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Entrepreneurial tech hubs are emerging across the country. The opportunities once reserved for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley have now expanded beyond those borders, reaching Midwestern hotbeds like Detroit and Chicago, and even northeastern locales such as Newark and Washington, D.C. But the commercial capital of the southeastern U.S., Atlanta, has all the makings of a robust tech ecosystem.
With the nation’s busiest airport, a high concentration of colleges and universities, and Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot and UPS headquartered in Atlanta, among other things, the city’s emerging tech scene is slowly inching up on the highly-coveted “top” lists.
After visiting Atlanta during Digital Undivided’s START weekend earlier this year and exploring the scene, self-described mobile evangelist Sian Morson decided she wanted in. “I had some friends here who were telling me what was going on in the scene and so I made a couple of visits,” says Morson, who, at the time, also began floating her co-working space idea around. Before she knew it, the Oakland resident packed up her belongings and moved to Atlanta, opening Kollective South in the Castleberry Hill area in October. Located near Atlanta’s Central Business District, KSouth is the newest co-working community in town and already generating quite a buzz within the local tech community. “I just wanted to give back in my own way and so KSouth is my way to do that,” says Morson.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the Kollective Mobile founder to discuss the inspiration behind Kollective South, bringing tech innovation to urban areas and what’s next for the mobile maven.
Opening doors at co-working space: It was a very short journey, Morson recalls. “From idea to actually opening the doors was probably about three months,” she says.
Bringing tech literacy to Castleberry: Morson made a conscious choice to bring KSouth to an area of Atlanta not known for tech and innovation. The community’s needs run the gamut, but Morson is determined to bring tech to this urban area. “What I’m hoping is this becomes sort of a focal point in the community that it’s in right now, in Castleberry Hill. I’m hoping that people associate the space with technology. I’ve had people in here asking me to help them set up their iPad and a gentleman who asked me to help him with his food stamps.”
Since opening its doors, KSouth’s space has been utilized by several social enterprises and local organizations such as Atlanta Food and Farm and Social Mission Architects, and the Walker’s Legacy Leading Legacy Atlanta Women in Business Meet and Greet event took place at the space last month. And it’s more than a co-working space, the communi-tech center plans to offer classes on mobile ideation, WordPress, HTML and CSS.
Her overall goal is to bridge the tech gap. “What I’m hoping is that the place is not exclusive by any stretch of the imagination, but what I’m hoping is to create some sort of a groundswell in terms of technology and black tech right here.”
Creating your own tech ecosystem: “Don’t try to copy what New York is doing. Don’t try to copy what the Bay Area is doing,” advises the Bronx, NY-native, who has spent a significant amount of time in the San Francisco area. “Use the unique attributes of your city or your town, and then go from there.”
Next steps: Morson is writing a book, Learn Design for iOS Development, for APress. Outside of the book, she looks forward to exploring Atlanta’s tech scene further and expanding Kollective Mobile, her mobile development agency located in Oakland. “Once the book is off my plate, then I’d love to get more creative and dive deep into what’s going on down here.”
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