Sanjay Parekh pulled the plug on Startup Riot 2016 (and possibly forever) earlier this week. Although I haven't attended one in a few years, I was very sorry to hear the news.
I have fond memories of presenting at Startup Riot 2009. My wife and I were working on a Git collaboration tool. Unfortunately the keynote speaker was Chris Wanstrath. Through the pleasure of getting pizza and drinks with him the night before, I realized that these guys were way more passionate about it and were going to do it much better than we were. But getting early feedback and access to a broader ecosystem was what Startup Riot was all about.
Startup Riot was an important cultural institution that gave the nascent community an opportunity to come together and celebrate
In 2016 it's hard to remember what things were like 8 years ago. This was the area of Sequoia's RIP Good Times letter and an area where prominent startups and talented individuals appeared to be heading West in droves. In this environment, Startup Riot was an important cultural institution that gave the nascent community an opportunity to come together and celebrate.
A lot has changed since then. Atlanta is now home to three entrepreneur led startups spaces: Atlanta Tech Village, Switchyards, and Tech Square Labs. The former lone stalwart ATDC has kept pace and has helped launched multiple successful companies. Between the community events and the flood of regional events like 36/86, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to get in front of a large audience.
Nobody thinks you're weird for building a startup instead of getting a "real job"
We are now in an area where 500+ people register to see Atlanta Startup Village and the Switchyards Consumer Show is standing room only. More importantly nobody thinks you're weird for building a startup instead of getting a "real job."
It's sad to see Startup Riot go and I know that it was not an easy event to put on year over year. Yet I'm very happy to be in a place where that's not a colossal loss. Often the most success you can ask for is to build something that is so successful that it's not needed anymore.
The early years gave me a wealth of connections that have been very important in my years in Atlanta's startup scene. I want to thank Sanjay and the entire team for their years of work to move the cause of startups forward in markets where they had been under represented. Startup Riot was a shot in the arm at a fragile time and while it may be the end it was clearly a rousing success.