When Mark Wilson launched Chime Solutions in 2015, he was already well-versed in how to operate a company that provides outsourced customer service. So the serial entrepreneur set his sights higher: to improve neighborhoods and their residents.
"There are communities out there that just don’t get the investment," said Wilson, CEO of Chime Solutions. "To the extent that you do [invest], it can have a positive impact on your business and the service that you deliver to your clients."
Thinking beyond the bottom line is something Wilson shares with more than a dozen other founders who are part of a local accelerator program called Endeavor Atlanta. The nonprofit is "rooted in economics," according to managing director Aaron Hurst, and high-impact entrepreneurs who are major job creators.
“Most of the new jobs that are created every year in the United States come from these high-growth, scaling businesses," Hurst said. "So really what we’re focused on is economic development, and our focus is on organizations that are the biggest job generators over a long period of time."That focus seems to be paying off. In its recently released three-year progress report, Endeavor Atlanta's 13 member companies have created 4,171 jobs and generated $154 million in revenue since 2017.
“What appealed to me was that they would talk about scale-ups as opposed to startups,” said Stephen Pair, CEO of BitPay, a 9-year-old company that joined Endeavor Atlanta in 2018. “It wasn't like a lot of other supportive organizations, [such as] an incubator, where it takes a percentage of your company. Their mission is really to help those companies.”
Access and ambitious thinking
Endeavor Atlanta launched in 2017. It was the fourth of eight offices to open in a global network that now spans 35 cities.The local affliate's members have a minimum of $3 million to $5 million in revenue. Member companies include LeaseQuery, GreenPrint, SalesLoft and 2ULaundry.
The organization provides entrepreneurs with a network of other fellow founders, access to potential investors, entry to new markets and a group of advisors.
When Wilson started the call center solutions company, his 5-year goal was to create 10,000 jobs by the end of 2020. But while in the process of joining Endeavor Atlanta last year, he said mentors told him, "[You] should really be thinking about trying to impact not only the U.S. but the world — and to have a goal of 100,000 jobs."
By the end of 2020, the company could create 5,000 jobs, Wilson said. It could more than double that by the end of 2021. Chime Solutions, which turned an abandoned JC Penney store at Southlake Mall in Morrow into a state of the art call center, is putting plans in place to reach its new goal. It has expanded in metro Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas.
"That's just an example of what [Endeavor Atlanta] is all about," Wilson said. "It really does stretch you to think about things on a larger scale."
When it comes to thinking big, members can take their cues from the group's board of directors, which is a who’s-who of local entrepreneurs, including Sharecare CEO Jeff Arnold; Atlanta Tech Village founder David Cummings; and H.J. Russell & Company President Jerome Russell.
“We really are looking for companies that have the potential to be that next generation of enterprise companies here in Atlanta,” Hurst said. “Our hope is that some of them become the next Cox Enterprises, or the next Chick-Fil-A or maybe the next Delta or UPS.”
Keeping growth in Atlanta
BitPay, which has 80 employees, processes cryptocurrency payments. Pair started the company in 2011, before most people knew what cryptocurrency, let alone Bitcoin, was. He said he never intended to grow BitPay to a certain point and then sell it.
"We're not building all this with the idea that we're just building the future of Visa's network or
PayPal's network or something," he said. "I would love for BitPay to just be an independent company that grows and is successful in Atlanta."
That is BitPay's way of generating high impact in the region — growing in the metro area rather than moving its headquarters to Silicon Valley where there are many similar software businesses. It is one of the fastest growing companies in the country, according to Inc. Its revenue increased nearly 300% compared to last year.
Pair said having the Alpharetta-based company in the area will help attract talent and other
businesses. It will scale up in the near-term with about a dozen strategic hires in Atlanta and in its European office, Pair said.
As for Endeavor Atlanta, its expansion plans during the next three years include increasing support of underrepresented founders, building out its board of directors with Endeavor alumni and expanding to other cities across the Southeast.
"I hope that we can start to find the right partners in some of the different cities in our region to start to spread our model," Pair said. "I think all of us benefit from that. Founders in Atlanta talking to founders in Nashville or Charlotte or Birmingham, they all have similar challenges and are trying to attract similar capital and talent."
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle