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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David Wise, AVOXI Founder and CEO

AVOXI's Wise: Leaders Don't Need All the Answers

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.

David Wise, a Charleston native, is founder and CEO of AVOXI, which sells virtual phone numbers and related software tools to companies globally. Wise started the company in 2001 in Atlanta and opened a Charleston office in 2015. AVOXI's main operations now are based in Charleston and Atlanta with other offices in Hong Kong; San Jose, Costa Rica; Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa; and Kingston, Jamaica.

In your own words, what does your company do?

We sell virtual phone numbers. A great example is Michael Kors, which sells pocketbooks and leather goods all around the world. They don't necessarily have operations in all those countries, but if you buy a pocketbook in China and you have an issue with it or you want to order another one, they take a phone number in China, and they ring it to their call center, which is probably in London. We give them those phone numbers and we deliver them to their contact center.

We also give them a software tool, for when that call lands in that call center, to actually monitor the agent productivity, how long are they on the call, are they saying things like "please" and "thank you," are they offering them a promotion. We give them the ability to score that agent's productivity once that call comes in to that call center.

What segments do you focus on?

Hospitality and travel are big for us – hotels, online booking agents, airlines, tour operators – as well as consumer goods. We've also found software companies, people selling software as a service that thought they could do it without ever having to talk to anybody, are realizing that they have some big customers and they don't want to lose them.

Where did you grow up? What was life like?

I grew up here in Charleston, actually in Mount Pleasant. I went to Porter-Gaud through eighth grade and then transferred to Wando High School. I graduated from there and went to The Citadel. Got a bachelor's degree in business administration. Loved The Citadel. It provided a lot of great structure for me in my life at the time, and really a big challenge both physically and mentally, and it also built a lot of confidence in myself as well as in my ability to get out in front and lead people.

What drew you to your current business, or inspired you to start it?

When I graduated from The Citadel, I left and went to Colorado for nine months and worked in a ski resort and put my bachelor's degree to work doing nothing. But it was great. I decompressed from The Citadel. I went out there and made pizzas at night and rented skis during the day.

I left Aspen and came back to Charleston, and I knew I wanted to get into the business world. I had interned at SouthTrust Bank in Charleston when I was at The Citadel. They had openings in Atlanta. I immediately took off and went to Atlanta to look for some type of job in commercial lending or getting around businesses to learn more about how they work.

I had an opportunity to get involved with a startup at the time, this would have been '95, that had some technology in the communications space. What the company did was sell to the U.S. military communications services for mom and dad or children that were located overseas. They set up a distribution network to sell basic communication services to those folks, so they could call back home to the United States.

I traveled a good bit, and one of the things I saw was that there were a lot of companies setting up operations overseas. American companies setting up in Manila or in San Jose, Costa Rica, to have a branch of their company operating there to leverage the cost of labor or a time zone benefit. But the challenge they had was they didn't really have good communications options and were dealing with what I would say were lethargic, monopoly phone companies of the world.

In 2001, when that company was in the process of being sold, I exited and immediately started this business. We created some solutions to deliver voice-over IP communication services to those overseas businesses and started building a business on top of those solutions.

I saw an opportunity, and for me it was just kind of the right time in my life personally. I wanted to go build something and see if I could make a difference, see what I could build.

Did you have an entrepreneurial drive early on?

I think the driver would have been my dad. My dad was an attorney by practice, but he had a bunch of different businesses that he had run and started along the way. One of them was an oil distribution company out on Ashley Phosphate Road. I always saw my dad doing that. He always had his law practice, but he always had a business on the side. I think that was the driver. We do what our parents do, what we see them do. It was also kind of a confidence builder for me. A lot of credit goes to him. He was also a state senator in South Carolina, so he was a busy guy.

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

One of my first jobs was helping my brother and his friend set up what they called the Shrimp Shack. We sold shrimp along Palm Boulevard out on Isle of Palms. At the time I was growing up, you only had the Ben Sawyer Bridge to get on the islands, and there was no seafood store out on the islands.

The shrimp would just go flying out of the cooler. People came back from being on the beach and wanted to cook. That Red & White right across the street, the grocery store, they didn't sell fresh shrimp, or it wasn't very good.

That was the first entrepreneurial operation that I got involved in. My brother and his friend figured out where to get their product, how to keep it suitable to sell, bringing money in and paying and all that stuff. It was really neat watching them do that.

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

That I don't have to have the answers. Early on, I thought I had to have all the answers. I've really learned to use the people around me more, whether it's the people that work for me or my mentors and advisers. I really see my job as being a problem presenter to the people I work with, and even my mentors, not the problem solver. I've got some really great people who work for me who want to solve problems. We have 80-plus people today. I can't solve all the problems.

What do you see as the future of your company?

We'll really evolve the contact center capability. We don't see call centers disappearing. We don't see communications with consumers going away. The trend we are seeing today is being able to have multichannel communication – chat, phone call, email. People want all that interaction.

For the business side, it's how to optimize those interactions where they are professional, efficient and effective, where someone doesn't have to call back in or email in two or three times to get an issue resolved. The technology will use artificial intelligence to help identify miscommunication and dissatisfaction very quickly to eliminate churn in our clients' customers. There's a long growth path there for us.

How far is that from where your company started?

A long way. We started with just the virtual phone numbers, and we would just ring it in. Then people said, "Hey, can you put a recording and a message in front of the number when it answers? OK, great. Now, will you record the phone call for us? OK, can you send us the recordings?" That's been the evolution of our business.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

I think fear keeps a lot of people from doing it. But there's not really anything to be afraid of. I think you gotta figure out your financial plan, and I think starting any business requires at least $50,000. But there's so many resources out there today – people that want to help entrepreneurs get a business started, be an angel investor or a seed investor to so many different ideas – that's really not a challenge. There are tons of organizations, especially here in Charleston, mentors and advisers and people that would help anybody. So probably the biggest misconception is they are alone, they don't have the support they need.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with one adviser or two advisers that have been there, done that. And work them like borrowed mules.

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

Commit to something. Find a company that's been around for at least three years and commit to be there for at least three years. One thing I look at on people's resumes is how many jobs have they been in in five years. For me, more than two jobs in five years is a red flag. It doesn't mean I won't hire them, but it begs the questions of stability, reliability, dependability and just a commitment to the effort.

And stay in Charleston. There's tons of opportunity here. You don't necessarily have to go to Silicon Valley to find other bright people to work with.

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

You see tech companies getting funded left and right to grow and expand their businesses. Some of them getting sold for some of their business ideas. I think it's fantastic for Charleston and for the tech community.

Do you see any challenges recruiting tech talent to Charleston?

We'll hire people that work remote, and we're always bringing them here and hoping they'll move here. But it's not a requirement. We have guys that work for us in Detroit, Boston, Atlanta. These guys all collaborate and work virtually.

Naturally, just because of the geographical size of Charleston, there's a limited pool of folks here. We're looking for people. We've got three or four interns that are working here this summer. We're looking at how to grow and develop those people for two years, three years, four years down the road. We're taking the long-term approach to that.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual?

I do pray every day. I ask for guidance and the power to kind of go do it. I spend quiet time every day, reflecting on what do I want to happen today and journaling.

In a business setting, every day, 15 minutes, 8 o'clock in the morning, we do a leadership check-in. Keep in mind we're not all sitting in the same office, we're all over the world, but we do a leadership check-in on strategic initiatives – does anybody have any hurdles related to the strategic initiatives they are working on – and then are there any issues with customers, vendors or employees.

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

Mac.

What is your usual Starbucks order?

I don't go to Starbucks, but I do drink Starbucks coffee. I drink their dark Sumatra.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

I mentor with other people, meet with them during the week. I love that. I love when people ask for my input on something. Some of it has to do with business, some of it is personal.

What's a book you always recommend?

"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill or "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Lots of great takeaways. Those are like textbooks that you just study and read. The other one is "The Spirituality of Imperfection" by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. 

Plans for New Wireless Network In Charleston Hung Up In Court

Charleston has most of the pieces it would need to get a new wireless network downtown, to start building a grid of small transmitters on the tops of telephone poles and light posts. Read more:

Note: The CDC is a big supporter of quick resolution of this matter to promote the deployment of enhanced data networks including 5G.

Heatworks is a Finalist for the 2018 Red Herring Top 100 North America Award

Heatworks announced today it has been selected as a finalist for Red Herring's Top 100 North America award, a prestigious list honoring the year's most promising private technology ventures from the North American business region.

The Red Herring editorial team selected the most innovative companies from a pool of hundreds from across North America. The nominees are evaluated on 20 main quantitative and qualitative criterion, which include disruptive impact, market footprint, proof of concept, financial performance, technology innovation, social value, quality of management, execution of strategy, and integration into their respective industries.

This unique assessment of potential is complemented by a review of the track record and standing of a company, which allows Red Herring to see past the "buzz" and make the list a valuable instrument for discovering and advocating the greatest business opportunities in the industry.

"This year was rewarding, beyond all expectations" said Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. "There are many great companies generating really innovative and disruptive products in North America. We had a very difficult time narrowing the pool and selecting the finalists. Heatworks shows great promise and therefore deserves to be among the finalists. Now we're faced with the difficult task of selecting the Top 100 winners of Red Herring North America. We know that the 2018 crop will grow into some amazing companies that are sure to make an impact."

Finalists for the 2018 edition of the Red Herring 100 North America award are selected based upon their technological innovation, management strength, market size, investor record, customer acquisition, and financial health. During the months leading up to the announcement, Red Herring reviewed over 1200 companies in the telecommunications, security, cloud, software, hardware, biotech, mobile and other industries that completed their submissions to qualify for the award.

The finalists are invited to present their winning strategies at the Red Herring North America Forum in Marina Del Rey, June 18-20, 2018. The Top 100 winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony on the evening of June 20 at the event.

Charleston Home to Small But Robust Industry of Video Game Developers

Worldwide, the video game industry makes more money than the movie and music industries combined, emerging as one of the most lucrative pursuits in the entertainment realm.

According to the Global Games Market Report, in 2016, the gaming industry raked in $99.6 billion, compared with the movie industry's $36 billion and the music industry's $15.7 billion. Read more here

Blackbaud Inaugurates New World Headquarters in South Carolina

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world's leading cloud software company powering social good, is pleased to announce that its new world headquarters on Daniel Island in South Carolina is officially open for business. Blackbaud unveiled the 172,000 square-foot state-of-the-art workplace and innovation center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony today – just over two years since the company announced plans for its construction in 2016.

Blackbaud, the world's 24th largest software company, has operated in Berkeley County, South Carolina since 2000, and is the largest publicly traded software company headquartered in the state. The company was also recently named to the Fortune 56 Companies Changing the World list. The company's eco-friendly world headquarters provides a dynamic and collaborative workplace for nearly half of its rapidly growing workforce, which operates in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

"With our new headquarters, we're making a generational investment in the very community that supported us since well before we went public 14 years ago, while also launching the world's most creative workspace to cultivate innovation at the intersection of technology and social good," said Mike Gianoni, Blackbaud President and CEO. "From dedicated labs for disruptive innovation, to modern engineering spaces, to leading-edge technology that connects our global workforce like never before, we're positioned to do what we do–-bigger, better and faster. And that's good news for all of our customers and the millions of people who use our software around the world."

The new world headquarters is also home to the new Blackbaud Innovation Center, a high-tech meeting space where customers, partners, community leaders and influencers across the social economy can convene to turn action into impact. The site will support the company's ongoing community development and corporate citizenship activities, such as Camp Blackbaud, an employee-led STEM program that teaches elementary school children how to design and code. It also ultimately will be accessible to nonprofits in need of special meeting and event space.

Blackbaud, which was recently recognized on Forbes' America's Best Midsize Employers list for the third consecutive year, announced plans in 2016 to create 300 additional high-tech jobs over five years. The company is actively recruiting new staff and expects new positions to be added as the project continues to progress. "Behind all great companies are great people, so it's our top priority to make Blackbaud a place that attracts and retains top talent in the industry," said John Mistretta, executive vice president of Human Resources. "We designed this space based on what matters most to our people, which resulted in a sustainable, LEED-certified building that promotes employee wellness and collaboration; offering perks like a healthy dining café featuring local vendors, ergonomic furniture, a game room, an outdoor activities center, and more."

To mark the celebration of its grand opening, Blackbaud made a $25,000 donation to Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center to support the new facility Dee Norton opened on the Cainhoy peninsula, a space designed to help prevent abuse, protect children and heal families. Blackbaud has a long-standing commitment to supporting organizations that work with disadvantaged youth and this partnership with Dee Norton allows the company to make a meaningful investment in its own backyard.

Blackbaud was joined by both state and Charleston-area leaders to celebrate the new building, including Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler and Director of Global Business Development, South Carolina Department of Commerce Nelson Lindsay.

The Top 10 Cities In The US For Young People

Naming the "best" city in the United States isn't easy: Everyone has their own opinion and their own ways to measure. For its 2017 rankings, real estate website Apartment List decided to look at which U.S. cities are most attractive to young people based on job opportunities, affordability and livability and Charleston, SC ranked #6 .....and a closer look at the data showed Charleston has the highest livability of the top 10 cities. Read more:

Charleston, Myrtle Beach Among Top 10 Best Small U.S. Cities, Study Says

OK, Charleston is not No. 1, at least on the latest study. But there are numerous other surveys that put the Holy City on the highest pedestal.

A new report by New York-based consulting firm Resonance places the city of horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets No. 4 on its list of Best Small Cities in the U.S. Up the coast, Myrtle Beach nabbed the No. 9 spot. Read more.

Upcoming Events

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CODEcamp Kids Summer Camp - CS Upstart

CODEcamp Kids CS Upstart is a week-long half-day camp designed for middle school students to promote an interest in computer science and tech careers while expanding on the core STEM concepts from their other classes. Students learn the fundamentals of web development (HTML, CSS and Javascript) and entry-level robotics. CODEcamp Kids CS Upstart classes:

  • Introduce middle-school students to coding & web development in a fun, engaging format
  • Help students discover a passion and potential career path in the high-wage, high-demand tech industry
  • Engage middle schoolers with several fun projects in front of their computer and has them coding from the first class
  • Introduces middle schoolers to industry professionals (2 visitors per week)

Class Format:

This course is lab-based. Students learn the fundamentals of computer science by:

  • Designing a simple web page (CSS/HTML)
  • Constructing an electromagnet
  • Building and programming a robot

Vitals:

  • Location: Charleston Digital Corridor's FS2 Incubator Mac Lab at 78 Alexander Street
  • Schedule: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 1:00pm (2 sessions)
  • Computer provided
  • Cost: $249 for the week-long program
  • Phone: 843.607.1264
  • Email: kids@chscodecamp.com
  • Social: Facebook or Twitter

3Phase: SBIR/STTR Workshop

Learn the aspects of writing a Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant including: history, eligibility, sources of funding and agency differences, understanding what reviewers look for and writing instructions. With over 50 years of technology commercialization expertise, the 3Phase team specializes in assisting entrepreneurs like you and go beyond just the technical requirements.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:

The 3Phase team understands that it takes a village to build a startup. That's why our workshop is designed for more then just the entrepreneurs, but the entire small business community, so everyone walks away from the experience more knowledgeable and armed with the necessary information for their next phase.

  • Anyone planning on submitting a proposal in the near future
  • Someone wanting to learn more
  • Small business support networks including financial managers, business managers, consultants, etc.

Learn more and register HERE.

Grassroots Design Thinking with John Murray—Design Lead, IBM

Experience Design Thinking: a framework to solve our users' problems at the speed and scale of the modern digital enterprise.

Products and services are not measured by features and functions. They're measured by how well we fulfill our users' needs. When we shift the conversation from one about features and functions to one about users and user outcomes, we deliver more useful, usable, and desirable solutions. We elevate professions and redefine industries. But most importantly, we earn the trust, respect, and repeat business of the people we serve.

While Design Thinking is traditionally taught as large workshops with all stakeholders involved, sometimes that's just not possible due to budget, availability and skepticism. John will talk us through how to start using the framework as a lone wolf or a small team by starting at the granular, grassroots level and slowly on boarding other teams by demonstrating the value. Learn how to show your company the true value of the Design Thinking process and turn naysayers into advocates. Get your tickets HERE - CDC members get a discount with code 'FS2IBM18'.