Dig South gears up for 4th annual conference

Dig South gears up for 4th annual conference

Dig South will kick off its fourth annual tech-centric conference in downtown Charleston in less than two weeks.

The three-day conference and festival includes networking events, keynote speakers, panel discussions and pitch events, all of which will center on the theme #power.

“Dig South presenters will touch on sources and shapes of power in the 21st-century digital economy: the power of venture capital, code, the cloud, connected devices, data and analytics, community, creativity, branding, marketing and advertising, media, entertainment, entrepreneurship, gaming, sports, renewable energy, social good and much more,” the conference website says.
Dig South focuses on digital innovation in marketing, media, technology, software, storytelling and entertainment. Entrepreneurs, startup founders, marketers, developers, tech company executives, investors, musicians, investors, researchers, publishers and other creative types are among the attendees each year.

Founder Stanfield Gray said he wants the conference to continue boosting the Charleston tech sector — and the Southeast as a whole — on a national scale to attract more investment, company headquarters and expansions, and skilled workers to the region.

The tech festival and conference brings together startups and industry leaders from across the Southeast and connects them with brand experts, leading software developers, tech company founders and venture capitalists from around the country, he said.

Gray said software has “kind of taken over every industry” and Dig South provides a way for startups to “find the content, contacts and capital they need to succeed.”

2016 Dig South highlights, information
At the conference, 200 presenters are scheduled to speak. Some highlights include: Shaun Dorris, a Snapchat celebrity who creates campaigns for brands, and Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia being interviewed by Peter Kafka, the senior editor of Re/code.

Paul Singh, partner at 500 Startups, and Chris Heivly, co-founder of MapQuest, are among this year’s keynote speakers. Panel discussions will focus on innovations, challenges and workforce development.

The festival also includes a Trade Show, an Investor Bash, the DIG a Job marketplace, after-hours concerts and networking events. Pitch events include Wild Pitch and DIG Venture and Demo Day, during which startups compete for seed funding.

The conference will be held April 27-28 at the Gaillard Center in Charleston. The entire festival will be April 26-28 at the Gaillard and other venues around the city. The conference is moving back onto the peninsula after being held at the Cinebarre movie theater in Mount Pleasant last year.

Gray expects about 2,500 attendees this year, or about 800 people a day. Dig South had 1,470 registered attendees in 2015, up 226% from around 450 attendees in 2013.

Those figures do not include several thousand people who attend free events, such as the space walk, concerts or pitch events.

Gray said Dig South could grow to 5,000 or 10,000 people over the next few years and possibly split into two locations, but he said he wants to keep it smaller than other tech conferences across the country to give attendees access to investors or company founders who attend.

“We want to maintain that level of engagement as we grow,” Gray said.

Originally posted in Charleston Regional Business Journal, April 14. 

By: Liz Segrist