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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Levi Morehouse, Ceterus Founder & CEO

Ceterus CEO: I Look For People Who Are Passionate

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.

Levi Morehouse is founder and CEO of Ceterus, a firm that provides accounting software and services for small-business owners. Ceterus is located in downtown Charleston.

Where did you grow up? What was life like there?

Kalamazoo, Michigan. It's a small town about two hours from Chicago, two hours from Detroit, kind of between the two. I was home schooled. It was a good place. I spent a long time there and actually started the business there in 2008. We moved our headquarters down here in 2013. It was a good place to grow up, just a little too cold for me.

How did you come to be in Charleston?

The business has customers nationwide; it's all cloud based, it can be done from anywhere. We really did that knowing that we wanted to be able to locate to a bigger city or a different type of area at some point. So back around 2012 or 2013, we started realizing we needed to be somewhere with a little more access to talent, somewhere where people wanted to relocate.

If it wasn't going to be a huge metropolitan area, which I wasn't really interested in, it had to be a place that would be attractive for people to move to. As much as Michigan is a good place, it's not exactly a prime destination for people to relocate to. Along with that, just personally, I wanted somewhere slightly warmer. So we looked around at a handful of cities around the Southeast as well as Texas and ultimately settled on Charleston.

In your own words, what does your company do?

We empower small-business entrepreneurs with niche-specific accounting solutions. We focus on franchisees and a couple of specific franchise concepts.

I started the business in 2008 as just an outsourced accounting business, purely a service business. A little over a year and a half ago, we switched and started developing our own software and becoming a software-as-a-service business.

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

I had a lot of early jobs working with small-business owners. I worked at a bakery. I worked at a telecommunications company. I always really enjoyed watching the owners do their thing. I was always very entrepreneurial minded. I was always very interested in: Why does this business work? What's working there? Why do customers want to choose them? Do they make money or not?

Did you have an entrepreneurial drive early on, or did you acquire it through experiences?

Once I gave up my dreams of being a professional baseball player, which ended at 11 when everybody else was better than me, it just shifted gears to, "OK, this seems like a really fun way to make a living and to try to create something and build something." I'm not an engineer. I'm not a builder of physical things. So building a business, working with people, working with customers, working with employees – all of that started to become interesting to me at a very early age.

I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur; I didn't always know what I was going to do. I spent a lot of years trying to figure that out. I started businesses from the age of 19. I bought a house. I did some real estate – I sold and rented and flipped. My wife and I went through seven houses in our first five years of marriage. God bless her, she's put up with a lot. So I tried that. I started several businesses throughout college as well as after I got my first jobs.

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

When I went to college, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do. I took an accounting class just because I was on the business track. I said, "Wow, this kind of clicks. I actually enjoy this stuff." So I went down that route. I ended up getting a job at a pretty good-sized regional accounting firm and getting my CPA, all the while knowing that this isn't what I wanted to be doing. It was a great job, and I had a great time there, but I always had that urge, the itch, that I do need to do my own thing.

Ultimately, I put the pieces together and said this small-business thing that I've always been attracted to, these small-business owners – they have a big need in accounting. They do it poorly, and I enjoy it. Is there a way that I can provide something like that to all these small-business owners? And the pieces kind of just clicked.

It was the same time cloud software was really becoming useable and trustworthy and accessible. So I said, let's try a business that provides a turnkey way to do the accounting. We don't just give you tools and consult you on how to use them, but we actually do it. None of these small-business owners have the time to do it.

You recently began offering software in addition to accounting services. Why the shift?

When customers sign up, they say, "I want you to do my accounting," and it's off their plate. It's on our plate. We're running through their transactions, telling them how they're doing, giving them reports on how they're doing. They don't have to manage it. What changed was instead of sending them reports or having them get into QuickBooks and look at a report, they now log into our Ceterus insight system, which is reporting that's tailored to their niche specifically.

So they don't just see information about their business. They see their business and it's benchmarked against their peers. So they can see, "How did I do last month, and how does that compare to everybody else in my state or everybody else in the nation that's in this same kind of business?" It's highly valuable information. It lets them zero in on where they're spending too much money or should be spending more. It pulls in non-financial information as well – other key performance indicators they may want to monitor.

How would you describe your organization's culture?

It's very results-focused and fun. Everyone has a lot of autonomy, a lot of flexibility. Every position has a really clear set of objectives. Within that, everyone has the ability to do the job how they want, when they want, where they want.

What is your management style? Has it changed over time?

I really enjoy delegating things and not thinking about them again. I've got a really good team that's hungry for that. On the flip side, if something starts going wrong, I zero in and ask a lot of questions. But I try to stay pretty hands-off as long as things are going well.

I used to really want everyone to feel great and like me a ton. I learned in doing that, you end up making people sometimes hate you more by not addressing something that's a problem. So by the time you finally do address it, you're a jerk because you didn't give proper expectations. They didn't know they were falling short.

I think I've become a lot better at being very honest, very up front very early on about anything, and not always trying to make everyone happy every minute.

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

I think, again, learning that you don't have to be everybody's friend. Be honest. Be nice to people, but ultimately they'll like you a lot better if they know you're out to shoot straight with them.

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

To have a really clear objective of what you're doing and then to focus exclusively on that objective. And never to settle for anything short of it. If you put those three things together, it really works well.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

That it's really exciting and glamorous. It's mostly a whole lot of hard work, a lot of stress. Your mind doesn't turn off.

Do you have a routine that's important to your day?

Really the only thing that I've always consistently done as long as I can remember is try to get up earlier than pretty much any sane person would get up. I try to get up at 4:47 a.m. Sometimes I work out right then. Sometimes I just go straight to work. Sometimes I make a cup of coffee. But I always get up very early and try to get a lot done before the rest of the world is up and about.

What do you look for in the people you hire?

I look for people who are passionate in general, just passionate toward life and toward what they do, and who like being responsible for the duties they are supposed to accomplish. Once they understand something, they don't want to ask a million questions, they don't want to have to have somebody looking over their shoulder. They really want to be a little bit autonomous and just do an amazing job. And I look for people who want to get rewarded for the value they create, not for the time they sit at their desk.

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

Everything takes too long. I'm very impatient.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Really get a clear objective of what you want to do and focus on it exclusively, and don't settle.

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

There's not nearly enough talent in technology right now. So I would say get into it and find a business that's doing something real. Find one that you really believe is serving a need and will be there for the long haul.

What do you see as the future of your company?

We love working with and empowering small-business entrepreneurs. We get to have a part in helping hundreds of them today. We want that to be thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. So we built the software, the automation, giving us a scalable platform. We really think this is going to be a substantial business that really does a lot of good for the entrepreneurs in this country.

What one person have been the biggest influence on your business life? And why?

My wife. She's really taught me over the years the value in having some routines and more organization. I've always been about ideas and chasing crazy things and working really hard, but to be able to put some more structure to that is super valuable.

She has helped me with management techniques and leadership styles. I can't tell you how many times she has said, "Well, if what you just said and the way you just acted makes me feel like this, I can't imagine what your employees feel like every day." I've tried to take a lot of those lessons. I owe her a lot of gratitude for helping me be a better business person, a better leader. My employees probably appreciate her, too.

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

About 99 percent of my work I do on my iPhone. When I do have to sit down at my desk, I use a Surface Pro.

What is your usual Starbucks order?

Whatever the darkest roast is, black.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

I have five boys, ages 4 to 14. It's a lot of fun, but it's crazy.

Ceterus also has a basketball team. What we lack in size we make up for in intensity.

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

It's been tough. We're just getting into it. The available talent here seems low. Getting people here has been OK. People are attracted to the city. There's just not a whole lot of available talent looking around here, that's here currently.

We just raised a venture capital round. I talked to a lot of VCs, and a big issue was, "You're in Charleston, is that even going to work?" I went around town and interviewed various tech CEOs, and to a person, I heard that it's harder to recruit people here. They do want to move to Charleston. But it's tough. It's not like, obviously, Silicon Valley or New York or Boston, or not even like Atlanta or Denver. There's fewer people, fewer applicants. But once you get them, they said the loyalty and the turnover is great. They don't leave.

In talking to people who would be interested and who would like to relocate here, I think the fear is that either you decide you want to move out, or the company doesn't make it, or the company does make it and gets acquired and moved to somewhere else. In tech, I think a good person is worried that if that happens, they'll have to relocate again and they won't want to. They'd like to be in Charleston, but I think there's a fear that there's not enough opportunities.

I think as it becomes known that it's not just one or two companies – that it's five or 10 or 20 – then I think people will realize there are other alternatives in the area. That strikes me as a part of it.

I know a big part of it is not having a school here that's kicking out technical talent, so everyone has to relocate here. And, honestly, I think it's a nationwide issue. I don't think it's a Charleston-only kind of thing that it's hard to get good technology people.

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

I've been here about three years. Even in that time, though, it's impressed me. Just this area we're in here, businesses are popping up. Better offices, bigger places, more people. It seems to be that the non-Blackbaud and Benefitfocus firms are starting to grow and really get some traction as well, which I think is exciting. It continues to build out the rest of that ecosystem. Again, I haven't been here long enough to really weigh in, but it feels more like a tech place than it did three years ago. 

Blackbaud Acquires Maryland-Based Social Media Tracking Firm

Blackbaud, a Daniel Island-based software firm for nonprofits, has acquired Bethesda, Md.-based Attentive.ly, a 10-person tech company also focused on the nonprofit sector.

The acquisition price was not disclosed.

Attentive.ly's software tracks what supporters are saying about nonprofit organizations on social media. Through this "social listening," the company wants to turn those supporters into advocates on social media channels, the release said.

The acquisition will enable Blackbaud customers to find relevant conversations on social media and engage them, to encourage advocacy of their missions.

Attentive.ly was already part of Blackbaud's partner network, and its social media engagement platform has now been integrated into Blackbaud's digital marketing solution, Luminate Online.

"Once deeply integrated, Attentive.ly will activate an advanced level of social listening for Blackbaud customers, helping them organically grow campaigns," the release said.

Attentive.ly CEO Rosalyn Lemieux co-founded the firm with Cheryl Contee in 2012. Lemieux, along with the company's 10 employees, joined Blackbaud effective immediately. Contee will serve as strategic adviser to Blackbaud and remain as CEO of Fission Strategy, a consulting firm with offices around the country.

Blackbaud has acquired several companies in recent years. In 2014, the firm acquired New York City-based MicroEdge LLC for $160 million to expand its grantmaking, corporate giving and donation tracking capabilities.

Also in 2014, Blackbaud paid $35 million to expand its education offerings with the acquisition of Bedford, N.H.-based WhippleHill. In 2012, Blackbaud acquired Austin-based Convio Inc. for $325 million, expanding its on-demand solutions for nonprofits.

Blackbaud also recently announced plans to invest $154 million and create 300 jobs over the next five years as it builds a new tech campus and headquarters on Daniel Island. The company currently has 35,000 customers in 60 countries.

CuRE Pursues Development Of New Dental Adhesive With STTR Grant

CuRE Innovations, LLC, a startup company founded in 2015 to develop advanced dental materials invented by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) faculty, has entered the next step of product development for a promising adhesive as part of research sponsored by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

CuRE's dental adhesive incorporates particles of copper iodide (CuI) that curtail infections, including the formation of tooth decay under existing dental restorations. With the $211,000 Phase I grant awarded by NIDCR in March, CuRE will evaluate the adhesive's ability to inhibit development of marginal decay in restorations, while also ensuring the copper iodide particles do not impact the adhesive's mechanical and bonding properties.

Upon successful completion of the research, CuRE will be eligible to apply for Phase II STTR funding for up to $1.5 million, which will position the company to submit the product to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for initial market approval.

MUSC's Foundation for Research Development (FRD) has assisted the CuRE team, which includes faculty members of MUSC's College of Dental Medicine, in many ways, including guidance with the STTR grant application. "A grant like this provides an incredibly valuable boost to a new company like CuRE," said FRD Executive Director Michael Rusnak. "Now CuRE can explore a technology with the potential to positively impact the dental health of countless people."

FRD has served as the university's technology transfer office for nearly two decades, managing intellectual property based on MUSC research and finding corporate partners to translate technology into products. In November 2014, FRD launched a program to assist the MUSC startup community with STTR and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications. The impact was immediate: STTR and SBIR grant applications to advance MUSC intellectual property

tripled from an average of five annually to 15 in fiscal year 2015, followed by 16 applications in fiscal year 2016.

CuRE's Team

Top leaders of CuRE Innovations include:

  • Chief Executive Officer Wally Renne, D.M.D., an associate professor with MUSC's College of Dental Medicine in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and director of CAD/CAM Technologies
  • Chief Operating Officer Anthony Mennito, D.M.D., associate professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation
  • Chief Scientific Officer Zach Evans D.M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences
  • Chief Financial Officer Christine Dixon Thiesing, M.B.A., associate director, MUSC FRD

CuRE's Technology

CuRE is capitalizing on the opportunity to transform dental materials through copper iodide particles. While copper has been used in dental materials in the past and continues to be used in some ways today, its use is limited by its drawbacks. The sustained antimicrobial effects of copper iodide, combined with the white appearance imparted by the copper iodide particles, will serve as key points of differentiation for CuRE's materials. The CuRE dental materials platform is covered by issued U.S. Patent No. 9,034,354.

Bacteria play an important role in oral health and digestion. Yet proliferation of certain bacterial strains leads to acid production, which is a primary contributor to formation of caries (cavities). An acidic environment also degrades restoration materials and destroys healthy tissue, which breaks down the bond between the tooth and those materials.

All these factors contribute to the formation of secondary caries under existing restorations and restoration failure. "The reality is that the restorations dentists place have to survive in one of the harshest environments in the human body," explained Dr. Renne, a founding member of CuRE. The technology platform developed by the CuRE Innovations team ultimately protects the tooth and extends the longevity of restorations, he said.

Product Pipeline

CuRE's lead product, its dental adhesive, should extend long-term bond strength when compared to typical adhesives with the downstream benefit of reducing secondary caries. More than a quarter of the 120 million resin-based composite (RBC) restorations placed per year in the U.S. replace failed restorations resulting from recurrent caries. Due to this extraordinary failure rate, the cost to replace failing restorations in the U.S. surpasses $5 billion annually. In addition, CuRE is evaluating the benefits of incorporating copper iodide particles into pit and fissure sealants, dental

implants, endodontic materials, crowns and resins used for dentures. CuRE is generating preliminary data for these other copper iodide products to serve as the foundation for either additional collaborations with leaders in the dental materials industry or future Phase I STTR submissions.

###

About CuRE Innovations, LLC

CuRE Innovations, LLC was founded in 2015 to develop disruptive technologies in the more than $1 billion dental materials industry. Through the incorporation of copper iodide (CuI) particles, CuRE's platform technology holds the promise of an entirely new generation of dental materials that reduce infections, including caries (cavity) formation, while delivering the aesthetics valued by patients. Learn more at cure-innovations.com.

About MUSC Foundation for Research Development

FRD has served as MUSC's technology transfer office since 1998. During that period, FRD has filed patent applications on more than 400 technologies, resulting in over 150 U.S. issued patents. Additionally, FRD has executed more than 150 licenses and spun out more than 50 startup companies. MUSC startups have had products approved by the FDA and acquired by publicly traded corporations while attracting substantial investment dollars into South Carolina. Innovations from MUSC, including medical devices, therapies and software, are positively impacting health care worldwide. Please visit us online at frd.musc.edu.

About MUSC
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.2 billion. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute-designated center) Level I Trauma Center, and Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic programs or clinical services, visit musc.edu. For more information on hospital patient services, visit muschealth.org.

2016 World's Best Cities

When we travel to an urban center, we're often looking for the whole package–-history, culture, exciting cuisine, modernity, antiquity, and everything in between. It sounds like a tall order, but the world's best cities offer these attributes and more.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe–-to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers ranked cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Our top 15 cities include less-obvious but incredibly rewarding destinations like Luang Prabang in Laos, and the capital of Lebanon. "Beirut is a strikingly beautiful city," wrote T+L reader Maya Elchebeir. In a region that is being devastated by war and destruction, Beirut rises out of the desert dust, with its contemporary art museums and Ottoman architecture, to serve as a guiding light.

Others are recurring winners, including Renaissance center Florence, Italy (at or near the top year after year) and Kyoto, which took the No. 1 spot in 2015. Globe-trotters have long celebrated the former imperial capital of Japan for the hospitality of its ryokans and the beauty of its some 2,000 shrines and temples.

Perhaps the best part of the 2016 World's Best Cities list is its diversity: from the American South to the Middle East, the heart of Mexico to the capitals of ancient European and Asian empires, the most beloved cities on earth show how dynamic our world really is.

Charleston moved up from the No. 2 city in the world last year to No. 1. The city has shown incredible resilience and, as one reader wrote, there is still "no place quite like it." In addition to historic battlegrounds and jasmine-scented streets, Charleston is home to award-winning hotels (including the Spectator, No. 2 in the world this year) and restaurants. Antebellum charm, excellent boutiques, and the beautiful waterfronts at Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach make this city one of the most beloved in the U.S.–-and now, the world.

Charleston Digital Corridor Launching After-School CODEcamp

Starting this fall, the Charleston Digital Corridor will take its popular web development courses into middle school classrooms in hopes of encouraging more students to pursue careers in computer science.

CODEcamp After School will teach kids web development fundamentals, such as how to build a simple website using HTML and CSS, the web's basic languages, through hands-on projects. The Digital Corridor plans to pilot the program in at least two local middle schools, depending on principal buy-in, before expanding it across the Lowcountry. Read More

Councilman Stephen Murray briefs Beaufort residents

Beaufort Plans Digital Corridor Initiative In Hopes Of Replicating Charleston’s Tech Success

Young people in Beaufort are leaving en masse. The city's becoming more expensive, but pay isn't going up. It's a haven for tourists and outsiders, but locals have fewer options.

If that sounds familiar, perhaps it should. The way Beaufort officials see it, their situation isn't so different from Charleston's a few decades earlier.

They see two coastal cities dependent on big military installations, both long on historic charm and tourist appeal but relatively short on economic diversity. And in Charleston, they see one that shook its doldrums and emerged with a booming economy, thanks in part to a manufacturing renaissance and a burgeoning technology sector. Read More

Lyft Launches Ride-hailing Services In Charleston Area

Another ride-hailing company has come to Charleston.

San Francisco-based Lyft launched services in the area Thursday, according to its website. Users can get a ride by downloading the transportation app, adding a payment method, entering pickup and drop-off locations and requesting nearby drivers. At the end of the ride, users pay through their phones and rate their drivers.

Lyft operates similarly to its competitor Uber, except Lyft customers can tip their drivers via the app.

Lyft has raised more than $2 billion thus far. During its latest $1 billion funding round, $500,000 came from General Motors. The companies are collaborating to develop software for self-driving cars.

Lyft is also in the middle of a legal fight. The company recently agreed to pay $27 million to 163,000 of its current and former drivers in California as part of a class action lawsuit, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and Reuters. The drivers want to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, making them eligible for reimbursement for expenses, such as gas and car maintenance.

Entering the market

Uber laid the regulatory groundwork for app-based transportation companies to enter the Charleston market.

After launching operations in the state in summer 2014, Uber was the center of numerous debates among legislators, city councils, airport boards and regulatory agencies.

In early 2015, the S.C. Public Service Commission sent a cease-and-desist order to Uber for operating without the necessary permits. That decision was soon reversed and Uber was granted a temporary license to operate following pressure from area tech companies and Gov. Nikki Haley.

In summer 2015, a law was approved allowing "transportation networking companies" to operate in the state and be regulated.

In February, the Charleston County Aviation Authority also approved such companies to pick up and drop off passengers at Charleston International Airport. Although app-based transportation operations were already allowed in the state, airport boards have to approve their own transportation regulations to comply with Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

Upcoming Events

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Palmetto Launch

Palmetto Launch is an opportunity for innovative companies in South Carolina to connect with donors, accredited investors, and key influencers within their industry. This one-day event serves as a crowd-funding initiative for South Carolina-based startups and as an opportunity for the community to discover some of the best companies within our state.

Learn more and register HERE.

NodeBots Day

A one day gathering for people to learn, create, and discover NodeBots. Come experience a full day of assembling, coding, and challenging your fellow attendees to a friendly battle or race of robots.

Learn more and register HERE.

CodeLynx Vendor Showcase

CodeLynx will be hosting our Vendor Showcase featuring industry leading technology providers including Panasonic, Crestron, S2 Security and CommScope.

Lunch is provided followed by a happy hour at 5pm.

Learn more and register HERE