Step Ahead Takes Facebook Step by Step in Charleston Seminar

August 2, 2011 by  
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Convinced your business needs to be on Facebook but not sure HOW to accomplish that? Or, do you have a business Facebook page but you’ve been stuck with only 20 “likers” since you started the page a year ago? Let us walk you through the start up and management, step by step. No convincing you WHY you should use Facebook, we just want to focus on the HOW.

After hosting a broad Charleston Social Media Step by Step seminar this spring, we got lots of requests to spend more time on specific tools, so we’re starting with the king: Facebook!

In two half-day sessions this month, Aug. & Aug. 23, you’ll learn everything from the basics of page set-up and posting etiquette to more advanced information like page customization, Facebook analytics and all about apps. You can attend one or both sessions based on your comfort level in the social media platform! We’re also offering several 30-minute one-on-one sessions after the seminar for those who would like more personal attention.

We love talking about social media and these seminars give us a chance to share some of our Step Ahead secrets to success when it comes to social media management. Seats are limited so make sure to sign up soon! Both sessions will be hosted at the Charleston Digital Corridor Flagship downtown Charleston at East Bay and Calhoun.

Click here to sign up and for complete details. Hope to see you there!

New Flagship Site Will Let City Build on Tech Hub Success

November 16, 2010 by  
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Somewhere between “early morning meetings” and “the afternoon commute,” every burgeoning startup would love to include “growing too fast” among its list of gripes.

In the beginning, Lyn Mettler and her partners at Step Ahead Inc. were working from home, racking up miles and coffee calories as they scheduled meeting after meeting at clients’ offices or convenient coffee shops.

“Once we started to create a company, that became more of a challenge,” she says. “We didn’t have any space to meet as a team.”

The solution came in Summer 2009 in the form of the old Hollywood Video site at the corner of East Bay and Calhoun streets. The city turned the storefront into Flagship, a home for roughly a dozen tech-based companies with big ideas, but little capital to afford downtown rent prices.

Step Ahead moved into one of the smaller, one-person units. Like other startups at the site, the company thrived and quickly outgrew the space. “It was getting ridiculous cramming three people into one office,” Mettler says.

The company moved to a larger unit. Now with four full-time employees, they’re looking for more space, but the city has run out of room for these successful tech businesses to grow.

The lack of downtown options has Step Ahead looking at Noisette, the Navy Yard redevelopment in North Charleston where other tech companies have launched and prospered. The potential exodus of these young, successful companies has city officials sweating.

“We don’t want a company born and incubated here to go to another part of the region,” says Mayor Joe Riley.

The solution may be in doubling down — actually, more like tripling down — on the city’s investment in these tech-based startups, augmenting the popular video store-turned-incubator with a neighboring abandoned TV station-turned-incubator.

In February 2009, just as President Barack Obama was getting comfortable in the Oval Office, Riley and Ernest Andrade, the city’s director of business development, were getting antsy about the economic meltdown. But instead of cooling off recruitment efforts, the city went in the opposite direction.

“It’s important that we not be more passive, but rather we be more energetic,” Riley says of remodeling the video store into small offices, two conference rooms, and communal space. The city supports a variety of small businesses with counseling and workshops, but it made a particular investment in fostering technology-based industries.

At Flagship for more than a year, Mettler says having the office has given her tech company more credibility with clients while its growing staff has gained a conveniently located home downtown. It has also provided opportunities for networking, with clients and leads coming from other tenants in the building.

“Everyone is doing exciting things,” she says. “All around, it’s a good opportunity.”

The project also has been a win for the city as high-paying, high-tech jobs are planted on the peninsula. The average wage at a Flagship company is $79,000, with more than $5 million in payrolls created by current and former companies housed at the site.

The venture required little money from the city. There was some capital investment to upfit the building, but the lease and maintenance are taken care of by the modest rent for the tenants ($450-$775 at the current site). And, with downtown prices keeping many businesses off the peninsula, there’s been no shortage of interest. The Flagship space was designed for 11 work areas, but the city has squeezed in 14 businesses and turns away about one budding entrepreneur a week.

Over the next few months, the city will retrofit the former Channel 5 TV station next door to house another dozen-or-so companies with more room and more privacy than the small video store can offer. FS2 will include added services like indoor bike parking, shower space, possibly an outdoor conference area, and a lounge for after-hours networking.

The city isn’t alone. TwitPic founder and recent Charleston transplant Noah Everett is building his empire in the Lowcountry and hopes to make the area the Southeast’s Silicon Valley. And private companies and nonprofits are offering similar programs to the city’s Flagship, including Spark!, a shared space conveniently located just across the street.

Andrade welcomes an expanding market. “Our hope is that they’ll emulate privately what we’ve demonstrated publicly,” he says of support for small startups. “Flagship gives us the ability to house them and take care of them and let them focus on their business.”

Link to Charleston City Paper article

It’s Hip to Be Square: Foursquare Day April 16!

April 1, 2010 by  
Filed under All, social media, Step Ahead Info

Because here at Step Ahead we love Foursquare SO much, we’ve decided to organize a Charleston get-together in honor of Foursquare Day, an initiative organized nationally to promote the use of Foursquare on April 16.

We’re hosting a “square up” April 16, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the new Charleston Digital Corridor Flagship space in downtown Charleston, 475 East Bay St., with wine, beer and light appetizers.

But there’s more…. For every place you’ve “checked in” using Foursquare that day (up to 5) you will be entered to win a brand new iPod Touch, so you can, of course, use Foursquare on it :). Just show us your check ins and we’ll enter you. Winner announced around 7 p.m. And you get one entry just for showing up (so newbies, you’re not totally out!)

If you’re not sure just what Foursquare is all about, that’s OK. We’ll have folks on hand to give you a quick tutorial, help you get it set up on your smart phone or iPod Touch and show you how it all works. Heck, we’ll even help you make your first “check in”!

AND, we’ll be giving away some silly prizes to regular Foursquare users like to the person who’s the mayor of the most places or who checks in at the most Starbucks, etc.

So join us April 16 at the Flagship from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. Be there or be square!

Step Ahead Inc. Staff Photos

February 24, 2010 by  
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Last week, before our staff meeting, we all met in Chapel St. Fountain Park for staff photos. The very talented Leslie Walker, of Leslie Walker Photography, took individual head shots and a group photo.

The weather was a bit chilly, but the sun was out, and it was a beautiful day to be outdoors. You may have noticed a color theme in our group photo. Three of us showed up in the same shade of purple, completely unplanned!