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
STATS

Latest News

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Annmarie Fini, SVP of Platform Strategy at Benefitfocus

Embrace Change and Find Your Way Through it, Says Benefitfocus’ Fini

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 County Economic Development.

Annmarie Fini is senior vice president of platform strategy at Benefitfocus. Fini joined the Daniel Island-based maker of workplace benefits software in 2000. Benefitfocus connects employers, brokers, insurance carriers, specialty suppliers and consumers on a single platform to make benefits easier and more efficient.  

As a new graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut, Annmarie Fini took a chance on Charleston. Her college roommate suggested that Fini, a native of East Longmeadow, Mass., join her in Charleston for the summer.

Fini, who had just earned a degree in public policy, had no job lined up in Charleston and nowhere to live. She had no car. But she came anyway, rented a rundown apartment and found a job in benefits in North Charleston. She took the bus to work that first summer. By the summer's end, she purchased a car and decided to stay.

"I found my way and figured it out," Fini said. "And I've loved Charleston ever since."

Several years later, in 2000, Fini became the 16th employee at what was then a benefits software startup in Mount Pleasant called Benefitfocus. She traveled the state, working with clients to implement the company's software.

Thirteen years later, Benefitfocus went public. Now, 19 years later, it has about 1,400 employees, with roughly 1,000 of those based at its Daniel Island headquarters. Benefitfocus has more than 150,000 employers as clients and 23 million consumers using its platform.

Fini has held various client-facing roles with Benefitfocus over the years, including most recently leading the company's customer success organization. In 2018, she assumed her current position as senior vice president of platform strategy, focusing on consumers using the Benefitfocus platform to manage and maximize the value of their workplace benefits.  

Back in 2000 when you joined Benefitfocus, what attracted you to the company?

I was actually a customer of the two founders, Mason Holland and Shawn Jenkins. They had a pension/401(k) business. I was familiar with what they were doing with 401(k) pensions, and then when they decided to start Benefitfocus, I was very excited to join them.

How would you describe the organization's culture?

It starts from the foundation of an entrepreneurial company, and it's maintained a lot of that. Last year, we took a look at our values on the back of our badge, and we crowdsourced them. Many of the values that were part of the original ones had just a slight tweak to them: Community, together, respect, anticipatory service, and – probably my favorite – own it, which is really, "Just get in there." To me, it means just take it, run with it, figure it out, and own it till it's done at the highest quality.

Have you learned any lessons from good bosses? Bad bosses?

I've always had really great people that I've worked with and worked for. As far as lessons – a few of them are attention to detail and making sure that all of the details work. The little things make a difference. How we present information and how we conduct ourselves, people notice those things. So being professional at all times.

Another lesson I learned early on from an entrepreneurial standpoint, is never giving up. Being passionate and being about what you believe in.

Ray August, as our new CEO since 2018, has done a fantastic job with communicating and staying transparent. He's been holding Q&A sessions every couple of weeks for all associates. One of the things I've learned from him is no matter how many times you communicate, it's never enough. People hear different things from messages, and it helps to evolve what we're talking about and how we talk about it. And making sure that we've got the right point of view up front, whether it's the audience of our customers or our associates or our shareholders.

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

One of the big things is that we're always changing. Business is always changing. It's very dynamic. Whether it's a new customer, a new project, a new role in the company.

It's important to  embrace that and finding your way through it. Staying true to yourself, but fully jumping in and making the most out of it, because you never know what it's going to do for you professionally, but also personally.

I have so many great experiences that I can look back on. Not everything is easy. Usually, the harder it is, the more personal gain you get from it.

Women make up 26 percent of the computing workforce, and they hold only 11 percent of leadership roles, according to one study. What would help bring more women into the tech industry and to leadership posts?

I think it starts early on in terms of women getting computer science and even math degrees. I think encouraging that early on is important. My husband is in the teaching world, so he speaks to it all the time. There are some inherent areas that, as a country, we need to really promote and have more opportunities for girls to study in fields that they may not know anything about, but once they get into them, they thrive.

In terms of leadership style, I have spent my career working with women, men, different varieties. My voice may not be the loudest voice, but when I speak, people do appreciate my point of view. I've become more confident with that over the years. There are still a lot of stereotypes about women and about how they handle themselves in different work environments. You just need to keep going. And have an environment of inclusion. I think that's really important. Every voice needs to be heard, whether it's somebody who might be more introverted than others – and that's male or female. Just taking the time to hear different people and different audiences.

One of the things that I appreciate about Benefitfocus is the variety of people. Sometimes, we'll have 40 people come together just to hear the different points of view in all different levels of the organization. There's not really a hierarchy. Some of the strongest, most informed people are early in their careers, and they are confident to not be afraid to speak. Just some really fantastic women that I've had the pleasure to work with.

How do you think about work-life balance? How do you find fulfillment both at work and at home?

I don't work well in "life balance." I just work with what's good for me. I put my heart and soul into something. I'm in balance in terms of my schedule and accessibility for the company. I love what I do, and I have a very supportive family. I would probably be miserable if I had sort of a more balanced life, I guess. It's just who I am. I don't ever turn myself off. There's a lot of exciting things going on, and I just get into it.

What's a book you always recommend?

I would recommend the Harvard Business Reviewmembership. I get the daily management tips and other things. Inevitably, at least a few times a week, it hits exactly what I'm thinking about or struggling with. It's just got some really awesome articles or areas of focus, and it's a great search engine for things that you might be interested in.

Outside of work, what keeps you busy?

Two kids, one who just started at Carolina, and the other lives locally here in Charleston. Anything that is outside. My husband and I love to play golf. I love to hike and just be outdoors.

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

We've had some really fantastic people, and I would say even more now that there are so many other technology options in town. It's attracting just a whole level of expertise from other parts of the country.

Do you find any challenges recruiting talent here?

Really, we don't. We have a lot of people who've moved here to join Benefitfocus, but also people who are out of college that are starting their jobs.

In what ways do you see the workplace evolving?

It's become a very diverse situation in terms of where people want to work, how they want to work, when they work, what they do. There's just a lot of other ways that people can pursue their passions and do whatever they want to.

When we look at it from a benefits standpoint, we are seeing a lot of people who need to have a variety of benefits. There are five generations in the workforce now, and so there are people who are early in their careers and just starting out and maybe are getting their first apartment, first car even, or have student loans that they're worried about. There are benefits that didn't even exist as benefits before.

So it's a very interesting time for people in the benefits community to be able to offer an array that fits every person in their workforce. That's something that we as a company have become ultra-focused on: that consumer experience and providing what is a best suitable benefit package for everybody. It's very individualized and personalized. People are working up until their 70s now, and so it's a dynamic space in terms of having different experiences and skills and being able to attract and retain them. 

Customer Imperative Forms Strategic Alliance With Gainsight, Leader in Customer Success

Charleston, SC based Customer Imperative, a customer success strategy, operations and lifecycle management company focused on revenue growth and customer experience, has entered into a strategic alliance with Gainsight. The partnership enables Customer Imperative to provide strategy, implementation and managed services to its B2B SaaS clients, using the Gainsight platform to drive revenue growth, customer retention and customer experience.

"We are thrilled to partner with Gainsight, an established leader in the Customer Success technology space," said Jay Nathan, founder and Managing Partner of Customer Imperative. "This alliance allows Customer Imperative to provide end-to-end customer growth strategy and execution through AI, analytics and automation available on the Gainsight platform."

"We're excited to partner with Customer Imperative to drive further success for SaaS businesses," said Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight. "Customer-centricity is core to our strategy, and because of that, we want to enable our customers with the solutions they need to succeed by providing an extensive ecosystem of partners to choose from. By partnering with Customer Imperative, we're expanding the value of Gainsight, and more importantly, driving better outcomes on behalf of our mutual customers."

Kyle Johnson Joins Ceterus As Company's First Chief Revenue Officer

Small business automated accounting technology firm Ceterus is pleased to announce that Kyle Johnson has joined the team as Chief Revenue Officer. In this new role, Johnson will spearhead an accelerated growth plan for the company and oversee Ceterus' entire revenue generation strategy. Johnson's broad range of proven successes include development and execution of high growth sales strategies, scalability design and execution, improvement in on-boarding processes, and mergers and acquisitions.

"Kyle is a proven professional sales executive with over 20 years of experience in delivering and sustaining revenue growth through direct and indirect sales channels," said Levi Morehouse, Ceterus' Founder and CEO. "He joined VoIP giant Vocalocity when it was a $15M company and drove sales to $100M, resulting in the sale of the company to Vonage. Our team wholeheartedly believes that having someone with Kyle's strong background, combined with the technology and people we have today, will take our growth to the next level so we can further our mission of supporting and empowering entrepreneurs."

After his notable accomplishments at Vocalocity and the company's resulting sale to Vonage, Johnson stayed on as Vonage's Senior Vice President of Sales. In April 2017, he became the Chief Revenue Officer of SaaS-based critical communication solutions enterprise OnSolve, and currently serves as a board member for various SaaS companies.

Johnson commented, "As Ceterus continues to advance in development, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I've gained in previous roles to lead the strategic increase in revenue and sales and accelerate growth for the company. Ceterus has a unique and well positioned SaaS accounting product that eliminates the headache of managing day to day bookkeeping for entrepreneurs, and I could not be more excited about our future and the direction we're headed."

Charleston Software Firm Blackbaud Hikes Spending to Accelerate Growth

Blackbaud Inc. is looking to spend money to make money.

In reporting earnings last week, the Daniel Island-based software provider said its operating expenses climbed to $114.4 million in the first quarter, 16 percent more than a year before.

Higher spending comes as Blackbaud, one of South Carolina's largest technology employers with about 3,400 workers worldwide, increases the headcount on its sales team and pushes a growth strategy. 

CEO Mike Gianoni told investors and analysts during a conference call Wednesday the sales force grew by 20 percent last year. The company plans to continue to hire aggressively in 2019, he added. Read more HERE

Charleston-based Company Could Provide The Next Evolution In Hearing Loss Solutions

At a recent TEDx presentation, J. Keith McElveen asked audience members to close one of their eyes. He then asked them to try to connect the tips of their index fingers.

He said most people would have trouble making the connection since they would lack depth perception with using only one eye. Humans see the world in 3D, he explained, and blocking one eye impacts that.

"Your hearing system works the same way," said the owner of Wave Sciences, a Charleston based audio company that enables what they call 3D hearing through technology. Read more:

CodeCamp CS Upstart weeklong camp

‘Zero to programmer’: SC Coding Schools Try To Fill Critical Holes In Tech Workforce

Acknowledging South Carolina schools aren't producing technology talent quickly enough, industry leaders are searching for the right solution to prepare workers for an increasingly tech-centric future.

Coding schools offer a way of cracking into the industry without a four-year degree in computer science. They vary from self-guided online courses to in-person classes that cost thousands and last months. Regardless of the type, the schools produce eye-catching results.

The Charleston Digital Corridor, a local tech-focused economic development group, decided to cancel its coding classes for adults when a survey showed businesses didn't need entry-level programmers, said Ernest Andrade, executive director. About 1,250 people completed the program over six years.A survey done last year by Course Report found 79 percent of graduates from these kinds of programs had landed a job in the tech field. The median salary increase for the graduates surveyed was $21,000. 

The Digital Corridor is keeping its CODEcamp Kids program even as its halts classes for adults. The program is designed for youths from 11 to 16 years old. 

While South Carolina has shown it can attract tech companies, some of the best jobs are going to professionals who move from out-of-state, Andrade said.

"Our challenge is growing talent within the state and spreading the economic benefits to South Carolinians," he said. Read more:

Upcoming Events

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DIY Robotics Part 2: Playing the Music and Lighting the Lights

Do you fear the robot uprising? Does the computing power of your coffee maker make you feel insecure about your own ability to do math? Are you curious about what dark forces compel your Roomba? Well, fret no longer! In this multi-part series, I will guide you step-by-step through the process of building your own robot from scratch, and programming it to do your bidding! (as long as "do your bidding" is understood to mean "wander aimlessly around until it gets stuck on something or the batteries die). Learn more and register HERE.

VentureSouth Charleston: How to Pitch Lunch & Learn

Preparing your business for investment and learning how to pitch to investors is a critical skill that every entrepreneur must master. Whether your company is conceptual or growing, learning how to convey your business to potential investors is critically important for its growth and long-term success.

Please join Eric Thome, local director of VentureSouth Charleston, as he provides an overview of pitching to angel groups. We'll cover our process, what we look for in an investment opportunity, how to prepare your company for approaching investors, and how to deliver your pitch.

Lunch will be provided.

Leading SAFe 4.6 with SA Certification

Develop a skillset that's in demand worldwide and empower your enterprise to succeed in a disruptive marketplace when you become a SAFe 4 Agilist (SA). During this two-day course, you'll learn the principles and practices of the Scaled Agile Framework(r) (SAFe), how to execute and release value through Agile Release Trains, and what it means to lead a Lean-Agile transformation at enterprise scale.

You will gain an understanding of the Lean-Agile mindset and why it's so effective in today's adapt-or-die marketplace. You'll also get practical advice on supporting Agile teams and programs, empowering a Lean Portfolio, building a continuous delivery pipeline and DevOps culture, and coordinating large solutions. Learn more and register HERE.

Happy Hour Bitcoin Meet and Greet

Discuss bitcoin and related topics over some good food and beer. Primary goals are to promote Bitcoin locally in the Charleston community and help teach what bitcoin and related technology is all about. Learn more and register HERE.

CODEcamp Kids - Robotics and Hardware Programming

Robotics and Hardware Programming is a half day, week-long session which introduces students to fundamental ideas such as development and planning, wiring and construction, as well as programming.

Over the week, students will have the opportunity to design, assemble, and program a robot of their choice with the assistance of an instructor. Students are encouraged to think creatively and with a problem-solving mentality as they prepare for the various robot challenges throughout the session.

If your child is also interested in attending the Intro the Web Development class, please email Kristen Pappalardo for a "bundling discount" code.

Feel free to bring a snack and/or lunch. A small snack and juice box is provided each day.

Vitals

  • Audience: Students 11-16 years of age
  • Location: Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship-Bridge Incubator, 385 Meeting Street, Suite 100
  • Schedule: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 1:00pm
  • Cost: $269 for the week-long program
  • Class size: 15 students
  • Supplies: Computers and equipment provided
  • Contact phone: 571.246.1899
  • Contact email: info@codecampkids.org
  • Social: Facebook or Twitter

Agile Charleston Meetup

It is extremely difficult to say no - we all know this! However, an essential part of a Product Owner's role is being able to determine what features will provide the most value to the customer and prioritize those features over others. Being able to say no when necessary is key for Product Owners to successfully build a product that will provide the most value to their customers. Still, many Product Owners find it extremely difficult to say no.
In this session we will talk about why it is so difficult for people, especially Product Owners, to say no. We will discuss the importance and power of the Product Owner's ability to say no when necessary. We will then learn and apply a variety of techniques that anyone can use to help make saying no easier.

Learning Outcomes:
- Discuss why it is psychologically difficult for people to say
- Discuss reasons why a Product Owner may find it difficult to say no and the importance of being able to say no
- Learn techniques that anyone can use to help make saying no easier

Learn more and register HERE.

CODEcamp Kids - Intro to Web Development

Intro to Web Development is a week-long session which introduces students to the fundamental concepts of web design and development.

Throughout the session, students will learn the basics of web development languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Students will design and develop their own website, program their own web Tapplication and compete to design the best website.

If your child is also interested in the attending Robotics and Hardware Programming class, please email Kristen Pappalardo for the "class bundling" discount code.

Feel free to bring a snack and/or lunch. A small snack and juice box is provided each day.

Vitals

  • Audience: Students 11-16 years of age
  • Location: Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship-Bridge Incubator, 385 Meeting Street, Suite 100
  • Schedule: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 1:00pm
  • Cost: $249 for the week-long program
  • Class size: 15 students
  • Supplies: Computers and equipment provided
  • Contact phone: 571.246.1899
  • Contact email: info@codecampkids.org
  • Social: Facebook or Twitter

CODEcamp Kids - Intro to Web Development

Intro to Web Development is a week-long session which introduces students to the fundamental concepts of web design and development.

Throughout the session, students will learn the basics of web development languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Students will design and develop their own website, program their own web Tapplication and compete to design the best website.

If your child is also interested in the attending Robotics and Hardware Programming class, please email Kristen Pappalardo for the "class bundling" discount code.

Feel free to bring a snack and/or lunch. A small snack and juice box is provided each day.

Vitals

  • Audience: Students 11-16 years of age
  • Location: Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship-Bridge Incubator, 385 Meeting Street, Suite 100
  • Schedule: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 1:00pm
  • Cost: $249 for the week-long program
  • Class size: 15 students
  • Supplies: Computers and equipment provided
  • Contact phone: 571.246.1899
  • Contact email: info@codecampkids.org
  • Social: Facebook or Twitter