What We Do

The Beaufort Digital Corridor nurtures and promotes technology entrepreneurs. Our BASEcamp facility - located in downtown Beaufort - provides scalable office space for tech startups and coworking desks for remote workers. BDC offers networking opportunities, continuing education, and member-driven programs to help grow the tech economy in the Lowcountry.

Talent

Opportunities Abound
Tech Business Directory, Job & Talent Listings, LiveWorkMentor, CODEcamp, Game On!

Spaces

Get Working
Work Spaces, Scalable Offices, Coworking Desks, Conference Room, Event and Meeting Space

Community

Peer Networking
TECHconnect, BASEcamp Gallery, Fridays @ the Corridor, Coworking @ the Corridor, Beaufort Free Wi-fi

Capital

Accelerating Growth
Regional Tech Investors, Capital-related Education, Pitch Events, Looking to add to Investors List
STATS

Latest News

View all

Investing in Tech

On a recent Thursday night in downtown Beaufort, a few dozen people gather in a brightly lit, modern office space to talk shop.

Over drinks and appetizers of sushi and steamed dumplings they talk about what they're working on, who might be someone to connect with and, most important of all, how they can get their product or idea off the ground.

It's all part of the Beaufort Digital Corridor's TECHConnect, a monthly networking event for technology professionals to come together and meet like-minded people.

Held at what the corridor calls its BASEcamp, or the former Bank of America building at 500 Carteret Street, TECHConnect is just one of several initiatives the Beaufort Digital Corridor (BDC) has launched in recent months in an attempt to bolster not only start-up companies but Beaufort's tech community as well.

Now in its third year, the BDC is a success from the standpoint that it has filled all of its original office suites – nine to be exact – with startup companies. Ten if you're counting the corridor's own office. And now that the corridor is at maximum capacity, its leaders are looking to the future with an eye toward "graduating" these companies, or helping them go from concept or prototype, to successful tech company.

But bigger questions remain: Can the BDC, which still receives public funding, become a self-sustaining organization? And is a town the size of Beaufort capable of launching and nurturing a tech sector?

Beaufort City Councilman Stephen Murray seems to think so, and is already encouraged by what he's seeing.

"It's going really well," Murray said recently when asked about the corridor and its future. Murray, who is also a member of the BDC's board, was instrumental in bringing the idea to Beaufort and helping to get the project up and running.

Investing in an idea like the BDC is a way for the city to stabilize and grow Beaufort's economy, he said, which has had some troubling indicators in recent years.

"From 2005 to 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau says we lost about 25 percent of our 21 to 44-year-olds," he said. In addition, Beaufort had an almost 30 percent decline in per capita income for the same time period, while a home in Beaufort costs almost twice as much as the state average.

"So if our young people are leaving, people who are here are getting poorer, and the cost of living continues49029592 10217794340635154 7152404154650984448 n

to rise... does that lead to the type of community that most of us want to live in?" he asked.

What often happens in such an economy is a "brain drain" in which young professionals and those with families migrate toward parts of the country with more lucrative businesses or industries that pay higher wages, while lower paying industries or sectors are left behind, even in areas that are seemingly growing, such as Beaufort, due to an influx of retirees.

"If we acknowledge that many of the jobs that are going to pay competitive wages ... are in the (tech) areas, now is the time that we need to be making those investments in the community and planting the seed that tech and innovation can thrive in Beaufort," Murray said.

Planting the Seed

Like many great ideas, the idea to start a digital incubator of sorts in Beaufort started over drinks.

"I was drinking bourbon at Old Bull Tavern with a buddy of mine," Murray said laughing.

The two had been discussing the challenges that faced the city's economy, and what seems to be the most troubling of all for Murray, that young people were leaving his hometown in droves.

That conversation led to an introduction with the head of Charleston's Digital Corridor, Ernest Andrade, and fairly soon after, a group of Beaufort's business and economic development leaders made the trip to Charleston to see what they could learn from the Holy City's tech initiative.

Like those in Beaufort, Charleston's city leaders, including then Mayor Joe Riley, had long since come to the conclusion that the cyclical nature of the city's main industry, tourism, just wasn't going to cut it. A more diversified economy was needed if Charleston's economy was ever going to grow and thrive.

Murray said their visit to Charleston "blew them away."

"...the space they have, the level of collaboration they have among the folks in the space, the track record of success over 15 to 16 years at that point," he said, adding that their goals also aligned.

After the group returned, more conversations followed on how Beaufort might replicate Charleston's success and, more importantly, avoid the pitfalls other cities had experienced.

Digital Corridor Andrew McNeil Lowcountry Analytics

Technology incubators and accelerators were not a new concept, after all, and over the years, many had failed as has been widely documented (see Forbes, _Fast Company _or the _Washington Post _on the subject). What's more, what works in one place may not always work in another, the group's members acknowledged.

Fortunately for Beaufort, Murray and the group saw the wisdom in partnering with people who had already gone through process.

"For Beaufort to access and to have access to the Charleston entrepreneur network we thought would be a real value," Murray said.

So they asked Andrade if Beaufort could be a satellite of the Charleston Digital Corridor and Andrade agreed, loaning out his expertise, the corridor's name and logo, and even their blueprint for how to get started.

"And with Charleston only being an hour and 20 minutes away, we also saw the ability for Charleston innovators and tech folks to come to Beaufort and use Beaufort as a sort of retreat destination," Murray added.

Within about six months after Beaufort City Council gave its go ahead for the project, the digital corridor was up and running with the help of private donations and public economic development funds totaling about $250,000.

The city, which had just purchased the former bank building on Carteret mainly for its parking, Murray said, donated the space.

"It was really kind of exciting how the stars aligned," he said.

Providing Real Value

The corridor's current group of tech startups are focused on ideas and innovations in such fields as healthcare,Digital Corridor Shelley Barrett Floor

marketing or analytics, or are looking for new ways of thinking about IT or network security.

Companies, or "residents" as they are called, first become members and can then lease a plug-and-play office space with affordable and flexible terms. The BDC's BASEcamp also comes with a kitchen, conference room space, common area, and high-speed wifi of course.

Ideally the start-ups will go on to "graduate" from the corridor, or move out when they become successful companies, said Shelley Barratt, executive director for the BDC.

In addition, the BDC is partnering with area schools and colleges such as Technical College of the Lowcountry and USC Beaufort, to build the digital workforce of tomorrow, she said.

It also strives to foster the greater tech community by launching such programs as "Code Camp," a continuing education style program for busy adults who may be looking for a new career or skill, or "Live Work Mentor," a collegiate entrepreneur summer program in which college students or teams can focus on creating their own business idea.

"We're trying to fill things both ways so that we have the workers but we also have the jobs," Barratt said. "It's an interesting mix of things."

But the most important benefit residents get, Barratt said, is mentoring from the corridor's board of directors, something that's certainly been a benefit to Wave Sciences, one of the BDC's startups.

Having been members of the Charleston Digital Corridor for years, Wave Sciences became interested in the BDC for the additional expertise and "community of experts" it offered, said Karen Lucas, the company's head of administration.

The audio company, which specializes in wearable "smart garments" which help people hear better over long distances or in noisy settings like crowds or social events, had found success in government applications of its technology and was looking to make the jump into the consumer market.

Founder Keith McElveen was able to connect with the BDC's Board Chairman Kevin Klingler, who then helped McElveen with his business plan. The company also benefits from its residency in other ways.

"There's a lot of benefit from being around other companies that are doing novel things and being able to communicate with each other," Lucas said.

Digital corridors can also be a benefit to the city or region that supports them, she added. Places like Silicon Valley have succeeded in no small part because they have clustered companies together which, in turn, attracts workers.

"If you can create that in your home town, or on a smaller scale, you can benefit from the same environment those other places are benefiting from," she said. "It comes back to the exchange of ideas. You've got support there, you've got a synergy that comes when people come together in groups."

Digital Corridor Jamie Flaming 1212 Design

Melissa St. Clair agrees with Lucas.

"It's so important to be able to be around like-minded people that want to start something and grow and move forward and that you can potentially collaborate with because they are working out of the same space," she said.

A virtual assistant, St. Clair is hardly a start-up on the verge of becoming the next big tech company. She is, however, a small business woman who frequently works "in the digital space" with clients in a variety of industries from financial services to fitness.

She launched her company, Paper Chaser, in 2006, after working at the Chamber of Commerce in Jacksonville, Florida where she was inspired by the chamber's many entrepreneurs.

Most of her business comes from referrals or networking, she said, and she often works with other entrepreneurs who either don't have the time or expertise to handle a specific task or just don't want to handle the task for whatever reason.

St. Clair has taken advantage of the BDC's co-working space, another option the corridor offers as part of its "flexible workspace solutions" – perfect for digital workers like St. Clair. Those wanting to use the space can rent a semi-private desk for as little as $25 a day.

St. Clair also just attended her first TECHConnect, which she said was "buzzing" with good conversation.

"First impression was a good impression because networking is so important," she said. "And learning about all the tech related businesses was great."

Investing in the Future

Whether or not the BDC – or its startups for that matter – become successful, self-sustaining entities remains to be seen. But that is the long-term goal of the corridor, Murray says.

The city continues to support the project to the tune of $50,000 a year, though Murray said he hopes to see the private sector take on more of that role in the future.

"My hope, long term, is that as we grow the tech community, and as we grow the value of the corridor, that the private sector really sees the value and will make the investment to keep the doors open, and so overtime we can diminish the city's participation there," he said.

In the meantime, investing in tech, and helping to diversify and bolster Beaufort's economy is also important, Murray says, particularly in providing jobs and attracting and retaining families and young professionals.

He calls it an investment on a future return with the idea that successful digital companies will rent or buy space, hire people, pay taxes and in return, send money "back to the city coffers."

"In many respects it's us sort of investing in a startup, he said. "Beaufort Digital Corridor is our startup."

"The corridor is as much about planting that seed and saying we can do this, and it can be successful here with the hope that there will be buy in, and we'll start to see companies come out of it in the next couple of years," he added. "It's about setting us up and making those investments so we're successful in the new economy."

Pictured above:
TECHconnect at the Beaufort Digital Corridor
City Councilman Stephen Murray
Andrew McNeil, Lowcountry Analytics
BDC Executive Director Shelley Barratt 
Jamie Fleming, 1212 Design

Beaufort Economic Development Video

The Beaufort Digital Corridor is proud to be part of Beaufort, South Carolina economic development. So many reasons to do business in Beaufort! Check out the Economic Development Video by the City of Beaufort HERE.

The City of Beaufort had the vision to understand technology's role in the region's future. We live in a special place, indeed.

Our role is to facilitate technology-related efforts, especially with tech startups. Do you have a technology business idea? We can help you.

Are you a tech company wanting to be part of the solution? Become a member and join the conversation.  Whether you are a remote worker, an entrepreneur, a techie, or a novice, there's bound to be something for you at the Digital Corridor.

Member Highlight: The Mombo Company

A former BASEcamp resident and healthcare technology worker caught the entrepreneurial bug while working around the other tech companies at the Beaufort Digital Corridor and created an online store and blog geared towards moms who run.

This telemedicine doc may know a thing or two about running- check out her online store at The Mombo Company with choice items for mom: running shirts, wicking t-shirts and tanks, visors and more. It's the message that counts.

Mommy Get Run

Member Highlight: InterDev

We are proud to have InterDev as a Beaufort Digital Corridor member and sponsor.

Technology solved. InterDev has the experience to make technology work for you. They partner with small to medium businesses to give you the best value for your technology dollar and to continuously improve effectiveness while striving to simplify the use of technology. Among other things:

  • never worry about your servers, network, or workstations again
  • maximize shrinking budgets and pay for no more help than you need
  • gain control of the GIS beast and realize its extraordinary potential
  • avoid catastrophic damage to your business, reputation, and bottom line

And, did you know that InterDev is involved in the Beaufort community? Not only do they support our coding classes for children and adults, they also hire locally. Some of our best IT folks are TCL graduates that work for InterDev.

Beyond their principal role as strategic provider of Managed IT and Security Services, InterDev is well-known as a champion of IT visioning and innovation for growing businesses and government agencies – a role they perfected over nearly four decades. In addition to managing and hosting IT operations for a wide range of valued clients, InterDev also provides location-based services – aerial (drone) mapping and MosaicGIS™, its Esri-based cloud GIS platform – as well as VoIP telecommunications services and circuit solutions and leading-edge IT security solutions from globally recognized vendors. Business units within InterDev include Local Government, IT Services, Security, Geographic Information Services (GIS), Product Sales and Project Management. Its specialists deliver services to businesses and municipalities throughout the Southeast and Midwest from their offices in Atlanta, Beaufort (SC) and Chicago. Learn more at www.interdev.com.

Beaufort Digital Corridor on 843TV Episode 2, October 23, 2019

Our second episode of 843TV at BASEcamp revolves around the Beaufort Digital Corridor (BDC)-University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) partnership. In the first segment, Dr. Robert LeFavi, BDC Board Member and the Dean of USCB Beaufort Campus talks about the importance of developing entrepreneurs- in our colleges and in the community.

The second segment features BASEcamp residents Jamie Fleming with 1212 Design and Nate Schaub with Mindflint talk with Candace Brasseur, USCB Communications Director about the USCB website makeover project.

In the last segment, BDC Executive Director Shelley Barratt talks with 843TV's Kathryn and Lisa about Fall happenings at BASEcamp, including CODEcamp- instructed by a USCB computer science student.

Jess O'Brien: Leading Creative Teams

Jess O'Brien is Secretary & Treasurer of the Beaufort Digital Board of Directors and is an experienced Digital Marketing and Advertising professional with a proven track record of leading creative teams and projects to success. Living in the Lowcountry since 2014, her experience working with start-ups, mid-sized and large corporations garnishes her the understanding to meet client visions in today's ever scaling tech scene. While her career has spanned across the southeast, Jess is proud to now call Beaufort, SC home.

Where did you grow up and what was life like?

I grew up in Valdosta, GA which is a smaller military town, much like Beaufort, on the Georgia-Florida border. It was a great place to grow up with a supportive community that embraced creativity. I was involved with the local theatre. Though my dad was in the Air Force, he worked and retired there so I didn't have a traditional military-kid upbringing; I was there until I left for college at the University of Georgia.

How did you come to be in Beaufort?

I'm a long-time avid reader, and some of the books I read painted a picture of Beaufort as a wonderful, beautiful place- Pat Conroy, Nicholas Sparks... and it was always a place I wanted to visit to paint those scenes. We sojourned in 2008 and fell in love with the scenery, but the job market wasn't here. We were fresh out of college looking for opportunities, so we went back to Atlanta, my husband's hometown, and got our first jobs there.

We always had Beaufort in the back of our minds, however. So, when we were in a situation where we could make a move, we decided on the Lowcountry and Charleston at that point had the job market for us. We moved to Charleston, still thinking of Beaufort as a dream option, and when the opportunity arose to work from home, we jumped at it and came to Beaufort right away!

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

I worked a lot of retail in college- at Yankee Candle Co. and Bath & Body Works, quickly gaining trust and holding keyholder positions. Some of my biggest lessons came from customer service and learning how to treat everyone with decency and respect. One Black Friday I was the only employee for several hours starting at four o'clock in the morning. The store had a rush, and there was a line of customers wrapped all the way around. I was trying to do everything: check people out, answer phones, and I missed one phone call. That angry customer came in, and I was able to turn the situation around by listening to someone's concerns, making them feel validated, and figuring out a way to solve a problem creatively. Problem-solution management was a great trade I learned in retail.

Would you say you have an entrepreneurial drive? Early on, or through experiences?

Very early on! I wanted to work the second I was allowed to. My parents didn't require me to work to "earn my keep", but I wanted to. I found out you could get a work permit at the age of fifteen, so the moment I turned fifteen, I started working.

I've always been the first to adopt new industry trends and try out new tools to figure out how to make something better and more sustainable. I didn't choose a path in Advertising, it chose me.

Can you tell us about working remotely, its pros and cons?

It's all pros for me. Working from home allows you the opportunity to accomplish your workload while allowing flexibility for weekday errands, personal goal achievement and family time. Setting your own schedule allows time for attending skills workshops, entrepreneur luncheons and networking events that you may not have the ability to attend if you were stuck at a desk from nine to five or couldn't get away from your email for a minute.

It gives you the opportunity to create more. Ever since our company switched from full time working at the office to remote work for the whole company, we've seen a complete uptick in productivity and longevity of employees staying with the company. They feel like it's more rewarding because they have the freedom to schedule with a doctor appointment or contractor at the house, and it makes it a lot harder to leave something like that. If you have a strong desire to succeed and are self-motivated, working from home is a great fit!

What does your company do and what drew you to it?

The company I work for is ClickGiant, a content-centric digital marketing company that builds high-quality web traffic for clients through blogging, SEO, remarketing, display ads, and web design. As a creative individual, it was interesting to learn how much research, thought, and strategy goes into developing these specific content pieces that drive visitors to websites. Without having prior knowledge of the tools that drive industry influence to those avenues, it was interesting to learn all of the different ways you use data to learn how people are using your site and how to optimize your website to get conversions for the exact type of person that is searching for your product or service.

There is always something new to learn. Google updates its algorithm all the time, so you have to stay on top of potentially impactful changes. It could seem intimidating at first, but it's actually exciting; it keeps you on your toes.

What is your marketing style? Why is that your approach? Has it changed over time?

Originally my marketing style was storytelling with long, drawn-out detailed explanations. But as I've grown into the field, my emphasis has shifted more into the user experience side. While a subject might be interesting, it also needs to get to the point. While content is still considerably important for driving traffic to a website, users will need to be able to find what they are looking for quickly, or else they'll bounce. Having clean navigation, clear CTAs (Call to Actions) and one-click Call or Email forms will help users convert to customers at a higher rate.

What lessons have you learned from bosses?

My first boss out of college was an amazing woman who worked at an agency prior to the corporate world. Her individual drive and work ethic, putting thought and attention into every single detail and campaign, helped me see what you can create when you create with intention. It's so easy as an entrepreneur to have several projects going on at the same time. Setting your intention on a clear goal and map out the journey to achieve it.

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

An important lesson I've learned is to not beat yourself up. As a woman in tech and a creative, there's a lot of heart and passion that goes into the work I do. Sometimes you give 120% to a project just for it to be scrapped. You have to learn to not take things personally and know that every step back isn't necessarily a step in the wrong direction.

Another is it's okay to manage your team with heart, they are your work-family after all! It's not ideal for anyone to feel like a robot cranking out one project after the next. Acknowledging the hard work others are doing and rewarding them for their efforts can make all the difference.

Do you have a morning routine? How do you start and end your day?

Every day we start with a thirty-minute nature walk around the neighborhood to set my intentions for the day. It's a peaceful way to start the morning but is usually followed by a cup of coffee for an extra pick-me-up.

What do you look for in the people you work with and/or hire?

A positive attitude is number one! Skills can be taught/learned. I would rather hire someone straight out of college that has no experience, or a mid-career person who is looking to go a different route if they have an innate drive to want to learn versus someone who thinks they know it all.

What is your biggest pet peeve in business or amongst colleagues?

Lack of communication and procrastination. I've seen this a lot with interns. They'll receive an email with a project task and deadline, but not respond to the person who sent it until midnight the day before the project is due. Their response usually includes questions about the original assignment at hand, meaning they haven't even started working on it. Talk about a nail biter! An unnecessary stressor that could have been avoided by reading and replying to emails in a timely manner.

What advice would you give aspiring digital creatives?

Find a mentor. Mentorship can come in many forms. It doesn't have to be a person you meet with face-to-face. If you don't have an eligible mentor you can establish a relationship with, you can find mentorship in books and blogs related to your industry or one that you are interested in pursuing. Some of the best advice I've been given is from former Google employees and Fortune 500 CEOs, and I didn't even have to leave the comfort of my home to get it.

What do you see as the future of digital marketing?

As computer-assisted AI grows in popularity, I believe we'll see a lot more virtual shopping assistants, robo-chats and maybe even predictive purchase subscriptions.

What inspires you?

Seeing what new ideas or innovations those younger than me are producing motivates me to keep up with them. It's interesting to think that the kids graduating middle and high schools now may have jobs that haven't been created yet by the year 2030.

I'm also inspired when I'm told something can't be done. This challenges me to find a way it can be done.

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

I'm more inclined to Mac products because it is a really easy user experience for me.

What's a book you always recommend?

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis, author and entrepreneur, teaches you to go after your passions and any excuse you have, whether it's not enough time or not knowing what your direction is, there's an answer for everything. The other book I highly recommend is Pivot by Jenny Blake for people who are mid-career, with tools for those looking to do a complete one-eighty by using your strengths and weaknesses.

What is your usual Starbucks (or other restaurant/pub) order?

Cappuccino gelato at Common Ground.

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

Spending time with family, being a cat mom, teaching yoga, and being a roadie for my husband's band Twenty-Seven Degrees.

Wave Sciences Announces Two Patents

The US Patent and Trademark Office has informed Wave that it is issuing two patents for its novel, mechanical approach to helping smart speakers hear better in noisy conditions. The invention drew inspiration from the acoustic mirrors carved into England's White Cliffs of Dover during the early days of World War II. Microphones were placed on a shelf below the acoustic mirrors, which were half-parabolas, to hear approaching German bombers from across the English Channel and sound the alarm. Warping the half-parabola shape of the Cliffs into a ring and then engineering the curvature and other dimensions appropriately to focus sound on a ring-shaped array of microphones led to a structure that helps popular smart speakers (you know the ones) work better in noise and from further away. And they also help the speakers sound better too!

More on Wave Sciences HERE.

Upcoming Events

View all

CODEcamp Beaufort - Fall 2019

*Please note new dates* Registration open now for eight weeks of CODEcamp - Intro to Web Development course, Saturdays from 10:00am-1:00pm.

  1. Oct 12
  2. Oct 19
  3. Oct 26
  4. Nov 2 (no class on the 9th)
  5. Nov 16
  6. Nov 23 (no class on the 30th)
  7. Dec 7
  8. Dec 14

Read more HERE about our fourth (and last for a while!) offering of Intro to Web Dev, its USCB ties, and how BASEcamp is a partner site for SC Codes.

This is a BYOL (bring your own laptop) event!

TECHconnect

TECHconnect is a monthly networking event held at BASEcamp for professionals working in and around technology with the goal of creating and advancing our local tech economy. Come and join the conversation!

Please RSVP to info@beaufortdigital.com

Converge: The 2020 Lowcountry Economic Development Summit

We're excited to be working with the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation on an event called Converge: The 2020 Lowcountry Economic Development Summit coming up on January 17th.

This is a great opportunity to connect with other local leaders as we share what is happening throughout our region, discuss how best to achieve smart, balanced growth while caring for the things that make the Lowcountry so special, and collaborate together to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.

It's free to attend, but there are a limited number of seats available, so register now at: https://converge2020.eventbrite.com

Click HERE for sponsorship opportunities.