Charleston Surpassing Other Tech Communities

Charleston, SC - Startup Market Intel Report

LaunchPad, www.lp.co

2:30pm 3/29/2016

Charleston, South Carolina – Elevator Pitch

Charleston, known as the Silicon Harbor, has a surprising number of growing tech companies across a variety of sectors powered by a workforce with “deep technical knowledge and skills” who are drawn to a “city that mixes lifestyle with culture, history, nature and business.” 

When I’m asked “Why Charleston?” for our first Launch Pad expansion, I always say “you’d be surprised at the amount of activity going on there.” For a small city of about 745,000 people in the metro area, Charleston is growing fast — the oft quoted stat is that 48 people move to the city every day.  Charleston also has a well developed tech and software economy with a number of successful ventures employing 100+ people, and at least 4 major exits in the last 5 years (see below). As with many of the rising markets that are part of the Launch Pad PITCH, the pieces in the startup ecosystem have catalyzed in the last 5 years with the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, a non-profit accelerator leading the charge with early stage startups, and a number of angel groups that have formed to capitalize on the deal flow.  Beyond Cap A Partners and visits by some regional VC’s, there is not major coverage by VC firms, similar to many of the LP:PITCH markets – but the opportunity is here, and companies are closing major funding rounds from out of town VCs.

The rhythm of the Charleston ecosystem is anchored by DIG South, the interactive festival that takes place in April (and unfortunately conflicts with Collision this year, but we’re working on that for next). Active meetup groups like 1MM Cups, Startup Grind, Hatch Tribe Women Entrepreneurs’ Hour and the Vaga coworking pop-ups keep the community connected.

2015 was a watershed year for Charleston with two major exits – PureCar and SPARC.  “Over 11,000 people in tech occupations chose to live in Charleston” according to a piece last year in the Huffington Post.

We’re excited to be part of the community and to have Questis, VAGA, and HarborGood representing Charleston at the Launch Pad PITCH April 27th in New Orleans.

It's about more than just networking. We're craving meaningful connection with fellow female business owners to navigate this crazy entrepreneurial life!Exits & Milestones

Sectors

  • Healthcare tech
  • Nonprofit tech
  • HR tech / People tech
  • Defense / Cybersecurity
  • FinTech
  • Hospitality tech
  • Heavy manufacturing
  • Biomedical
  • Food / Culinary

Notable Companies

2Active Investors

Events2

  • DIG South – April 26-28, 2016 – Stanfield Gray hosts the South’s interactive festival with 2500 attendees each spring
  • TEDxCharleston – October 19, 206 – Charleston’s 2016 theme for TEDx is “Tipping Point”
  • Charleston Angel Conference –  November 5th, 2016 – a conference for the Charleston angel investment community

Resources

2Accelerators

Code Academies

  • Iron Yard – 12 week immersive coding classes across back-end, front-end, design and mobile

Workspaces / Coworking

  • Launch Pad – workspace downtown for entrepreneurs, professionals and creatives (we’re particular to this one :) )
  • Holy City Collective – coworking and meeting space on Daniel Island
  • Harbor Coworking – 4 locations for early stage startups
  • Local Works – a nonprofit advocate for local, independent businesses
  • Flagship – incubator space for tech companies
  • InnoLabs – coworking space in Mt. Pleasant
  • Regus – 3 locations of executive suites and coworking

Blogs & Journalists

Twitter Accounts to follow

Thank you to David Mendez, Jeremy Berman, Hilary Johnson, Steve Warner and Jef Lippiatt for submitting information referenced in this post.


Leading up the the Launch Pad PITCH we’re taking a closer look at each of the markets participating to learn about the startup ecosystem in each market.  I drew the elevator pitch from the responses to the survey, so the quotes are added for direct quotes (kinda like a Zagat guide). We invited the city leader and people in each city to participate in this survey (if we missed something or you have something to add, please submit a response, we’ll keep updating these posts).