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If You Start Me Up
By Asif Lakhani | Photo: by Willett Photography | November 13, 2017
The co-founder of Scoutmob has moved on to become a designer of experiences at his next big thing—Switchyards.
ON ANY GIVEN week at Switchyards Downtown Club, Michael Tavani cycles through a number of hats—figuratively speaking—while occasionally wearing one too, as part of his signature look.
On the first Thursday of every month, Tavani moderates The Consumer Show, a free-to-attend startup pitch series that draws large crowds. Toward the end of the month, he moderates the also free-to-attend Made in Atlanta lecture series, where visionaries of local brands talk about what role Atlanta plays in their company’s blueprint and identity. In between those demands, the 38-year-old husband, father of three and coach of his son’s soccer team is also known as the “Godfather of Atlanta’s B2C startup scene.”
Three years ago, Tavani co-founded Switchyards, a members-only business-to-customer startup incubator in downtown Atlanta. It officially opened doors for business a little over a year ago, and today, it boasts 375 members and around 125 B2C companies. It is one of the most exciting places to be in Atlanta right now. “We started [it because] we wanted a happy place where B2C founders like us could work in a coffee shop, where everyone [there] started the same type of company,” shares the native Atlantan.
Prior to starting Switchyards, Tavani was the co-founder of Scoutmob, the successful coupon app. “What’s really gratifying about Switchyards, versus an app, is that this is a physical thing,” he says. Tavani can see the people there and their reactions when they walk in. His goal for Switchyards—and Atlanta—is to create companies that become international brands. In his eyes, there’s no reason Atlanta can’t birth the next Uber, Instagram or Snapchat. “In B2C companies... the brand, design and delightfulness of the company matters a lot. The soul of the company... just matters.” That’s why there’s a highly Instagrammable neon sign in Switchyards with the words “Made With Soul in Atlanta.” Stop and take a look or a picture. Tavani loves that. While you’re there, look up to the top floor: You may see him roaming about his office… busy creating the next big thing.