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Scoutmob co-founder launches new startup space Beltline & Co.
"We're only focusing on consumer facing ideas. No one in Atlanta is focusing on that."
- Beltline & Co.
Early last week, Scoutmob co-founder Michael Tavani stepped aside from the online deals company that he helped build so he could pursue other ventures. Later today, Tavani is planning to launch a new co-working space and business incubator focused on consumer brands and design-oriented startups.
Tavani says that Beltline & Co., which he's been [|planning for more than a year], will likely open its doors sometime in the next several months at Ponce City Market. Although the deal is still being finalized, the space is expected to hold an estimated 75 people - or about 20 small startups.
Once the startup hub opens, the Brookhaven resident hopes to bring together some of Atlanta's most-talented designers and entrepreneurs in way that doesn't currently happen in the city's tech scene. He ideally wants those people to create companies focused on ideas and products made with consumers in mind - think Twitter more than some healthcare IT software. At the moment, he thinks Atlanta lacks those types of companies.
"We're only focusing on consumer facing ideas," Tavani says. "No one in Atlanta is focusing on that."
According to Tavani, Beltline & Co. will be successful if its companies develop into recognizable brands. To do so, he'll curate what kinds of entrepreneurs and designers work with Beltline & Co. That process starts with companies focused on making well-designed products that aren't necessarily dependent on raising large piles of cash from outside investors. It also means attracting local talent from Atlanta's universities and creative institutions such as Creative Circus and the Portfolio Center.
Beltline & Co.'s cost structure is still being worked out. Tavani insists that it will be flexible: some companies will pay rent while others will trade equity in exchange for guidance from the space's incubator program. In addition, a handful of designers and developers will likely be offered free access to the space in exchange for working a set amount of hours with Beltline & Co.'s startups.
If all goes according to plan, Tavani hopes his effort will lead to better local consumer brands. Without those kinds of companies, he thinks Atlanta will keep struggling to compete with San Francisco, Austin, Boston, and other cities known for their vibrant startup scenes.
"I think Atlanta won't be in the top five, not even in the top 10, startup cities in the country until we have some companies on the list that are recognized," he says.