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Flagship's Community Learning Center
FEATURED NEWS

Charleston Digital Corridor Launches CDCu Education Initiative At New Flagship

In conjunction with the opening of the Flagship @ the Charleston Tech Center, the Charleston Digital Corridor has developed a tech-focused community learning center and is consolidating its previous talent and education offerings under a single brand – The Charleston Digital Corridor University or CDCu.

CDCu is a series of business seminars, technical workshops and talks presented by Charleston-area experts and tech entrepreneurs. CDCu will be hosted at the Flagship @ Charleston Tech Center. Each education offering is focused on practical and immediately actionable topics in three series: Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship.

All CDCu offerings are tailored toward small businesses and local professionals in the region and are vetted by a curriculum review/advisory team of proven leaders with a passion for education.

"So much in business is about getting the right advice and working with the right partners. Being able to network with and learn from other successful companies and founders is what excites me most about CDCu", said Jonathan Yantis, QuicksortRx Co-founder and CEO.

"The newly launched Flagship is the ideal place to host our expanded education offerings. The tremendous depth of experience and knowledge within Charleston's tech community deserves to be shared to help drive and accelerate the formation and success of new tech businesses" said Ernest Andrade, Digital Corridor Director.

CDCu in-person classes are scheduled to start June 16, 2021. Scholarships will be available to under-represented attendees. Learn more or register for a class HERE.

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

Blackbaud Spotlight

We are pleased to spotlight Blackbaud, whose main goal is driving impact for social good organizations.

  • Company Founded - 1981
  • Chief Executive - Mike Gianoni
  • Total number of employees - 3400+
  • Fun fact - 89% of Blackbaud employees either volunteered or served on a nonprofit board over the past year
  • Blackbaud Career Opportunities
Denture Care Shop Co-founders,  Steven Kleiman and Adam Bielsky

Local Startup Reimagines Dentures With 3D Printing, Digital Dentistry

A Charleston-area startup is using digital scanning, 3D-printing technology and a tele-health dentistry platform to make high-quality dentures significantly more affordable, convenient and faster than traditional methods. "The traditional way of getting dentures is just extremely broken," said Denture Care Shop COO Selena Martin. Read more:

Denture Care Shop - first retail location

Denture Care Shop Launched To Revolutionize The Denture Industry

Denture Care Shop, headquartered in Charleston, is revolutionizing the denture industry by using advanced dental technology and a first of its kind digital dentistry platform to make replacement dentures more accessible and affordable than ever.

The first Denture Care Shop location officially opened at 6185 Rivers Avenue in North Charleston, South Carolina this April, and expects to grow rapidly in the coming year. Using digital scanning and 3D-printing technology, Denture Care Shop allows dentists to offer replacement full dentures for $199 to $299 per plate. After a 45-minute appointment, the new dentures are ready in 3 days.

Denture Care Shop is open to the public and provides free consultations to individuals interested in replacement dentures. Denture Care Shop also partners with senior care facilities to provide on-site free digital scans of existing dentures so that replacing lost, broken, or old dentures is a phone call away.

"The traditional method of replacing full dentures is broken," said Adam Bielsky, Co-Founder of DentureCare, LLC. "The challenges of getting new dentures are staggering – due to cost (up to $1,500 or more on avg per plate), inconvenience (4+ visits), wait times (5 - 8 weeks) and the fear of unnecessary procedures. We knew we had to create a solution that allows dentists to make the process more convenient, accessible and affordable for patients."

Edentulism, the condition of having no natural teeth, affects 36 million people¹ in the United States and disproportionately impacts lower-income and elderly populations. In South Carolina, it affects 17% of the 65+ year-old population², or more than 80,000 people. Thousands of people in our community suffer with ill-fitting, old, broken, or lost dentures, which poses secondary health risks, like gastrointestinal issues and chronic inflammation³.

"Since April 1, the first Denture Care Shop has served over 100 individuals and delivered over 135 new replacement dentures, and we're ecstatic about how happy customers have been. There have been a lot of happy tears and hugs", says Steven Kleiman, Co-Founder of DentureCare, LLC. "We know that addressing this problem will have a big impact on our community. The demand for a more affordable, convenient, and accessible dentures is massive."

Elizabeth Williams of Holly Hill, South Carolina says, "I suffered with uncomfortable temporary dentures for 5 years because the cost for permanent ones were over $1,500. Denture Care Shop welcomed me and gave me beautiful new dentures for $299 and not a penny more. I can't stop smiling!"

Citations

¹ American College of Prosthodontists. "Facts & Figures". Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.gotoapro.org/facts-figures/

² Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "Oral Health Data." 2018. https://nccd.cdc.gov/oralhealthdata/rdPage.aspx?rdReport=DOH_DATA.ExploreByTopic&islYear=2018&islTopic=ADT&go=GO

³ Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report". May 29, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6921a1.htm

Google Expands Wi-Fi Support At Charleston City Parks

The Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation is pleased to announce a partnership with Google to add free Wi-Fi access for six additional City of Charleston public parks including Colonial Lake, Corrine Jones, Harmon Field, Hampton Park, Mitchell Playground, and Magnolia Park & garden. As Google furthers their commitment to improve community internet accessibility, the public can now access free Wi-Fi at nine city parks.

Google's support for Wi-Fi in public gathering places began in 2012 with the installation of Wi-Fi at Marion Square in Downtown Charleston - a prominent venue for larger events as well as a gathering place for residents in the Charleston metropolitan area.

"We're delighted to be able to expand our investment in this impactful community service in partnership with the Charleston Digital Corridor," said Lilyn Hester, Google Head of Southeast Public Affairs. "Free Wi-Fi in Charleston's public parks is a key ingredient in promoting community access to the internet and demonstrates Charleston's ever-growing reputation as a technology hub in the region."

"Google has been a tremendously consistent and valuable supporter for so many of our programs and events for over a decade," said Ernest Andrade, Charleston Digital Corridor Director. "We're so appreciative of their expanded commitment to support all the existing free Wi-Fi parks. Additional parks are also being scouted to bring free Wi-Fi to even more locations around the city."

Since 2009, Google has given more than $2 million to nonprofits and schools in South Carolina. Google has donated more than $450,000 for free Wi-Fi networks in Goose Creek, Moncks Corner ballfield, downtown Summerville, Cypress Gardens, Charleston's Waterfront Park, Marion Square, and White Point Garden.

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.

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:

Upcoming Classes & Events

CDCu CLASS
June 23, 2021, 9:00am

Modern Web Dev with SvelteJS

Presented by Tom Wilson

Learn the basics of modern web development using SvelteJS. Svelte is a web framework that provides both a great developer experience and a great user experience. Modern web development can be complex and challenging. The ecosystem continues to grow and offers many solutions to focus on the same problems.

STATS