It is the time of year when we come together with friends and loved ones to give thanks, demonstrate gratitude, and appreciate what we have. At Four Athens, we have much to be thankful for year-round. As a primarily volunteer-fueled organization we are continuously impressed by the dedication of our startup members, not only to their own ambitious vision, but also to the spirit and well being of the Athens startup community at large. Likewise we are humbled to witness the support of our community volunteers and supporters, who help us connect kids and adults to tech education programs, link talented people in town to new career opportunities, and share the spark of innovation and entrepreneurship across Athens.
Athens Game Jam 2016 took place from Friday April 1st through Sunday the 3rd, finishing off the first official Athens GA Startup Week with the annual 48-hour marathon game building event. Now in its 5th year, part of the challenge at each Game Jam is to create a unique game based on an assigned theme revealed to teams at the start of the weekend. This year’s theme was “Duplicates,” and each of the 13 games created between 6pm Friday and 6pm Sunday relate to that theme in some fashion.
On a beautiful autumn day in Athens last week, the Classic City Chili Cook-off sponsored by local digital marketing firm HW Creative brought close to 100 people to Little Kings Shuffle Club downtown for a tasty lunchtime event benefiting Four Athens. The friendly competition between participating Four Athens member startups and local restaurants was a quest to win people’s choice in four categories: Best Classic, Best Flaming, Best Veggie, and Best Restaurant.
The 2015 Athens Game Jam took place this past weekend from Friday May 15th at 5pm through Sunday May 17th. Seven teams in total participated in this year’s event, creating games over the weekend along the theme The 80’s to compete for prizes. Game jammers chose their favorites at the Showcase on Sunday afternoon, after each team presented their game’s concepts and features, followed by a few hours of open play time for attendees to experience each game as votes were cast and tallied.
We are going to nominate talent as the word of the year in 2014 at Four Athens. Much of the year, and our time, was spent connecting entrepreneurs with skilled individuals, identifying gaps in the talent pool, and helping to train the next generation of developers, entrepreneurs, and skilled service providers. By the numbers, we added 53 new members, our member companies hired over 70 people (through end of Q32014), and we worked with 5 companies that received funding this year.
People build companies. It's a simple concept that is often forgotten in the rush to help companies starting out with logistics, paperwork, and the myriad other concerns that appear when a company "starts". At its core, though, companies are built by people. Within Four Athens, one of our fundamental beliefs is that if you repeatedly connect enough smart, dedicated, persistent people, great things will happen.
I spend a lot of time convincing (or trying to convince) entrepreneurs & founders that they are more important to their business than their idea or product. Starting out, it seems most people want to believe all they need to do is have a great idea or build a pretty product and they'll be successful. Ultimately, what matters most are the people behind the opportunity. I believe that if you put the right people, in a big enough market, with enough runway, they'll figure out how to make a successful company. Unfortunately, those are a lot of big ifs.
In a continuation of yesterday's post, I'm going to stay on basic topics that many first time founders seem to overlook. Most founders split equity among the team. That's good. What they fail to do is put any sort of vesting schedule on their ownership stake. That means that if Charlie & Bob & Pam form a company, they own their stake outright from day one.