One of my mentors reached out to me and told me that these young guys were starting a new city club in Atlanta and I should get connected. I really had no idea what it was but I applied and went to their first event previewing their space, and lets just say, the Gathering Spot has exceeded expectations. In a little over a year they have taken Atlanta by storm. Co-founder Ryan Wilson was named 2017 Business Person of the Year in Atlanta and they recently announced they will be opening their second location in 2018. Needless to say, I’m glad I got the opportunity to speak with Ryan to hear about the ‘Journey’ to get to this point.
The Gathering Spot is a private club at its core where they host events, everything from lectures to discussions, coworking space and full restaurant and bar. All in 25,000 square feet in the heart of Atlanta. So, of course, I was wondering where the guys got the money to start something so massive.
At 23 years old, Ryan and his co-founders approached a design firm with their concept. They were able to bring their vision to life, the design firm bought into their idea but now they had to find the money to make it all work. For such a large project, Ryan and his co-founders had to turn to local investors for help. At 24 years old, Ryan and his co-founders continued to share their vision to get their first ‘yes’ where they secured $1 million. As their vision grew and they wanted more to be in the initial launch of the club, they went back to raise more money, first $1.5 million to $2million, adding to a total of $3 million.
They wanted the club to be as good as it could be instead of settling based on the capital on hand. I loved that the guy didn’t let financial constraints hinder their vision and what they would ultimately launch to the world as the first Gathering Spot. So they continued to push. They set a target of the best possible version of your idea and raise to that goal. They were afraid that small versions of ideas tend to stay small and they didn’t want that to be their fate. They literally entered their entrepreneurial ‘Journey’ with no limits.
I always say, ‘To thine self be true.’ and Ryan did exactly that. After graduating law school at Georgetown, Ryan accepted a job at a law firm and he soon realized pretty early on that law wasn’t quite what he wanted to do. Very early on, Ryan’s father was there supporting him and his vision the whole way through. With the support of his father, Ryan didn’t get caught up in the time invested in law school and the money lost but he focused on the fact that you only get one life. And at 23, Ryan had nothing to lose, no experience but everything to gain. The biggest fear was looking back on his life and regretting not taking that chance and saying, “I should have tried that five years ago.”
$3 million dollars and a leap of faith later, The Gathering Spot has over 500 members and is continuously pushing for the next level.
- Set the best possible target for your business, instead of settling based on capital
- Learn as much about your industry and hire the best people for the areas you aren’t strong in
- You only have one life- five years from now you don’t want to regret taking that chance