When people envision a tech job, they most likely conjure up an image of a startup: employees in branded hoodies lounging on an oversized couch. You can probably hear some ping pong balls bouncing, too.

Much has been made of the startup lifestyle, but some smaller companies are doing a lot more than offering up cool perks — they’re at the forefront of innovation and are transforming the tech landscape. In fact, some of the biggest and most influential companies in the world are, technically, startups. Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX, and WeWork are all startups.

They’re exciting opportunities to be part of something larger that’s shaping the future. Because of the nature of a startup, you’re going to be working on many projects and wearing many hats. You’ll have fun, work hard, learn a lot, and have some sharp tech minds as colleagues.

Atlanta startups are absolutely no exception, and many local companies have received national recognition for the work they’re doing.

To find the best startups in Atlanta, we reviewed industry publications, local media coverage, and national attention to identify the city of Atlanta’s top startups. Each publication discusses overall satisfaction, innovation, company culture, startup perks, work/life balance, employee benefits, and growth potential.

For more practical advice, our own alumnus, Rahul M., discusses how he landed his own startup job in the city. He shares his thoughts on working at an innovative company and what you need to do to begin your own startup career.

Whether you want to work at a “unicorn” or a small startup creating an innovative product, here are the best startups in Atlanta, and some crucial tips for landing a startup job.

Mailchimp

  • Inclusive office culture
  • Charitable initiatives
  • Innovation

After years of trying new things and, mostly, succeeding, Mailchimp gained a national reputation for innovation. Fast Company called MailChimp one of the most innovative companies in 2017 and Inc. named it the company of the year in 2017. MailChimp also champions local initiatives and an inclusive office culture, valuing work/life balance.

Kabbage

  • Office culture
  • Employee benefits
  • Growth opportunities

The FinTech unicorn — defined as startups with at least a $1 billion valuation — was recognized by Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Inc. as a growing and innovative company. Employees enjoy daily catered lunches and a robust snack selection. Kabbage also features great growth and educational opportunities, according to Glassdoor employee reviews.

Rubicon Global

  • Employee benefits
  • Office culture
  • 100% covered health insurance

Rubicon Global was called the “Uber for Trash” and received recognition by Glassdoor for its employee benefits and Inc. as a disruptor. Employees rave about 100%-covered health premiums, and Rubicon was certified as a B Corporation that is “legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.”

Pindrop

  • Innovative company
  • Responsive management
  • Growth opportunities

Pindrop prevents voice fraud through AI. Pindrop’s CEO is on Vanity Fair’s Future Innovators Index and the company itself is a Forbes Cloud 100 company. Employees work with cutting-edge technology, and Pindrop gives each employee an annual conference budget to gain new skills.

CallRail

  • Work/life balance
  • Office culture
  • Growth opportunities

CallRail has grown 531% in three years, according to Inc., which also says it’s among the Best Workplaces. The company has a “Culture Ambassadors Board” to ensure employees are happy as the company grows, hires new talent, and sets new revenue goals.

SalesLoft

  • Employee perks
  • Transparency
  • Growth opportunities

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution named SalesLoft the top midsize workplace in 2018. Employees enjoy smoothies, snacks, and free lunches on occasion.

Calendly

  • Innovative company
  • Growth opportunities
  • Employee benefits

Calendly is rapidly expanding and has received praise from a wide range of publications for its intuitive product. While at Calendly, you can expect catered lunches, health coverage with low premiums, and good work/life balance.

Tip for landing a job at a startup, from a Flatiron grad

By now, you’re ready to start your own career at a startup. To help you land that job, Flatiron School alumnus Rahul share his insights into working at a startup. After graduating Flatiron School, Rahul landed a job at Calendly, where he’s currently an internal applications engineer.

Rahul says a growth mindset is essential at a startup. “You’re always thinking about growth. It’s a common startup cliche, but it’s true,” Rahul said. “You always want to think about how you can be better and, as a team, what are our inefficiencies and how do we attack them.” You won’t always get the clearest direction and you’ll have to make a lot of decisions for yourself, but startups expect that growth outlook.

At a startup, you also have to be self-driven and self-motivated. You’re going to have a lot of opportunities to make an impact, and initiative is often rewarded. “There’s a lot more input that you provide and you have full autonomy on a lot of things,” Rahul said.

When applying for a job at a startup, highlight ways you’ve spearheaded projects or were self-driven in your current or previous positions. You should also identify how you’ve been able to handle multiple projects and can adapt to change. Rahul says they switch teams a lot at Calendly, and their roles don’t always match their official title.

If you’re motivated, willing to dive into new things, and are always looking for ways to challenge yourself, you’ll fit right in.

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