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2010 Changes: Behind-the-Scenes, Part 2 of 2

From: Mike S.
Sent on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:36 PM

Continued from Part 1

This email is part 2 of a two part email. You can find part 1 in the mailing list archive on

Type 2: Innovative Entrepreneurs

On the other hand are Innovative Entrepreneurs. Arizona State University says the second type of entrepreneurs create and commercialize new products, services and business practices. It's these entrepreneurs who I believe have been most interested in our startup-oriented programs.

For every one innovative entrepreneur my guess is there are 100 to a 1000 replicative entrepreneurs, or even more. Innovative entrepreneurs are often dreamers, and they dream of hitting a massive home run on the size of Google, eBay, or Amazon. And most never make it.

But the few who do are the ones that grow the economy and create massive wealth for both themselves and the regions in which they a part of. Silicon Valley is probably the best know region for innovative entrepreneurs and it's well known that the Bay Area has a tremendous amount of wealth generated by these innovative entrepreneurs.

Innovative entrepreneurs identify opportunities for positive change where few others even realize that such changes is possible. For example, who would have even dreamt of something like Twitter before being exposed to it? Now Twitter has become pervasive and, at least for me I can't imagine living without it.

How can you tell if you are a innovative entrepreneur? Here are a few litmus tests I've identified:

  • You have a product or service unlike no other.
  • Your business model is different from any other.
  • You could grow 10x to 1000x or more without adding many employees.
  • An investor could get a 10x return or greater on their money.
  • You'll need to be both extremely good and very lucky to be successful.

The reality is that few people will ever succeed as innovative entrepreneurs. But thank goodness for them trying; without their successes we'd never have those innovations that continue to make our lives better every single day.

A Little of Both?

Now before anyone agonizes over these distinctions, please realize they are not black-and-white. Every entrepreneur has innovation in their blood, and they also all have some replication in their blood. The reality is that all startups are somewhat innovative by their very nature and even innovative businesses are a majority comprised of replicative aspects. My only use for these distinctions are to more clearly identify the diverse needs and interests of Atlanta web entrepreneurs.

And as adjectives for "entrepreneur" they are a bit of a misnomer. It makes more sense to apply them to the term "startup", i.e. Replicative Startup and Innovative Startup as any entrepreneur can choose to pursue a replicative business during one phase of their life and an innovative business during another. It really is all up to you and what you want your entrepreneurial ventures to be.

So Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs Ran its Course

Anyway, once I identified AWE had been trying to serve two apparently similar but in reality very different constituent bases it because clear it was time for a change. Even though AWE had become one of the larger and more successful business-focused meetups in Atlanta, it was obvious (to me, at least) it had achieved all it was likely to achieve in its current form?

Thus the Split

It was from this epiphany about the two types of entrepreneurs I finally realized what needed to change. Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs needed to split in two; one group with the majority for entrepreneurs of replicative startups and another group for entrepreneurs pursuing innovative startups. Out of this came the renaming of this group to Atlanta Web Marketers and the birth of Startup Atlanta.

For 2010 AWE becomes "Atlanta Web Marketers"

While I could have kept the same group name to focus on replicative entrepreneurs there were several reasons for the switch to "marketing" vs. "entrepreneurs":

  • The majority of topics AWE covered successfully were web marketing topics,
  • Web marketing is constantly evolving and that makes it interesting, exciting and fun,
  • I personally don't get as excited about other replicative entrepreneur topics, and
  • I felt it was a shame to cover web marketing topics just for entrepreneurs when the same topics will interest employees in small or medium-sized businesses, non-profits or even government agencies.

What's more, I frankly believe it will be easier to find good sponsors for a web marketing group than it has been for an entrepreneur group. Having good sponsors will allow this group to grow beyond the one man show it been over the past three years into a full-fledged web marketing association complete with a board of directors and officers targeting the web marketing needs of entrepreneurs and smaller budget marketers.

Or another way to think of it might be to think of Atlanta Web Marketers as "A Grassroots AiMA."

Who is Atlanta Web Marketing for?

In a nutshell, Atlanta Web Marketing will be focused on the needs of people who want to use the web to market the products and services of an organization.

What is Atlanta Web Marketing is NOT?

Atlanta Web Marketing will NOT be covering "Internet Marketing", i.e. the use of the web to generate multiple streams of personal income (for example.) The things we won't be covering include writing squeeze pages, how to build products to sell online, how to become a cult-of-personality guru focused on selling ebooks, how to make money with affiliate marketing, or other strategies focused on personal income generation vs. markets products and services for an organization.

However if you are interested in Internet Marketing then by all means take at look at one of these meetups that evidentially do a fabulous job of covering the topic:

2010 Goals for Atlanta Web Marketing

Beyond continuing the legacy of AWE by running consistently excellent programs the 2010 goals for Atlanta Web Marketing will be to convert it from a meetup run by the force of will of one individual (me) into an association that has many people contributing to running the group and creating value for all involved. What's more, my goal will be to plan for succession, i.e. to enable someone with fresh new ideas and lots of energy to step up and lead AWM and thus allow me to eventually step down without causing the group once built to disappear.

And AWE Spawns "Startup Atlanta" in 2010

For those shooting for the stars with plans to launch innovatin-basedstartups I've gathered a group of Atlanta startup stakeholders to launch a non-profit called Startup Atlanta.

Startup Atlanta will have a 10 year mission to advance the innovation-based startup ecosystem in the Atlanta region. It's goal will be to be a catalyst for growing the ecosystem by evangelizing innovation-based startups and encouraging others to provide investment, activities and services "fill in" the ecosystem we need in the region.

Of the many activities that Startup Atlanta will pursue some of the early ones will be to build a database of the innovation-based startups in Atlanta and to host a monthly events for startups to demo their offerings called "Startup Stage Atlanta."

So if you are interested in being part of the innovation-based startup ecosystem be sure to join the Startup Atlanta meetup group. We'll promote Startup Atlanta events for a few more months to this the old AWE meetup group list after which we'll assume everyone who is interested has joined.

In Summary and Closing

In summary and in closing, Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs had a good three year run but now it's time to split the group into two:

  • Atlanta Web Marketers for Replicative Entrepreneurs and others interested in Web Marketing, and
  • Startup Atlanta for Innovative Entrepreneurs and other Startup enthusiasts.

If you are interested in the former, do nothing; you are already a member of the group. If you interested in the latter or both, join the Startup Atlanta meetup group.

Thanks for taking the time to read or at least skim all of this, and here's looking to a great 2010 for all entrepreneurs in Atlanta!


-Mike Schinkel
Organizer; Atlanta Web Marketers
Executive Director: Startup Atlanta

P.S. I'll be sending out an update regarding this week's meeting shortly.

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