Top 10 peachy tech startups in Atlanta
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By Chuck Koehler from Cartersville, GA, USA (Atlanta_Skyline_from_Buckhead) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Chuck Koehler from Cartersville, GA, USA (Atlanta_Skyline_from_Buckhead) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The sweetest part of the Georgia peach, Atlanta hosts modern world-class businesses with a veneer of Old South charm

Atlanta is the center of a half million residents with a large metropolitan area totaling 5.7 million people. The capital of Georgia and financial hub of the entire region, Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola and CNN, as well as a long list of national athletes.

Billing itself as America’s fourth largest tech hub, Atlanta has money from area enterprises along with innovation from multiple universities in the area. Examples? Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, including Emory Healthcare, the largest healthcare system in the state. Add support like the Open Innovation Forum to the knowledge spun out of area universities funded by deep-pocketed enterprises, and you can see why startups in Atlanta have such significant funding totals.

1. Kabbage

Photo courtesy: Kabbage

When small businesses need to borrow money, they can go to Kabbage, a company that has disrupted lending to businesses and consumers. Potential clients are also able to handle the entire loan process on their smartphones.

Launched in 2009, Kabbage garnered tons of attention in the financial and investment markets because they were part of those communities. From the first $1.3 million in debt financing in January 2010 to their latest $135 million in October 2015, they have collected a total of $238.65 million in five rounds from 17 investors. The topper? Five hundred million dollars in debt financing in March 2017.

2. GreenSky

Photo courtesy: GreenSky

Business centers need grease to keep the wheels turning, and grease sometimes means easy customer financing. GreenSky makes it a snap to offer financing from any sized business to their customers with new technology and little or no hassle. Special focus is paid on home improvements, certain medical solutions, and retail furniture.

It took time to ramp up after their start in 2006, but GreenSky finally got a huge, $300 million venture placement in October 2014. Almost two years later, another $50 million of private equity arrived, for a total of $350 million in financing to date.

3. Terminus

Photo courtesy: Terminus

Many companies ride the coattails of Salesforce CRM, but few have done it as well as Terminus. Making account-based marketing affordable, leveraging Salesforce enables small companies to market like huge companies. They call it, “Next Gen B2B” and for their customers, it is.

Fairly young, starting in May 2014, Terminus laid their foundation for a year then were rewarded with $1.8 million in seed money in October 2015. In 2016, $7.5 million in Series A and debt financing eased the bumps and their final haul, $10.3 million in Series B funding, arrived in May. A dozen investors see them continuing to go forward.

4. Cardlytics

Photo courtesy: Cardlytics

Business centers like Atlanta gather big banks, while companies can assist with non-banker things like marketing. That is done quite well by Cardlytics, a company using “purchased-based intelligence” to laser focus marketing with a side of data for support. If you have a big bank reward program, you may have Cardlytics.

Opening their doors in 2008, when big data analytics was getting its start, Cardlytics earned $5 million in venture capital in 2009 to prime the pump. Thirteen months later $18 million came in, followed by $33 million in September 2011, $40 million in May 2013, $70 million in October 2014, and $25 million in August 2016. Regular capital influx shows that your growth is earned over and over.

5. Rubicon Global

Photo courtesy: Rubicon

Ever heard the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? That’s certainly true for Rubicon Global. Leveraging the cloud, Rubicon has turned grimy into gold with their affordable waste and recycling solutions. Their cloud supports both customers and haulers, connected seamlessly via smartphone and tablet.

The cloud wasn’t so big and useful back in 2008 when Rubicon started, but they convinced an early seed investor to put up an undisclosed amount in January 2009. Since then, 30 investors, including Goldman Sachs and Fifth Third Bancorp have dumped five rounds for a total of $145 million into Rubicon’s bank account.

6. Ionic Security

Photo courtesy: Ionic

In this modern hacker-filled world, the paranoid (or realistic) never sleep. One company that might help them count sheep rather than security breaches is Ionic Security (formerly Social Fortress). Ionic protects data anywhere it travels and wherever it rests, thanks to cloud-based encryption technologies layered across networks, mobile devices, and services.

Starting somewhat secretively with an undisclosed amount of seed money from an unnamed investor in May 2011, Ionic Security kept winning funds each year until their Series D investment of $45 million in June 2016. They also received $40.1 million in Series C funding in January 2015, bringing their total financing from all seven rounds up to $122.44 million.

7. OutSystems

Photo courtesy: OutSystems

Business is Atlanta and Atlanta is the business hub for Georgia and surrounding states. That environment lends itself to companies that provide services and infrastructure for other big businesses. In the case of OutSystems, the PaaS (Platform as a Service) tag applies, since the company supports development and deployment of apps across all mobile and browser-client platforms.

Infrastructure to support other infrastructure takes time to develop, which is why OutSystems started in the spring of 2001. The company really got rolling in June 2007, when they completed their third funding round, raising their total financing to date to $8 million. Their approach was validated by a Series C funding round of $55 million in February 2016, putting them well down the road.

8. QASymphony

Photo courtesy: QASymphony

Software needs to be written, but even more important, software must work before putting it into production. That’s where QASymphony comes in. Providing enterprise test case management and multiple testing solutions for production developers and QA teams has made them a leader in agile software.

How big a leader? Five investors have put in $47.5 million in three rounds, a fortune in software development funding. Starting in June 2011, QASymphony flew under the radar, as software tools company tend to do, until $2.5 million in Series A funding arrived in January 2015. Two more smaller placements, plus $40 million in Series C in May, brings their total to $50.5 million.

9. FullStory

Photo courtesy: FullStory

Have a website? Of course you do. Know exactly how your customers use that website, or worse, don’t? Of course you don’t. That’s where FullStory comes in to add a bit of JavaScript that lets you record, analyze, search, and play back all user interactions on your website, including mobile device users. It’s like an X-ray for your customer experience.

Their first seed money, $1.5 million, came in July 2014, a couple years after they started their development. That money goosed product development so well they collected $10.7 million in Series A funding in June 2015. Add in a Series B of $15 million in May 2017 and FullStory’s user experience looks pretty darn good.

10. BitPay

Photo courtesy: BitPay

Bitcoins may be the future of digital money, or not. No matter what dominates that market, consumers and businesses will need help spending and collecting digital dough, and that’s where BitPay comes in. They are considered the global leader in Bitcoin payment processing supporting business small to huge.

Bitcoins started in January 2009, and BitPay wasn’t far behind in May 2011. Three rounds from 17 investors put $32.51 million in real cash in their coffers. Since Bitcoin is new and sparkly, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Sir Richard Branson have dropped some of their own coins into BitPay.

Bonus: SalesLoft

Photo courtesy: SalesLoft

Told you Atlanta is Biz City, and another sales-oriented enabler is SalesLoft. Calling themselves, “the platform for modern sales engagement,” SalesLoft ties together, via modern technology, human email, Salesforce integration, advanced analytics, and targeted dialing. Result? Qualified appointments.

A total of $25.7 million in four funding rounds from seven investors tells us SalesLoft can make a good sales pitch. Their first round came in February 2013, 18 months after the company started development. Their most recent round, in January, was also their largest with Series B funding of $14.5 million.

Featured image credit: Chuck Koehler from Cartersville, GA, USA (Atlanta_Skyline_from_Buckhead) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin

James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don’t read his books and articles.

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