This post is the first in a three-part series.
As we begin the month of January, we begin our third year as a company. Sandbox Communities helps create connections that fuel commerce at university research parks and innovation parks. Sandbox ATL is the shingle we hang out at Tech Square and we continue to grow and evolve with every week, like a statue emerging from the marble. I know I have plenty bruises and cuts on my knuckles from all the chiseling it's taken to get this far. Thanks to everyone who's played a part in this journey.
Our Early Days
If you want to see glimpses of journey, take some time to scroll way back in our social media feeds on Instagram and Twitter. You'll find all this started as an initial consulting engagement to help The University Financing Foundation (TUFF) and Gateway Development Services galvanize the Tech Square community and help everyone who's at the heart of Atlanta's tech scene discover and connect with each other.
We started with quirky elevator signs and a variety of non-traditional events. Bring Your Own Drone night on the parking deck, secret parties sprinkled in different locations, and experiment nights letting people play with new technologies. Soon, it became clear we needed to create a company focused on creating connections at Tech Square as well as other university research parks and innovation districts. Thus, the birth of Sandbox Communities and Sandbox ATL.
The Wild Ride of 2016
The past year was quite the ride. We went from a small nomadic tribe of carnival barkers and troublemakers to:
- welcoming over 800 members into the Sandbox community, the largest network of startup leaders, students, corporate innovators, technologists, researchers, and other community leaders at Tech Square;
- open our own 9,000 square foot home (The Garage), which doubles as a collaborative workspace and event venue;
- launching a digital publication (TechSquareATL) at SXSW 2016 to tell the stories of Tech Square;
- forging several new strategic partners to launch the Tech Square Job Fair, Tech Square Intern Academy, MARTA Hackathon, and more;
- piloting a personal development for the Square on Fifth (SQ5) community;
- producing and managing digital content in the Centergy and Square on Fifth lobbies;
- kicking off the yearlong MARTA Hackathon series in October;
- expanding Sandbox Communities services to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge; and
- continuing our spectacles and interludes at Centergy, Tech Square Research Building, Technology Enterprise Park, and Square on Fifth
All that happened at the same time we said goodbye to early team members and brought on new team members to carry the torch. Closing out the year, our team gathered for a planning retreat and several subsequent work blocks. It was the first time our team had a chance to step back from the day-to-day to reflect on what we have become as a company and map out a game plan for 2017.