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Why Do Startups in Columbus Thrive?

Local organization helps foster collaboration and success among companies launching in this Georgia city.

By Heather Cherry on January 13, 2023

Jay Pitts, president and CEO of ClinCept, holds the winning check at the 2021 Pitch Competition.
StartUP Columbus

Collaboration is the key to success in Columbus, and it’s the ability to leverage connections that spark startups across the region.

One organization that fosters collaboration is StartUP Columbus, which works closely with the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

“StartUP Columbus was a product of Columbus 2025, created to be the organization focused on enterprising culture,” says Tabetha Getz, executive director of the Columbus 2025 community strategy. “Columbus 2025 allows organizations to come together to evaluate how our assets and skills work together to grow jobs, enhancing the quality of life and amenities for the region. Entrepreneurship is just one part of how we do that.”

StartUP Columbus has supported over 120 businesses to date.

“We have been able to open the opportunity for potential entrepreneurs,” says Ben MacMinn, executive director of StartUP Columbus. “We’ve also elevated the awareness of entrepreneurship. Conversations about entrepreneurship weren’t happening before, but now people understand the language and its impact on the community and economic development.”

Market Viability

StartUP Columbus mentors entrepreneurs in several ways. From pitching and business plan development to camaraderie – whatever an entrepreneur needs – can be found here.

Tom Scott took part in StartUP’s CO.STARTERS+, comprising a 12-week, cohort-based program and a six-month 1-to-1 mentorship program.

“We came up with a business plan that we thought was great. But we participated with the CO.STARTERS+ program and learned that we didn’t know anything,” says Scott, CEO and partner of Breathe Easy Sanitizing, an eco-friendly infection control solution. “Because of StartUP, we could figure out what we needed in an office. As a result, we are better businesspeople and offer a better product. It was such a great thing for us. I can’t believe how much it helped us.”

Suhyoon Wood, owner and “brew witch” at Beejou Craft Kombucha, is another product of StartUP Columbus. She found success, then found herself relocating. But because of the things she learned during her time at StartUP, she can apply that to a new market.

“I learned about business viability and made many connections. A lot of Beejou Craft Kombucha’s success was because of the people I met in that class,” Wood says. “I can use this knowledge and apply it to where I’m now – it’s a big part of what I’m doing here. I’m crunching the numbers and determining if it’s viable.”

StartUP Columbus supports businesses around the region.
StartUP Columbus

Business Exposure

“When I started the company, I didn’t know what to do. So, I became part of the first cohort, which kicked off my involvement with StartUP and the business world,” says Scott Sullivan, CEO of Bridgepath CFO Solutions LLC. “Being a part of the program helped my business exposure. It’s a great place to get in front of business owners – for networking and a symbiotic relationship.”

The same is true for another CO.STARTERS+ graduate, Jay Pitts, who is the president and CEO of clinical research firm ClinCept LLC.

“It was a great experience. It challenged me more than anything,” Pitts says. “Going through the incubator program put things into perspective, making me confront whether this was a hobby or more purpose-driven. Afterward, I knew I could do this, but I was also equipped to handle the bigger ticket items.”

Perfecting the Pitch

In addition to participating in the programming, Pitts participated in the 2021 BizPitch Columbus pitch competition and won.

“I’m an African American male, and I can tell you how many African American males I’ve met in clinical research. Going through the StartUP program, I realized my passion had a purpose,” Pitts says. “How can I get to others who look like me but may not want to participate in clinical research? I was nervous about presenting my pitch, but I went ahead and did it. It opened a lot of people’s eyes, and it was great. I won a grant prize and the People’s Choice Award, which meant more to me because it showed the people in the audience valued me.”

And without the program and pitch competition, Pitts says, “I would not be as far as I am now. We’ve grown substantially. StartUP prepared me mentally, and the pitch competition equipped me financially; this expedited and accelerated my growth.”

Columbus Zooms to the Top

Ownerly recognized Columbus as a Top Zoom Town based on home values in Columbus along with rental costs, web connectivity, safety, park access and gym options. Other criteria included affordable utilities, the number of restaurants and availability of child care services.

Columbus Is a Great Town for Remote Work

Columbus, GA, was named one of Ownerly’s Top Zoom Towns for 2022, a ranking of the best cities for working remotely. Columbus ranked No. 4 in the South region, No. 9 in the medium-city category and No. 39 overall in the U.S.

Ownerly is a New York City-based company that provides professional-grade home values that are used by real estate agents, banks and lenders.

One key factor used by Ownerly to rate cities is availability of coworking spaces, especially since many of those businesses are equipped with Zoom technology.

A popular coworking space in the city is CoWork Columbus, which is the area’s first modern community workspace, and it offers a flexible 24/7 work environment for both established and emerging businesses. CoWork amenities include a snack and beverage bar, two conference rooms, high-speed Wi-Fi, daily-use lockers, ergonomic furnishings and a high-speed printer and copier.

CoWork officials say their dedicated space allows tenants to run their businesses without the headaches and obligations of “a lengthy, pricey and square foot-heavy office space.” Their motto is “The office environment you want, minus the excess you don’t.”

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