If the results of the recent Atlanta Metro Export Challenge pitch session are any indication, it pays to sell products and services overseas from the Georgia capital.
A November event hosted in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood brought the culmination of a year-long competition that had already seen 30 companies use grants of $5,000 to grow their overseas sales, often by traveling to trade shows and on client visits. They took a reported 162 flights to 44 unique markets throughout the year, and that was just the first round.
For pitch day, five of those high-flying exporters vied for another $35,000 in grants, which were awarded to the top three in prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
The setting at visualization studio Trick3D’s offices (itself a previous winner) was an appropriate reflection of the message that boosters have been preaching since the challenge launched in 2016: Exports aren’t limited to physical products placed in boxes and shipped somewhere. Especially in tech-saturated Atlanta, they’re often more apt to be services, royalties, intellectual property or digital downloads.
Those who took home the cash were a perfect manifestation of that reality. The top slot — and the accompanying oversized $20,000 check — went to Alpharetta-based, woman-owned engineering firm Compass Technology Group, which employs 20-plus in a lab that helps makers of materials like plastics play well with sensor and signal processing technologies (think radar in autonomous vehicles).
Coming in second and third were Vital4, which offers due diligence via a cloud-based data platform, and Skillshot Media, a spinoff of Atlanta video game producer High-Rez Studios. Skillshot was launched as a turnkey service for Esports events, a growing entertainment category in the city that is increasingly drawing more funding and viewership.
Other finalists included mosquito-repellent producer LivFul and Delta Sigma Co., which offers technology for factory automation, antenna measurement systems and augmented reality for manufacturers. The event was attended by nearly 200 people.
The Metro Atlanta Chamber has been spearheading the region-wide initiative that originally was funded by JPMorgan Chase and now has a wider array of supporters including Partnership Gwinnett, Decide Dekalb, Forward Forsyth, UPS, the City of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Economic Development and more.
Those partners are coming together for the 2020 competition, for which applications are open and due by Jan. 15.
Find out more about this year’s winners and eligibility requirements and application guidelines for next year’s competition here. Hint: Priority is being given to women- and minority-owned small businesses based in the metro area. Companies with less than $50 million in revenues are preferred.