From Tech to Food & Bev, These Are the Newest Startups Accelerating in Charleston

The Harbor Accelerator Program is fostering the newest scalable startups in Charleston, South Carolina this fall.

Now in its third year, the 14-week accelerator connects Southeastern startups to mentorship, weekly classes, free co-working space, investor introductions and pitch opportunities. Three notable past participants who each won DIG SOUTH’s Wild Pitch competition include female-founded IoT startup Dynepic, Scholarship System, and fundraising startup Bidr, who also won $100K in Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest tour in 2015.

Their eighth and most recent Cohort includes everything from a sustainable brick company to a web app for the legal industry. We recently caught up with several of the Harbor entrepreneurs; here, they share why they started, what they’re focused on now, and how folks like us can help them grow.

 

Andy Seavers, Co-Founder and CEO of Taste

What motivated you to start your company?

My co-founders (Zac Dixon and Sam Cowden) and I were tired of sifting through website reviews and ambiguous star ratings to help us decide where we should go eat. Every restaurant has such a mix of reviews online, some people love it and other hate it – it gets confusing and takes too much time to decide on a place to go, especially when you’re hungry. We found that negative reviews ended up convincing us to not go somewhere, even when it might be the best place for the experience we were looking for or the food we were craving. We wanted a way to find the truly best places, so we created Taste, an iPhone app that helps people find the best local places to eat and drink. Instead of sorting through countless reviews on traditional review sites, Taste let’s you find the best of whatever you’re craving, wherever you are.

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch & grow your business?

Charleston is a great community of people, and the folks here are especially excited about innovation – and excited about food. It’s a great foodie town with amazing restaurants. Before Charleston, I lived in Nashville and experienced so many great restaurants there, too. Seeing people pick tourist traps in these amazing cities over the best local spots helped drive the passion behind Taste, and Charleston was a perfect launchpad.

What are you hoping to learn during the accelerator?

I’m hoping that the knowledge and resources of my cohorts (pun intended) and mentors will help not only validate Taste’s business model, but make the app even better. We see Taste as the go-to app for finding local favorites, whether you are a newcomer to a city, are traveling, or you live in that city and just want to find something new – the accelerator can help us get that message out.

How can the community help?

Download the app and spread the word! Taste is more fun with friends. Something unique about the app compared to other review sites, besides the elimination of actual 1-5 star reviews and the implementation of “favorites,” is that you can compare your favorites with friends and see what they’re currently loving.

Terry Peterson, Co-Founder and CEO of Envies Flavor Shot

What motivated you to start your company?

The concept for Envies came to my wife and I during a date night at a bowling alley that had a very limited drink selection.  Just like Crystal Light and Mios can improve the taste of water and are convenient to carry, we thought there should be something similar for adult beverages that convenient and not full of sugars or unhealthy ingredients as are most cocktail mixers.

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch & grow your business?

There couldn’t be a better city than Charleston to launch a Food & Bev related product.  The history, the events, and the social atmosphere is the perfect combination to test and grow ideas.  We relocated to Charleston from Columbia 3 years ago while running our jewelry manufacturing start-up, which had a strong Southern retail base.  There is definitely a swell of entrepreneurship along with a great support network in Charleston that you don’t find as readily elsewhere.

What are you hoping to learn during the accelerator?  

While we have experience designing great products at good profit margins, reaching a sustainable mass audience in the our industry has proven the most challenging in the growth of Envies.  It takes a combination of brand awareness by our customers, a retail footprint where the product can be found (in stores, online, or behind a bar), and smart manufacturing to generate a profitable business. We’re hoping for the Harbor Accelerator to help us tie all those pieces together into Envies becoming a known, staple brand.

How can the community help?

Request a sample of Envies from us on our website, or grab a bottle off Amazon.  We want everyone to try Envies and we want everyone to give us their feedback.  Take Envies with you tailgating, to a cookout, stocked as part of your bar at home.  Even better, post a review for us on Amazon or Facebook; share your favorite drink combination on Instagram.

 

Lauren Sturdivant, CEO/Founder of Case Status

What motivated you to start your company?

I am an attorney licensed in SC and Ohio, and the one pain point that has been clear (in every area of law that I have practiced) is the disconnect between attorneys and their clients.  Clients are often going through difficult points in their lives and often times do not understand what is going on in their case.  On the other end, attorneys are generally very busy and often times do not have the time needed to update clients on a frequent basis.  This leads to distrust in the attorney/client relationship.  I made it my mission to solve this problem by improving the communication between attorneys and clients, while helping attorneys save an immense amount of time.  Case Status achieves these goals, and is already helping law firms across the country.  

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch & grow your business?  

Charleston is an exciting place to be when it comes to tech.  It not only has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle, but it holds a lot of great talent. I have met several entrepreneurs in Charleston that are doing great things. I believe that they possess the grit and tenacity that it takes to build amazing companies. My prediction is Charleston will continue to grow as a tech hub in the years to come.

What are you hoping to learn/achieve/create during the accelerator?

I am hoping to “accelerate” Case Status’ growth and get it into the hands of law firms across the world. I plan to utilize the advice and mentorship I receive from the accelerator to achieve this goal.

How can the community help?

The Charleston community can help our team by spreading the word about Case Status.  I hope law firms will contact me to learn more about Case Status and what we can do to help their law firm achieve growth goals, make more money, and reduce stress for their attorneys, staff, and clients. Our goal is to improve the practice of law, and we are not going to stop until we achieve our goal.

 

Jeff Swank, Founder of Brass

What motivated you to start your company?

I used to be in software sales, and realized the evaluation process was extremely time consuming for the buyer. So instead of selling people software, I decided to help them buy. There are hundreds of vendors for sales and marketing software alone, causing a lot of confusion. Currently, buyers are starting their selection process by going to review sites and sifting through outdated and conflicting opinions. Brass simplifies the software evaluation process by asking questions about what the buyer actually cares about and needs, while immediately generating unbiased, expert driven purchase recommendations, for free.

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch & grow your business?  

I graduated from CofC and lived here for 10 years before taking a job in Boston in 2013. I could’ve launched Brass anywhere, but chose to move back to Charleston and open up shop in the place I call home. Since moving back, I have met so many successful entrepreneurs, professionals, and creatives who are always eager to lend a hand. The support system for start-ups here is amazing.

What are you hoping to learn/achieve/create during the accelerator?

The goal for Brass is to become the unbiased authority on software. We joined the accelerator to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and receive guidance on building a scalable business model from mentors.

How can the community help?

The community can help by going to Brass before you buy software. If you are using some sort of sales or marketing software and love it, we want to hear why. We are always interviewing customers and reviewing products to keep a strong pulse on the categories we make recommendations for.

 

Barbara Fox, Co-Founder of AWaiver

What motivated you to start your company?

Necessity is the mother of invention.  In 2008, we needed software to run our tour boat, Thriller Charleston, and Mark didn’t like any of the reservation systems on the market so he wrote his own. We told some of our friends in the tour industry about it and they asked to use it and a business was born. We later were asked to incorporate e-waivers into our software by our clients. Mark worked on various methodologies for an e-waiver and in 2015, the technology finally caught up with his vision and AWaiver was developed and launched.

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch & grow your business?  

With our background in the watersports industry, being in Charleston and in the South is very advantageous for us.  We have quick access to thousands of potential clients just a few hours away.

What are you hoping to learn/achieve/create during the accelerator?

During our time in Cohort 8, we hope to gain some direction as to how best to grow our business. We are looking for some guidance on gaining efficiencies with our current methods and ways to improve how we do things.  With being only a two-person company, we don’t have any time to waste on unnecessary activities and we can become unfocused on the end goal.

How can the community help?

We need to do a better job of getting our name recognized in the local community.  We are so busy working in our office that we forget the value of networking and building local relationships.  So, we would like to build stronger relationships with the community.

 

Tony Berry & Jordan Berry, Co-Founders of Interloop

What motivated you to start your company?

A chance to create a solution to a problem that we (and others) had struggled with using new technologies like Artificial Intelligence.  

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch & grow your business?  

Having lived in SC for years we wanted to stay in state and witnessed a great entrepreneurial spirit in Charleston while attending DIG SOUTH last year.

What are you hoping to learn/achieve/create during the accelerator?  

We’re looking forward to learning how to best build our business.  

How can the community help?

We are actively looking for innovative customers that want more accurate sales forecasts and to enable their sales teams close more business.

 

Joshua Weston, Founder of Green Blox

What motivated you to start your company?

I always knew that I wanted to start my own company, it was just a matter of discovering an idea that I was extremely excited and passionate about. I was in the military for six years and travelled to 54 countries. Many of those countries are much less fortunate than we are in the US and are constantly battling issues including pollution, hunger, and homelessness. After the military, I enrolled in college to study Business and Entrepreneurship, and was fortunate enough to take a class entitled Ecopreneurship, which revolved around the concept of making a profit while making a difference. This is where the concept of Green Blox really started to take shape, discovering how I can create a successful and lucrative business while also helping the world to be a better place for all.

Why is Charleston (and the South in general) a great place to launch and grow my business?

Since moving to Charleston in 2007, the region has been growing rapidly, much of which I attribute to new businesses in the area. The entrepreneur spirit is alive and well in the lowcountry, and the support system around the entrepreneur community is unbelievable in this area. If I ever have questions, concerns, or issues with any component of Green Blox, there are plenty of people willing to lend a helping hand. This support system is crucial in launching and growing Green Blox into a well known, well established company.

What are you hoping to learn during the accelerator?

During the accelerator, I am hoping to gain a clear sense of direction for Green Blox and to learn the steps needed to grow into a viable global company. I am looking forward to working with mentors and specialty experts who have already been down the same path and can help me take Green Blox to the next level.

How can the community help?

The community can help by providing their personal feedback and explaining how they would use Green Blox. We look forward to hearing from people from many different backgrounds!

Click here to learn more about the Harbor Accelerator Cohort 8 startups, and make sure to snag your tickets to DIG SOUTH 2018 — you may see several of these folks up on stage! 

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