SOCO, Columbia’s Platform and Community for Creators, Doubles Down on BullStreet Neighborhood
SOCO – a homegrown platform and community for creators, entrepreneurs, freelancers and independent workers – announces plans to expand its presence within the BullStreet Technology Village in the BullStreet neighborhood.
In summer 2017, SOCO will take over the entire 4,200 square feet of space at the historic Bakery at BullStreet building,
expanding the footprint it established in August 2016 upon opening its second location in S.C.’s first urban gigabit community. In addition to providing more space for coworking and events, the expansion will also allow for private meeting space and a limited number of private offices. As one of the first places in Columbia to offer gigabit internet from Spirit Communications, SOCO will continue to provide a number of compelling amenities through the growing “SOCO communities” platform.
“We have seen really incredible growth since opening our second location at BullStreet, and we’re excited to continue to expand into our new digs,” states Greg Hilton, co-founder and managing partner for SOCO. “Our community members absolutely love the BullStreet experience: historic, emerging, gritty and full of opportunity. Our Vista and BullStreet locations are just the tip of the iceberg in our vision to build a network of interconnected innovation spaces powered by community, to allow creators of all backgrounds to do the work they love every single day.”
With this expansion comes the departure of The Iron Yard Columbia campus, a Greenville based technology education company that offers web development courses in fifteen United States campuses. While The Iron Yard is shifting gears on several of its campuses nationwide, the original team that launched the Iron Yard in Columbia will be remaining in the Midlands to continue to grow Columbia’s tech industry, including Gene Crawford, Heather Dughaish and Giovanni DiFeterici (who will remain on staff as The Iron Yard’s Director of Curriculum Design).
“We believe it is time for Columbia to write its own story about for how the world will view it from afar,” notes Hilton. “If we want to realize our full potential, we have to invest locally, innovate locally and grow from within. The growth of the insurance tech cluster is evidence first hand of our community’s ability to harness local talent and build something world class. We will certainly miss our partners at The Iron Yard, but we also recognize that the energy that was developed during their tenure is already replicating within our SOCO community and the rest of the tech world of Columbia. That natural support system proves to be a fitting model within a historic and expansive campus like BullStreet.”
One of the SOCO community’s fastest growing member companies, Krumware, will be the first to move into one of the new private offices at The Bakery. Krumware offers software products and services which enable enterprises and creators to build successful solutions which leverage the next generation of progressive web applications. Krumware was launched in 2016 by Colin Griffin and specializes in progressive web applications software and solutions.
“We’ve had an incredible start to our company, and growth has been great,” says Griffin. “SOCO is really the nucleus of the tech community right now, so we recognize the very important role they play in helping us recruit and develop the talent needed to continue our strong growth trajectory.”
Griffin believes that the University of South Carolina and surrounding nearby universities have an untapped market for talent, a significant portion of which already have a mindset for community building and mentoring. “There’s a sense among the startups in Columbia that we’re on the cusp of something big, and I think that has a lot to do with the types of people who live here and who are coming out of the universities. Not only are they extremely professionally capable, they want to be part of the change and part of the reason this place is successful,” Griffin said.
For Griffin personally, he would like Krumware to be one of the companies that effectively sets that pattern in motion. He knows harnessing the entrepreneurial mindset is important in keeping employees challenged and satisfied in their work, and he wants to remain in an environment of companies that resonate with that mentality. SOCO was one of the first to realize and capitalize on this competitive advantage of coworking in the Midlands market. They certainly won’t be the last.
SOCO’s announcement comes on the heels of several high profile announcements around the BullStreet neighborhood, including Tim Tebow’s move to join the Columbia Fireflies Minor League Baseball team in its second season at Spirit Communications park; renovations on the historic Ensor Building; Downtown Church’s plans to renovate and move into the Central Energy Facility; and the expansion and relocation of TCube Solutions, an insurance technology software company with an estimated $1.7 million investment and hundreds of new jobs anticipated at the First Base Building, adjacent to the ballpark.