A Big Poke In The MMXVI

In our only sop to the ways and practices of the general blogging community, we now present you with a look back at the last twelve months of startup activity in the Charleston area.


The year starts with this questionable bit of journalism about three Charleston startups reaching the semifinals of a pitch competition. Of the companies listed, only Moondog seems to have any real connection to the Holy City. The other two hail from Greenville and Charlotte. Many wonder aloud if these will be the first of many out-of-towners desperate to bask in the reflected light of Silicon Harbor or an ominous sign that the tawdry rhetoric of some briny crustaceans will continue to be the highest quality tech news available.

Employee-pocketbook-snooping platform Questis closes $2.8 million in funding.  Sources have yet to surface much information, other than  a full complement of four sea-level employees and Harry Potter-themed blog entries.  Does every Charleston startup in the hiring and employee management sector get funded?

Nate ‘Dogg’ DaPore finally escapes PeopleMatter’s back yard, replaced by his stunt-double ‘Curious’ George Mackie. The Twittersphere shrugs with an annoyed glance of miscomprehension.

The Harbour Entrepreneur Centre kicks off Cohort number five with great fanfare. Will they maintain their unbroken streak of accelerating the poorly thought out from obscurity to non-existence?  From Waccamaw Sound to the Combahee River, the tension is palpable.


The 17th annual PrawnCon Soiree and Review delights attendees despite significant organizational headwinds including, but not limited to, over-cologning, Russian hacking, listing to port, and uncertainty about when and whether the event occurred.  Few will forget Tom (of Jack Russell Software)’s tearful farewell to Ruby and his scandalously thorough embrace of Javascript.  It would take four Mai Tais at the after party before we were able to to author a callback again.


StartupGrindr and The Harboring Deep Resentment Entrepreneur Centre honour local tradition by forming an incestuous partnership.  Onlookers choke back nostalgic tears as these under-supervised cousins nervously hold hands and make wistful promises to write once a week.

Waitlist Me moves its operations into the Charleston Digital Corridor to take advantage of Charleston’s world-renowned culture of hospitality. Years earlier, Waitlist Me CEO and Lorelai Gilmore ex-boyfriend Bryan Hutchins had, in fact, come up with the idea while peddling overpriced wares to tourists standing in line for meat-and-three at Jestine’s.

Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson and his crew at ROK Technologies quietly continue to make money west of the Ashley with a minimum of self-congratulatory tweets.

Dwayne The ROK Technologies at Tin Roof


Sometimes-on cloud provider Analog River announces their sponsorship of Shrimp and Bits.  Suspiciously, El Capitan and T3h Pr0wn announce a tearful farewell and leave for The Valley.

SyntaxCon launches as the tri-county area’s first real software development conference. Get a new shovel DigSouth.  Put out the fire, BarCamp.  SyntaxCon has all your vices for reasonable prices from a mix of local and national speakers – code, puns, frameworks, hashing algorithms, parsing, a moderately diverse attendee mix, and, for better or worse, no discussion of bacon or internet marketing.

The founders of local startups harborGood and Vaga were selected to attend a fancy function for lady-led companies in New York City. While they are there, they find some office space in the back of a Chinese restaurant, fix up an old hearse for transportation, and start a new company.

San Francisco startup Gritcoin moves to Silicon Harbor to take advantage of Charleston’s world-renowned culture of hospitality.  Gritcoin finds success by employing the stealth accelerator methodology, which largely consists of reading motivational quotes from Brad Kingsley’s twitter.

The Digital Corridor moves their annual i5k costume party and dance-off to North Charleston, presumably to take advantage of some kind of Federal investment incentives.


Bookkeeping-a-a-S player Ceterus (not to be confused with Questis) brings sexy back to accountancy by raising $4.2 million after a brag-able eight years of bootstrapped operations.  Their lead investor, Alerion Ventures, does early stage investment from Broad Street between trips to the Blind Tiger.

DigSouth, the region’s largest exchange of business cards and marketing experiences rolls through town like a hurricane. Their WildPitch battle royale, a nice diversion from Snapchat strategy and branding initiatives, awards the prize to entrenched peninsular do-gooders GoodDoneGreat. The Scholarship System takes home the big check among the Harboring Criminals Entrepreneur Centre Cohort #5 participants.  The text-based audience participation element would meet a lukewarm and confused reception.

Startup-as-a-Service provider Launchpeer launches Startup-as-a-Service provider Launchpeer, offering to turn your idea into an app for a fixed price of $10,000. For that kind of money, they should teach you to program in JavaScript.

Under the radar North Charleston conglomerate Vertical Holdings launches Vertical Ventures – some sort of strategy consultancy with interests in corporate acquisition and startup investment.  Taking a different tack from the Centre d’Entrepreneur d’Harbour , they set out to accelerate the non-existent from obscurity to poorly-thought out.


Ernest Andrade announces that Beaufort City Council came to him begging for help and he agreed to loan them an old shrimp boat to use as a tech business center modeled after our own armada of Flagships.  The same committee that chose the name Charleston Open Source would christen the vessel BASEcamp.

It’s a twister, it’s a twister! Acquisition, acquisition!  Having cleared up its DaPores, PeopleMatter puts on it’s best suit and sells out to the highest bidder.  The farce sensitive among us feel a billion shrugs all at once that are suddenly silenced.

The Medical University of South Carolina and The Harbor Pilots Entrepreneur Center establishes an accelerator program called PriMed for indivisible, medically-oriented companies.  Despite the general lack of news around this initiative since then, it seems to have moved forward with a respectable list of folks involved and a cadre of seven participating companies including Bionesys, CanCure, Flow MedTech, Keith Kirkwood, Neuroene Therapeutics, Southern Charm Pharmaceuticals, and Stroke Prevention Systems.

After a tense confrontation on CharlestonTechSlack, Charleston Open Source (neither open nor source) still refuses to align their brand name to their role. Civic minded developers create CharlestonTechnology.com, a website that is literally open source, allowing companies and people to add their own profiles.  To their credit, so far no man-buns have appeared in the personal profile images.

The inventor of the man bun hounded by paparazzi.


Blackbaud declares “Silicon Harbor, I am your father.” only to be ignored by millennials playing with their fondleslabs.  It acquires Attentive.ly in an attempt to regain their attention.

Charleston Women In Tech stage yet another meetup.  Their growth in numbers prompts Cap’n and Pr0wn to build a tree-fort behind FS2 with a sign that says “no gulls allowed”. The standoff lasts an hour or so and ends when Pr0wn realizes the wi-fi doesn’t extend that far outside the building.


In a flurry of tweets, press releases, and stammered declarations, Silicon Harbor makes it known that no less than twelve Silicon Harbor Companies made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies.  The tweets would soon be silenced when some genius at Ceterus points out that the dozen firms in question make up on 0.24% of the list.

TR’s JRS IC launches a coding school.  For $10K, Tom Wilson will take you from zero to junior developer, establishing yet another way to keep javascript salaries down throughout the region.  All the small web development agencies rejoice.  All of their customers cringe.

The Harbor Entrepreneur Center returns to the small screen with its 6th season. In the first episode we find John Osborne and Patrick Bryant in a late-model car luring a horde of zombies from an abandoned quarry near Alexandria.  The zombies are then broken into groups of 2 or 3 and taught how to rock some Powerpoint.

All they need is some PowerPoint lessons.


The HackerX Charleston recruiting event generates enough hype to jack downtown Charleston up above flood level. Developers lucky enough to receive the “exclusive” invites soon find out that it is the same three companies whose offers they already turned down. To top it off, the only free booze to be found was SPARC’s new overlord.


Given the success of HackerX, Shrimp and Bits launch their own matchmaking and recruiter education event  HackerY.  Despite the obvious satire and the unwieldy location, attendance was strong.

Revolve Conference returns reinvigorated to allow revelers to re-network with the circular motion of full-scale hurricane.


The #weather channel on CharlestonTechSlack takes over from its more famous namesake with the imminent arrival of Hurricane Matthew.  Old Timers recount the days of Hurricane Hugo. Newcomers wonder aloud if there are enough lanes on 526 for a full-scale evacuation.  For almost half a day no one complains about JavaScript developer salaries.  As Matthew moves up the coast, the CDC Beaufort trawler BASEcamp returns to port to discover it is the only craft to survive the deadly storm.

Learning nothing from DIG, The Harbor Entrepreneur Center and Botanical Gardens holds its Pitch to the People. Text-based voting is about as successful as you might expect and leads to a distributed denial of interest attack.


Hospitality scores again with Radtab’s win. Their solution to the problem of credit cards left behind in bars will surely ruin whatever chance Pr0wn had with that spicy little flounder waiting tables in Wild Wings.


Launchpeer adds yet another startup accelerator to the Harbor.  At this rate, every adult in Charleston will be running an accelerator, a brewery, or a yoga studio by 2020.The overall level of acceleration reaches unsafe levels.


Dynepic Wins $100,000 from the Charleston Angel Conference, after the judges misinterpret the nature of the “internet of toys”.  They are similarly confused by Apple’s “touch bar”.

The Charleston Digital Corridor Announces that $88,000 is the average tech salary in Charleston, which, while certainly an improvement, is below that of most tech hubs. Charleston Open Source quickly changes its slogan to “You could outsource anywhere. Outsource here!” but quickly reverses course after victory by @RealDonaldTrump.

Seven new dwarves move into The Flagship. They came for Charleston’s world-renowned culture of hospitality and plan to stay for our tolerance of mediocrity.

After a hard-fought battle, Capt.Lil’Bit defeats Blue Acorn HR Genius Tommye West in the Charleston Open Source Ambassador’s Cup, implying that even without the fraudulent votes he still would have won.  Eventually the couple will make up and ride away together on Lil’Bit’s motorcycle.


After visitation by a trio of ghosts, SCRAmanga makes two generous investments.  Booster is an iOS app where viewers can pay streamers in real time for doing nothing in particular and certainly not that.  Zeriscope’s telemedicine product was a long, long time in coming from a research lab far, far away and is endorsed by Annikin S. himself.  He wears it proudly as the second blinking red light from the left in his trademark collection of chest-mounted gadgetry.  They use the investment capital for product-placement in Rogue One.

CHSTech, I am your father.

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