Game Plan for the Start of 2017

This post is the third of a three-part series. First in the series is here and second is here.

Whether you made it through the first two posts in the series explaining our journey and current framework or just fast forwarded to the ending, I'm glad you're reading. Our team put together an exciting game plan for 2017 to bring the collaborations we're cooking up with each of our partners to life. 

What we've learned in our work at Tech Square is that you can break the year into three distinct four-month seasons. Spring Season runs January-April, Summer Season is May-August, and Fall Season is September-December. You can thank the academic calendar rhythms of Georgia Tech for that. With that in mind, let's dive into what's coming your way in the first four months of the year.

1. Focus on Connecting the Critical Mass

The most valuable part of our technology stack is the Community Network. In 2016, we unveiled the Sandbox ATL community membership network. By the end of the year, we had welcomed over 800 individuals into the largest network of startup leaders, students, corporate innovators, technologists, and researchers at Tech Square.

With this critical mass, we're focused on helping to create connections amongst our existing community members through in-person and digital means. In addition to our usual quirky spectacles and interludes (think Pumpkinpalooza and Leisure Sports Olympics) and the monthly Hump Day Exchange, we're excited about our efforts to scale the Power Meal program and the new publication we're calling The Book.

Power Meals are very simple in form, yet have a profound impact on those who attend them. Power Meals bring 5-8 community members together to break bread and discuss thought provoking topics. They're like a book club but without having to read a book. Look for Power Meals coming your way in the coming weeks. Once you attend one, you're welcome to host one yourself. We've become quite adept at them since starting as experiment in the spring of 2015.

The Book is a new initiative for 2017 and is a digital publication we will produce three times a year to celebrate the end of each season. Think of it like a yearbook for Tech Square featuring the people all around you, recaps of events, and interesting data and trends we gather through our periodic community surveys. Just like Navin R. Johnson, you'll be somebody and things will start to happen for you when your name is listed in The Book

2. Convert the Collaborative Workspace to Self-Service

Since we opened The Garage, we've staffed the Welcome Desk with Georgia Tech students. These folks served us well and helped us operate The Garage when it was in collaborative workspace mode and sometimes pitched in to help with private events. Starting January 16, we're switching over to a self-service approach that allows any Sandbox ATL member to become a Keyholder. All you have to do is complete a simple orientation and agree to uphold four core values (Be Engaging, Respect the Work, Pay It Forward, and Leave No Trace).

For taking on this important role, we're giving Keyholders come-and-go access to The Garage during the normal business hours when it's not in use for a private event. I'm pretty excited about the Keyholder program. Not only will it free our team up to put more energy into the connections we're helping make, it also gives community members a greater role in bolstering the community. Members can sign up for Keyholder orientation on the community section of the website or by sending an email to Nona Dowling.

3. Make Existing Collaborations Even Better, Hump Day Exchange, MARTA Hackathon, and Tech Square Job Fair were important collaborations for us in 2016. We're glad to have the partnerships that make these collaborations possible and are dedicating ourselves to making each of them better throughout 2017. We've learned from the experiments we ran - some went well and others failed spectacularly. That's the magic of creating something that's never been built before. Now, we're going to make them even better.

4. Launch New Collaborations

We're defined by the partnerships we forge and the collaborations these partnerships spawn. We're excited to welcome Honeywell to the Sandbox ATL community. They've opened up their state-of-the-art software center and Home and Building Technologies global headquarters in the neighborhood. Now they're stepping forward to partner with us to launch two new collaborations.

Show & Tell Showcase is a quarterly science fair-like event featuring how different Tech Square companies, organizations, and researchers are experimenting with emerging technologies. Curious what others are doing with virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, or other tech? We'll gather them for a lunch-time event featuring their experimentation as well as prognostications from experts of different perspectives. 

Honeywell Huddle series features a more hands-on event experience that starts with a deep dive with an industry leader on a selected topic. Then, attendees will form groups to answer the key question posed in the the deep dive and finish the program by presenting their solutions to everyone. Afterward, we'll assemble these ideas into a digital report to share with the rest of the community. Look for six of these in 2017 - two per season. 

5. Give The Garage to a Worthy Cause (for a night)

To celebrate the first anniversary of The Garage, we've decided to give one deserving charity or social impact business a free event rental ($3,500 value). We're seeking nominations now though January 31. On February 6, we'll announce the finalists and then open voting to the community to determine which one gets to come back to host their own breakthrough event. Learn more at and help us spread the word. 

Phew! That's quite the load we'll be carrying over the next four months. Let us know how you'd like to be part of it. We're always looking for input and ideas.