Video: a look at Charlotte’s technology & startup community
Posted on 4 May 2012 by Jarvis Holliday
Special thanks to Charlotte in 2012, whose support make this and other posts on CLT Blog possible.
Charlotte gets compared often to other cities. Usually the person making the comparison is focusing on quality of life, cultural or entertainment amenities, or specific industries. Charlotte isn’t as exciting as Atlanta, some say. Thank God Charlotte doesn’t have the traffic of Atlanta, others say. I wish my city was as clean as Charlotte, or my downtown looked like this; and so on.
I’ve always felt it’s unfair and unnecessary to compare two cities, unless you’re talking about their sports teams—that’s one of the only ways two cities can actually compete. Otherwise, if you don’t like where you live, move. And lots of people have moved to Charlotte. From 2000 to 2010, the Charlotte area was the fastest growing urbanized area with a population of 1 million or more, increasing by 64.6 percent, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census.
To showcase why it’s so great to live in Charlotte and the Carolinas, the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee has been releasing videos in a series it calls Carolina Stories. The Host Committee, whose mission is to promote the city in preparation for the Democratic National Convention, started the video series two months ago and is releasing new videos each week leading up to the September event.
CLT Blog has been commissioned to produce some of the videos, and the first one we’ve done debuts today. This two-minute video highlights Charlotte’s technology sector and startup community.
We visited Josh Oakhurst, creative director at Skookum Digital Works, at the company’s Uptown office. Skookum builds and packages mobile apps, webapps, and custom software for companies around the country. The day we dropped in, Skookum was hosting its biweekly tech talk, where it invites tech professionals in for lunch and a presentation by one of their colleagues.
We sat down with Paul Solitario, managing partner at Cerium Capital, president and founder of Charlotte Regional Technology Executives Council, and founder of Wed3, Inc., an angel investor-networking group. He’s been instrumental in pairing venture capitalists and angel investors with tech companies and startups. There’s a lot of money in Charlotte, and access to capital is the key to success for startups.
We also ventured over to The Ben Craig Center in University City, where Paul Wetenhall, the center’s president, took us on a tour of the facility and discussed the work they do. The nonprofit organization supports startups and early-stage entrepreneurs through its business incubator and by providing office space and other services in its 50,000-square-foot building. The Ben Craig Center currently houses more than 20 companies, including tech startups. We were able to peek into the offices of Appian International Research, which provides consulting and operational support in pharmaceutical product development; and Calyptix Security which provides Internet security to businesses through a device it developed.
As you can see, there are plenty of factors at play that are pushing Charlotte’s tech community forward. This weekend, coincidentally, is Charlotte Startup Weekend. During this annual event, taking place May 4–6 at Packard Place, developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts are coming together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups.
Charlotte isn’t the next Silicon Valley—no city is, so why compare it? But the tech community here has grown tremendously, fueled by innovative startup companies, talented developers, and generous investors.