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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Trey Pringle, Sovi Cofounder and CEO

Sovi Cofounders Push Each Other to Achieve, Says CEO Pringle

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.

Trey Pringle is cofounder and CEO of Sovi, which helps consumers find deals on concert tickets. Pringle and longtime friend Tom Evans founded Sovi in 2012. The company is based at the Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship2 in downtown Charleston with one other local employee and a developer in Argentina. Sovi operates in 25 U.S. cities and Canada.

Where did you grow up? What was life like?

Greenville, S.C. My business partner, Tom, and I grew up in Greenville together, so that's been a great centerpiece of us building this company. I'd say the biggest standout from that is playing basketball. We both played basketball from a young age and were on the same team. That's how we became friends when we were younger.

How did you come to be in Charleston?

I went to the College of Charleston, graduated in 2009, stuck around for about a year, moved to Greenville for a couple of years, and then San Francisco after that. We were operating our business on the West Coast. We were raising a seed round or a pre-seed round. There's a fund called SC Launch. We spoke with investors on the West Coast and SC Launch about participating, and SC Launch ended up being the best fit for us. Part of a partnership with them is having a headquarters in South Carolina, so we decided to move back.

But I also believe from going to school here that Charleston has the right climate for a technology industry to thrive. It's got a great quality of life with a semi-low cost of living. It's kind of rising now, but definitely as it compares to San Francisco, it's still the right ratio. I think that is the right foundation, and that is why we moved back here. It's been great for our business. We've grown quickly since we've moved back.

In your own words, what does your company do?

We operate a secondary exchange for concert tickets. We create products where live music fans can buy concert tickets, and our ultimate goal is to use these products to help bring down the cost of tickets for everyday fans to go see concerts.

We have tools that search the entire internet for tickets on sale, sort of the same way that Kayak does for plane flights, so that we can find the lowest price on sale anywhere. It might be from the box office, it might be from StubHub, it might be from somewhere else on the internet, but we try to aggregate that all in one place. That, we believe, is going to help bring the cost down. But, long term, there are also some things we believe we can do by using our data to help artists and promoters price their tickets more effectively, and it's going to make the costs long term come down for consumers as well.

Right now, our flagship product is Sovi, an app where you can buy concert tickets in two taps, and we are expanding on that with releasing a website and an Android app, as well.

What inspired you to start this business?

We started the business about five and a half years ago. Tom had just graduated college. I was a year out of college; I'm a year older than he is. At that age, you're just starting your adult life, and you're pretty active going out in the community, taking part in events, meeting friends at bars, etc., and we started the business as an events-marketing business. It was sort of like a Craigslist for local events.

We got bars, charities, 5Ks, everything under the sun – we got those organizers to post them to our platform. It's pretty much the exact same thing as what Facebook events is now, what we were five years ago. It worked really well. It created a lot of awareness for events in the community, but it was very hard to monetize.

We learned through that that live music was where the real potential was. Pretty much everyone that used our platform was either a music venue or promoter that was putting their concert on there, and a lot of consumers that came to look at the calendar were looking for concerts. So we said, there's a pretty big marketing gap for live music, and that's what pushed us to create an app that was specifically for live-music tickets. We made that pivot about two and a half or three years ago.

What's the meaning of the name Sovi?

Honestly, it was just a unique name that we came up with one day. We wrote like 20 different names down. I can't remember exactly where that one came from, but we knew it was memorable, and we knew it was unique from "events this" or "tickets that" – those names aren't memorable.

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

Tom and I both worked together at our first job, and it was at Old Navy, when we were 15. At that age you're mainly just working to have some money to spend with your friends, at the movies or whatever. But it definitely teaches you responsibility. I'd say that's the main thing that I learned, managing money and responsibility.

Did you have an entrepreneurial drive early on?

It developed later in life for me.

How would you describe your organization's culture?

Not only do we focus our products and our business on the live music industry, but that's a big part of our lives. We go to a lot of concerts, music festivals. It's very ingrained in what we do every day. So I'd say the culture revolves a lot around music. When we're not going to concerts, we are constantly playing music in the office and discovering new music.

What is your management style?

I was a history major in college, so I don't know much about the specific management styles that you might learn taking an MBA class. I'd say our style has just evolved out of the way that Tom and I work together. We have very complementary skill sets. We know what each person excels at, and we work together to focus on the things that we're best at.

I'd say that I excel more as an operator and Tom excels more as a product person, but we both have complementary pieces that help support both of those sides of our business. In general, we work really well together, delegating everything that needs to be done.

As far as our team is concerned, our main goal is to empower people to get the best out of themselves, so we don't impose a lot of rules. We mainly focus on the goals, long-term goals, where we want to take our business and the milestones that we've laid out and the roadmap that we have to get there. We just all get in there together and work on those goals every day.

What do you look for in the people you hire?

Someone who is a self-starter. Someone to whom we can say, "These are the goals. This is our roadmap to get there." And then they can just go and start working, and they don't need a ton of guidance. We want them to definitely ask us questions and ask us for guidance when it's needed, but we're never going to be able to get the best out of ourselves if we've having to look over someone's shoulder all day.

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

I have limited experience with bosses. After our first illustrious job at Old Navy, I was mainly a bartender up until we started this business. I didn't really have any influential bosses during that time, but I would say that I've learned a lot from people who were not a boss but more of a mentor. Most people that I met when we moved to San Francisco and a lot of the investors and the supporters that we've had along the way, I've learned a great deal from.

One lesson is patience. When you're an entrepreneur, you think everything that you've envisioned for your business, especially early on, you think it's all going to happen in the next few months. Most of my mentors have taught me to definitely keep your energy levels high and be hungry in that mindset, but to also understand that some things take time and know that you're going to have to have endurance and a plan that involves longevity if you're going to be around for the long haul.

What one person has been the biggest influence on your business life?

My business partner, Tom. Through the years of building this business, we both started it not knowing anything. We decided to jump into it together, and we've held each other up the whole way. We've also taught each other so much. We've learned from each other the entire time that we've built this business, and we're both constantly working on ourselves, developing ourselves and making ourselves better, so that keeps the challenge up for the other person to keep up. That's the No. 1 force behind what I've been able to become professionally.

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

The hardest part about being an entrepreneur, especially a technology entrepreneur, is the sacrifice that it takes. Especially if you don't have some of the things going for you like having gone to an Ivy League school or having worked for a Facebook or Google, you're already sort of playing catchup. So to really get your business around the corner and over the hump, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice financially, personally, for a long time.

You have to be willing to do that to really move your business to the place where it's profitable and growing and there are actually people using it and interested and people paying you money for whatever it is that you do. There's no getting around it – it's very difficult, and I think that's what weeds a lot of companies out. When that first valley of darkness comes for you, you either walk through it and experience the sacrifice, or you don't.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

That it's easy, because it's definitely not. The other one I would say is that it's not a get-rich-quick-thing that some people view it as. Sometimes people come up to me and say, "I have this idea for this app." And they have this notion that you could just go and build it in two weeks and you'd make millions of dollars from it. If it was that easy, everyone would do it and everyone would be a millionaire.

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

That's one of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur – you're not stuck with time constraints on your day. You don't have to be a certain place at a certain time. It's more about getting the best out of yourself every day. That actually allows you to have more of a flexible routine.

For me, the morning is the time when I get the most done. Probably the hours from 9 to 12 I'm heads down, listening to music, cranking away. The afternoon is when we loosen up a little bit more, work on the product a little bit more. It's more of a freer atmosphere and we're planning for the future, talking about product updates, changes that we could implement.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

That whatever idea you are working on now is always going to change, it's always going to iterate. Keep that in mind when you're making your future plans. You may think that whatever you're working on right now is the perfect solution to a problem, but it never is. It's always going to change. Keep that embedded in whatever process you use to grow your business.

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

It depends on what your end aspirations are. If you just want to work in technology, I'd say definitely target a bigger company. If you want to work for a small startup or be a technology entrepreneur, you can't start learning fast enough with that.

There's a huge learning curve of two, three or more years of becoming an operator of a tech startup. There are going to be tough times, but you just have to push your way through those, and you can't start early enough if that's what you want to do.

What do you see as the future of your company?

It's always been our goal to fundamentally change the live music industry for the better. There's a lot of layers. Most anyone who's been to a concert knows that. They know that sometimes ticket prices are astronomically high. They know that sometimes they never hear about a concert until the day that it's happening. There's some connectivity issues. There's some marketing issues.

But we think some of the biggest issues are just internal disconnect between the different pieces of the industry – venues, promoters, artists, etc. – and we are working on solutions that help bring all those pieces closer together, and we believe that's going to help bring ticket prices down in the long run.

We are in 25 cities now and growing. We just launched our first international market in Canada earlier this year; we are in Toronto. We'll be rolling out Vancouver soon, and we're hoping to expand to a few more international markets before next year is over, as well as throughout the rest of the United States.

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

Mac for sure. Always Mac. As far as smartphones are concerned, I have an iPhone, but I have mutual respect for iPhones and Androids. At the end of the day, the experience a person has using that device defines what it's worth to them. For sure, Apple had a head start for a long time, but I definitely believe that some of the companies that build Android phones now are catching up.

What is your usual Starbucks order?

Iced green tea.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

Going to concerts. I love to travel. My fiancé is Chilean, so we travel to Chile a good bit. Love to be in the outdoors, hike. I did a lot more of that when I was on the West Coast. But hiking, camping, visiting national parks. Anything outdoors. And beyond that, being with my family.

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

We're lucky because we're both developers, so that hasn't been a huge challenge for us. However, I do know that it's tough to build a technology team anywhere, even in San Francisco. If you're in a market where there's not a high volume of developers, then it's tough to find one. But if you're in a market where there are a lot of developers, then they come at a premium. So you're either fighting cost or you're fighting the time it takes to actually find the right person.

What are your thoughts on Charleston's technical landscape?

It's great. It's growing. We've probably grown our revenue by 10x in the year and a half that we've been here, so it's been great for us. It's one of those rare cities like Seattle or Austin – it's got a very high quality of life and the cost of living is relatively low compared to some of the other tech hubs in the country. And that's the equation that you really want to have. People can have an enjoyable life that's not super expensive.

What this community and other communities need around the country is more funding. No company is going to be built without some level of seed funding. So, the higher volume of that, the higher volume of technology companies there will be on the scene. I've seen the funding community here growing over the last few years. There are way more opportunities now than when we started our business. As that grows, the technology community here will grow with it. 

Visiture Acquires ExpandLab

Visiture, an eCommerce marketing agency, announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire ExpandLab, an eCommerce design and development agency based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Visiture is a certified Shopify Plus technology partner and industry leader in eCommerce digital marketing, while Expandlab's expertise lies in innovative eCommerce development. The marriage of the two will provide merchants an unmatched expertise in creating efficient, attractive online shopping experiences that connect brands with their target customers.

"This is an incredible opportunity to bring together two great companies, each a leader in their fields, in order to provide enhanced opportunities to our clients," said Brian Cohen, CEO and co-founder of Visiture. "Together, we will draw on our decades of experience to push the boundaries on design and eCommerce innovation, consistently delivering outstanding results for merchants." 

As a leader in digital marketing for enterprise eCommerce brands, Visiture has experienced huge growth over the past couple of years with offices in both Charleston, SC and Atlanta, GA. In 2017, Visiture was named to the INC 5000 list among the nation's fastest-growing private companies. 

"This acquisition affords us the opportunity to provide a suite of best-in-class services to eCommerce merchants under one roof, so to speak," said Ronald Dod, CMO and co-founder of Visiture. "It's truly great to work with like-minded people who are passionate about eCommerce. We look forward to seeing how the joining of our creative talents will build future opportunities and wins for our clients."

Based in Atlanta, GA, ExpandLab, a Magento Solutions Partner, has set the standard in eCommerce development. By mastering leading-edge technology, strategic services, and thought leadership, ExpandLab has solidified itself as a resource for helping retailers overcome the complexity of omnichannel retail and selling online.

"With the combined services of Visiture and ExpandLab, we'll be able to offer the best in class turn-key services for leading eCommerce brands," said Dennis Ngin, COO of ExpandLab. "From SEO and PPC management to development and custom design, we've created an end-to-end solution with a single point of contact to fuel the growth of our clients and reduce marketing expense."

The acquisition will bring ExpandLab under the umbrella of the Visiture brand, with offices retained in both Charleston, SC and Atlanta, GA. The full creative team at ExpandLab will make the transition to the Visiture organization.

"Our employees have always been the DNA behind our success, and that of our clients," said Ryan Jones, Vice President of Operations at Visiture. "We're excited to add the talent and experience of the Expandlab team to the Visiture family."

Blackbaud Gives Special Stock Award to Employees Worldwide

Blackbaud, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world's leading cloud software company powering social good, today announced plans to provide a one-time stock award for eligible employees, equivalent to approximately $2,000 (USD).

On the heels of its 2017 fourth quarter and full year earnings announcement, the company said that, based on business performance, outlook and a recent change to federal tax law, it will give a one-time stock award to all full-time employees who do not receive equity as part of the annual Corporate Employee Stock Award Program.

Blackbaud, who was recently named one of Fortune's 56 Companies Changing the World, Forbes' Best Employers for Diversity, Forbes' Most Innovative Growth Companies and Forbes' America's Best Midsize Employers for two consecutive years, and recognized with many other regional and national accolades for its performance and workplace culture, says today's announcement is part of an ongoing commitment to making the Charleston, South Carolina-based tech company the best place to work with the most competitive and compelling benefits in the industry. Blackbaud has approximately 3200 employees in offices around the world.

"We make unmatched investments in R&D so our customers can achieve their most ambitious goals, but it is our people who are the secret sauce behind everything good we do," said Mike Gianoni, president and CEO of Blackbaud. "They volunteer over 100,000 hours to causes annually, they go above and beyond to pitch in as an extended member of our customers' teams; they do whatever it takes to help our customers advance global good because they are deeply motivated by the idea that good truly can take over the world. After another strong year of performance with record-level customer satisfaction, it seemed fitting to celebrate our people and make another investment back in them, by ensuring that as owners, they are all participants in our company's and customers' success."

Blackbaud says the awards will be issued on February 28, 2018 and will vest one year later. For more information about Blackbaud, visit www.blackbaud.com.

Kopis acquires NWN Smart Government Division, formerly TiBA Solutions

Kopis, one of South Carolina's leading Software Development, Business Intelligence, and Dynamics providers with offices in Greenville, SC and Charleston, SC, recently announced the acquisition of the NWN Smart Government Division, formerly Greenville-based TiBA Solutions. The acquisition will expand Kopis' current offerings in software development, mobile app development, business intelligence & data analytics, and Microsoft Azure cloud services. Combining these two senior teams creates one of the largest and most senior enterprise software and cloud services teams in the southeast. In addition, Kopis will continue to be NWN's government partner, working closely with them to serve mutual clients.

With the acquisition, Kopis will add an additional vertical focus on Smart Government to its deep Manufacturing and Distribution experience, and continue to be the premiere Government enterprise software and cloud services partner for the Southeast.

"Our state and local governments are vital to the success of our citizens," said Kopis CEO Andrew Kurtz. "We have always admired them and are thankful for the work they do, but are also very aware of the constraints they face. With this team's experience in the government space, as well as Intellectual Property tailored specifically to government challenges, we believe we can help our local and state governmental entities do more, for less, and provide value to both the local government as well as its citizens."

Visiture Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Visiture, an independent eCommerce marketing agency, celebrates its ten-year anniversary this month. Since its founding in January 2008, Visiture has grown into a recognized leader in digital marketing with more than 30 employees in two major cities, Charleston and Atlanta, and an annual revenue now exceeding $3 million.

Originally founded as a small internet marking agency, President and co-founder Brian Cohen and his leadership team have expanded the company's service offerings to provide full-service marketing for enterprise eCommerce brands.

"It feels incredible to see how far we've come in the past ten years," said Cohen when discussing the anniversary. "This was all a dream to me and it gives me so much pride to celebrate this milestone. I believe it's the investment we make in our team, as well as a constant drive to innovate, that's contributed to Visiture's growth, as well as our recognition as a leader in eCommerce marketing."

In 2017, Visiture was named to the INC 5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation, with a rank of No. 1665 and a three-year growth rate of 235%. "This has been an incredible journey for us," added Ronald Dod, co-founder and CEO. "So many people have played a part in our success, from our customers and partners to our incredibly talented team. I can't say enough how special our employees are. Their dedication to innovation and delivering value to our clients is at the heart of why we exist."

Blackbaud Named to Forbes Best Employers for Diversity 2018

Blackbaud has been named as a leading employer for diversity by Forbes – America's Best Employers for Diversity 2018. Blackbaud was ranked in the IT, Internet, Software & Services category alongside 15 other comparable tech companies such as Intuit, Google, Salesforce, Amazon, Microsoft, and PayPal. The list is a ranking of 250 employers across all industries in the United States, based on surveying thousands of employees and examining employer diversity policies, as well as diversity in executive suites and on boards. View the full listing at www.forbes.com/best-employers-diversity/list/ and additional background information regarding the survey can be found here: Statista: The Best Employers for Diversity 2018.

Blackbaud's diversity program has been a focused and growing effort over the last two years. Our initiatives span education, awareness, recruitment, empowerment, community involvement and financial support. Some recent examples include: The recent launch of affinity groups; unconscious bias training; diversity audits and benchmarking; partnering with United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for the STEM Innovation Summit; Blackbaud Executive Women's Summit and Blackbaud Women in Tech events; third party partnerships (ex. Fortune mentoring programs); participation as an executive board member for the SC Lowcountry Business Leadership Network focused on hiring and retaining disabled employees.

Local SC Smart Home Company, Heatworks, Shines at Consumer Electronics Show

Heatworks, the South Carolina-based company that is fundamentally reshaping the way the world heats and uses water, enjoyed an award-winning week at the largest annual consumer electronics show (CES) last week in Las Vegas. The innovators behind the MODEL 3 Water Heater and newly announced Tetra Dishwasher, garnered international attention for their innovative smart home products, design and clean-water applications.

With MODEL 3 set to ship to backers and preorders next month, Heatworks was excited to provide consumers and media alike, with a first look at the tankless water heater that fits in a carry-on bag. The reception was fantastic as MODEL 3 was named an Innovation Product Award winner at the show for its use of Heatworks' patented Ohmic Array Technology that changes the way water has been heated since the 1870's.

Heatworks also used the CES platform to announce its next consumer product, built on the same principles, mission and technological foundation as MODEL 3. Tetra, the connected countertop dishwasher is a compact reimagining of the space-hungry appliance that city-dwellers can't even fit in their kitchens. Using the same award-winning Ohmic Array Technology to heat its water to precise temperatures, Tetra cleans delicate dishes, vulnerable hard-plastics and even breakable stemmed wine-glasses, all without the fear of overheating, melting or shattering. Consumers can even watch a lobster or steak cook sous vide style in Tetra's transparent enclosure. Tetra's technology, design and user-friendliness won the hearts of consumers and media throughout the show, ultimately garnering international recognition and a coveted CES Editorial Award.

"We couldn't have asked for a better week in Vegas," said Heatworks Founder and CEO, Jerry Callahan, who was on the ground speaking with customers, partners and media throughout the show. "We knew we had something special in both MODEL 3 and now Tetra, but it's great to see the unanimous validation from our peers, excited customers and trusted media."

For more information on both the MODEL 3 Water Heater and Tetra, visit: myheatworks.com. Additional images and videos can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/Heatworks.

Upcoming Events

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Fuel - Social Media and Security

This event is presented as a joint effort with Local Area Chambers and Charleston Young Professionals.

How exposed are you?

Nostradamus himself couldn't have predicted how pervasive the influence of social media would be in our personal and business lives. It hasn't just changed the way we communicate and share information, it's changed the way the world works, and not necessarily for the better.

This session will dive into how social media has shaped the marketing of The Human Commodity, what the "unintended consequences" are of uncontrolled (and unregulated) growth of socialized media, and what you can do to protect your business against new, emerging threats to your bottom line.

Following the program, connect with members while enjoying beverages and light snacks!

Learn more and RSVP.

Trade Show Impact - A Lunch & Learn Experience

Tradeshow Impact will provide practical information and advice for both exhibiting veterans and those newer to event marketing and its unique challenges. Content is aimed at improving your company's results and efficiencies. This interactive educational event will cover:

  • Critical Tradeshow Topics Essential for effective results in today's economy
  • Implementation tactics to "do it right"
  • Avoiding wasting your company's time, money and resources
  • Enhancing cooperation, participation and enthusiasm of both staff and Sr. Management
  • Recent Changes & Updates in Tradeshow trendsPrior seminars have also proven to be great opportunities for our guests to network with other professionals who share similar responsibilities. There is no fee to attend and lunch will be provided. Please join us and share this invitation with anyone you feel may benefit. 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.

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.