After months of shopping around some of the city’s most unique assets, Scoutmob co-founder Michael Tavani has finally chosen a location for his design-focused incubator space. Briefly known as The Beltline & Co, Tavani’s incubator was forced to change its name to Switchyards after legal action was threatened by The Atlanta Beltline Inc. After touring spaces in Ponce City Market and the historic Flatiron building, Tavani and Switchyards decided on a 20,000 SF building directly across from The Tabernacle; Tavani currently has the entire building under contract and is expected to make his official announcement later this week.
Tavani hopes that Switchyards can be for Downtown what the ADTC has been for Midtown and what the ATV is now for Buckhead, although Switchyards will have a different focus than its northern counterparts. Switchyards will focus on the consumer and will focus on design talent to ultimately build consumer brands. Tavani hopes to launch 2-3 consumer-focused start-ups per year; each idea will be tested for a month before it is awarded funding and the company will have up to 15 months to break even.
The Switchyards building will be a key component of attracting designers, according to Tavani, who is sinking more than $2 million of his own capital into renovating the space and making it a special and unique atmosphere to encourage creativity. About half of the building will be private offices made available to start-ups with 2-8 employees, and the rest of the building will be open space to encourage collaboration. Like ATV, The Switchyards will also host events and speaker series.
Many have questioned the placement of an incubator in the Downtown submarket, but Tavani is convinced that Downtown has what it takes to compete with Midtown in the start-up game. Companies Downtown can recruit from Georgia State like those in Midtown do from Georgia Tech, Downtown is undergoing huge transportation improvements that will allow for better connectivity and walkability, and Downtown is full of the old and historic buildings that offer the “story” and “edgy” feel so many new companies are looking for when selecting their space.
Some are convinced that Atlanta is becoming overrun with start-up and incubator spaces and that it would be more beneficial to create organizations that would help companies focus on the massive effort is takes to maintain a company and harvest future success rather than the glamour of creating concepts from ideas and trying to launch them at their beginnings. Atlanta is already home to numerous start-ups and incubators, including ATV, ADTC, Flashpoint, The Founders’ Institute, and TechSquare Labs. Some are skeptical if Atlanta even has the amount of talent and start-up companies to keep all of these organizations full.Share