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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Elizabeth Buske, VP at Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen’s Buske: It’s OK not to have a 5-year plan

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

Elizabeth Buske, Vice President with global consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, is responsible for running the company's Charleston Digital Hub, formerly SPARC. Booz Allen acquired SPARC in late 2015. The firm's Charleston Digital Hub has nearly 400 employees. Buske joined SPARC shortly after it was founded.

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

I grew up in Virginia Beach. I honestly had one of those childhoods that everybody wants – family is very close, parents been together over 50 years, two sisters, and we're all close friends. We would spend a lot of time together on the weekends, living on the beach. It was similar to Charleston in lifestyle.

How did you come to be in Charleston?

After college, I did AmeriCorps, which is the national service, in Columbia. I joined an organization called City Year. I did a year of direct community service. After that, they asked me to stay on as service director. I was networking all of the nonprofits that were supporting City Year. Also, I was doing youth ministry on the side at a church in Columbia. I burned out pretty quickly.

It was right when the tech boom was starting to happen. I knew I had an interest in tech and an aptitude. Blackbaud was actually testing anybody that had the aptitude – they were looking for anybody, because not everybody came out of school with the degree – so they were willing to train anybody. That was in '98, when I got an offer from Blackbaud and came to Charleston. Columbia is a great town, but you're halfway between the mountains and the sea. I was like, I don't want to be halfway between, I want to be in one or the other. So Charleston worked out.

What was your first job, or most memorable early job?

In Virginia Beach, I sold snow cones on the boardwalk. I pushed a snow cone cart up and down the boardwalk all day long in the middle of the summer. We worked in the tourism industry pretty much every summer, whether it was doing that or working in the tourist shops. I worked every summer, starting in ninth grade.

What did you learn from it?

I love structure, and I have a really strong work ethic, and I think it comes from how I was brought up. But also, just working with people – I love working with different types of people. I've kind of seen that throughout my career. Just really understanding where people are, the interactions. Customer service is vital everywhere.

Did you have an entrepreneurial drive early on?

I've always said this, and I even said this in the beginning days of SPARC – I'm not the one that comes up with the vision, but I'm the type of person that will grab hold of the vision. I want to make sure that it happens, that it comes to fruition. I've always had an interest in never just wanting to come in and check a box, or just go through the motions with anything. But I'm not the creator. I'm really the one that runs and makes it happen.

In your own words, what does your company do?

Booz Allen is a 103-year-old company that focuses on technology and management consulting. They do everything from cyber to digital solutions – 23,000 people, plus. 

What drew you to your current business?

I just have a heart for solving problems and for technology especially, and for leading broad groups of people to find those solutions.

How would you describe your organization's culture?

We ask people, every day when they come in our door, don't just come in and do your job, but come in and be part of this world, part of your work. They are the culture. It's the people and how they spend their days, the attitude that they bring, the interactions that they have.

We are very much into work-life balance, so it's not coming in here and being the last one here. We want people to really come in and participate. There are no walls, so there's nowhere to hide. It's just being really interactive, but at the same time respecting that we have a job to get done.

What is your management style?

I trust people to lead and to grow and become who they are. So my management style is more about helping lift people up. It's not about me, the kingdom builder. It's about helping people understand that other people's way can be even better. I am high communication. Very transparent. I don't even have a desk, much less an office.

You don't have a desk?

No. We literally have no walls in here. If you want to see what a team area looks like, there's a standing high-top table. I leave my stuff there and I kind of wander around.

I had a desk, a table, and then we hired a new recruiter, and she needed to sit in that area. So, I was like, "Well, I need somewhere to put my stuff every day. I need a landing spot." I just moved up to a high-top table. There's a laptop stand and keyboard and stuff, so if I'm not in meetings all the time, people know where to find me. But so much of the time, I'm in conference rooms and meetings.

It works for us. We also change the floor up. In September, we're moving all the teams around. One critical thing is you need to change your collision pattern. Even though I'm kind of around everywhere, I don't go to this side of the building, and I don't go to that far wall on this side of the building. So we're going to be moving people around so that they've got to cross who they see and who they talk to.

We're almost 400 people now. I don't know everybody anymore. Everybody has a place that they come to every day. But we don't want them to feel like that's the only place they're going to come to for five years. They can come to that place for six months, and then we're going to shift them around. People do well with it.

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

The reason why I have a spirit of helping people truly become their own is because people let me grow and develop what were really my core strengths, and then refine the things that I needed to be refining.

A lot of my bosses and leaders over the years have been really hands-off. That's not necessarily a fantastic thing, but it's allowed me to know that, OK, they would've done things differently, but because I did this, I was still successful. And I draw that out to people that I now lead.

And, again, communication, feedback. Not just for the stuff that you need to fix, but the positive feedback, as well.

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

One of the best lessons is that it takes all of us to succeed. It is not about one person. There's no hero. Everybody needs to understand the mission, and you need to remind each other of the mission.

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

Oh my gosh, yes. I'm the type of person who plans all my meals on the weekends. I get up about 6:15 in the morning, I work out. My conference calls start every day at 8 o'clock, but I take that first one while I'm eating breakfast, and then I'm in the car by 8:30, and then committed here until, really, not too terribly late. We really strive for work-life balance, so 5 or 5:30, we try to get out of here. Then my nights are just whatever needs to happen, or just relax.

I'm pretty structured. I'm definitely a routine-driven person.

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

Some of the biggest challenges have been as we scale, whether it was with SPARC or now currently. This year, we're going to be hiring approximately 75 people between April and December. We've done other growth periods where we've hired 50 to 75 to 100 people across a 12-month period. Bringing that into an environment that's still under 400 people – it's great change.

So we're trying to be more deliberate about staying ahead of it and communicating. We're now putting in processes to make sure, because you can't see everybody anymore, that the work flows and the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Because in some ways, we still run real lean in Charleston, even though we're a much larger organization.

What do you look for in the people you hire?

We still hire culture first. It's something that was started at the beginning of time for SPARC. What that means is you really connect well with a person and that they can do well in this environment. This environment is not for everyone. We look to make sure that people want to come in and that the attitude is there, that they are interactive, that they're not the kind that just want to come in and stick their headphones on for eight hours a day.

Then, following culture first, is the technical aptitude. Especially if you are senior in your craft, you've got to have the technical skills that match the senior requirements we have for the work that we're hiring for. But really, after that, we can train and teach, and we do a lot of coaching and mentoring.

It's just really about growing the environment and community. Everybody in here participates in the interview process. It only takes one veto. If somebody's like, "No, I don't think they're a fit," no questions asked, we just move that person on.

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

Game playing. Just not being direct in how they articulate what they really want. Be transparent and be direct.

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

It's OK to not know what you want to be in five years. Find a job and an environment that lets you get exposed to things that you might be interested in. And then if you find that you're not, be OK to change. Just really embrace the fact that this is such a peak time to grow and experiment. And, again, don't get into an environment for long that doesn't support that exploration.

Different than when I got out of school, students now almost have to make their career decisions when they're in high school. It's unfair. That's why we stopped asking, "Where do you want to be in five years?" I don't know if we've ever asked it in here. Let's figure out where you want to be this year, and then set your goals toward that.

What do you see as the future of your company?

Booz Allen, again, it's huge, but just focusing on the Charleston Digital Hub: Booz Allen's commitment to the Charleston community and to really grow the digital solutions environment is unending. We had a big grand opening in May, and the mayor was here, and they reiterated that they didn't buy SPARC just to have 300 resources. They didn't need that. They really are here to invest in Charleston.

There's another Booz Allen location in Charleston as well, they just do a different type of business, that has been in the Charleston community for a very long time. So it's going to be interesting as we diversify the projects and the clients that we support from Charleston, and just continue to invest and grow the digital footprint in Charleston.

Once we fill this building – we're probably about another 100 people away – they will find us another building, and continue to add. That's the great thing, that there's no end in sight, as long as we can support the customers, deliver great service and have the talent that wants to be in Charleston.

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

Mac, iPhone.

What is your usual Starbucks order?

Grande black coffee with coconut milk.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

Working out. I love food. I have family in town. We don't have kids, but just really living the Charleston life. I'm a reader. I like to be outside.

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

We bring in a lot of our talent from outside of the area. We've got the ability to relocate and bring talent into Charleston, which has been pretty successful for us. The junior talent we pretty much find locally because the College of Charleston and the other schools produce great, great talent.

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

Our challenge is with finding people more senior in their career. Just as with anything, they are less likely to be more mobile. We are trying to figure more ways to identify and find senior talent. We can find the diverse types of talent. It's just the more senior you get, you're just not as transient.

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

Oh my gosh. We have one now, right? Charleston's technical landscape has grown tremendously thanks to efforts of the Charleston Digital Corridor and more. I think that's huge.

But people who live outside of Charleston, they don't realize we have one. I think we continue to brand ourselves externally, and that'll draw even more people because a lot of people that don't know Charleston still think we're a city focused on tourism. There's just so much more here.

The Booz Allen people in D.C. thought that SPARC was a software company in Charleston just kind of out by itself. We were like, "No, it's a hotbed for technology." There were people that looked into buying us, and they still didn't realize there was more to this town than tourism.... over 400 tech companies. 

South Carolina Coding School Closes After Four Years

Peter Barth is confident that six months from now Greenville will have another coding school. He just won't be running it.

Barth, founder and CEO of The Iron Yard, a Greenville-based coding "bootcamp" and programming school, and the board announced in July that the coding school which once boasted 20 to 25 campuses stretching across the United States would cease operations by the year's end.

The announcement on the school's website called it a "difficult decision to cease operations at all campuses after teaching out remaining summer cohorts."

It was the second major coding school to announce it was closing this year. San Francisco-based Dev Bootcamp, launched in 2012 and later bought by Kaplan, will graduate its last class in December.

The Iron Yard's board included Barth; Eric Dodds, its chief marketing officer; and three representatives from the Apollo Education Group, a privately owned corporation headquartered in Phoenix that owns for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix.

Barth said he couldn't speak about the board's deliberations related to the decision to close or whether the board's vote was unanimous.

Apollo on June 11, 2015, acquired a 62 percent interest of The Iron Yard for $15.9 million, according to a 2016 Apollo Group annual report.

In recent years, Apollo has found itself entangled in growing financial issues, declining enrollment and lawsuits, USA Today reported. In a first quarter 2017 report, the company reported net revenue of $484.5 million, compared with $586 million in the first quarter of 2016.

First-quarter new degreed enrollment at the University of Phoenix was 20,200 and total degreed enrollment was 135,900, according to a statement, respective decreases of 17 percent and 23 percent from the same period last year. The statement also said operating income for the 2017 first quarter was $8.4 million, compared with an operating loss of $45.2 million for the first quarter last year.

Apollo was acquired in a $1.1 billion deal in February by the Vistria Group and Apollo Global Management, an unrelated company.

Barth said increased regulations did not play a direct role in the decision to close Iron Yard.

"I think just as an industry in general, for-profits were out of favor under the last (Obama) administration," he said. The attitude shifted, he said, when President Donald Trump took the Oval Office in January.

Former President Barack Obama in 2014 announced new federal rules targeting issues of cost and debt at for-profit colleges. But in June, the U.S. Education Department sought to freeze Obama-era changes that would speed up erasing federal loan debt of student borrowers, as reported by The New York Times.

A Coding Bootcamp Market Size Study for 2017, led by Course Report, found coding bootcamps expected to graduate nearly 23,000 students and grow by 52 percent this year based on responses from nearly 100 percent of U.S. and Canadian coding schools.

The $260 million industry is in its fifth year, and the number of bootcamp programs has grown to 22,949 students expected to graduate this year compared with 2,178 students in 2013.

Barth, 40, started The Iron Yard in 2013 after leading several successful startups.

He was a computer science major at Vanderbilt University in Nashville for a couple of years, but never earned a degree, instead dropping out his second year. When he left he became a stockbroker and later a software entrepreneur.

Barth and his family moved to Greenville almost 11 years ago, primarily for a better quality of life.

In Greenville, he became involved in NEXT, an arm of the Greenville County Chamber of Commerce, that plays an active role in the growth of knowledge-based companies in the Upstate.

Within a year of NEXT taking off, Barth took on a leadership role and co-led a number of projects, such as building the NEXT Innovation Center off University Ridge.

The Iron Yard started as a startup accelerator out of the NEXT Innovation Center. The company started in the summer of 2012 and the coding school came next in 2013. It later split from the accelerator in 2014.

The Iron Yard was not initially founded to open as a coding school, but it quickly became the first and only coding school in Greenville, and was one of the early coding schools in the Southeast and in the country, said 31-year-old Dodds.

In spring 2014, Iron Yard added campuses in Charleston and Atlanta. Three months later, branches opened in Durham and Houston, then another three months later in Orlando and Tampa.

The following year, the company opened more campuses in Texas, launching in new cities every three months.

Apollo's investment helped to escalate campus openings.

Apollo had already started operations in Phoenix and was working on one in London. Barth said Iron Yard didn't assume operations in Phoenix, but did take over the London campus, which eventually closed.

"Economically, it never worked. It was so expensive," Barth said.

In fall 2016, The Iron Yard closed the Detroit campus and five more campus closings followed early this year.

That left the Iron Yard with 15 in-person campuses across the country, including in Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Nashville.

"Definitely kind of a surprise we ended up where we ended," Barth said.

Code school critics

Barth and Dodds waved off criticism of coding schools, a trend that followed as for-profit coding schools dotted parts of the U.S. in the last several years.

A Bloomberg article published last year, titled "Want a Job in Silicon Valley? Keep Away From Coding Schools," warned potential students from enrolling due to piling debt and lack of preparation for tech jobs.

Both Barth and Dodds said they're aware of the coding school criticism. Part of that, both said, stemmed from competitors that were small, unlicensed and unorganized.

There was also the sticker shock.

Tuition for the 12-week course at Iron Yard could cost nearly $14,000. The Course Report study said coding school tuition can range from free to $24,000. The average tuition is $11,469.

Most Iron Yard students were between the ages of 25 to 35 and were looking to transition out of prior careers, Dodds said.

Dodds said Iron Yard wasn't necessarily a replacement for a four-year college degree, but he said Iron Yard students were paying drastically cheaper per hour with more one-on-one time with their instructors.

Jose Vidal, a professor and undergraduate director at the College of Engineering and Computing at the University of South Carolina, has been teaching a senior capstone course to undergrad seniors for the past three years.

Most USC students in the College of Engineering and Computing start as freshmen, but the department does get transfer students from technical schools, he said.

In a senior survey taken in the spring, Vidal said most graduating seniors had job offers before graduation, with the median starting salary at $69,000. Others went on to graduate school.

Vidal said some seniors went to work at Google, Amazon or Microsoft, though the majority stay within a 100-mile radius of South Carolina, working in Charleston or Charlotte.

While the department doesn't survey corporations, companies Vidal has talked to at career fairs told him they are looking for traits beyond just programming skills, such as good personal skills and sometimes knowledge of business and accounting.

Whether he would recommend a coding school to a student, Vidal said it depends on the person, though he leans on the value of an undergraduate degree. Vidal has taken online classes before, and said he could see himself enrolling in coding school programs.

"You can certainly get a job without a degree. ... Half of the people working on software don't have degrees in computer science. That's always been true," he said. "It's always been the case that demand for programmers has exceeded the number of degrees granted."

What's next?

There's no amount of coding to answer what's next for Barth, Dodds or the coding scene in Greenville.

Since Iron Yard's closing announcement, Barth said he's received phone calls inquiring whether the school's shutdown means the tech scene is going away.

"No," Barth said flatly.

As far as the concrete campuses go, Barth said a few Iron Yard employees will hang around until early 2018, but his or Dodd's next venture remains to be discovered.

"We will definitely be involved in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Barth, who will stay on the boards of NEXT and ChartSpan, a successful medical start-up created out of Iron Yard. "I'm fully committed to Greenville," he said.

Dodds is, too. He closed on a home in Greenville in August.

"It really has been pretty cool to build a company in Greenville, and we love it here," Dodds said.

Barth said both have received several job inquiries, but all focus on major cities such as San Francisco and New York.

"Not interested. I want to be here," Barth said, admitting the reality, however, that most companies in Greenville are not looking for their next CEO or chief operating office.

Life after Iron Yard definitely brought a grieving period, Dodds said. But both said the positive feedback brought by current students and some of the roughly 3,000 alumni has been comforting.

"It's extremely sad and difficult, but I think that was a rare opportunity to look back and see the effect we've had," Dodds said. "... (It's a) privilege to be a part of it."

Other options

The Iron Yard expanded to Charleston in 2014. It set up shop near Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant before relocating to Princess Street on the peninsula.

While the Greenville-based operation is shutting down, other options will still be available in the local area for fledgling techies: JRS Coding School, founded by Jack Russell Software, now runs a boot camp in Mount Pleasant. And the Charleston Digital Corridor offers introductory code classes for adults and kids through its CODEcamp program.

CODEcamp

Coding Programs Shift To Meet Market Demand

For around $10,000 and three months of time, the promise of a well-paying programmer job awaits.

That is the pitch of many coding schools. Most have similar business models: Students focus intensely for a few months, classes are typically taught by professionals, and graduates are deemed entry- or junior-level programmers ready for hire.

Coding schools exploded onto the scene in 2012 to meet the ever-growing technology sector's demand for more skilled programmers. Companies' expansions often surpassed their ability to hire qualified people fast enough.

The U.S. now has around 100 coding boot camps, which are on track to graduate 23,000 developers this year, according to Course Report, which tracks coding boot camps. It is a $260 million industry today, the report said.

In the last year, 15 new schools have opened and six have closed, spurring debate over the need for and effectiveness of such schools. A notable closing came when Dev BootCamp said it plans to shutter its operations by the end of the year. Since 2012, the San Francisco-based school had expanded into six cities.

In an interview with Quartz, Dev Bootcamp President Tarlin Ray said an increasingly competitive market and the rising cost of hiring qualified teachers made it difficult to continue.

Closer to home, The Iron Yard said it plans to close its operations by the end of summer, including its Charleston site. The Iron Yard launched from within a tech-focused coworking space in Greenville in 2012. It has since expanded to 15 campuses around the country.

Students graduated from the 12-week course with the guarantee of a job within six months. The closure comes without much explanation. The company said in a statement that the decisions was made after "considering the current environment." Calls made to the founder were not returned.

"While our journey is coming to an end, we will always take pride in the thousands of people our staff helped to launch new careers," the statement said.

Only two coding programs designed for adults remain in the Lowcountry - JRS Coding School and the Charleston Digital Corridor's CodeCamp. This does not account for the region's coding camps for kids, or the programming degrees and coding classes offered at higher education institutions in the region and around the state.

"We would like to see our community full of expert developers, so we're not planning on going anywhere as long as the demand is there, and I think the demand continues to grow," said Tom Wilson, the founder and lead instructor of JRS Coding School in Mount Pleasant. "I see companies in Charleston literally posting hirings daily for software jobs, so we feel like this is still a pretty good spot."

Coding offerings

Most students come to the JRS Coding School seeking a career change; some arrive after deciding college was not a good fit. One student is a rising sophomore in college who attended coding classes rather than finding a summer internship. All students thus far share the goal of becoming a developer and working in tech."From my perspective, if anyone wants to learn to code, we want to teach them and give them a good foundation for their career," Wilson said. JRS operates within the Jack Russell Software Innovation Center, an arm of Tabula Rasa Healthcare Inc. Wilson is Tabula Rasa's chief technology innovation officer.

The innovation center and coding school recently moved into a new Mount Pleasant space at 111 Coleman Blvd.

Wilson and Trip Ottinger teach the students, preparing them to enter the field as junior-level developers, capable of building full-stack web applications using JavaScript.

Since launching last summer, the coding school has graduated 21 people.

The first two cohorts had 15 graduates, and 80% of them found coding jobs in the Charleston region within 90 days of completing the course. The most recent cohort ended a few weeks ago; job placement updates are not yet available for those six students.

"We feel like we're doing pretty good for the first year," said Wilson, noting that tuition revenues do not yet fully cover the school's expenditures. Wilson hopes to see class sizes grow to 20 students over time, helping to make the school profitable.

The course costs $10,000. While the expense and 12-week commitment could be barriers to entry for some, Wilson said the model also opens the door to people who cannot afford or do not want to attend four-year college programs. The next cohort launches Sept. 18, and another will begin in January.

The Charleston Digital Corridor also teaches people to code, but its offerings are weekly and at night to accommodate people with full-time day jobs. Since 2012, more than 1,200 adults have taken CodeCamp courses. Some students wanted to dabble with coding; others have gone on to work full time as developers.

CodeCamp offerings previously included five courses, taught in the Flagship buildings near Calhoun and East Bay streets in downtown Charleston.

While attendance has remained steady over the years, an 80% drop off rate occurred after the third course. Most students were not completing the more challenging courses in the sequence.

Responding to this data and changes in other offerings across the Lowcountry, Ernest Andrade, executive director of the Digital Corridor, decided to revamp the coding program.

CodeCamp now combines elements from its first three courses. The curriculum introduces students to HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Coursework includes creating a high school yearbook page, building a basic calculator and creating a daily water meter.

This round of CodeCamp launched a few weeks ago with 11 students. They meet every Tuesday night for 2 1/2 hours for two months. It costs $495, and students who continue on and enroll in the JRS Coding School get $500 off their tuition there, Andrade said.

"Now people can see if they want to make a career out of this. They will gain a general knowledge and understanding. They will have learned something," Andrade said. "And if they do decide they do want to make a career out of this, they can go on to other programs."

Andrade said the Charleston market is performing well with supplying entry-level talent to the tech sector, but gaps remain in finding enough senior-level programmers and managers.

Experience wanted

Nina Magnesson, BoomTown's catalyst for citizenship and social innovation, said Charleston needs more coding courses offered at night and at lower prices to accommodate those working full time or those who cannot afford a $10,000 coding school.

She also wants to see a bigger focus on training of junior-level developers to become more advanced. She said that newly trained coders need real-life experience but that it can be a financial burden on a company to hire a new programmer and invest the time and money into giving them that practice.

"We still have that 18-month gap where BoomTown can't afford on its own to hire a junior-level developer that just graduated from Jack Russell or Iron Yard necessarily and ramp them up so they're actually billable hours," she said.

She wants the state to fund apprenticeships and internships at tech companies, enabling midsized software firms to hire greener programmers and then provide them more in-house training. The state, readySC and technical colleges run a similar training program for manufacturing positions, massaging the curriculum to fit each company's specific needs.

A Charleston-based startup looks to fill some of those workforce training gaps. Carolyn Finch, Amy Piazza and Suzette Bussey founded Powerhouse in spring 2016.

The firm teaches women to code over six months, and then assists them for another six months with finding contract work with Charleston tech companies, or with Powerhouse. The goal is to get students experience in the workplace, in the hopes of those jobs becoming long-term.

Classes often take place in the evenings and in employees' homes or in their Broad Street office. Flexibility is key to getting more women in the mostly male-dominated tech sector, said Piazza, Powerhouse's chief technology officer.

The first cohort had three graduates; two have jobs under contract with Snagajob, and the third decided not to pursue coding. One student who briefly came to Powerhouse now works at LinkedIn.

"Until you actually get the work experience, companies really don't want to hire you," Piazza said. "So, we did that first step. We give you the job and help you build your portfolio and your experience levels, and then you're more marketable to other companies."

Powerhouse does not charge for services until students are employed. Students then pay 15% of their salary each month until they pay the $12,000 owed for coding courses and job placement services. The next cohort will launch this fall.

Wilson said coding schools overall have a place in the tech workforce development landscape, alongside higher education institutions' offerings. He said the 12-week model has proved to be the most successful among coding schools.

While people can teach themselves to code and free resources are available online, Wilson said the coding school model offers uninterrupted time to intensely focus on learning how to code –- something that can be hard to fit into a daily schedule.

"As someone who has been training developers for a long time, for over 30 years, the formula that I see work the best is to have a foundational process of absolute focus on learning to code for a period of time to build that proper mindset on how to solve problems with code. ... It's a challenge to learn to code, and you want to set yourself up for success."

Charleston Is Full Of Unicorns — Of The Startup Variety

The massive trove of information contained in Crunchbase's startup database turned up two cities in South Carolina where you're more likely to run across a "unicorn" in the wild lands of Investorville.

Greenville and Charleston have companies that pulled in at least $50 million from investors and are considered to have the stability and growth potential to be deemed unicorns in the high-tech sector, according to ranking criteria from Crunchbase. Read more:

A Vibrant Turnaround for a Neglected Charleston Neighborhood

On Sunday mornings about a decade ago, shortly after he moved here, Stephen J. Zoukis used to ride his bike around a ramshackle neighborhood a couple of miles north of the city's celebrated historic district and wonder why no one had built anything of note there.

The neighborhood, known in the 1850s as Cool Blow Village and now as the Upper Peninsula, was dotted with small houses, warehouses and metal sheds; had only a few sidewalks; and was infused with an air of neglect. Even with easy access from an interstate ramp, the neighborhood "lacked an economic pulse," he said. Read more.

Upcoming Events

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Intro to Web Development

CODEcamp is a continuing tech education program designed for busy adults exploring a potential new career in the software industry or working professionals seeking a career change. Students learn the fundamentals of web development (HTML, CSS & Javascript) in a hands-on classroom environment. This CODEcamp class:

  • Introduces coding & web development in a convenient and affordable after-hours format
  • Help uncover a passion and potential career in the high-wage, high-demand tech industry
  • Features a balance of lecture & lab with students writing code from the very first class
  • Are delivered by passionate professionals from Charleston's tech companies

Learn more and register HERE.

Fridays @ the Corridor - Innovation Spotlight: Ceterus

Any entrepreneur will tell you that building a successful start-up company is extremely challenging - requiring focus and tenacity. At our September Fridays, Ceterus Founder & CEO, Levi Morehouse will discuss the inspiration behind the formation of Ceterus, the challenges he has encountered along the way and how he is overcoming these business challenges to become one of the most successful start-ups in Charleston. Learn more and register HERE.

CODEcamp Meetup

Technology is in every aspect of our lives. Attend our CODEcamp meetup to learn the basis of what drives the technology we use every day. It may just spark an interest that leads you to pursue a career in web development.

During the CODecamp meetup, you will:

  • Learn about our Introduction to Web Development course
  • Meet our expert instructors
  • Hear about tech ed opportunities beyond CODEcamp

Register HERE.

IT-ology's 2017 Summit on IT

Join IT-oLogy for the 3rd annual Summit on IT as we present the findings of a major research study of South Carolina's information technology sector. Learn more and register HERE.

Intro to Web Development

CODEcamp is a continuing tech education program designed for busy adults exploring a potential new career in the software industry or working professionals seeking a career change. Students learn the fundamentals of web development (HTML, CSS & Javascript) in a hands-on classroom environment. This CODEcamp class:

  • Introduces coding & web development in a convenient and affordable after-hours format
  • Help uncover a passion and potential career in the high-wage, high-demand tech industry
  • Features a balance of lecture & lab with students writing code from the very first class
  • Are delivered by passionate professionals from Charleston's tech companies

Learn more and register HERE.

The Golden Equation of Monetization

In the modern app economy, users are used to getting everything for free. And with thousands of games, apps, networks and services fighting for users' time and attention, just building a great app and even getting featured by Apple or Google is not enough to guarantee success.

In order to build a scalable business, you must understand the "golden equation" that drives monetization and growth so that you can design your business accordingly.

At the October Fridays @ the Corridor event, learn from monetization expert Ethan Levy, head of the new Charleston office of game developer N3TWORK. In this session, Ethan will teach you the ins and outs of the golden equation and how the team at N3TWORK use it to drive the Top Grossing success of Legendary: Game Of Heroes. Learn more and register HERE.

Revolve Conference

Revolve is an event for people seeking to grow their careers or businesses through better design and smarter marketing. Learn more and register HERE.

BiblioSummit: Cities + Libraries 2017

The library has never been easier to use and it is changing how cities, schools and universities strategize about their digital future. Join us at this groundbreaking event to celebrate the launch of a new type of partnership between cities and libraries. Learn more and register HERE.

BSides - CHS 2017

BSides is an open platform that gives security experts and industry professionals the opportunity to share ideas, insights, and develop longstanding relationships with others in the community. Learn more: