m putting it right back into the development of many other companies.”

Ron McMurtrie:
Investing right back to this tech center and a great spot for any entrepreneur to-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right-

Ron McMurtrie:
Build their business.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Kyle Tothill:
And that’s a really big difference between what’s happening today and what happened 20 years ago. And David was one of the first people to do that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Kyle Tothill:
Tom Noonan’s done that-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right-

Kyle Tothill:
Chris Klaus, you name it. Some of these fantastic entrepreneurs have reinvested and it’s created the belief that if you do that, you can continue to grow in scale. And I’m really happy that David’s chosen to do that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, he really has.

Ron McMurtrie:
Coincidentally, all people that had a stint at TAG and invested quite heavily in TAG.

Kyle Tothill:
That’s right.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
He’s been a huge supporter, hasn’t he?

Kyle Tothill:
Yeah, you’re going to hear from him.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great, fantastic-

Kyle Tothill:
He’s outstanding.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Awesome. Well, Kyle and Ron, thank you so much for joining us on The Atlanta Small Business Show. This has been very enlightening. So for those of you that want to learn more, we’re providing all the information on the screen in front of you. This is an event that you definitely want to attend. You’ll see us out there as well, reporting right there from the floor. So-

Kyle Tothill:
Cool, we’ll see you there.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thank you so much.

 

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