It can be quite a daunting task to select a headquarters location, especially if you’re a startup. Right?
Corporate headquarters set the tone for the company and its culture. Do you get me? Because you’re not a Fortune 500 company, that doesn’t make the decision any less critical. Especially if you’re trying to establish yourself in the community and to the public at large.
Companies use planning and strategy to select the ideal location and office space. What kind of impression are you trying to make to potential employees or partners? How will the community, local government officials and associations perceive you? And besides, let’s be real, once you’ve committed to a space, it’s hard to switch gears and go in another direction.
All Things Considered
So, you may ask, why Atlanta?
Well, at the time, our Founder & CEO had lived in Atlanta for over 13 years and later started Sionic Mobile in 2010. The city had to be a good fit to support a potential player in the mobile technology and payments space. Plus, Atlanta was to continue along the path of growth and realizing itself as a technology hub of the South.
Entrepreneur Magazine reports that there are five considerations for a headquarters location. The need to meet prospects in person, what level of talent you can get and for how much, and the city’s culture are a few.
Things like company size, employee lifestyles and safety, affordability and public transportation matter. Companies must be flexible and offer their employees viable work options. The ability to take alternate transportation or work from home can play a vital role.
Scoping Out the Scene
As Sionic Mobile can well attest, Atlanta is full of diverse neighborhoods. First, there’s Buckhead, home of high-end shopping and Atlanta Tech Village. Next, you have Inman Park, Candler Park and West Midtown for cool restaurants and shops. Third, the all-about-business (and some touristy stuff) downtown. After that, you have Virginia Highlands for great brunch spots. Finally, there’s East Atlanta, a whole mood in itself.
Then, there’s Midtown. Home to Georgia Tech, Piedmont Park, walkable MARTA stations, and the High Museum of Art. There are also many other neighborhoods not mentioned that have a lot to offer.
But back then, some of those areas were not as developed, or conducive for becoming our new home. At the end of the day, it was about what neighborhood offered the most balance and value for a brand-new startup. What area could give us the best mix of talent, convenience, cost, and quality of life for our employees?
Sionic Mobile Selects Midtown, Atlanta
Quality of life for employees is key, and Midtown seemed to fit the bill in every way. In 2012, Sionic Mobile chose Midtown for its headquarters, as featured in by Biz Journals in 2012:
The Company soon leased a vacant, 12,000 square foot building, located at 909 West Peachtree Street. Our own in-house, former intern architect/designer brought the space back to life in a very cool way.
With a brand-new home and a family-like atmosphere, new traditions were kindly embraced. In support of strong team building, our CEO began taking the entire team for Friday lunches. It was always a fun time to connect and build morale amongst staff members.
Even though we still had a small team, we began participating in events to support our partners. There were charity auctions, golf tournaments, social functions, and more. We also joined Midtown Alliance to further engrain ourselves in our new community.
Sionic Mobile: New Location. New Product Launch.
In 2012, we were ready to go prime time and launch our premier mobile loyalty and rewards app, ION Rewards®. Sionic Mobile hosted a launch event at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. We invited guests to download and use the free app. We then awarded them IONs (digital reward points) to redeem at mock merchants we set up within the venue. There, they used their phones to pay (with IONs) for food and drinks.
The launch was a success and we immediately began marketing and promotional efforts. We soon created the Mobile Rewards Marketplace, a co-op of large and small merchants. App users could pay with their phones at certain businesses, and earn and redeem rewards.
Our Marketing team promoted ION Rewards through sponsorships, conferences and events. They did digital brand campaigns online through social media. They also participated with partners at various conferences and featured ION Rewards.
We’re In Business
Zocalo Mexican Kitchen & Cantina joined the Marketplace and tested our 3-digit CODE digital checkout. Later, we hosted a promo event there. Soon, Cut Atlanta joined as an ION Merchant and conducted a joint, long-term pilot for ION Rewards. Finally, Pita Pit on West Peachtree joined the Marketplace and did a lot to help us promote ION Rewards. We’re grateful for their support.
From there, we partnered with eGift Card providers to offer our ION Rewards app users more places to shop. They can also buy eGift Cards inside the app and use them on mobile or online purchases.
With a new found sense of organization, Sionic Mobile experienced growth. New staff members joined the team for both executive and non-executive roles. The Company formed new teams and put new procedures in place to accommodate for its growth. New business partnerships were also forged and nurtured as the business evolved.
Evolution has brought us to our current business of connected mobile commerce. We built ULink™, the first universal linking service, which consumers create one profile. There, they connect their preferred payment type to many merchants to pay for food. They may also pay for goods and service or find parking, all through their single account.
ULink may enable consumers to pay for fuel without downloading or using an app. The service can help make purchasing fuel fast and easy. In case you missed the August 2019 article in Payment Week:
The Big Boom
Since 2012, Midtown’s growth has exploded. New businesses, restaurants and residential projects continue today. The “909 Building” served as our home for six years. The property is being demolished to make room for another high-rise.
Our relocation goal was to stay in Midtown. So, Sionic Mobile moved a few blocks to 1230 Peachtree Street near Colony Square.
Restaurants, arts centers, and public transit are all in walking distance of our new digs. This solidifies the Company’s decision years ago to settle in Midtown as a great one.
The Midtown skyline now looks unrecognizable since we moved in. It’s a simple, yet beautiful reminder of not only how the city has changed, but how far we’ve come.