Digital access / Startups

3 ways newcomers are transforming Charlotte’s startup community

These North Carolina tech projects are worth keeping an eye on.

Downtown Charlotte at night. (Photo by Flickr user James Willamor, used under a Creative Commons license)

While cities like New York and San Francisco remain heralded as the gateways for both tech talent and innovative billion-dollar companies, startup culture in smaller cities like Charlotte, N.C., continues to take flight. Young professionals are flocking to the southern city to take advantage of the affordable living and progressive business environment, while simultaneously launching tech companies to solve big problems.

Check out three ways in which newcomers are transforming the Queen City’s growing tech scene:

1. They are solving problems by addressing the digital divide

Charlotte is working hard to increase access to the internet and technology in underserved communities. A study by Queens University revealed that 19 percent of local residents do not have internet access.

Enter David Jessup, founder and CEO of Digi-Bridge, a nonprofit digital development coursework consultant for local schools district.

Hailing from Miami where he managed a one-to-one school laptop program, Jessup brought his passion for education and technology to Charlotte, launching Digi-Bridge in early 2014.

“I bring all of myself to this work everyday, standing with the belief that every school-aged child should have access to 21st-century teaching and learning tools both in and out of the classroom,” said Jessup.

2. They are cultivating a talent pipeline to increase participation

Betsy Hauser Idilbi and Richard Simms met at a coding bootcamp in Chicago seeking to play a role in the high-growth tech industry. Both had successful entrepreneurial endeavors in Charlotte and Atlanta, and after sharing a positive experience in their bootcamp, asked themselves, “Why the heck don’t these opportunities exist in the South?”

In 2013, the partners launched Tech Talent South with the mission to grow and empower local technical talent in the south. The coding bootcamp offers full and part-time immersion programs in Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Dallas, New Orleans and more.

“We place a great deal of importance on connecting our students with the tech community,” said Idilbi, who also mentioned that successful local companies have taken students on tours and local developers have lectured at the school.

To date, the company has graduated over 1,000 students from its programs.

3. They are building local support while sourcing national resources

Brandon Terrell, a native of Montgomery, Ala., left a cushy marketing job in pursuit of starting and launching his own business. Upon graduating from Charlotte business incubator City Startup Labs, Terrell launched NomADic Technologies, an advertising platform that provides intelligent metrics to brands that advertise offline.

Since launching his company, Terrell has won several business pitch competitions at tech conferences across the country from New York to San Francisco, garnering additional visibility and funding for his startup.

“There’s a lot of local development happening in Charlotte and throughout the course of my startup journey, I’ve been able to tap into the wealth of advisor circles that are helping me to move the needle,” he said.

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