What We Do

The Digital Corridor is a creative effort to attract, nurture and promote Charleston's tech economy through a combination of technology-enabled initiatives and business incentives, private business support and member-driven programming.

Talent

Opportunities Abound
"Attending courses at CODEcamp allowed me to hone my web development skills while giving me the opportunity to interact with professionals that are driving Charleston technology community."
  • Ryan Barrineau
  • Developer
  • Blue Acorn

Spaces

Get Working
"As an early stage software company, it was not only important to have a location to grow in but also the means to mature as an organization. The Flagships afforded this flexibility and infrastructure."
  • Earl Bridges
  • Co-founder
  • Good Done Great

Community

Peer Networking
"The Charleston Digital Corridor serves as the central hub for technology companies in the area and what that has done is create a sense of community around the companies that are a part of it."
  • Grier Allen
  • Founder & CEO
  • Boomtown

Capital

Accelerating Growth
"While there are many opportunities for investment, our fund is happy to make growth capital available for Charleston’s tech companies. Michael Knox, Managing Partner, Silicon Harbor Ventures."
  • Michael Knox
  • Managing Partner
  • Silicon Harbor Ventures
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eGroup CEO, Mike Carter

Carter: eGroup Based In Charleston Because We Can Be

The Charleston Digital Corridor's Leadership Profile series is focused on the individuals who are driving Charleston tech scene forward. This series is brought to you with support from Charleston Southern University.

Mike Carter is founder and CEO of eGroup, a 40-person technology consulting firm based in Mount Pleasant. Carter started eGroup in 1999.

Where did you grow up?

My dad was a career Air Force fighter pilot, so I grew up all over the country and some places abroad. But I was born on Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, so I am a South Carolina native.

How did you end up in Charleston?

My parents are both originally from Charleston. My grandfathers were both Navy guys, and so my parents grew up in North Charleston. My dad went to The Citadel. My parents got married on his graduation day, and then he joined the Air Force and traveled all over the country. I call Charleston home because that's where my extended family has always been.

I went to college at The Citadel, and I ended up staying.

I tell people all the time, Charleston just kind of gets in your bloodstream. There's something about it that resonates with me. Having spent time in Florida, it's got some of those attributes of the beach and sun and fun. But it's very classy. It has this charm that is just contagious.

What was your first job, or most memorable early job? What did you learn from it?

I had lots of jobs, everything from mowing grass to working in department stores. But probably the first real job where I think I learned more than just how to pump item searches into computers was at a real estate company in Northern Virginia. I was 17. I was kind of like the assistant to the assistant to the president. That meant I got to do all of the awful jobs that the assistant didn't want to do. Things like taking the president's car to the shop to get serviced.

That job taught me a couple of things that were very important. The first was how to anticipate what people are looking for and maybe to read between the lines a little bit. Not only with people in leadership, but just people who are important. How to figure what it is they are looking for. And the second part of that was just organization and preparation.

Did you have an entrepreneurial drive early on?

Yeah, I did, but I'm not sure I would have called it that back then. My parents used to say I was just a complete pain in the ass. I did things like selling stuff out of the backs of magazines to get the prize. When I was very young, I took stuff out of our garage, like screws and bolts and stuff like that, and bagged them up and put price tags on them and tried to sell them as hardware parts. I set up a stand in the driveway. I had friends around the neighborhood who would come. It was basically like the boy's version of the lemonade stand.

In your own words, what does your company do?

eGroup delivers forward-looking IT solutions and services to what we would call the commercial midmarket sector – healthcare, financial services, state and local government. We have an interesting kind of play within transportation and logistics as well.

People either need what we call brainpower or manpower. They either need access to expertise that they don't have, or they need access to people who can help them execute and get things done quickly. That's what we do. We help people get to their objectives faster, better and a little less expensively than they could either do on their own or with another group.

What drew you to your current business, or inspired you to start it?

I am a huge fan of the process of continuous improvement. That's probably another latent entrepreneurial attribute I've always had. That comes through in all kinds of things that I do. Whether it's exercising or emptying the dishwasher, I'm always trying to find a better way to do it each and every time.

What drew me to this business is that love for continuous improvement in an industry that is always changing. Technology is magical from that standpoint. The problems we solved yesterday with the tools that we had yesterday – we can re-solve those problems again today with technology that is significantly better and less expensive than it was maybe even 12 months ago.

How would you describe your organization's culture?

It's action oriented. We love to say, "Results, not effort." It's very much a culture of integrity. It's performance oriented.

We are not what I would describe as one of the more new-agey companies where it's all about happiness and things like that. Maybe I'm just cut from a different kind of cloth, but I think happiness comes from within, not from a place of employment. I think if you are in a rewarding and challenging work environment, and you derive a sense of great personal accomplishment by operating in a team and achieving objectives, then that's where happiness comes from.

We are far more interested in being great than being big or topping the decks of the financial side. We want to be known for being the best at what we do.

What is your management style? Why is that your approach?

Hands off. I ripped this off from the old George Patton quote: Tell people what needs to be done and let them surprise you with how they achieved it. I also like to lead from the front. I'm never afraid to get involved and pull the all-nighters and do the hard work where they need me. I come from a technical background, so I'm always willing to jump in, and I am definitely a problem solver at heart.

My management style is to very clearly set the tone, the cadence and the destination for what we are going after, and then to pull the team into those activities. I think when you are very transparent and very clear about your goals, it gives people an immediate ability to decide whether they want to opt in.

What lessons have you learned from good bosses? Bad bosses?

How to treat people and how not to treat people. Things like coaching at the point of occurrence. Don't wait for the performance evaluation to give somebody a piece of feedback that's going to be vital. Give it to them immediately.

One headlining, memorable experience that I got directly from a great boss is the concept of there's two ways to do things: the "fast-slow way" and the "slow-fast way." In doing things that take time and thought, you can't rush it. You just take the time to do it right the first time, and that is the fastest way to get there. The "slow-fast way" is the right way.

That is another way of saying: If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? It applies to just about everything in life.

What's the hardest or most important lesson you've learned in business?

Failure is an essential part of the process. Failure is not something to avoid.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

Probably the obvious–-that you make your own schedule and all of the other trappings associated with entrepreneurship. At least in my line of work, and in my own life, my schedule is the schedule of the people I serve. The members of my team, first and foremost, and then my clients.

My dad used to say, "Heavy is the head that wears the crown." There's a little bit of that associated with entrepreneurship. There's a lot of responsibility in terms of being an entrepreneur, if you're doing it right. We've all read about people who go out and borrow lots of dollars from different companies and they don't spend it wisely, and maybe they don't have a process-driven approach to going after their goals. And they kind of squander it and maybe act a little irresponsibly. But, I think for the great majority of entrepreneurs, responsibility and ambition are kind of symbiotic.

I think a lot of times people don't see the deeper side of entrepreneurship – which is the responsibility, the discipline, the long hours and all of those things that go into the mix. Because we often don't read about entrepreneurship until folks are successful at it, maybe. Success kind of steals the show, and not the hard work that goes into it.

Do you have a routine that's important to your day? A morning ritual, meditation, etc.?

I love to exercise. I like to get up at 5 a.m., and I usually spend at least an hour doing some form of cardio, and then usually another 45 minutes doing a group workout. If I didn't get it done first thing in the morning, I would never get it done in the day. I spend a lot of time in a chair behind a computer, so it's definitely an important part of my day.

I like to run when it's dark in the early morning. It's very quiet. You feel like you are getting a head start on everybody else. Something just awesome happens. Whatever you went to bed thinking about, when you're running in the morning, all the answers just seem to emerge from the fog, and you get to the office and you're ready to go and know exactly what needs to be done.

So that's my routine. And then I back it up with coffee.

What obstacles have you faced building your business? How have you overcome them?

In starting eGroup in July of '99, we had the dot-com bubble bust in early 2000. Then we had Sept. 11, 2001. Then we had the Great Recession. So there have been some economic blips that have happened along the way. I'd love to say that we had great planning in the early days, but the reality is that we were just incredibly lucky in that we were just financially disciplined, so we were able to weather those storms.

But having those storms occur, and then working through them and seeing the impact of the decisions that we had made and how those worked so well, really kind of galvanized our approach forever and always. Coming out of those early economic blips – that's where we came up with some of our company directives, like remain a debt-free organization.

What do you look for in the people you hire?

We like smart people who know how to get things done. We have an interview process and a survey that kind of draws that out. And that's all I'll say, because everything else is immaterial.

What is your biggest pet peeve in business or amongst colleagues?

Lack of humility. It just drives me crazy.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Give it time. It's the "slow-fast way." I think even if you went and talked to Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, all of those guys, they would say, "Listen, you saw the success. You didn't see the 10,000 hours of blood, sweat and tears behind it."

If you really believe in what you are after, just give it time. Be patient and enjoy the journey.

What advice would you give new graduates seeking to work in the tech industry?

Not to undervalue or underestimate the role of preparation in the process. When I think back to the seven years that I spent with The Computer Group and later IKON, that was a wonderful time for me because that was my 10,000 hours of preparation. I remember spending my own time at my own initiative, up all night, just reading manuals and testing things and loading software and really figuring out how things worked.

What do you see as the future of your company?

Continued evolution of services. We are always looking for faster, better, less expensive alternatives to what we've done the year before. In technology, it's tough to have a five-year vision. But for us, a couple of years out, we are going to be doing generally the same things that we are doing in what we call the data center architecture space and also the software development space. The techniques may change; the tools won't fundamentally change.

I do expect that we will see our relationships with our clients change where we become more of the services arm for them from an IT perspective. We will be working more directly with non-IT department heads within the companies – people who are in sales, people who are in the executive branch, people in the marketing side of those business – and less with the IT staff.

Whereas for the last 10 years we have been really built to support corporate IT teams, I think what we will find in the evolution of our business, in this more software-based, more services-oriented businesses, is that we will take on more of the traditional IT roles for those businesses. Because businesses will see us as a less expensive option with a faster track to delivery than the teams that they have today.

What one person has been the biggest influence on your business life?

My wife, Catherine. She was probably the original catalyst to saying now is the time to start the business when we were at an inflection point in the late '90s, when we saw opportunities within the market.

That's maybe not the answer a lot of people would say, but I don't think anybody can be successful without a great support system. And sometimes support isn't just someone who is holding you up – there is someone who is kind of showing you the way.

I definitely credit her with a lot of great leadership. She is very convicted about what she believes in. She has a very strong moral compass. It's always helpful to have somebody like that, who can not only say timing is right, but who you have the opportunity to bounce very intimate, very thoughtful types of things off of, and to get solid advice.

Are you a Mac or a PC? iPhone or Android?

I have been all of them. Right now, I am a Mac and an iPhone guy.

What is your usual Starbucks order?

In the mornings, I bring my eGroup Yeti in, and I get a Pike. I like cream and sugar in my coffee. But in the afternoons, I usually get a no-water soy chai. Sort of a sweet pick-me-up.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

I have three sons. Two of them are in college. That keeps me busy. Very, very family focused. I like to exercise and spend a lot of time doing that. I like to geek out and play with technology, whether it's drums with my son or Xbox or whatever. We do a lot of traveling. I like to read a lot. The beach – we love the sun, we love the beach.

What has it been like building your technical team in Charleston?

It's definitely a destination. It's become easier over the last decade to attract people to the area. And Charleston has great people. They've got a good mix of work ethic, but they also know how to relax.

If we're doing work in San Diego or Atlanta or Northern Virginia, and people say, "Hey, where are you headquartered?", we still get some funny looks when we say Charleston. We run into preconceived ideas of what Charleston is, outside of Charleston. It doesn't really relate to how we have built the team in Charleston tactically, but in terms of representing Charleston to a broader technical audience, especially in areas that think highly of their technical gravity, we've still got some work to do in putting Charleston on the map.

But I would never trade Charleston for another destination because I think Charleston has so much more to offer. People get so much outside of work.

When you encounter that kind of skepticism about Charleston, how do you respond?

Usually the skepticism comes in the form of, "Why are you headquartered in Charleston?" And the response is, "Because we can be." It's a great place to live and work. And if you have to work outside of Charleston, it's easy to get in and out of, whether it's north, south or into the interior. It's got all of the big city amenities without the big city headaches.

What do you see as some of the challenges recruiting tech talent to Charleston?

Is it difficult to get people to come here? It's not. It's Charleston – that's probably the key selling point. With all of the accolades that Charleston has gotten through Travel and Leisure and all of the different awards, Charleston is definitely on the map, not just nationally but globally. So it's not hard to have a conversation with anybody about Charleston these days.

And it's only becoming easier from a technical perspective, too, especially in a software-connected, cloud-based type of world where work is not where you go, it's what you do. When you can do that from anywhere, Charleston is about the most ideal place imaginable to be able to do it.

What are your thoughts on how Charleston's technical landscape has grown?

Charleston has become undeniably visible within that space. I think that's through the efforts not only of key individuals, like what Ernest Andrade has done at the Charleston Digital Corridor, but everybody else who has jumped on that bus through the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, the incubators and all of those offshoots. As well as the business leaders. I think the business leaders within the technical space have all done a great job in promoting Charleston to the broader audience, not only through their direct actions but through the fact that they are successful.

Clearly, it's big and getting bigger, and I think more people are coming here. Different folks, whether they're in government leadership or they're in business leadership, they see that our region's ability to emphasize or promote the technical maturity of our workforce is probably one of the most important things to do in terms of economic development and prosperity moving forward. I would say it's just as critical as tax incentive packages and everything else. The foundation for the digital economy is built on technical people who know how to support it.

Digital Corridor Adds Aerospace Companies to CharlestonWorks Portal

Charleston, SC, February 23, 2017 - The Charleston Digital Corridor is pleased to announce today that Aerospace has been added as an industry sector to CharlestonWorks - a portal showcasing key sectors that are driving Charleston's high-wage economy. The addition of the Aerospace category has been made possible in partnership with Charleston County Economic Development. 

"Our community has a strong aerospace footprint. We are proud to partner with the Charleston Digital Corridor to highlight our existing industry and provide key connections through the CharlestonWorks platform," said Steve Dykes, Executive Director of Charleston County Economic Development.

CharlestonWorks, which currently has over 375 listed companies located in the Charleston metropolitan area, allows visitors to filter these companies by industry sector and those hiring.

"The CharlestonWorks portal is invaluable in that it gives visitors, within and outside the region, an up-to-date snapshot of Charleston's growing tech and advanced manufacturing economy in an extremely simple and effective format," said Ernest Andrade, Charleston Digital Corridor Director.

Photo Credit : Kristen Propp - TRHC

JRS Coding School Completes First Immersive Code Class.

Tabula Rasa HealthCare, Inc.'s (TRHC) JRS (Jack Russell Software) Coding School completed its first full-time immersive coding class in December 2016. Tom Wilson, Chief Technology Innovation Officer today announced over 60% of graduates received full-time jobs within a month of graduation. 

"The feedback we have received from hiring managers in the community has been fantastic," said Wilson. "We know how hard it can be for companies to onboard junior developers. Often, there is a high-learning curve and not enough time for the current development staff to train the junior developers. We are thrilled to learn how quickly our graduates have been able to integrate within companies and start producing results."

According to Calvin Webster, CTO of SearchBookGo, who attended the school's Graduation Expo and met the students, "JRS Coding School is top notch! What Tom and Trip (Ottinger, lead instructor) are teaching there is incredibly effective, not only with the technology but how to approach solving problems. We recently hired two developers who just graduated, and I could not be more impressed with how quickly they were contributing to our software. They were prepared to jump right in, be agile, and take on work that I normally wouldn't expect from a new developer. I am excited and really look forward to the energy and passion these new developers bring to our company."

Terry Kennair of Rhinogram, who also attended the Graduation Expo, added, "I was extremely impressed with the curriculum and was absolutely blown away with their (graduates') ability to answer and ask questions."

In the 12-week boot-camp-style program at JRS Coding School, students code on day one. JRS provides focused learning in functional programming concepts for building today's solutions in a distributed, scalable environment.

"Upon graduating from JRS Coding School, students are proficient at a junior professional level, able to build full-stack web applications using JavaScript," said Wilson. "We also introduce students to agile workflow, communication, and software lifecycle training to prepare them for working in a dynamic professional software development setting."

JRS Coding School was launched in 2016 by TRHC to bridge the gap between development expertise needed in the market and the talent available.

JRS Coding School instructors have more than 30 years combined experience in training software development talent. Wilson has extensive experience in building and leading teams in the development of large-scale and complex healthcare web applications. He is active within the Charleston software development community, is a member of the Charleston Digital Corridor, and heads the Charleston CoderDojo, which teaches coding skills to children. Wilson also chairs the Charleston JS Meetup Group and is an instructor and lead advisor at the Digital Corridor's Code Camp.

The next class begins May 22, 2017. For more information about curriculum, enrollment or fees, visit the JRS Coding School website.

Adam Larkins, Immedion's Director of Facilities Operations, Discusses the Two Most Important Things to Consider in a Data Center Facility

Data center outages can have a major impact on business operations. The airline industry has made headlines recently due to system outages grounding flights. Delta has had two major IT outages within the past six months that resulted in significant travel delays. The company estimates the August 2016 outage cost $150 million, highlighting the importance of selecting a data center facility built for availability and reliability.

One of the key factors in providing highly available data center services is the design of the data center facility itself. According to Immedion's Director of Facilities Operations, Adam Larkins, the two most important facility design considerations are capacity and fail-over.

Capacity

Capacity planning is a critical component of minimizing downtime. Technical equipment requires space, power and cooling to function properly. To ensure high availability, infrastructure dependencies such as power and cooling must have no single point of failure. These systems should be designed with enough capacity to meet current operational requirements and additional capacity to ensure full redundancy. Capacity must be continuously monitored as workloads are adjusted to ensure full redundancy is in place.

Redundancy is often overlooked or viewed as too costly when maintaining your own data center environment, but it is necessary to ensure data and systems remain always on even in the event of an emergency or equipment failure.

Fail-Over

Fail-over capabilities are just as important as capacity. In August 2016, Delta's travel delays were initially caused by a commercial power outage to their data center facility. Immedion's systems are fully redundant, and in the event of an emergency, we would be able to maintain operation without interruption.

For example, Immedion houses UPS and generator systems, and in the event of a power outage in the area, the UPS would carry the load while the emergency generators restore power to the facility. This transfer takes mere seconds, but it saves our customers from experiencing costly outages or the potential consequences of power interruption, such as data corruption. The automatic restoration and constant monitoring necessary to ensure seamless load fail-over is difficult to achieve outside of a data center, such as Immedion, due to the expensive capital costs necessary to purchase and maintain the systems. Immedion has technicians on-site at all times, monitoring equipment and the facility. This not only ensures that our equipment is well maintained and ready to provide service, but adds a physical layer of security to the enterprise-level security systems we have in place already.

Capacity and fail-over are critical facility components to ensuring your data and systems remain always on. Together they dictate both normal and emergency operations to keep your business running. Therefore, they are the two main facility considerations when evaluating data centers.

A Brand New Look for Atlatl Software

Atlatl Software, the only visual sales platform that enables your sales team to create and quote 2D, 3D and AR configurations announced today the launch of a new brand presence including new messaging, logos, product positioning and website. The company, which prides itself on empowering the sales forces of manufacturing and distribution companies, will now offer a new digital experience that engages their customers and prospects in a new and more meaningful way.

"We're thrilled to have partnered withLevelwing to create a new logo and re-focused direction with which to interact with our brand," says Atlatl CEO, Marc Murphy. "We're now able to tell our story and highlight our expansive product suite in a very clear way."

Atlatl Software helps manufacturing and distribution companies improve sales processes through their visual selling suite. Their customers have seen dramatic success after implementing the software, with the majority increasing their sales efficiency by at least 25%. Susan Burris, Vice President of Sales of Atlatl Software said, "We're delighted with our new ability to display the value add of our products through our new web experience. We're passionate about helping sales channels become digitally mature and now we're able to communicate exactly how we do this for our customers."

ROK Technologies, LLC Expands Its Expertise to Include AWS Certification

ROK Technologies, LLC the premier provider of location analytics, Cloud Management, WebGIS and IoT, today announced that two of its top programmers are now Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer Associates. 

This new capability will enhance ROKs existing offerings to include AWS setup and development for GIS and non-GIS companies and organizations. It will also expand ROK's suite of services to include the creation of applications for clients wanting to move to the AWS Cloud and increase ROKs footprint as a dynamic provider of innovative IoT solutions.

"This Certification comes at a time when we are rapidly growing and defining new solutions for the GIS and non-GIS markets," said Alex Coleman, EVP at ROK Technologies. "We are hearing from companies and local governments every day that they are seeking cost effective ways to provide visual information to their internal and external consumers. The ability to be flexible and agile enough to create custom solutions that serve this purpose is key."

ROK's premiere product, ROKMaps is currently available on AWS Marketplace. ROK is a registered AWS Partner Network (APN) focusing on Software as a Solution (SaaS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

ROK Technologies, LLC, based in Charleston, South Carolina, serves clients in many industries and governments globally. As an Esri Silver business partner and ArcGIS(r) Server Application Service Provider licensee, they are able to leverage the entire ArcGIS(r) platform, including ArcGIS(r) for server hosting,

application development, and virtualized desktop software - available from anywhere, on any device. ROK's

cutting edge core competencies and secure private cloud infrastructure provide their clients the tools they need

integrate their enterprise software with GIS solutions, products and services.

Firm With Charleston Ties To Build Massive Database Tracking U.S. Stock Markets' Every Move

An ambitious plan to track American financial markets and collect reams of data on their every move could soon flow through Charleston. A firm with close ties to the Lowcountry will be building a system that tracks every trade that flows through U.S. stock and options markets. The project, mandated by federal regulators, will create the largest repository of market data in the world - expected to log 58 billion records a day. Read more

Upcoming Events

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Fridays @ the Corridor

The March "Fridays @ the Corridor" event has been replaced with the day-long BIZcamp workshop. Learn more and register for BIZcamp HERE

BIZcamp

BIZcamp is day-long workshop of practical and actionable business intelligence for Charleston area tech companies presented like no other event we've offered in terms of meeting format and content. Learn more and register HERE

2017 iFiveK

The iFiveK race is a favorite evening run and networking event for Charleston's tech professionals. Learn more and register HERE

DIG SOUTH

DIG SOUTH Innovation Conference is the first and foremost event elevating the South's digital economy. Learn more HERE.

Harbor Walk After Five

You are invited to join the Department of Computer Science at the College of Charleston faculty, staff, and students for Harbor Walk After Five. The event concludes the spring semester senior capstone projects with a poster session, demos, and 'industry projects' presentations.

Light hors d'oeuvres provided.

Schedule:

5:30-5:45PM - Welcome & Introductory Remarks

5:45-6:45PM - Student Presentations

6:45-8PM - Networking Social, Poster Session & Demos

Learn more and RSVP here.

Syntaxcon

The Syntax Code & Craft Convention – more commonly referred to as 'SyntaxCon' – aspires to become the SouthEast's premier programmer's code gathering. Learn more HERE.