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Digital Corridor’s Flagship @ the Charleston Tech Center Opens Its Doors

Many years in the making, the Charleston Digital Corridor is pleased to announce the opening of the Flagship @ the Charleston Tech Center (CTC). The Flagship is the anchor tenant at the landmark CTC and occupies the entire second floor.

The Flagship, designed to facilitate the growth of Charleston's tech economy, has 33 private offices to host a variety of companies at various stages of growth. Additionally, there are 16 "touchdown nooks" designed to accommodate remote workers, co-working, start-up companies and employees of member companies just seeking a change of scenery.

The design aesthetic, office configurations and amenities reflect the growing trend of a hybrid workforce and include showers, nap/relaxation room, modern conference & training facilities, 3 private phone/Zoom rooms, a podcast studio and restaurant-style meeting booths.

"We are proud to deliver a vibrant, energetic and flexible workspace in support of Charleston's growing tech community and recognize the team effort and solid public-private partnership needed to make the Charleston Tech Center and Flagship a reality," said Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation Chairman, Kirk King.

In a just released report by CompTIA, Charleston showed favorably, with a projected ranking of #4 in the nation for net tech jobs added in 2021, up from #6 in 2020.

"Recognizing the importance of building a resilient economy, the city has made strategic investments in support of economic diversification," said Charleston Mayor, John Tecklenburg. "I am confident our participation with the development of the Charleston Tech Center and adjacent parking garage will accelerate the growth of Charleston's high-wage tech economy."

To learn more about the Flagship, take a tour or make an office reservation, contact Ernest Andrade or call 843.607.1264.

John Mulvey, Digital Echo Founder & President
LEADERSHIP PROFILE

Digital Echo Helps Those With Disabilities Access A Tech World

John Mulvey is the founder of Digital Echo, a Charleston-based firm that helps organizations make the digital world accessible for individuals with disabilities.

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

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many professionals to depend on technology more than ever, just to make it through a workday.

But even before the pandemic, John Mulvey saw how tech-dependent the business world was becoming – and recognized the need to ensure access for people with disabilities.

Mulvey founded Digital Echo in 2019 to help clients make their digital properties available to people with visual impairments, motor-skill impairments and other disabilities.

"Technology empowers people," Mulvey said. "It allows those with disabilities to communicate with the rest of the world. No one knows who's behind the computer, but then again, everything has to be set up properly so it can be accessed. It's just like the ramps and rails of a building."

What does Digital Echo do, and what was the inspiration for starting this company?

We're very niche right now. We make PDF documents, or digital documents, accessible to people with disabilities, including blindness, visual impairments, and motor skill impairments. We set up documents so they can be read by screen readers and other assistive tools to give everyone access to the same types of content.

Separate but equal doesn't count with digital access, and it never has. What we do qualifies as a compliance issue under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, along with similar things like that around the world. It fits in the diversity and inclusion space. Those with disabilities are a protected class, and in order for an organization to be truly inclusive, they have to be accessible to everybody.

Has accessibility for individuals with disabilities always been a topic of conversation?

According to the courts, there are no set laws stating that PDF documents or websites have to be accessible. However, they've realized if websites and all things digital had been as prevalent when the Americans with Disabilities Act was created, this totally would have been included in the law.

As the world continues to conduct more business digitally, it's necessary for everybody to have access to different software packages, websites and content. It just levels the playing field. Companies used to do it for a compliance reason. Now, organizations we work with do it because it's the right thing, and they see it as an opportunity to address a market that's been a bit disregarded.

How did COVID-19 impact your business in 2020?

2019 was all about survival and planting seeds for Digital Echo. When 2020 came, it was time to harvest. Looking at my pipeline, things were great, or so I thought. By the third week of March 2020, everything had shut down. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that my pipeline was toast because it was composed of hospitals, healthcare organizations and city governments.

Luckily, we were doing some PDF work before. We realized we were really good at PDF work, and we enjoyed it. Getting federal money through the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) was instrumental because it kept our eyes on the prize. It was a tough time, but we had a great year on the business side. It really defined where we needed to focus our energy, and we were able to pick up a lot of great clients.

You source talent nationally and globally. Why did you go this route?

We're definitely in a gig-type of economy, and COVID-19 has only amplified that. The type of work we do with PDF remediation lends itself directly to hiring 1099 employees, or contract employees. It's a very tedious and manual process right now, but we're working to implement more automation in the future. Our team is currently composed of employees both in the United States and offshore.

We take on projects and ramp up by using contract employees. We pay per page, so our employees can amplify their earnings by doing better work. PDFs are pretty cut and dry. They're either done right or wrong. We're able to assess talent by checking in on how new hires perform, how reliable they are, and by measuring their speed and quality of work.

What brought you to Charleston?

I was born in New York. We vacationed in Charleston quite often until my family eventually decided to move here. I was 16 at the time. I went to Bishop England for high school and Clemson for college.

Following graduation, I came back to Charleston for a job in the software industry. I traveled a lot doing that and saw the rest of the country. I have 44 states under my belt, and it really doesn't get better than here. So, I came back and stayed.

I graduated from Clemson in 1993 with a degree in finance at the tail end of the recession. Finding a job was tough, but I landed a position at a company called the Halcyon Group, a locally based company that provided financial analysis software for banks and other commercial lenders.

How does someone in finance and accounting get into tech?

It was mostly taking advantage of the opportunity. When you graduate from school, you have to accept an opportunity and thrive where you land. Bloom where you're planted. And you do the very best you can to master it before moving on. I never thought I'd be a sales guy, and 25 years later, I'm still in sales.

What do you look for in hires, and what advice would you give a college graduate?

I look first at how someone treats others. That sounds simple, but it matters. Manners matter, too. I check if the person pushes in their chair after they get up. I think that says a lot about somebody and how they're going to leave a situation. Are they going to leave things better than they found them?

Workwise, I look for trustworthiness and reliability. Customer service and work ethic are key. Our top priority at Digital Echo is "Relentless Customer Service." You only have one reputation, so you have to make sure you live up to that every day.

Who has been the most influential figure in your life from a business standpoint?

That's easy. It was my first boss, Bob Brinson. Bob gave me my first opportunity after graduation and taught me more about running a small business than anything I'd learned in school. I learned about managing inventory, cashflow, accounts receivable, accounts payable, the whole nine yards on that, just by watching him.

He was a great manager, and that's rare these days. The art of being a great manager has somewhat disappeared. It's not a matter of getting everything out of somebody; it's about making them better, too.

What do you do outside of work?

I have two daughters, so the answer to that question used to be whatever 4- and 5-, or 6- and 7-, or 10- and 11-year-old little girls did. They're 13 and 15 now and very independent. In the last year, I've gotten back into fishing, and I have a '99 Wrangler Jeep, which is basically a big Lego set I work on.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Tallo Spotlight

We are pleased to spotlight Tallo, whose main goal is to connect talent with opportunities.

  • Company Founded - 2013
  • Chief Executive - Casey Welch
  • Total number of employees - 30
  • Fun fact - There are students on Tallo from all 50 states, representing more than 24,000 middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Students in nearly two out every three high schools in the US have made a Tallo profile!
  • Tallo Career Opportunities
Vikor's Lab at 22 WestEdge

Demand For Life Science Real Estate Shows No Sign Of Slowing

While prime drawing cards like Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area continue to command attention as life science hubs, don't discount a raft of up-and-coming markets, chief among them Charleston, S.C., Columbus, Oh. and Houston, Tex. Read on for more on those emerging centers of life science advancement. Read more:

QuicksortRx CEO, Jonathan Yantis

QuicksortRx and ASHP Partner to Offer Pharmacy Supply Chain Solution

QuicksortRx, a health-system pharmacy technology company optimizing supply chains, and ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) today announced a partnership to offer pharmacy professionals access to next-generation pharmaceutical software and analysis to help deliver optimal patient outcomes at the lowest possible costs. The collaboration is part of ASHP's focus on fostering science and technology-driven solutions that advance patient health and pharmacy practice.

ASHP represents nearly 58,000 pharmacy professionals in hospitals, health systems, ambulatory clinics, and other healthcare settings spanning the full spectrum of medication use. In this collaboration, ASHP will connect pharmacy professionals in health systems with a new, innovative solution that efficiently identifies cost savings for health-system pharmacy departments whose workplace depends on the complex pharmacy supply chain to deliver needed medications quickly to patients.

"Now more than ever, we need to harness innovative solutions that support pharmacy professionals to advance optimal patient outcomes while making healthcare more affordable," said ASHP's Vice President of Global Resource Development and Consulting Paul Bush, Pharm.D., MBA, BCPS, FASHP. "By collaborating with QuicksortRx and supporting our focus on innovations in pharmacy, ASHP is helping to get important technology and insights into the hands of pharmacy professionals to ensure patients have the medications they need while driving down costs."

QuicksortRx's platform was created at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) through a collaboration between pharmacists and developers in MUSC's Innovation Center. It has since been instrumental in helping some of the largest health systems in the United States reduce pharmacy spend by 3–5% across inpatient settings. The savings are achieved without the need for additional staff, and preserves the same high-quality medications and distribution systems health systems rely on today.

"With today's pressure on hospital finances, health systems cannot afford to continue without price transparency. Timely and clear direction in the volatile medication marketplace is essential to the sustainability of high-quality care for patients," said QuicksortRx CEO Jonathan Yantis.

"ASHP collaborates with pharmacy leaders and health systems operating at the highest levels. Continued guidance from ASHP and its membership will be invaluable as we continue to develop solutions that put hospitals first. We are thrilled to partner with ASHP's innovation and consulting teams who share our background and dedication to health systems," said Matt Hebbard, vice president of sales and accounts at QuicksortRx.

Through this partnership, QuicksortRx will offer ASHP members complimentary evaluations of their purchasing opportunities, including immediately realizable savings to support their pharmacy departments. To learn more, visit ASHP.org/QuicksortRx

Boomtown Acquires Brokermint To Help Leverage Closings

Real estate sales and marketing company BoomTown has acquired a company that automates back office management and transactions, the company said in a news release.

BrokerMint is the third acquisition for the company since 2018. BoomTown, which moved to the Pacific Box & Crate development in North Charleston, began as a startup in Charleston in 2006.

Among other services, BoomTown provides real estate professionals with a CRM system, marketing and lead-generation services and a customizable website that integrates a Realtor's local mutliple listing service data. The company said it has more than 40,000 customers using its services.

BoomTown hopes to leverage Brokermint's transaction management and accounting software, as well as its financial analytics, to provide a complete lead-to-close solution for real estate professionals, the company said. BrokerMint is headquartered in San Diego and was founded in 2014.

"BoomTown is constantly analyzing ways to deliver and enhance ROI for our clients and drive their success. Our existing platform is unparalleled in its ability to generate, engage, and convert prospects," BoomTown CEO Grier Allen said in a statement.

BrokerMint CEO and co-founder Andrew Chishchevoy said the sale was a win for both companies.

"This acquisition will bring incredible resources to accelerate development of the platform and drive even more value for BoomTown and Brokermint clients," Chishchevoy said.

Google Announces $500 million investment in Berkeley County Data Center Expansion

Google today confirmed plans to further expand its operations in Berkeley County. The expansion is projected to bring more than $500 million in capital investment to the Lowcountry. Located at Mount Holly Commerce Park in Moncks Corner, Google's investment will expand the company's data center and overall footprint in Berkeley County.

Google established operations in South Carolina in 2007, and this expansion brings the company's total investment in the state to $2.9 billion. Read more:

Vendr Announces $60 Million Series A to Fuel the Future of SaaS Buying

Vendr, a privately held company founded in 2019 by College of Charleston graduate, Ryan Neu, is pleased to announce a successful Series A round of $60 million led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from existing investors Craft Ventures, Y Combinator, Sound Ventures, Garage Capital, and F-Prime Capital. This round follows a seed round of $6.1 million. The company with locations in Boston and Charleston currently employs over 50 staff.

Vendr is forever changing how companies buy and renew SaaS. With over $300+ million in SaaS purchases across 1,000+ suppliers, the Vendr SaaS buying platform enables the world's fastest-growing companies to purchase SaaS, without friction and at a fair price.

"We are building the path to the holy grail of sales," says Ryan Neu, Vendr Founder and CEO. "We believe that B2B buying can and should resemble e-commerce transactions. But today, the average SaaS sales cycle takes 85 days. This is a failure for both buyers and sellers of SaaS –- it's epically inefficient. Partnering with Tiger Global allows us to chase our dream of reinventing B2B sales –- starting with the buyer."

"Companies are becoming increasingly reliant on SaaS, and with that comes material cost and time inefficiencies," says John Curtius, partner at Tiger Global. "Vendr is a tried-and-true way to reduce an organization's SaaS expense while freeing up internal stakeholders to spend time on higher-value activities. Vendr is quickly becoming the de facto way to buy SaaS."

Vendr expects to use the capital proceeds to support further growth and expansion of the company. Learn more about Vendr and their career opportunities HERE.

Another Crisis – Another Silver Lining

The Charleston Digital Corridor was launched in 2001 with three basic objectives – 1) raise per-capita wages, 2) deepen economic diversity and, 3) stimulate higher-wage job opportunities. Of these three, perhaps the most important is economic diversification. Why? Because economic diversity translates into economic resilience.

Twenty years and three recessions later, the Charleston region is the most economically resilient it has ever been. In an apt analogy, it has been somewhat vaccinated to better weather economic downturns, thanks in large part to the region's growing tech community. This is not to minimize or ignore the dent some industries and workers, i.e. hospitality, took during the past year. However, the health and resilience of the tech industry served to somewhat mitigate the overall impact.

Charleston's tech industry, comprised of approximately 500 companies, continues to grow at a steady and consistent pace and ironically, from my experience, many of Charleston's tech companies actually see job and income growth in the midst of challenging times such as we had. This is partly due to the elevated demand that occurs during such times for software and tech services aimed at aiding businesses in all industries increase the efficiency of their operations.

Another factor in the growth and resilience of Charleston's tech economy can be attributed to several macro employment trends I have observed which have actually been underway for many years but indeed appear to accelerate during times of crisis, in this case COVID-19. Here are three:

* Hiring remote
The need for qualified and skilled talent is constant. Companies seek and hire professionals irrespective of their geographic location. Charleston's growing talent pool, combined with an increasing number of quality job openings, livability and reasonable cost of living is directly responsible for the growth of the region's tech industry.

* Satellite offices
The relocation of senior company executives to Charleston for family or quality of life reasons end up forming satellite offices and then build up teams of high-performing local professionals engaged in strategic projects or services for the parent company.

* Distributed workforce
Companies are increasingly making the strategic decision to decentralize their operations and move or create teams or even whole departments in other locations to help ensure business continuity, improve customer relations/service and reduce turnover.

In the last few weeks, I have fielded calls from tech entrepreneurs currently based in New York, Seattle, Connecticut and Ohio, all of whom are in the process of relocating their businesses to Charleston. Thankfully, with the development of the Charleston Tech Center, and in conjunction with our partnerships with the City of Charleston, Charleston County and SC Department of Commerce, the Charleston Digital Corridor is well positioned to welcome these new businesses to our tech community.

I'm very pleased and gratified by the continuing success and growth of our member companies, and the tech community as a whole, even in periods of economic strife. So yes, I call that a real silver lining. The entrepreneurs win, the Charleston region wins and the fundamental merit of the Charleston Digital Corridor's original mission is again reaffirmed.

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