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Charleston Business

This year's Dig South adds discussion on blockchain, finch, and health tech to tech conference

Mar 18, 2019 10:56AM
By Emily Pietras

Charleston may not be the equivalent of Silicon Valley, New York, or Boston, but it is home to the only summit that’s dedicated to growing and advancing the South’s digital economy. That’s the sentiment expressed by Stanfield Gray, co-founder and CEO of Dig South. 

Since 2012, the Dig South Tech Conference has brought speakers from leading global brands to connect with the region’s top tech entrepreneurs, startups, and companies. 

“The idea was really simple,” Gray says of the conference’s origins. “How do we help them raise capital, recruit talent, and get the knowledge and content that they need to succeed and then build a tribe around that, build a community around that of people doing this together at the same time?”

The 2019 conference will be held at the Charleston Gaillard Center from April 24-26. And as the tech industry is constantly evolving, so is Dig South. The last few years, the conference has offered three core tracks for attendees: technology, business, and marketing. This year, in response to new innovations and trends, two more tracks have been added: blockchain-fintech and healthtech.

“[Fintech companies] are doing a lot of interesting things to service consumers and help clients with everything from financial transactions to raising funds to new ways to help consumers get funding,” Gray says. “Healthtech is a multibillion-dollar business. It’s really important in a lot of the markets in the South where our attendees, our sponsors, and speakers live. It’s kind of top of mind for a lot of people—how is health care evolving, what’s happening with genetics and DNA, how are we using data to monitor everything from our athletic ability to just our everyday health.”

Within each core track, subtopics will include code, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, wearable tech, 3-D printing, location-based promotions, funding, and more, according to the Dig South website. 

And if that sounds like a lot of possibilities for a three-day conference, well, that’s intentional. For Gray, the appeal of Dig South is its wide-ranging focus. 

“Dig South takes a multi-industry approach, so that allows you to get a 30,000-foot view into all of these different verticals and industries,” Gray says. “And you’re keeping up to date. You’re staying relevant, as opposed to a conference that might focus on one very narrow niche, like mobile marketing or only social media or something like that. And that’s one of our strengths.” 

Below are some notable events, panels and speakers at this year’s Dig South Tech Conference. For more information, visit charleston.digsouth.com/about.


Startup Alley
Early-stage companies are invited to participate in this new exhibit hall, which will also focus on employees at midmarket, Fortune 500, and growth-stage companies. 

“We have a nice balance of topics that appeal very broadly to large companies and stuff for early-stage, smaller entrepreneurs as well,” Gray says. 

What’s Your Story? Stage
This year’s theme, “What’s Your Story?,” invites speakers and experts to talk about what life is like right now in the trenches of the tech industry and provide insight into subjects including entrepreneurship, funding, investing, and recruiting, among other topics. The stage will showcase “30-second stories by speakers, sponsors, and attendees,” Gray says. 

Why Engineering Needs to Be a Business Imperative 
Todd Sundstead, chief technology officer of SumAll, an analytics and business intelligence tool, will discuss why engineering needs to take priority when trying to grow a business. Only focusing on marketing and strategy, Sundstead believes, will ultimately be detrimental to long-term success. Sundstead is an expert on software development, machine learning, and engineering. Prior to joining SumAll, he was a senior engineer at Bloomberg, where he was instrumental to the design and rollout of Bloomberg Government Mobile. 

Perfecting Your Pitch: Why Personal Branding Matters, Especially for Women Leaders 
Annie Scranton is a former TV producer with CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, and ABC. As the founder of Pace PR, she uses her prior experience booking guest appearances on popular programs like “Good Morning America” to secure TV and media coverage for her clients. Scranton will discuss how building a strong personal brand and persona is critical for women in the workplace who hope to advance to leadership positions. 

Experimenting in the Digital Age: How Companies Will Innovate in the Future
Thor Ernstsson is the founder and CEO of Alpha, a product management platform that “enables management teams to make data-driven decisions about products, users, and new markets.” Ernstsson’s talk will focus on the future of decision-making and what he’s learned from observing companies like Citi, Experian, and Prudential successfully implement innovative product-management techniques. Prior to Alpha, Ernstsson was the chief technology officer of Audax Health and the lead architect and studio CTO at Zynga. He has a proven track record as a thought leader on digital transformation, having worked with several Fortune 100 companies. 

Make Mobile Magic: Why Creating Mobile Content Matters
As the founder and CEO of Mighteor, one of the first internet production companies, Elizabeth Giorgi is an expert on mobile content strategies. And with smartphones being the top device for viewers to watch video, it’s vital for brands to have their own mobile content plan. Mighteor’s forward-thinking production and online promotion methods have helped clients reach more than 100 million unique views and empowered Fortune 500 companies to execute new video strategies. Using Mighteor’s mobile viewership survey and video trends, Giorgi will provide insight into the evolution of video and how marketers can effectively produce engaging mobile content. 

The State of M&A in the South: Fireside Chat
J.D. Moriarty is the current CFO of LendingTree and former senior vice president of corporate development. Prior to joining LendingTree, he was the head of technology equity capital markets at Bank of America and later ran the equity capital markets group for the Americas for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Before these roles, Moriarty specialized in equity insurance in growth companies across industry sectors, including technology, financial technology, special finance, real estate, and retail and consumer. He received his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Moriarty will lead a fireside chat to discuss the status of mergers and acquisitions across the South.