On the heels of the famed SXSW, Charleston hosted Dig South, the Southeast’s first and only interactive festival exploring the digital economy. The festival blended work + play for more than 3,000 attendees looking to engage with the brightest minds and ideas in the tech world, with a technology + creative industry expo, panel discussions, elite presentations, concerts and after-parties.
Described as an excellent model “Beyond SXSW” by Inc. Magazine, the festival offered an alternative to conferences often fixated around one profession like software development, marketing, mobile apps or social media, and instead allowed professionals from all walks of the digital realm to mix, mingle and formulate new solutions for the digital economy. All of which transpired while taking in the flavors of Charleston, currently ranked by Condé Nast Traveler as the top destination on the planet.
Dig South attracted both young and veteran tech pros. From small one-man startups, to Fortune 100 companies like CNN, Twitter and Facebook, today’s emerging leaders were visibly present. And if the inaugural festival is any indication of what’s to come at the Southeast’s gathering of the brightest minds, we advise listening in and preordering for next year. Here are a few top reasons to keep a close eye on Charleston’s tech scene:
- Dig South’s take on the “Digital Economy”: The broad focus on the future of the“Digital Economy,” meant that marketers and developers could collaborate to apply new approaches to solving industry challenges. For example, on a panel discussing the digital world in 2020, Charleston’s Levelwing CEO Steve Parker, hailed big data as a key player in solving the nation’s healthcare problems, while journalist Shane Snow (@ShaneSnow) pointed out that freelancers are using big data to find jobs, a group that is predicted to make up 40 percent of the workforce in 2020.
- Progressive Thought Leaders: World renowned digital experts from Robert Tercek, Oprah’s OWN Digital Media CEO; to Meredith Artley, CNN Digital’s GM; spoke with attendees on how they perceived the role of technology evolving in everyday life, in media and in consumption. Charleston leaders like PeopleMatter’s Nate DaPore discussed innovation in the workplace and the software space, by going beyond the data mining and straight to the core of what makes his business successful: creating a rewarding office environment that uses software to improve employees work lives.
- The Southeast’s Newest Stars: The Festival displayed a varied mix of Charleston’s and the Southeast’s emerging technologies and startups. The Studio Strut, a jaunt from one creative ad/digital agency to another in the heart of Charleston’s historic business district, gave attendees a chance to leave the conference arena and explore the creative office spaces and inventive work at some of the region’s most cutting edge companies. Attendees were able to mingle with creatives like digital media agency Blue Ion and the innovative minds at Hook, two of the many agencies that not only provide local services to the Charleston community, but work on national award-winning campaigns.
- Southern Hospitality at its Finest: From after-parties to a long list of musical side shows, everyone was offered a chance to checkout Charleston’s thriving arts & cultural scene and find something to dig into. The music mix included headliner Lee Fields and the Expressions, and the new dynamic duo Lady, offered up soul music with a modern beat. You can’t be in Charleston and not eat well. From food trucks to James Beard winners, the food and atmosphere was quintessentially fresh, local, and artfully presented; signifying the area’s respect for the past, and its enthusiasm to embrace the international Southern Exposure focused on this inspiring destination for business and talent.
Dig South showcased how Charleston’s companies and entrepreneurs are playing a large role in the Southeast’s future digital economy. We encourage you to come see for yourself why the tech world is now looking to the “Silicon Harbor” for solutions.