by Charlie Paparelli, Paparelli Ventures
Pretty simple. If you made your money here in Atlanta, why not invest it here?
We are not Silicon Valley, Boston, New York or Austin. We are Southerners. Some are natural born and some of us, like me, are transplants who have bloomed here. We married here, grew raised families, joined a church community and built our business and fortunes here.
I've been here for 35 years. My wife is from Denver and I am from New Jersey. I have four children all born at Northside Hospital. I built my life and career here and found my faith in Jesus here. In the late seventies, my then co-founder, Richard Brock and I built a business here and sold it in the early eighties. I then went the corporate route with the acquirers for a few years and Richard started a company which he took public.
I came back to startups in the nineties with the sole purpose of helping people with experience achieve their dream of starting and owning their own company through my resources, experience and network. I made this decision 20 years ago and I have no regrets. During that time I have invested in over 20 deals. I am no Sig Mosley or John Imlay but I believe I helped grow the Atlanta startup community. I’ve met many great entrepreneurs and worked with some of the best. Each of them gave everything he had to the business and, if the timing was right, a great company made up of great people, blossomed.
All these people have planted roots here. They are each in their own way contributing to the Atlanta technology economy and startup community. I remain connected to all those whose companies I invested in. We celebrate the successes and learn from the failures but always together and as friends. This is what makes community.
In the eighties and nineties, the Atlanta startup investors were those who made their wealth in the real estate sector. This source of funding evaporated after the internet bubble burst. These high network individuals went back to what they know and left the responsibility of growing the Atlanta technology sector to you and I.
Many of our community leaders bang the drum for more VC money to come to Atlanta. They want these firms to open offices here, live here and become a part of the community. They believe that if this happens, the community will flourish. I don’t disagree, but I believe outside money will not appear until we Atlantans invest in Atlanta startups. The “we” includes, first and foremost, the people who made their fortune in the Atlanta technology industry.
We are all so proud of John Imlay and the impact he had on the Atlanta startup community. He, along with the limitless energy of Sig Mosley, built a legacy for all of us to admire and build upon. And it all began with John giving Sig $3 million and a mission to invest in the Atlanta technology community. These two men changed lives in this city.
For those of you who have made your fortune in the technology sector, and especially those who went to school here, married here, had kids here, what legacy will you have to look back on in twenty years?
The next generation of entrepreneurs need your time and your money in a startup market that continues to expand. This is an incredible time to invest in startups and invest in Atlanta. Be the architect of your unique legacy. Get started now.