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Charleston’s Tech Economy Powers Ahead In 2021

In its Annual Wage & Job Growth Survey, the Charleston Digital Corridor is pleased to announce that the average per-capita wage at companies participating in the 2021 survey is $101,710 - a considerable increase from the previous year average of $91,183. This number is more than twice the State of South Carolina's average wage of $46,230 and Charleston Region average wage of $50,810 according to the latest (May 2020) data available from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Key workforce and workspace insights from the 2021 survey:

  • 100% of companies reported adding jobs in 2021
  • 100% expect to continue hiring into 2022
  • 94% of respondents reported moving to a hybrid work model
  • 94% of respondents have downsized their office or expect to do so in 2022
  • Several companies benefitted from capital infusions in 2021 to fund growth and acquisition

"While the acceleration of a hybrid work model is resulting in a spike of migration of tech talent into our region, many of the recent transplants continue working for companies located elsewhere," said Charleston Digital Corridor Director, Ernest Andrade. "With a high level of business assistance for startup and early-stage tech companies, we expect some of these experienced professionals to start their own ventures or take on roles at local tech companies and contribute to the growth of Charleston's tech community."

The completion of the 92,000 square foot Charleston Tech Center, currently home to fifty-one tech and tech-related companies, has played a key role in supporting the growth of Charleston's tech community. The location in Downtown Charleston, flexible term and lease options along with the building's location in the federally designated Opportunity Zone, has proven attractive to tech companies and investors alike.

"The business resources, amenities and flexibility offered to my company at the Flagship @ the Charleston Tech Center as we grow is exactly what we needed," said Sikes Dorsey, Cloud on Tap, Founder and CEO.

The Charleston Digital Corridor has been conducting an annual wage survey since 2004. Previous results can be see HERE.

Abuzz co-founder, Susan Porter
LEADERSHIP PROFILE

Breathing ‘Life’ Back Into ’Student Life’

Susan Porter, has long been in the business of sharing insider info about college towns. She began with a website that was geared towards parents of college students, through which she shared suggestions for meal spots, shopping and places to stay. After learning that college campuses had never moved beyond the paradigm of advertising via flyers, she realized that parents were not the audience in need - but students were. Thus, the app Abuzz was developed with her work as co-founder.

Abuzz is now utilized by over twenty different collegiate institutions, providing students at those schools with information like upcoming events, local student discounts, a digital marketplace for buying and selling and information about graduation classes–collectively trying to highlight the obsolescence and disconnection of flyers. Through Abuzz, Porter aims to foster greater connectivity among college students and hopefully quell retention issues that so often result from students feeling disconnected from their school.

This series is brought to you by Charleston County Economic Development.

Would you like to tell me a little bit about your background? Where you grew up, where you attended college, what you studied?

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and I attended Denison University, which is a small, private liberal arts school in Ohio, where I studied Political Science. After Chicago, we moved to Boston and now we're in Charleston.

Any memorable first jobs?

Yes. I remember my first job out of college in Chicago, where I sold copiers for 3M. My territory included high-rise buildings filled with lawyers, and I tried selling them door-to-door. It was intense.

Do you feel that has become more relevant as you've taken on entrepreneurship?

No. It's such an old-school job; but the sales part of it and the tenacity involved was almost like a mini entrepreneurship within a company - so that would make it pretty similar.

What is your goal with Campus Abuzz?

Our goal with Abuzz is to connect every college student to their campus and find the best that their campus has to offer. We really want them to maximize their college experience. I think on one side there are people who go to school, they don't really connect, say they want to transfer and go home after a month or two. Then, there are people who take advantage of everything on their campus, graduate and have an amazing experience. Especially in this age, when mental illness is being taken more seriously and being in the midst of Covid-19, there are a lot of ways that students aren't connected.

Our greatest goal, to put it shortly, is to get rid of flyers. When I went to school, there were flyers everywhere. That's how we found information. The reason we started Abuzz was because I couldn't believe that students still used flyers. Everyone has a phone; why can't you find all the information from the flyers on your phone? And why can't you sign in using your school email to a space for just students? There are individual Slacks and GroupMe's, but there is not one space that provides all the student discounts, events and student organizations that should be accessible on your phone.

How successful would you say you've been at achieving that?

Well, Covid began right in the middle of things. We first launched in September 2019 at the University of Colorado and then we partnered with Colorado State. At first, it was very successful. People understood our goal and they were looking for a way to connect with their campus, and then Covid hit. Interestingly enough: when everyone left the college campuses, it was the southern schools that began finding out about Abuzz. They were still on campus, like Texas A&M and Central Florida, and we had people contact us and say, "We need this here. We're the least connected we've ever been." So, that's how we grew during Covid

What drew you to catering to collegiate audiences?

I started a website about six years ago, called "College Town Insider." It was for parents and explained where to stay, where to eat and what to do when visiting different campuses - the inside information.

When we were acquiring more content for the website, I asked Melissa, a former student who now works with us: "How would you go about finding the best biology tutor on campus?" And she said, "I'd text my friends, or my sorority. If I couldn't find it, I'd visit the biology department and there would likely be a flyer for that." And I asked, "Why can't you approach the campus about that?" And she said: "Well, there's not one app that we all use to talk to each other," and that's when we launched Abuzz - that's when we went from a website to an app for college students.

I couldn't believe that [students] were still obtaining information from flyers. Imagine a highly sought speaker comes to campus and the only notice about it was on a flyer, and you didn't find out until the day after their presentation? That's why we made the shift.

Where has Abuzz been most popular?

Texas A&M and the University of Central Florida have been amazing, because we have great ambassadors and digital teams at those schools. They were on campus during the beginning of Covid, which was very helpful. Now we got lucky and just launched at our first school in which the administration is helping implement the program. It's kind of a test, versus other schools, at a small school, Adrian College, in Michigan. They're helping us pump information into the app directly from the school, rather than just gathering information from students. This will show us the difference between just having students enter information and allowing administrators help by adding things like career-building events, campus speakers, athletic events or any other insular knowledge.

What have students had to say about Abuzz?

The first thing they usually say is: "I wish our campus had this." Also, they love the food deals–we have all of the local food deals for students on the app. We didn't know if it was going to be those deals, or the lists of events or the marketplace–we also have a marketplace where students can buy and sell things like dorm furniture, sports event tickets and other items–we didn't know which part of the app would be best-liked, but the food deals have been the most downloaded and saved.

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

Covid. That was the big one. Additionally, getting school administrations to buy in. You go to the President's Office or Student Life, and they typically say, "Oh, well we already have a website that students use," and students usually don't use that website–they really don't. But they have their way of doing it and that has been tough to work around. Having Adrian College work with us has been huge, and hopefully their administrative involvement will be a selling point to other schools, so we're lucky to have them.

Where do you see Abuzz moving in the future?

We'd love to be on every campus. That would be the goal, and we would like our digital teams that work with Abuzz on campuses to start setting up scholarships for students that work for us. The long-term goal is to have Abuzz for alumni; so, you graduate, and your profile switches over to an alumni profile, and this allows students and alumni to talk to each other to foster connectivity when entering the workforce. When you graduate college, you're kind of a freshman in life, and we really want Abuzz to help facilitate that transition by allowing users to still have access to the app.

How was Abuzz impacted by Covid-19?

I'd say that it was affected both in a good way and a bad way. It was impacted because we were at the University of Colorado–our team was there for the entire second semester–doing events and abruptly had to leave. Everybody was gone. But it was good because we were shown that connection is everything.

Since we found that out, we've realized that there are two major reasons why students leave college campuses: troubles with finances, or connections. If we can solve the connection part, then they can stay. So often students leave a campus because they don't feel connected to the school, and that's not fully the fault of the school.

What has it been like building your team in Charleston?

It's been great. I came to Charleston about 20 years ago from Boston and we were in Kiawah first, but we're downtown now. Our two other team members both moved to Charleston this past month; so, we're building the team and our office space all at once, which is great. I can't imagine a better place to start your business because it's a booming city, with great weather and so much to do - if I was young, I'd definitely want to start out here.

What level of engagement do you have with the Charleston tech community?

We're just starting–we literally just moved in. We picked this building because of everything they have to offer and because of all the engagement that it entails. I'm looking forward to becoming even more connected with this community

What are the biggest misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?

The thinking that you can get so much done in your free time - it's really 24/7. There's flexibility in it–like my team decided that Thursday's can be a work-from-home day, even though we were sending each other emails at 7 in the morning that day. So, it's all the time, but there is flexibility. Somebody said that being an entrepreneur is like chewing glass, it's great but it's surely a lot to take on.

But that's also why I love this space–it's a collaborative space. I don't want my staff to ever feel like they have to come into this office from 9-5. I tell them "Come here whenever you like. If you're here, we can collaborate; but if you're just working on things that you can do from home and you're only present because you feel obligated, then don't come." I don't care where anybody works, provided the work gets done. I don't want this to be a place where people feel like they have to show up, I want it to be collaborative.

What do you look for in people that you hire?

We're looking for people who understand what our core mission is. If we are hiring people for our digital teams, we want to hear their story. Most people understand our mission and the need for connection on college campuses; but those who can give examples of their struggles with things like finding events or student deals or they feel disconnected, it's easy to work with them because they've experienced the problems that we're trying to solve.

What is the purpose of those digital teams you're mentioning?

The digital teams are looking on the member campus' for app content: what's happening on campus, they also visit local businesses asking about student discounts and providing advertising opportunities. They also help get students on the app. So they're looking for downloads and content.

How many of those would you say you have on each campus?

It depends on the campus. On some, we have three, and on campuses that we've just partnered with, it's just one - but they're looking to hire a team.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Find out what your "why?" is, like why are you doing this, and if that "why?" will carry you through the hard times. When I hear of students who aren't happy where they are, they're not meeting people or they're not finding out information that would be helpful to them, it's upsetting. An example is, at the University of Michigan, the campus has free bagels every Wednesday morning, yet there are students walking around that same campus, hungry and unable to buy food. The fact that they just don't know about it, that's troubling.

It's the little, one-step, day-to-day interactions that make the greatest impact; you may find a new couch, or a new coffee shop, or meet your best friend. I think that once you have made one step in connecting with your campus, then there's another, and another. It's all of the loose ends of college life in one space.

What keeps you inspired?

Trying new things on the member campuses and hearing stories about how students benefited from them. At Adrian College, this month, we're hosting a "Whiteout Day" and handing out white Abuzz shirts, and we're also hosting a scavenger hunt on campus, and hearing about students' excitement is really encouraging.

Outside of work, what keeps you busy?

I travel a lot - I've got a lot of family in Boston and in Charleston, and I love to travel. Also, I've just done these two events called "29029," where you climb a mountain. I just did it in Vermont and in Utah, but you've got 36 hours to climb the equivalent height of Mt. Everest. I really enjoy the intensity and having something to mark on my calendar

Fave App? Abuzz

Fave Book? A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer

Fave Podcast? How I Built This.

Fave coffee shop? Harken Cafe

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Tabula Rasa HealthCare Spotlight

We are pleased to spotlight Tabula Rasa HealthCare (TRHC), who provides new beginnings for clients, through innovative service models and fresh approaches to healthcare.

  • Company Founded - 2009
  • Chief Technology Innovation Officer & EVP eHealth Services - Tom Wilson
  • VP, Engineering Management - Russell Niller
  • VP, IT Infrastructure - Barrett Little
  • Total number of Charleston employees - 70
  • Fun fact - The Software Product Development Team and Charleston location of TRHC originated from a company called Jack Russell Software. In 2009, the small custom web development company was contracted by TRHC to build an e-prescribing platform; kicking off a relationship that shortly thereafter resulted in TRHC acquiring JRS to be their full-time product development team.
  • TRHC Career Opportunities
Initial Study - CDC Phase 2

Charleston Should Harness Its Livability And Embrace The Digital Economy

Never waste a crisis.

We don't have an MIT or a Stanford, both innovation factories, but in the contest to attract high technology, Charleston does have a competitive edge that increasingly matters: It's one incredibly livable city.

The same things that have made Charleston No. 1 as a place to visit –- the beaches, the scale and charm, the weather, the food and the arts –- are the same things that make Charleston attractive for the work-hard, play-hard tech bunch.

And now could be Charleston's moment. For the first time in years, thanks in part to the pandemic, the balance between employee and employer is shifting, giving workers leverage. More and more people are working remotely, and Charleston is already teeming with young professionals and students who are living here temporarily working and studying.

If the talent wants to be here, the companies will follow. Take Will Gregg.

He is 38 and the vice president of solutions for Workiva Inc., a fast-growing cloud-based software company. Four years ago, Gregg, a Columbia native and Clemson graduate, told his bosses back in Ames, Iowa, that he wanted to come home to South Carolina. They wanted to keep him, and so it began.

Since starting alone in a tiny space in the Charleston Digital Corridor's old cinder block building on East Bay –- he had a porthole for a window –- Gregg has expanded Workiva's operation here to 25 people and is looking to add more. In May, he moved into the Digital Corridor's handsome new building on Morrison Drive. He'll be "graduating" from the Corridor's second floor to the fifth as soon as that space is built out.

Charleston's livability was a big attraction in coming home, and the changing nature of work has made it much more feasible for him and others. "The pandemic has made it possible for a lot of high-skilled and talented people to live where they want," Gregg says.

The Charleston area is a bit player in the technology world –- we are 49th of 51 U.S. metro areas ranked by employment by CompTIA, an industry trade association. But if Charleston is going to rebalance its tourism-heavy economy, technology will have to be an important part of the solution, along with health care.

The Digital Corridor's new home is more than just another six-story building. It is a stake in the ground, a symbol of the city's strategy and commitment to compete for the jobs of the future. We should be thinking not about a single technology building but a technology campus on the peninsula's exploding Neck Area.

Where once there was the Auto Mile, the building is yet another Rileyism in a city full of them. Under Mayor Joe Riley, the city paid $1.8 million for 1.8 acres on Morrison and leased it for $1 a year to private investors who have spent $54 million so far developing it. Ernest Andrade, a longtime aide who helped Riley expand the city through annexation, has spent two decades guiding the Digital Corridor.

"The communities that are winning are the communities that aren't going after the companies, but going after the employees," says Andrade, who came to town from Kuwait as an 18-year-old to go to the College of Charleston and never left. "The companies will go where the talent is."

Nine months after the building opened, almost all the space is occupied except for the ground-floor retail, which is empty. There are 51 companies, ranging from lone rangers at a single workstation on the second floor to dozens of employees in bigger, growing companies upstairs. There are Zoom rooms, lots of collaborative spaces and all the other bells and whistles techies crave.

Already, Andrade, 58, is planning an eight-story 2.0 building next door, with construction at least a year away.

The Charleston area has Blackbaud and more than 500 tech companies, employing 28,000 people. These are excellent jobs: The average wage is $101,710, a 12% increase from a year earlier, a new Digital Corridor survey shows. That's double the area's average.

What the state and the region lack is a sustained commitment to education at every level that can churn out the engineers and other skilled workers these companies need. Innovation thrives in an ecosystem that allows one company to spin out of another, one company to poach talent from another. We're still not there.

In every crisis there's an opportunity. The pandemic has been a terrible thing. But it has shown that you don't have to be in an office 9 to 5, that you don't have to live in a rat hole somewhere to do creative work and get paid well for it.

It shows, too, that places like Charleston are an alternative in a way they never were before. We should seize the moment.

Blackbaud HQ building

Blackbaud Transitions to a Remote-First Workforce Approach

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world's leading cloud software company powering social good, has officially transitioned to a remote-first workforce approach. Operating remotely since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blackbaud has seen proven success with this approach and the company has committed to remaining remote-first moving forward. Read more:

Phishlabs HQ Building, Charleston, SC

HelpSystems Acquires PhishLabs to Continue Expansion of Cybersecurity Portfolio

HelpSystems announced today the acquisition of PhishLabs, a leading cyber threat intelligence company that protects organizations from attacks on their brands, employees, and digital assets. PhishLabs sources intelligence across the internet to find and mitigate digital risks. The team and solutions from PhishLabs will join HelpSystems' growing cybersecurity portfolio and pair well with HelpSystems' email security, vulnerability management, and data protection solutions.

"Digital transformation has made it critical for security teams to have visibility across the digital landscape and to quickly respond to both internal and external threats," said Kate Bolseth, CEO, HelpSystems. "PhishLabs' ongoing intelligence collection, curation, and threat mitigation safeguards organizations' critical digital assets and provides peace of mind for customers across the globe. We are thrilled to be welcoming the PhishLabs team and their expertise into the HelpSystems family."

Most security teams are stretched thin, and the volume of activity and data across digital channels makes it difficult to discern what needs immediate action. PhishLabs minimizes the noise and takes action to stop threats, providing more complete risk mitigation while reducing security team workload.

"We've improved our platform over a decade in collaboration with many of the world's most targeted brands, and we are excited to continue our growth as part of the HelpSystems family," said Tony Prince, CEO, PhishLabs. "Our combined resources and expertise put us in a strong position to partner more strategically with our clients and help their security teams thrive as the threat landscape evolves."

Phillip D'Orazio: PDMG Found Success by Making The Pivot

When Phillip D'Orazio started Palmetto Digital Marketing Group in the spare bedroom of his condo, he hardly imagined his idea reaching the heights it has, and in just five years. With a background in generalized ecommerce, D'Orazio saw that carrying his skillset away from the corporate world would require more than a little overhaul. He did not, however, anticipate the jarring shift he would have to make to acclimate himself to all the nuances of Amazon selling, as a globally centralized entity for ecommerce.

D'Orazio did not allow these hurdles to hinder his drive and his continued persistence has resulted in PDMG's unquestionable success. What began with an idea has manifested into a sustained 50 clients with their agency who receive full support through selling account setup and support, advertising, inventory oversight and SEO polishing for products. Through telling his story, D'Orazio expresses the dire need for flexibility, endurance and sufficient enthusiasm when nurturing one's business.

This series is brought to you by Charleston County Economic Development.

Would you like to tell me a little bit about your background? Where you grew up, went to college, what you studied, any memorable first jobs?

I grew up in upstate New York, came down to North Carolina to attend the University of North Carolina in Asheville. After that, I briefly moved to Utah before relocating to Boston where I spent much of my professional career. There, I spent most of my time in ecommerce, which is how I got the idea to formulate my agency.

How did you end up in Charleston?

A lot of things brought me to Charleston: we used to vacation in Pawleys Island, so I was familiar with the Lowcountry and wanted to try and get back down here. We narrowed it down to two locations: Austin or Charleston, and we chose Charleston.

I know that you began in ecommerce; what drew you to Amazon in particular?

Typically, my focus on ecommerce was directing consumer websites; so, managing on the corporate side. I sort of stumbled into Amazon by accident. We moved down here and I had started the agency just to focus on digital [commerce] and that turned out to be a little harder than I expected. The pivot to Amazon and the focus on Amazon was basically a point of sink or swim - so I had to figure it out. So, I attended a big conference; I walked the whole conference trying to solicit some business on the digital side. A majority of the people I spoke with said that they didn't need help with digital, but they needed help with Amazon - and that's when the lightbulb turned on. That's when I knew I sort of had to recalibrate and shift my focus to Amazon and marketplaces, versus digital marketing.

How was that shift for you? What difficulties accompanied it?

This was about five and a half years ago, there weren't many Amazon-focused agencies at the time, and it was much easier to get business then, than it is now. It was an enormous learning curve. I spent most of my time on the phone with Amazon Support, trying to figure things out.

To be as transparent as possible, I've always been one of those who subscribes to the 'fake it 'til you make it' [mindset].

I started with one client; it was a retained client over six months that gave me enough of a timeline to gather more clients. Now we're at a point where we have about forty-five to fifty managed clients, and the business started off in a second bedroom in a small, small condo. Now we're here at the Charleston Tech Center, so it's been quite a ride for five years.

Did you ever imagine reaching this level of success?

You really can't imagine it, until you discover what it's like to be successful. Five years ago, I didn't even think this was possible. Once you get a taste of success, you just want to continue to hone in, fine-tune your craft, grow your business and still learn, and that's what we continue to do at PDMG.

What would you say was your biggest obstacle as you were building this?

It's always [human] resources. I can land clients, we can service clients, it's really finding people with [the ideal] skill sets, which is very hard because not many people know much about Amazon. Also, the learning curve for new employees; it is quite dramatic, it typically takes months - not weeks - to become fluent in Amazon terminology.

Where do you see this going in the future?

I'd like to get to a point where I can scale further; I think a perfect place would be a hundred managed clients. The anticipation is that I can potentially sell the agency or find a very strong executive to run the agency for me, and I can step aside.

Do your clients have varying levels of management?

Our primary focus is full service. It's typically a 360° engagement. We manage every component of their business. We do have a handful of clients for whom we do à la carte services. Additionally, there are clients that engage us who don't need full service one-time reboots, optimization or creative assets development, so those are typically one-off engagements.

We saw the impacts of COVID-19 on all businesses, including Amazon; how has your agency been impacted?

We certainly saw a bump in our revenues just because of the move to ecommerce. As soon as COVID hit, Amazon basically shut down, they just went to selling only essential items. I think our biggest challenge post-COVID is navigating all the changes that Amazon has implemented. Our biggest challenge now is warehouse space. What that means is: with everyone moving to ecommerce and Amazon, they have run out of warehouses [to hold inventory]. In an effort to make sure they can continue to operate, they have limited what people can send and that has affected our clients. Whereas before COVID, you could send what you wanted.

I would assume that it takes years to build a warehouse, and COVID just started a year and a half ago. I'm sure that before the pandemic, they had warehouses planned as part of their development plans; but they need probably another forty or fifty more to handle all the inventory and COVID threw a wrench in that expansion. That's been a huge hurdle that Amazon has had to navigate.

What has it been like building your team in Charleston?

Most of our competition outsources their work, and many of our competing agencies have a majority of their staff working remote; this is most likely because it's hard to find people who have the skills set, so workers will be hired whether they can be physically present or not. At PDMG, we are very team-oriented, so I prefer to have most of the staff working here so we can better collaborate. Additionally, I like to mentor my staff. It's more difficult to do that when team members are working remote. I've always told my team that I grew up playing team sports, so I try to bring that same team focus to my business.

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

It's interesting; I see more jobs posted on local job boards and pages that are more heavily focused on technology; what we've seen with the CDC is that they're very busy and there's a lot more interest in tech. I see it only growing further, especially with the migration of people from the North or higher-cost cities in the west to Charleston; they're looking for different locations, high-livability and a better cost-of-living. Charleston definitely fits that bill.

Do you see that 'migration' helping your agency at all?

I'm not sure. What helps our business is more manufacturers. Our clients are manufacturers, so more technology doesn't really help us; but more entrepreneurs coming here does: more people who are starting ecommerce businesses, more manufacturing businesses, lifestyle/wellness brands - that's where we're really going to see growth come to our agency.

A majority of our clients are out of state, a handful of local and a few international. Rather than any demographic concentrations, we have a criteria for selecting our clients: we won't work with any seller, we want the product to be strong - if it doesn't have four or four and a half star reviews, we won't take the client. It's also very expensive to sell on Amazon, so if a client doesn't have the financial backing that we think is needed to be successful on Amazon, we wouldn't take on that client. So, we don't have a particular discipline or niche among our clients, but we do really like products that fit what we're looking for. Another criteria is whether the manufacturer offers a unique product, where there's not a lot of competition but has a high practicality demand.

What level of engagement do you have with Charleston's tech community?

Well, the reason why we participate with the Digital Corridor is to stay connected with Charleston's tech community. We've been with Ernest for years, at multiple locations. We sort of followed him to this building, which has been a good steppingstone for our business to jump from that early startup with a smaller space into this later-stage startup presence with a larger office.

The CDC has been very helpful to us: we've received PR exposure; we've given back by hosting a workshop about selling on Amazon and we've participated in some of the new CDCu classes. Plus, we've been able to mingle with other entrepreneurs and tech startups and we've been encouraged to share information and that's always good for learning. I'm still sort of faking it as I make it - I don't have all the answers about entrepreneurship, so I get to learn from other people in the industry and others in the community.

What were your misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?

It's hard. It's a lot of work. Going from the corporate environment, where there are specialists in every area available, was a major adjustment. As an entrepreneur, everyone in this office has at least two hats; I wear many more than two hats. But I don't think I was mentally prepared for how difficult it would be or the different roles I had to play.

What do you look for in people you hire?

I don't look for skill sets, I look for a mindset. I'm looking for people with the right attitude, I'm looking for people for whom average is not good enough, I look for people who have innate problem-solving skills - because that's what we typically do here, is solve problems. While hard skill sets are certainly important, it's really that mindset and team collaboration skills or ability to function as part of a larger group that I look for.

At the end of the day, if I could be surrounded by overachievers, then I would feel that I was in a good spot. That's really what I look for when I hire: who's the overachiever versus the average person or the underachiever.

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

Don't give up. It's hard and inconvenient things can happen quickly, but success can happen quickly, too. For me, it was right around the corner, and I didn't know it. Secondly, not everyone is meant to work a nine-to-five job. Working has never been as fulfilling to me as it is now that I've shifted my focus away from corporate environments - I feel like I don't have a job.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I like to keep active, whether that's at work or around the house. I do yard work, I play tennis, I ski, I run. If I'm not working, then I'm being active, or I'm with my wife on the porch.

Rapid Fire

  • Mac or PC? PC
  • Fave CHS beach? IOP
  • Fave book or Podcast? On Point NPR

Evolute Capital, Along With Hunt Technology Ventures, Make Strategic And Substantial Investment In eGroup

eGroup is excited to announce that they have received a substantial investment from Evolute Capital, a Dallas, Texas-based middle-market private equity investment firm focused on building a best-in-class IT Services platform. Evolute made the investment in partnership with Hunt Technology Ventures, LP, the technology investment management arm of a large Dallas, Texas-based independent family focused on transforming the technology services sector through targeted investments in highly desirable IT services companies. eGroup, a services-led cloud and managed services firm headquartered in the Southeast United States, delivers "speed and certainty" with digital transformation initiatives for mid-market and enterprise clients across the nation. Founder and CEO Mike Carter will continue to lead eGroup.

A globally recognized cloud services provider, eGroup has seven Microsoft Gold competencies including Gold Cloud Platform (Microsoft Azure), Gold Cloud Productivity (Microsoft 365), and is an "Elite" Microsoft Security and Management Partner with an Advanced Specialization in Azure Virtual Desktops. Since 1999, eGroup has completed thousands of data center modernization and cloud migration engagements and is sought for its IT Managed Services based on deep market expertise and a proven ability to execute. eGroup is one of the few companies to make the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America for multiple back-to-back years and is the only IT management company in South Carolina to ever be recognized on Inc.'s "Best Places to Work" list. eGroup has appeared on the Managed Services Provider 500, Solution Provider 500, and Tech Elite 250 list every year for the past decade, and was most recently awarded the Nutanix 2021 Global Portfolio Champion of the Year award – which recognizes eGroup for enabling one of the most comprehensive and digitally transformative hybrid cloud journeys for customers.

Evolute Capital and Hunt Technology Ventures sought the partnership opportunity with eGroup based on the depth, knowledge, and impressive track record of eGroup's management team, coupled with eGroup's desire to bring on a financial and strategic partner. The investment from Evolute Capital provides eGroup with substantial resources to accelerate its strong industry position in the cloud and managed services sector, which includes the acquisition of other digitally transformative solution and services providers throughout the nation, while organically building upon its strong expertise and positioning within the Microsoft ecosystem. The investment further provides eGroup with the resources to acquisitively expand its cloud services and geographic presence across the nation. Specifically, eGroup plans to expand its sales, marketing, and service delivery teams while acquiring new capabilities that enhance the digital transformation journey for clients.

Mike Carter, Founder and CEO of eGroup, noted, "At eGroup we love working with smart people who know how to get things done. It's energizing to work with a team that has intentionally and successfully grown companies while fostering a culture that puts the customer first, rewards team performance, and encourages and recognizes individual success. As we turn our attention to expanding the world-class capabilities that keep our clients at the center of the outcomes we deliver, I'm thrilled to work alongside new team members who appreciate what it means to be 'part of the family' while creating growth opportunities for customers and team members."

Brendan Achariyakosol, Founder & Managing Member of Evolute Capital, commented, "eGroup is a true market leader in complex cloud transformation, managed services, and data center services, and has built a tremendous reputation of supporting their customers in whichever stage of IT modernization they are going through. Furthermore, we feel eGroup's most impressive achievement is the tremendous team they have built and we are proud to be their partner and to support them through the next phase of their journey."

Hunt Allred of Hunt Technology Ventures, noted, "Prioritizing the client and work quality, Mike Carter and eGroup define every quality that we look for in a business partner. We look forward to helping them grow their capabilities and product offerings to better serve their clients globally."

eGroup Awarded The 2021 Global Portfolio Champion Of The Year At Nutanix’s .Next Digital Experience

eGroup, a national IT services firm delivering speed and certainty with digital transformation, announced today that during the Partner Xchange keynote session at Nutanix's Global .NEXT Digital Experience conference, the eGroup team was awarded the 2021 Global Portfolio Champion of the Year Award.

Nutanix recognized eGroup as the sole recipient of the 2021 Global Portfolio Champion of the Year Award. eGroup was specifically recognized for elevating their customers' hybrid cloud journey with the use of Nutanix portfolio solutions including Frame, Flow, Files, and Calm as extensions to the core Nutanix platform. For more than seven years, eGroup has steadily expanded their focus, reach, and partnership with Nutanix as a Cloud Champion partner and has built a world-class digital transformation and hybrid cloud team that includes multiple Nutanix Technology Champions.

"We're thrilled to have honored eGroup at Partner Xchange this year for their continued success with our customers," said Christian Alvarez, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels at Nutanix. "As Nutanix continues to strengthen our hybrid multicloud product line, which nicely complements eGroup's strong on-premises and Microsoft Azure public cloud capabilities, we've been able to design and deliver meaningful solutions to their customers that rapidly advance the continued hybrid cloud journey as part of their digital transformation. As customers continue to migrate to and innovate with hybrid multicloud solutions, we're excited to recognize partners like eGroup for their outstanding efforts."

"By leveraging the full solutions portfolio from Nutanix, eGroup has been able to deliver operationally powerful solutions that enable our clients to achieve speed and certainty with digital transformation across their organizations. Our professional services teams, equally fluent in advanced data center and cloud solutions with Nutanix, enable organizations to accelerate groundbreaking transformations with relatively simple solutions – a critical need in today's volatile and uncertain business landscape – and especially across the challenges of the past 18 months. From cloud-first VDI with Frame, to database management with Era, and built-in microsegmentation with Flow, eGroup is proud to put the promise of the Nutanix invisible cloud into practice for our many mutual customers." said Mike Dent, Director of Datacenter Architecture, eGroup.

With Nutanix's continued investment in a hybrid multi-cloud strategy, especially around Microsoft Azure and critical Microservices platform architecture, eGroup will continue to deliver advanced solutions that secure, simplify, modernize, and transform organizations for future-proofed, digital-ready business.

Upcoming Classes & Events

CDCu
December 16, 2021, 9AM - 12PM

A Developer's Guide to Hyper

Presented by Tom Wilson

Hyper is a new API service that enables developers to rapidly build and maintain applications by empowering development teams to focus on the business logic and presentation layers of their application. In this workshop, we will dive into the Hyper Data Service and Developers will learn how to leverage Hyper's easy to use API to create highly scalable software applications.

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