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Every event here is a home run. Fluor Field makes special events more special. With so many versatile spaces, we’re able to accommodate just about any event you can dream up. Whether it’s a rehearsal dinner in the luxury suites, a community fundraiser throughout the concourse, a wedding reception in The 500 Club, a holiday party in the clubhouse, or even a road race with the finish line behind home plate, we promise a professional, fun and unique event experience unlike any other.

For more information, call the Drive at 864.240.4517.



I S S U E . . .


Nika White A Dream Made Real

Start Up Nation



BOX For more from Business Black Box visit




Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

A Tale of Two Cities


Q2/2013 E V E R Y

I S S U E . . .

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11 Questions: George Fletcher

Speed Pitch: David Williams

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Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

Trailblazer: John Ballato


Launch: Lullaby Paint




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21 28 38 42 56 62 72


What Matters: James Jordon






Jordana Megonigal

OUR STORY... Whether planes crash or crews overcome obstacles to successfully complete flights, airlines go to the black box to discover secrets, answers, and missing information to explain what happened and learn for the future. That’s the mission of our magazine, our connect events, and our interactive platform. News of businesses succeeding, failing, merging, hiring, firing and more are reported everyday, all over the Upstate. But in business, the real power is not just hearing the news, but about going behind the scenes, discovering, connecting, and learning from those that made it happen. At the heart of every event, every blog, every magazine issue, and every documentary Business Black Box produces, you’ll find a relentless passion for connecting, advising and growing Upstate business.

Business Black Box is a registered trademark of ShowCase Publishing 2013. Content may not be reproduced without written permission of Business Black Box. Excerpts may be reprinted, provided that credit is given to the author and to Business Black Box magazine.


Geoff Wasserman




Peter Barth Andy Coburn Chip Felkel Steven Hahn Leslie Hayes Evelyn Lugo Chad McMillan Josh Overstreet Alison Storm Geoff Wasserman

Annual Subscriptions are $20 and include four issues of Business Black Box, as well as one year of full access to our website, Think someone you know would like to receive Business Black Box? A complimentary gift card will be sent with each order indicating who the gift is from and when the recipient will receive their first issue. If you have a question about your subscription, call us at (864) 281-1323, ext. 1010, or reach us via email at

DESIGN SENIOR DESIGNER Chris Heuvel GRAPHIC DESIGNER Catherine Roberts PHOTOGRAPHY Wayne Culpepper, Fisheye Studios Nill Silver Photography TRAFFIC COORDINATOR Jessica Riddle


Brooke Holder Daniel Lovelace Charles Richardson Jessica Riddle Amy Smith


Chad McMillan



Business Black Box (Vol.5, Issue 2) is published four times per year by ShowCase Publishing, 1200 Woodruff Rd. Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607; phone (864) 281-1323; fax (864) 281-1310.




When contacting us about changing your address, please provide us with both the old and the new addresses, as well as any other informational changes. The post office will only forward Business Black Box for 60 days, so make sure you let us know as soon as you have your information ready.


When available, back issues of Business Black Box are available for $9 by mail or for $7 for pick-up through our office.


Local talent is what keeps us moving. If you’d like to write or photograph for Business Black Box, please contact the editor at or by mail to Business Black Box, c/o Freelance Opportunities, 1200 Woodruff Rd., Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607. REPRINT / PHOTO / VIDEO REQUESTS

If you’d like to request a copy or a reprint of a photo or an article you’ve seen in Business Black Box, or of a video we’ve done for your event, please contact us for info and pricing at info@ or by mail to 1200 Woodruff Rd., Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607. EVENT MANAGEMENT / SPONSORSHIP

Business Black Box hosts events monthly from Business Connect networking held at local businesses to sponsoring events for other local organizations. If you’d like to find out more about hosting an event with Business Black Box, or about working with us to sponsor your event, please call our sales team at (864) 2811323, ext. 1018, or email




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Classes in downtown Greenville 路 Apply now for Fall 2013 路 864-656-8173





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10 8 12








amy wood, anchor, wspa



tony snipes, business coach & entrepreneur

chip felkel, ceo, the felkel group



coleman kirven, commercial banking executive, the palmetto bank

julie godshall-brown, president, godshall staffing


13. todd korahais, operating partner, keller williams realty

andy coburn, attorney, wyche law firm


14. terry weaver, ceo, chief executive boards international

maxim williams, director of community relationships, bon secours st. francis


15. sam patrick, ceo, patrick marketing & communications

tiffany hughes, marketing director, hallelujah acres


16. matt dunbar, managing director, upstate carolina angel network

michael bolick, president, lab 21



john deworken, partner, sunnie & deworken

greg hillman, upstate director, scra/sclaunch



bill west, managing partner, the atlantic partners

ravi sastry, vp of sales & marketing, immedion


19. steven hahn, director of entrepreneurial systems, spartanburg chamber of commerce

jil littlejohn, president, urban league of the upstate 10.

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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Creativity vs. Innovation

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’ve been struggling lately, to define something—namely, this: what is the difference between creativity and innovation? I’ve come up with no satisfying answer…yet…but as best I can tell, it’s all in who you ask. Many think they are the same thing.After all, one must be creative in order to be innovative, right? And really, it’s the same argument as to whether or not a small business owner is, or is not, an entrepreneur, isn’t it? Isn’t it all about how you define it in the first place? I read one blog that almost satisfied my question. There, the writer noted that creativity is the ability to come up new ideas based on pre-existing ones, and innovation is the ability to implement creative ideas. But in another, a writer claimed that creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual, while innovation is the implementation of something new. (This writer goes one step further to define invention as the creation of something that has never been made before and is recognized as the product of some unique insight, which I can’t even try to get into at this point.) So basically, somebody’s wrong. Either creativity is creating something original, or it’s bouncing of someone else’s originality to make something the same, but different. But in both cases, the writers agree: innovation is the implementation of something new. But in all this back-and-forth, fighting a battle in my own mind that is equivalent to a mental World War, I come to this conclusion: It doesn’t really, truly matter. Does it really matter how you define them? Maybe so, if we’re talking about how to be innovative or creative. If we’re trying to set the guidelines for how to be something you aren’t naturally, then yes, having those definitions can be helpful. But if you don’t care as much about what you call it as you are just making sure you are—if you’re actually a doer—does it really matter what you call it? Businesses, these days, are called to both. There is no room for unoriginal ideas, just as there is no room for the same-old process. The world is changing and dynamic, and the people most able to adapt are those who never saw the boundaries in the first place. Frankly, in the world we all want to live in—a world of prosperity and knowledge and high levels of growth—we need it all.We need people who can create something out of nothing, and we need people who can implement those creative ideas into practicality. We need people who can think outside of the norm, and we need people who are willing to take risks to see if those new ideas will work. We need all these people, so who cares what we call them? Does it really matter? Really? I’d wager that no, it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m wrong, but if the biggest disagreement I have with someone is the definition of whether I’m more creative or more innovative, I’ll take it and run. Wouldn’t you?

Editor, Business Black Box | 864/281-1323 x.1010 | megonigal Photo by Wayne Culpepper/Fish Eye Studios


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

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When we started talking to Nika White about her passions


for the Upstate community and her new position as VP of Diversity and Inclusion

Individual Photographs Used

for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, one thing


became clear—White’s passion for diversity is a force to be reckoned with. With

Photoshop Layers

a determination like none other, White speaks of her involvement in the MLK Dream Weekend, and her desire to uphold Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for equality. In honor of that dream that “all men be considered equal” we give you our concept of what a world of equality might look like—a world bright with color—as illustrated by our own design team.

original photo

converted to monochrome

watercolor effects applied

color overlays added




Chris Heuvel

Wayne Culpepper Fisheye Studios

Nika White Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

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Production Hours







WHAT: Dig South WHERE: Various Locations Charleston, South Carolina WHEN: April 12-14, 2013 Dig South is the Southeast’s first and only interactive festival exploring the digital economy. The Festival includes a conference with high-level presenters, a technology and creative industry expo, and a sideshow featuring live music, comedy and after-parties. The theme for 2013 is the intersection of technology, social media, marketing and the arts. Startups, entrepreneurs, and leading brand executives will join us for a discussion on digital innovation, platforms and channels, marketing, e-commerce, software development, mobile technology, video, big data, cloud computing, social media, selfpublishing, entertainment industry trends, non-profits, and much more. FOR MORE INFO:

18 For more from Business Black Box visit


WHAT: Ace Leadership Symposium WHERE: The Poinsett Club Greenville, South Carolina WHEN: April 18, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. Leadership diversity is critical to the achievement of the Chamber’s vision of Greenville becoming the premier business community in the world. The Greenville Chamber actively supports talented women and minorities in our community in achieving leadership positions in greater numbers. The mission of the ACE Leadership Symposium is to send the strong message to the community that in order to advance minority leadership and corporate board service there must be a concerted effort to advocate for this cause. FOR MORE INFO:


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


WHAT: InnoVenture 2013 WHERE: TD Convention Center Greenville, South Carolina WHEN: May 8 & 9, 2013 The 10th Annual InnoVenture 2013 Conference will discover new business opportunities and help those big ideas develop by connecting them with the resources they seek—customers, capital, talent and technology. Those attending will benefit from discovering opportunities they would otherwise not see, connecting with influential people who can be referral sources, and learning from a smart community of people. InnoVenture’s audience is highly educated, affluent and informed, and includes CEOs, presidents, managers, decisionmakers and thought leaders. The conference agenda is organized as “conversations” composed of a series of rapid presentations of big ideas selected from presentations on, a distinctive webbased social business development platform. Presenters are seeking connections with the audience as well as with attendees joining online. Big ideas can be presented by leaders in major corporations, middle market companies, entrepreneurial businesses, academic centers, and not-for-profits. Through InnoVenture. com, attendees can connect with each other and also with other like— minded colleagues before, during and after the conference. Connections made are global, national, regional and local— in person and online. FOR MORE INFO:




A Look Back In this issue, we look into the innovative culture prevalent in Israel, and how South Carolina can learn from the model that the country (the most innovative country in the world!) has set. Long before this was a topic worth investigating, our CEO and Publisher, Geoff Wasserman, did his own research on Israel. As a 13 year-old visitor to the country, he “borrowed” the military garb and gear to gain some personal perspective.





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“My mother literally to this day cringes because she was terrified (I was completely oblivious to the danger) as she watched her 13-year-old son fearlessly walk up to the guards and ask if I could wear the cool stuff, hold the gun and get a picture taken,” he says. “I thought it would be cool to look like a soldier at the Israeli border.”


of adults say college is too expensive for most Americans to afford

“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box





Check This App Unstuck If you haven’t seen this app for iPad, it’s definitely one to get. It’s free and designed to help you get, well, unstuck! Learn more at or check them out on iTunes for your free download.



Giving extended life to the InnoVenture conferences and forums occurring across the region is a newly revamped site for InnoVenture, which allows registered users to “follow” various presentations and their progress. It also allows for a better, more fluid stream of communication between followers and presenters, potentially opening many more doors for future communication and collaboration.

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Are You In? If you haven’t signed up for Business Black Box’s weekly updates, you might be missing out. With news from around the Upstate, offers from Business Black Box and our partners, and much more, you’ll want to make sure this is coming to your inbox!

Register to receive at:

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.



Q2 2013 // Business Black Box




Future Forward What will life be like in 2020? Well, according to a number of studies by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, where they surveyed a number of internet experts, it may not be all that different.

Money & Purchasing

Smart Homes

Consumer Information

65% agreed with the statement that by 2020, “most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases they make, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards. People will come to trust and rely on personal hardware and software for handling monetary transactions over the Internet and in stores. Cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared from many of the transactions that occur in advanced countries.”

46% agreed with the statement that by 2020,“most initiatives to embed IP-enabled devices in the home have failed due to difficulties in gaining consumer trust and because of the complexities in using new services. As a result, the home of 2020 looks about the same as the home of 2011 in terms of resource consumption and management.”

In addition, research from Cisco predicts that there will be 25 billion connected devices in 2015, and 50 billion by 2020, each generating data and insights that might prove helpful to those who monitor and collect such things.

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Education 60% agreed with a statement that by 2020, “there will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources a transition to ‘hybrid’ classes that combine online learning components with less-frequent on-campus, in-person class meetings, and moving learning activities to a more individualized approach.”

“Digital Technology Impacts by 2020.” For the full report, visit


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box



very week, at least once—and sometimes on multiple occasions—leaders are faced with a decision: when in front of an open window of opportunity, to jump or stay in the room they’re in. Windows of opportunity open up all the time in life. Great leaders (in business, at home, in communities) have spent painstaking amounts of time and energy promoting the right people to the right positions around them—people who aren’t just leaders, but who cover the leaders’ blind spots, see things she doesn’t see, and who are able to effectively corral people, information and experience together to proactively bring sound advice in their areas of giftings to the leader. As a leader, however, at some point there’s a decision to make. Once you’ve counted the cost as best you can with the available information and advice you have, how much more information will you need before you jump through the window of opportunity? Some will stall. It’s inevitable. But truly great leaders will be able to determine a few things that will help them make the best decision, quickly.


GREAT LEADERS JUMP Great leaders recognize 6 things: 1) When they jump, they have the burden and responsibility of pulling all those attached to them through the same window. 2) They have become accustomed to recognizing windows in the first place. 3) There’s never an unlimited amount of time to jump. 4) They’re able to quickly assess whether there’s an opportunity for it to open again. 5) Most windows aren’t high up enough to kill anyone from the fall; great leaders can discern the very few that will. 6) They’re at peace with the fact that they make the same amount of mistakes as non-leaders, they’re just willing to jump more. Great leaders understand the power of a moment, the “aha!”, the pivotal point in a meeting, conversation, or process where a window is open, and they typically jump where others stay in the same room and admire the view.

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About the author...

A native of Montreal, Canada, Geoff started the company in 1999. A successful entrepreneur with a heart to help others grow and succeed, Geoff’s career includes seven years of sports marketing with the Montreal Expos and Atlanta Braves, as well as seven years as a Managing Director in the financial services industry with two fortune 500 companies. Geoff spends the majority of his business time advising and consulting business owners and leaders to develop strategies and practical marketing, operational and leadership solutions to help organizations grow and reach their full potential. Geoff resides in Greenville with his three children: Noah, Rebecca, and Alana.





BABY SAFE, NON-TOXIC PAINT OPTIONS manufactured by lullaby paints spartanburg, sc

for more visit Photo by Nill Silver Photography

From S.C. to the World



Growth or Innovation: Which is Better?

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There’s a lot of talk about both of these qualities, but how important are they?


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

S TAT U S While I think both growth and innovation are important, and they are sometimes mutually exclusive, they are more frequently entwined. From my perspective, innovation is the more important because a cycle of innovation results in opportunities for growth. Without innovation, continuous growth would be impossible.


I can only speak based on my experience from my former corporate life and working with my clients, hence it is anecdotal: Meaningful innovation creates value and as a consequence will generate growth.

Manfred Gollent

Business Coach, QLI International

Andy Kurtz CEO, Vigilix

I feel that growth drives the ability to innovate. Without a focus on growth and revenue creation the option to innovate goes out the window. Before funding innovation, what currently being offered or sold better be selling and creating revenue. Growth would justify further innovation. Account Specialist, ScanSource

It’s hard to have one without the other. Growth spawns innovation. Innovation creates growth opportunity.

Todd Riddle

CEO, Southeast Sports Chiropractic

Large growing companies create jobs, invest in local infrastructure, contribute socially to the community, pay into the local tax coffers, and help to build a local concentration of experts in their field. All of these things are good and valuable and we should do our best to support and encourage growth. On the other hand, no company is immune to the forces of global markets and government regulations. As we’ve seen over and again, within a short time a company can go from thriving to dying. If our community is too reliant on a few large and growing companies for its livelihood, then it’s also at the mercy of the markets in which those companies operate.

“A healthy community should have a diverse mix of large growing companies and small innovative firms. Some of those innovative companies will grow to create the future anchor companies of the region.”

In this day and age there must first be innovation prior to growth, so both are extremely important in this volatile time in our country. My choice would be innovation. I see so many companies in my travels— from restaurants to hotels, to waste management and recycling companies, to mom-and-pop small business that could do such a better job and become so much more efficient and profitable if they would embrace and utilize the technologies and ideas available to them today—ones that in days past may have been unrealistic due to time or money. If all companies spent the time and attention to become innovative, I don’t think they could help but grow, and grow in a way they can manage and profit from. Innovate, then grow. Innovation is my winner.

Innovation is the seed that spawns the future large company. Startup companies can innovate quickly because they have no vested interests to protect. These innovative new companies are important because they challenge the status quo, and are not beholden to the interests of a large organization. Eventually, these startups end up being the seeds for growth either by growing into large companies themselves, or by being acquired by the larger companies. A healthy community should have a diverse mix of large growing companies and small innovative firms. Some of those innovative companies will grow to create the future anchor companies of the region, while the existing large companies stabilize the churn of innovative startups as they chase new ideas and often fail.

Peter Waldschmidt CEO, Gnoso

Patrick Van Every

Sales Manager, Wastequip

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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Joe Milam

You need both growth and innovation to have a strong community. A community with too much of either will become unhealthy over the long run.



he tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration were set to expire in 2012. At the very last minute, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013 on January 1, 2013 (called the “Act”). While the Act generally saved taxpayers from the pain of a return to pre-Bush administration tax rates, it did not eliminate the sting of new taxes completely. Here are the highlights: • The lower Bush-era ordinary income tax rates for individuals were made permanent, except for certain higher income taxpayers. The top marginal income tax rate was increased from 35 percent to 39.6 percent on taxable income in excess of $450,000 for married taxpayers or $400,000 for most single taxpayers. • The Act preserved the maximum 15 percent tax rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends for individuals, except for taxpayers subject to the new 39.6 percent top marginal income tax rates. The rate increases to 20 percent for those higher-income individuals. • The Act reinstated the phase-out of personal exemptions and the limitation on itemized deductions for individuals with adjusted gross incomes in excess of $300,000 for married taxpayers or $250,000 for most single taxpayers.

THE 2012 TAX CHANGES— THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY • About the author...

As an attorney with Wyche, Andy regularly represents clients in mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, structuring of joint ventures, securities offerings and other financing transactions. He has extensive experience with growing companies and private placements of securities.Andy also advises and assists public and private company clients in the design and implementation of executive compensation arrangements, equity compensation plans and broad-based employee benefits. Outside of his legal profession, Andy is on the board of the Greenville Little Theatre, a project leader for Habitat for Humanity, and serves as a Business Black Box advisor in law.


The alternative minimum tax exemption has been permanently fixed by indexing it for inflation, which eliminates the need for an annual AMT “patch.” • Other important tax breaks for individuals have been extended through 2013 or made permanent including: o Tax-free IRA distributions up to $100,000 to a qualified charity for taxpayers over age 70½. o Exclusion of up to $2,000,000 of cancellation of indebtedness income resulting from cancellation of mortgage debt on a personal residence. o Exclusion of gain on the sale of qualified small business stock. o Enhancements to the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, dependent care credit,, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, deductions for qualified tuition expenses and student loan interest, and existing benefits for adoption-related expenses. • The Act also extended through 2013 many popular tax provisions applicable to businesses, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the research tax credit, Section 179 expensing by small businesses, bonus depreciation, and certain energy-related incentives. • The maximum federal estate and gift tax rate was increased from 35 percent to 40 percent. Without the Act, the rate would have gone back up to 55 percent. • The unified gift and estate tax exclusion amount was permanently set at $5,000,000, subject to annual adjustments for inflation. • Note that the Act did not address the two percent increase in payroll taxes resulting from the end of the “payroll tax holiday” (social security tax rates have gone back up to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent) or the additional 3.8 percent tax on certain investment income of higherincome individuals that was imposed by the health care reform act.

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A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that in the period from 2000 to 2011, the total population of the United States grew by 10.7 percent. Those self-identifying as black grew by 13.3 percent; those identifying as Hispanic grew by 47.5 percent. Those identifying as “white” grew, too, at a mere 1.3 percent increase. But even as the U.S. population grows and demographics shift and change, many within fight the same battles as their parents and grandparents—struggling in a world that claims acceptance, but where often, words don’t match actions. Sometimes it’s intentional; sometimes, it’s not. But when it comes to diversity and the world of today and the future, it seems like the only way to win is to get on the same team.

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Fortunately, there are those who, like Martin Luther King, Jr., are willing to lead the cause for inclusion…for tolerance…and for diversity.

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box



or Nika White, being a young African-American woman never seemed to slow her down. After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1998, White joined local agency Erwin Penland as a Junior Account Executive. “I graduated on a Friday, and I started up with Erwin Penland on a Monday.” It was a job she loved, but only two years into her career, working as an account executive for Bell Atlantic Mobile (now Verizon),White’s husband Carlo, then in the Air Force, received an assignment in Macon, Georgia, and soon left for a tour of duty in Kuwait. Two years later, in 2002, the young family decided to return to the Upstate, and one of White’s first calls was to her past boss at Erwin Penland. “I called Allen Bosworth and said ‘I want to come back,’ and he said, ‘When can you start?’” So again, White took her place at the growing firm, taking her place on a new account that needed leadership. But it wasn’t just the client that needed a leader. Even as mandates begin to hit large agencies in New York and Chicago, directing a focus on diversity within the industry, White realized more and more what a unique role she played. “I loved my job, but as I looked around I began to wonder…’Why aren’t there more people that look like me?’” she says.The realization didn’t focus inward for too long before White realized the same of many others. “Surely there are more people like me who would love this career path as much as I do.” Still, White realized that a higher level of diversity wasn’t just a benefit to the employee or the firm—the effects trickled down even to the clients themselves. “We represented clients from all over that also have customers that are widely diverse,”White says. “Because of that we need to make sure that we are also focused on diversity and inclusion. We needed to be a leader in diversity, and not just sit around and wait for the mandate.” And so was born Erwin Penland’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, a 14-member team that included seven members of senior management. Over time, the council began seeing progress—from receiving national and local awards, to how processes and leadership development opportunities developed. But even as her professional career would be continually focused on diversity and inclusion, the time was coming where her personal views would be turned there, too.


Greenville County was the last county in the U.S. to recognize the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. At that time, the region was under much scrutiny— much of it negative. Finally, in 2005, the County voted to adopt it as a holiday. In celebration, a small group of people got together for dinner to mark the milestone. One year later, Greenville would have it’s first MLK Dream Weekend celebration, and White would be listed as its co-founder.

In 2012, as both co-founder of the MLK Dream Weekend and diversity manager at Erwin Penland,White soon realized where her strengths lay. “I came to realize that almost everything I was associated with had some element of diversity or inclusion to it,” she says. “I was always fighting for the under-represented.” So when a number of people came to her to talk about her applying for a new position with the Greenville Chamber, it wasn’t something she took lightly. “I’m a person of great faith, and I remember being very intentional with my prayers,” she says.“In the end, I had to follow my heart and my passion. And I have to be honest…I have not looked back.” So it was that on August 1, 2012,White became theVice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the Greenville Chamber—ending a national search to fill the position, as they found their leader in their own backyard. Along with White’s hire, the Chamber also announced a Diversity and Inclusion initiative, with a vision for the Chamber to be “recognized as a model for diversity and inclusion through integration into all of the Chamber’s strategic initiatives.”

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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For White, the MLK Dream Weekend is one of her most important contributions to the Upstate community. “Out of my career—even through the growing pains—it has been one of the most rewarding elements,” she says. And even as each year grows bigger—MLK Dream Weekend, in its eighth year, is now one of the largest celebrations of Dr. King’s legacy in the entire U.S.—she is constantly aware of its importance. One night, closing up after the Diversity banquet on the last day of the holiday celebrations, White and the rest of the team were cleaning up the event space when a grandmother from West Greenville brought her grandkids over to where White stood. As White picked up a dated poster to throw it away, the woman asked if, instead, she could have it. “She said, ‘I want my kids to have this…you are making a difference in this community,’” White says, with tears in her eyes. “It was at that point that I realized, no matter what, we can’t not do this. Greenville deserves it; we have to get this right,”White says.

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

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Among her focuses, White will help local businesses design their own diversity initiatives, something she admits is not easy. “It takes changing the culture, and part of that is making sure that the culture is ready to change,” she says. For companies to truly be diverse, she adds, takes “strategic, deliberate planning.” But again, as the composition of the Upstate—and the nation—continues to shift, it is something that is more and more necessary. As an example, the Upstate has long had challenges with retaining minority professionals—losing them to areas like Atlanta or Charlotte. “We want to make sure South Carolina is viewed as the state that corporations want to come,” White says, and so “we need to be able to attract quality talent.” So, it becomes even more important for the Upstate to make those changes—from businesses to local neighborhoods. “What we are finding is that if we can physically get people here, people fall in love with this area. But we have to make sure that these diverse professionals even have the Upstate in their consideration set; that they can see themselves thriving here. And sometimes that takes connecting them with other professionals in their community that are like them…who have had great experiences and are thriving in their own ways.” White stresses this importance to anyone who will listen, understanding—before many of us—that the only way to go is forward. “What we currently understand to be minorities is quickly changing,” she says. “There’s this whole paradigm shift….all that is going to take on a completely new face. And we have to be prepared for that, because those growth rates…they aren’t slowing down, they are increasing by the minute.” It’s a future that White knows is coming, and believes the Upstate is more than capable of facing head-on. Like any other parent, she sees a world of possibility for her own children, and is intent on making the Upstate community somewhere where they could live, work and play. “I just want the best for my kids, and I want there to be opportunities and access to opportunities where they can feel like their dreams can be realized,” she adds, thoughtfully. “They’ll have to work hard for it, but I want them to know that they can be fully realized and that it’s not far-fetched to think so. And I don’t want them to think they have to go across the country to do that.” And although she’s accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, White is under no assumptions that her work in the Upstate—or the changes that will certainly come out of it— are done. She understands her position, and her strengths, allow her to truly brighten a world that for so long has been simply black and white. “I want what I do to be catalytic for change that is coming in this community,” she says, noting that change truly has no end. “There was never a destination. It was always a journey.”




veryone reading this article handles people issues perfectly— yet we owe it to our less-perfect, wellintentioned colleagues to share our wisdom in the area of people. To make it a little easier, I’ve captured what I believe are the Top 5 People Mistakes really smart people make in companies every day. (For solutions to these problems, make sure you check out our column in the Q3 issue.)

#5. Too many policies.


Policies provide guidelines, but it can be easy to let policies run the company at the expense of creativity, people, and even common sense. They fall in the same category as warning labels and directions on products—they can be helpful but are often overdone. Managers are often the culprits of too many policies because it is much easier to say, “the policy says that you can’t have personal things on your desk,” than to talk specifically to George about the questionable memento of his LasVegas trip on his shelf.

#4. Too few policies. Most leaders relate to feeling ‘hamstrung’ by a particular rule in a prior organization and, as a result, many let the pendulum swing too far to the other side and give up policies all together.When that happens, employees become confused about exactly how to operate on very basic things (like vacation, working from home, taking

THE TOP FIVE PEOPLE MISTAKES an outside job) and productivity is lost to guessing.Additionally, federal and state governments require businesses to address some issues, and businesses that fail to do so become non-compliant. About the author...

Professional Coach, Workplace Educator, HR Consultant and Author, Leslie Hayes has used her Psychology degree from Harvard University to spark a diverse career. Beginning as an abuse investigator and counselor, Leslie transitioned into Corporate HR, building HR teams from the ground up. The Hayes Approach, formed in 2007, provides a platform to assist clients large and small in all areas of workplace effectiveness and productivity.

#3. Improperly evaluating risk. One of the primary jobs of HR is to manage risk, but not all risks are equal and the real issue lies in the costs and complexities of mitigation. Big or little, if the risk is easy to mitigate, then, by all means, mitigate! But sometimes, mitigation of the risk comes at a cost to the culture of the organization or the business goals. For example, there is a risk to providing different levels of pay to people doing the same job; however, especially in a small organization, it may be critical to retain people who perform at varied levels in the job while being inadvisable to give them separate titles. In this case, it may make very good business sense to pay the same position differently.

#2. Separating “HR” from the business. Some business leaders I talk with view HR tasks almost as a stand-alone island and don’t consider how the HR practices support or hinder the business model. Even something as simple as a payroll cycle can be considered within the context of the business. For example, how will our chosen cycle impact our cash flow? What kinds of skills do we need for the business we do, and how do those people prefer to be paid? What is our likely turnover rate? If we have a high-burnout position, do we need specific pay practices to mitigate the administrative issues? As we move from payroll cycle questions into more strategic issues, it is critical to integrate HR questions into the mix.What kinds of bonus plans will help reward the behavior we seek? How will employees know they are succeeding…or not?

#1. Refusing to treat employees as adults. To paraphrase Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men, most of us can handle the truth, but we’re afraid to talk about it. We know when we’re not performing or when business is down, but actually telling someone that he is not performing or that she is going to lose her position if we don’t see an increase in business is very painful. Often we “ostrich” and attempt to ignore the problem in the hope that it will go away. Maybe business will pick up? Maybe George will improve his performance? Maybe aliens will kidnap us so we won’t have to have the conversation?


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Since Charles Townes, the Upstate has long been known as a leader in optic technology. Now, with John Ballato’s work, South Carolina is once again poised to show a global economy the light.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios


TRAILBLAZER. As more and more manufacturing is brought back to the U.S., a renewed focus on innovation in the process needs to be put in place to remain not only competitive in the world market, but to set the standard for it. Today, South Carolina is positioned to make a big splash in “light” manufacturing. “Competitiveness means innovation. You have to be a step, or steps, ahead of your competition,” says Dr. John Ballato, director of COMSET and professor of material science and engineering at Clemson University. COMSET stands for the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies, and with Dr. Ballato at the helm, they are on the cutting edge of optics research and technology that can have a huge economic impact—for the country as a whole. Born in New Jersey to a scientist father who spent 50 years as a civilian scientist with the army, Ballato studied ceramic engineering on the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level at Rutgers, with a specific focus on glass and optic fiber and in 1997 began looking for jobs. Soon, he was offered a position at Clemson. By the late ‘90s, textiles and ceramics were merged into one department— material science. In addition, a growing number of like-minded people came together because of an interest of light’s effects on various materials. It was out of this meeting of the minds that COMSET was born. Since then, it has become Clemson’s most productive research facility with 30 faculty and two separate colleges housed under its roof. But Ballato isn’t just a professor— he also has a plan for making South Carolina a national leader in what he calls “light” manufacturing, meaning both laser technology but also technology that is lightweight and less expensive to deploy and utilize.

“If you have lasers, you need all the associated optics that go with it,” he says. Of course, light technology not only applies to manufacturing, as optics and lasers are used in a variety of different markets. Fiber optics make mass communications possible; utilizing lasers in medicine can reduce recovery times for surgeries using lasers; and there are military uses for lasers such as taking out long range targets or stunning a potentially hostile combatant. With institutions like Clemson with research programs like COMSET as well as big name manufacturers such as BMW, Boeing and Alcoa Fujikura, South Carolina boasts several assets that can propel it into being a leader in “light” manufacturing tech. “We have the industrial and manufacturing pieces; we have the research pieces, but we miss that piece in the middle.” The piece in the middle is what takes the university’s theoretical technology and actually begins to apply it. The traditional model the U.S. has used is that small businesses would be the “piece in the middle” to incubate technology and grow it to the point it would be bought by a larger business.However, the small business piece is plagued by difficulties—such as capital—for the necessary applied research. “They don’t have access to the money large businesses do, and they are private sector so they can’t tap into public money,” says Ballato. Instead of this typical scenario, Ballato posits another idea that can also work in tandem with all the varying groups. Taken from a German model, it starts with a theoretical technology from a university that would then be taken up by the public/private institutes that would have the specific goal of doing applied research in order to create a specific technology ready to go off the shelf for a large corporation to use. “[We would put] that piece in the middle so we can mature technologies to

meet the needs of the industry to make South Carolina manufacturing more productive, effective and global and also provide an outlet for the research the universities do.” With such assets in place, South Carolina could quickly become a leader in optics and laser technology in a variety of markets, which in turn would bring businesses and jobs here. But the first thing to be done, according to Ballato, is to take stock of what is already in place the state. “[We need to] inventory the assets we have and the needs they have, and that’ll give us a clearer picture of what those next steps may be,” he says. In addition to this, steps have already been taken by Ballato and others to unite the academic pieces to make dealing with industries much easier. “We put in place inter-institutional agreements between Clemson, UNCCharlotte, and Western Carolina to create the Carolinas Micro Optics Triangle,” says Ballato, “We grew that into the Carolina Photonics Consortium and brought Duke, NC State, and Eastern Carolina in.” In addition to these, Clemson has formed an agreement with Tri-County, Greenville and Spartanburg Technical Colleges to facilitate workforce development in optics. With several mechanisms in place, Ballato believes the next realistic step is to form a “committee of the willing,” and begin communication between manufacturers, commerce alliances and research programs to begin finding out what the needs are and how programs can begin to meet them. Without it, new research may sit idle for years, something that in his industry is unthinkable. “The market enabled by lasers and optics can be around 7.5 trillion,” he says, “It’s a stunning number, but no one thinks about it because its behind the walls, under the ocean, or in your manufacturing facility.” Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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By Josh Overstreet



reativity and innovation comprise the core of entrepreneurship. But these are certainly not the only elements of a good business. In fact, the “idea” often occupies a minor position in the formula for success. Most certainly, any good entrepreneurial idea contains some form of innovation. For some, the novelty is in a new invention, for others, innovation can be in a new application, a new market or in an improved method of distribution. It can be argued that eBay and Amazon, two hallmarks of groundbreaking companies, are, in their basic form, merely improvements on centuries-old concepts—auctions and retail. Just the right twist can transform a common idea into an innovative concept. With historical records dating well beyond a thousand years, pizza is assuredly a common idea. Yet, no one doubts that John Schnatter’s concept of “better ingredients, better pizza” is an entrepreneurial success story. But even with his clever idea, “Papa John” had to work hard to develop an efficient way of getting his “better pizza” to every doorstep in America. The “idea” only carries one so far. Dedication and determination must follow. In my role as a facilitator for budding entrepreneurs, I run into many people who simply present their idea and expect a magic pot of gold to suddenly appear out of thin air. Somewhere along the


About the author...

Steven Hahn is a former partner in a management consulting firm, and has launched several successful businesses. He presently serves as the Director of Entrepreneurial Systems at the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.


way, these individuals were instilled with the false notion that invention is all one needs to reap untold riches. Business success demands so much more. Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of America’s most beloved poets, may be the culprit of this widespread misperception when he coined the adage “build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” It is my view that Mr. Emerson unknowingly misled generations of disappointed inventors for whom the pot of gold never materialized. In fact, a few decades ago, I spent a day with a man who had, indeed, concocted a better mousetrap. A brilliant idea which, to this day, has not yet hit the shelves at Home Depot. Perhaps Emerson’s line should have read “build a better mousetrap, secure adequate funding, hire the right people, develop an efficient production process, devise a compelling marketing strategy, and maybe… just maybe… the world will beat a path to your door.” Rather than heed the words of a poet, hopeful entrepreneurs would be better served contemplating that Thomas Edison once related that “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” In the end, successful entrepreneurism ultimately rests on the strength of vision, dedication and smart management. In order to remain on top, Amazon constantly strives to perfect logistics and productivity—a common challenge every single business faces every single day. Creativity is essential to entrepreneurship. But, once the romantic “idea” stage is over, entrepreneurs must continue to be innovative with how they run their companies. After all, good management is, in itself, a creative process.

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Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

when police officers, SWAT members, and emergency responders all descended on Addlestone Hebrew Academy in Charleston. Alongside them, school administrators rushed to respond—an intruder was on the premises. At least...that’s what Gal Nir—a former member of the Israeli Secret Service—had told them. Nir, a highly trained counter-terrorism expert, led the recent school defense drill. “We spent a week there looking at security protocols,” explains Andy Stephens, Vice President of USA Operations of Scopus Security Solutions, the company Nir founded in 2011. “[After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, our company] decided to redouble our efforts and focus on helping schools bring their security up a couple notches.” With offices in both Tel Aviv and Charleston, Scopus is promoting its Israeli roots as a selling point to schools around the country looking to improve security measures.

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“Certainly Israel has experience in dealing with school security in ways that the U.S. has not considered adopting prior to recent events,” says Stephens. But it’s about more than just security training—Scopus knows what many in South Carolina are starting to realize:


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

helping foster relationships between Israeli entrepreneurs and South Carolina business leaders. In the last two years he’s taken about 50 South Carolinians to Israel for what he calls “business mission trips.”

Most Americans would be scratching their heads at this point. The Israel of entrepreneurship can’t be the same one on the news, right?


“CNN makes Israel look like a place filled with angry people who just throw rocks at each other,” says Jonathan Zucker, President of the InterTech Group, a family-owned holding company based in Charleston. Zucker, 34, grew up going to Israel for camping trips, visiting relatives and swimming in the Dead Sea. At the same time, he watched the nation transform into a first world country, making tremendous advances in technology and infrastructure.

Zucker’s grandparents came to America from Israel in the early 1950s, immigrating to Charleston through Ellis Island. His father, Jerry Zucker, dreamed of fostering economic development between South Carolina and Israel, helping to launch the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s Southeast Region in 1992. “After he passed away nearly five years ago I wanted to pick up the pieces with this as a result of my desire to honor him and his goals,” explains Zucker.

Voicemail, instant messaging, satellite TV—these modern conveniences all got their start in Israel, says Zucker. Not bad for a country bordered on three sides by enemies. In actuality, Zucker points to the country’s requirement for military service as a reason why so many entrepreneurs are produced in Israel. At the age of 18, every Israeli must serve in the military—men enlist for three years; women for two.

Charleston-based business attorney Bobby Pearce, 54, attended a business trip to Israel back in December, just a week after the bombing cease fire. Three South Carolinians scheduled to attend backed out for safety reasons. Other state delegations cancelled their trips completely. But 21 leaders— neurosurgeons, a physicist, and economic development specialists among them­ —took the 10-hour flight to Israel.

“They take these skills and apply them to the world,” he explains.“Many times they can repurpose military technology for the real world.”

“The national media makes it seem like Israel is a war zone under constant bombardment with missiles raining down,” Pearce says. The truth is, however, “There’s always a chance of a strange terrorist attack, but there are also chances of those things in the U.S.”

In comparison to its population, Israel is home to the largest number of startup companies in the world. In fact, Apple just announced plans to enlarge its Israeli presence by opening its third facility there. And for those Israeli startups looking to expand to the U.S., South Carolina wants to roll out the welcome mat. It’s for this reason that Zucker is

Pearce and others felt that the opportunity to create meaningful business contacts, promote South Carolina and soak up some Israeli business acumen outweighed the security risk. “We wanted to go out there and tout the quality of life, the research universities and the opportunities in South Carolina to the folks in Israel to see if

But according to Zucker, it’s often during this intense leadership training that ideas are born.

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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Nir is just one of thousands of Israeli entrepreneurs hoping to expand their success into the US. Coined the ‘startup nation,’ Israel is a body with entrepreneurship as its backbone. The country—roughly the size of New Jersey—has the world’s highest ratio of university degrees to the population, is second only to the U.S. for venture capital funds and boasts the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies outside North America, according to the Jewish Federation of the North Shore.


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

we could help them establish collaborations,” explains Pearce. “I was really startled with the compassion, with the persistence, with the vision of so many of these folks.” During the December trip the group’s packed schedules included more than 100 different meetings in about five days, often starting at 7 a.m. and running until 10 p.m. or later. “During that time it’s an effort to match make, almost speed dating,” says Zucker, who firmly believes that face-to-face meetings are the best way to erase misconceptions about Israel. “In many cases you have to see something with your own eyes to appreciate it.” The meetings last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and Zucker says the Israeli start-ups are all looking for different things, first and foremost being investment money. Second on their wish list is an entry to the U.S. market, whether that’s because of a need for distribution, research or simply a collaboration opportunity. Pearce came home from the trip completely exhausted, but energized. “Those folks seem to think about innovation, entrepreneurship and business success 24/7,” he says, describing the trip as one of the top three to five experiences of his professional life. Jim Bourey, the Director of Corporate Development for Elliott Davis, was also on the trip. Because of the firm’s role in assisting companies with relocation efforts and helping startups structure their firms for doing business in the U.S., Bourey had a lot of interest in Israel’s entrepreneurial community.

Still, he notes, “Nothing happens overnight, but there are a lot of prospects with people investing in the US which would be moving their company entirely or having a branch operation here.”

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING Tom Glaser, President of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Region, or AICC, says right now there are six Israeli companies with offices in South Carolina, including three in Greenville: Vaya Pharma, EVS and ScanMaster. These three companies originally located here because Milliken was one of their first customers, says Glaser. “A lot of times that drives these decisions,” he explains. “That’s why we try to get companies to start working with each other.”

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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“The Israelis are amazing with their entrepreneurial approach and zeal,” he says. “I’m tracking more than a dozen companies that we’re providing some measure of support that are interested in investing in South Carolina.”

Besides the annual business trips, business exchanges are another way to foster networking between South Carolina and Israel. While Israel has been identified as a leader in certain areas of brain communication research, in order to further their success, companies must enter the U.S. market. So, in May, the Medical University of South Carolina will host the first-ever U.S.-Israel Neurotechnology Business Exchange. There, 15 Israeli companies are expected to attend, along with major U.S. stakeholders, to explore business and research relationships. Glaser hopes this will be the first of many business exchanges. “Sometimes these deals take years to percolate, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” says Glaser, “and the foundation is getting companies together with complementary interest.” Glaser works on fostering business partnerships between Israel and six southeast states: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. In all, his chapter of the AICC has more than 500 members, 31 of which are in South Carolina. But considering that two years ago South Carolina had just one member— Zucker’s company the InterTech Group— the growth has been significant. “[In the past] we had more activity in other states in our region. We’re really making up for it now,” Glaser says of South Carolina’s involvement.“I personally spend a great deal of my time working on the South CarolinaIsrael collaboration because it’s so fruitful.” A fresh example of fruit forming from these relationships is NeuroQuest, which recently received a half million dollars in funding from the InterTech Group— money that will help them pursue clinical trials in the U.S. and establish a development center, hopefully in the state. Their innovation? Developing a blood test that confirms the presence of Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnostic test that


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

will potentially identify the disease’s presence much earlier and at a fraction of the cost than the current standard.

population by 20 percent. Immediately, the Israeli government put these skilled doctors, scientists and engineers to work innovating.

“The only way to [currently] confirm whether some has Alzheimer’s now is after they pass away. This is a simple blood test and all the data shows it’s working,” explains Zucker, who connected with the company during his 2011 trip to Israel.

But the Israeli government also offered to match investment dollars, creating a highly attractive environment for venture capitalists— something that Zucker would like to see South Carolina emulate.

“NeuroQuest’s consideration of South Carolina as a potential location for a US development center is just one example of the quality of economic development opportunities that could result from the rapidly developing South Carolina-Israel collaboration,” says Konduros, who attended the business mission trip to Israel in 2011. “Licensing new technologies and launching new companies is practically a national sport in Israel, and there is so much that we can learn from our Israeli counterparts’ proven capabilities as some of the world’s most successful innovators.”

BEYOND BORDERS Israel attracts far more venture capital per person than any other country in the world—$170 in 2010 to America’s $75, according to the National Venture Capital Association. The reason, say experts, goes back to the late ‘80s when a boon of more than a million highly educated Russian immigrants increased Israel’s

“We need to do whatever we can to stimulate that sort of investment in our state, too,” he says. Despite the incredible amount of investment money flowing into Israel, there are many more companies looking for funding. “There still is a lot of need to fund additional Israeli companies because there are so many of them,” says Bourey. “One of the reasons that Israelis want to come to the US is they need a larger market.” With a population of about 7.7 million people, they know if they want to be truly successful they must expand beyond their own borders. Glaser believes that technology created in Israel will play a growing role in South Carolina’s innovation technology. Recently, he says, MUSC was the first customer for an innovative laboratory company based in Israel, a purchase that he says “made that company successful.” It’s evidence that the collaboration between South Carolina and Israel will benefit both sides. “I think over time we’re going to produce hundreds of thousands of jobs as a result of what we’re doing,” he says, adding that even today, there are major South Carolina companies in very deep negotiations with Israeli companies. But beyond jobs and economic development, Zucker knows he will have achieved success when South Carolina and Israeli business leaders exchange a free flow of ideas, just like his father envisioned. “There’s nothing like it as far as the way they live life and approach business,” says Zucker of Israel. “What the numbers are quite frankly don’t matter for me as long as the spirit is there.”

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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Initially, he says, South Carolina will benefit from the partnership because of the creation of some laboratory job positions, but there’s potential for NeuroQuest to eventually begin manufacturing components here, a prospect that excites leaders like Sam Konduros, Senior Development Counsel for Greenville Hospital System.

I N S I D E B L A C K B O X . C O M


I N S I D E B L A C K B O X . C O M





By Josh Overstreet

Entrepreneurs at their core are adventurers. But having an idea isn’t the only prerequisite for being an innovator, it also requires the desire to dive into the unknown and see where your idea can take you. For Nate Phillips, who calls himself an “entrepreneur at large,” adventure is a huge part of the career. “You have to have that sense of adventure to be in that situation in the first place.” Born in Ann Arbor, Mich., adventuring was part of his upbringing—traveling and going on missions trips. Overall, Phillips traveled to 25 countries across five continents, before coming to Greenville. “I want to knock off the last two at some point—it would be cool to get to all seven continents,” he says. Graduating from Bob Jones University with a degree in International Business, Phillips felt the most obvious thing for him to do was go overseas. “I had an international business degree

and everything at one point of another goes through China.” So, he moved to China and taught English for a year in order to learn about the culture and language. He then began work with a Chinese mining company, moving to Toronto after two years to open the company’s North American branch. He later found out he was the first foreign national to work for the company. But while the mining market crash of 2008 is what ended his mining career, it was something else altogether that brought him back to Greenville—a 1979 lime green, convertible Volkswagen van. To pay his way to China, Phillips sold the van to a friend. Upon returning to the States, he tracked it back to Greenville. Though he still hasn’t recovered it, in the meantime, Phillips has stayed true as an entrepreneur in Greenville, participating in and starting up various projects around the city. His primary creative outlet, called Any Color You Like, is

where, according to Phillips,“we design brands and business tools that emphasize and facilitate the business-consumer relationship through interactive, and straightforward communication.” The core goal is simplicity. The concept that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”—a quote attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci—is something that inspires Phillips, not only in business but in every area of life such as relationships and communication. “I enjoy the induction process, taking everything and bringing it into one solid nugget, one core idea,” he says. Phillips has also created a project called Snapshot, an online directory for local Greenville businesses. By using “up close and personal” custom videos of the businesses, it gives directory users a much more informative look at the business, as opposed to just contact info and location. Phillips has high hopes that this will become a go-to directory site for those looking for local Greenville businesses.

In addition to his own start ups, Phillips also works with Street Level, alongside partner Dave Brush, whose invention, the xled, is the flagship of the company. Designed to bring the joys of snow sledding, but year round, the xled is able to be used on roads. Phillips has helped Brush with everything from branding and marketing, to being a daredevil tester pushing the xled to its limits. While Phillips has settled down a bit here in Greenville, his need for adventure and new experiences has found an outlet in multiple startups and projects, which may be the traits for a new generation of entrepreneur. “I think the next generation of entrepreneur is going to look a lot more ‘normal,’ and will probably include a higher percentage of those with ‘multiple irons in the fire,’ than before,” says Phillips. “Most likely because modern tech is still in its infancy and a creative individual with a good grasp on technology can quickly and easily establish multiple business concepts.”

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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There is a new generation of business leaders on the rise—young professionals who are anxious to take on entrepreneurship and all the risks that come with it. As a prime example, Nate Phillips—a self-proclaimed “entrepreneur at large”—is facing his career head on (quite literally, thanks to the invention of the xled), with a different perspective on what a start-up can look like.



he Rolling Stones song says “you can’t always get what you get what you need.”Too often, elected officials from both the left and the right seem to think that what they want from their own ideological point of view is all that matters, and not what the public wants or for that matter needs. They seem to forget that what the public wants and needs, more than anything else these days, is confidence that their government can actually work, that elected officials are committed to getting things done, and clear proof that the citizen-taxpayers interest are being served. It’s true in Columbia and it’s true in Washington. To borrow from another musical artist, the general mood of the electorate seems to be calling for “a lot less talk and little more action.” Finally, we have before us a good example of getting what many wanted and what was certainly needed. This comes in the passage of the Governor Haley’s Department of Administration bill that gets rid of the Budget and Control Board, an unbelievably antiquated entity unique only to South Carolina. The governor will rightfully take credit for this in the upcoming 2014 elections and her anticipated opponent, State Senator Vincent Sheheen (sponsor of one version), will do the same. And to that I say, who cares? It is a step in the right direction, one that the S.C. State Senate finally got behind after years of debate. So, in my book, we scored one for the good guys, the taxpayers and


Chip Felkel is a veteran public affairs strategist, media relations expert and advocacy innovator with over two decades of experience in the State and National arenas. Felkel’s extensive political resume includes roles with Campbell for Governor, the South Carolina Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, as well as the 1988 Bush-Quayle Campaign (Executive Director, Georgia), DeMint 2002 Congressional Reelect (campaign manager) and in strategic and communications roles with Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004. He also serves as a political analyst for WYFF (NBC).


citizens of the Palmetto State. Farewell, Budget and Control Board and, oh, good riddance. Still, there is a lot of work left to do in this year’s session. Important issues remain that must be addressed such as ethics reform, election reform, and hopefully tax reform, too. There is also the question of how to use an anticipated surplus of $167 million. The governor has proposed that all if not most of those dollars should be used to replace, repair or upgrade our numerous dilapidated roads and bridges. It is a serious issue, one that affects not just safety but economic development and yes, even perception. So, while others will always find something they think is more important, it is hard to argue with Governor Haley given the situation, and a clear unwillingness (the governor also falls into this group) to consider raising the gas tax. The expansion of Medicaid continues to be a highly divisive issue in the state. This battle pits Governor Haley and her Administration squarely against the S.C. Hospital Association membership— as the governor and the GOP majority are opposed while the hospitals maintain this is more about politics and ideology than it is finances. At the center of the debate is Haley’s unwillingness to accept $11 billion in federal funds to expand the Medicaid program, money that the SCHA suggests would offset anticipated cuts and help to create 44,000 jobs. House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (R-Anderson) is proposing an $83 million alternative that would discourage unnecessary emergency room visits and offer support for rural hospitals and free clinics. Proposals for strong ethics reform will be addressed and hopefully, some measure of tax reform will take shape as we get closer to the end of the Session in June. And last but not least, as usual, there is a bill that is well intentioned, but is in fact, not the answer, a bill that penalizes those who are not the problem. This is the case of a bill sponsored by Greenville Senator Mike Fair and Lexington House member Kit Spires that would require you to have a doctor’s prescription in order to purchase any medicine that contains pseudoephedrine­—your allergy medicine. There is no doubt we must do more to tackle the plague of meth in our communities but this bill has some other ramifications that will mean you or your child will have to see a doctor, miss work or school, get a prescription, and then go to the pharmacy when seasonal allergies kick in. Not to mention the added cost of the doctor’s visit or what is expected to be an increase in the cost of the medicine. As I said, well intentioned, but not well thought out. For more on this topic visit

Adapted from: “The greatest business decisions of all time” Alex Taylor III



ne of the most difficult parts of starting almost any business is closing the gap between planning and execution—actually turning the key and seeing if a customer is willing to pay you money for your product or service. Sometimes that’s a capital problem (keeping the lights on until you realize sales), and sometimes that’s a technology problem (building something real that you can test). More often than not, those two problems blur together. For any business making or building on software or hardware, creating solid prototypes can be prohibitively expensive. Technology is lowering the barrier, and making it easier than ever to launch, test, and iterate ideas. That’s really good news for entrepreneurs. Look at AppSumo. Founder Noah Kagen was an early hire at both Facebook and Mint, and later founded his own successful companies. When he came up with the idea for a daily deal website for digital goods, like apps and online services, he didn’t infuse a huge amount of capital to a featurecomplete product. He built the first version of the website in one weekend with the help of an outsourced team in Pakistan. The total cost? $60. The services have been significantly transformed as it’s grown, but the cost of finding out whether it worked was astonishingly low. Outsourcing isn’t the only resource that has helped startups. The proliferation of affordable digital


Peter went to Vanderbilt University, where he studied computer engineering. After school he moved to Manhattan to become an options and securities principal at Duke & Company (and later Morgan Stanley). A few years on Wall Street reminded Pete he was a hacker at heart, so he packed up and headed to Indianapolis to develop software for SinglePoint, an enterprise payroll service. With hard work and technical expertise, he worked his way up to CTO and purchased a stake in the business. In 2006, Peter moved his family to sunny South Carolina. In Greenville, Peter has taken leadership roles in the development of NEXT, the NEXT Innovation Center, InternGreenville, and the southeast’s premier startup accelerator, The Iron Yard.


tools, and the ability to connect them, has made even outsourcing unnecessary in many cases. In February, we met with a company who is building a platform for scheduled delivery of home maintenance products you need to replace on a regular basis. There aren’t many players in the market, and their business model makes a lot of sense.Without any technical founders, they were in the process of figuring out how to get their platform built. Development firms were quoting prices in the tens of thousands of dollars, which is a hefty bill to pay for a fledgling company. The good news is that they can prove their idea will work, and even collect money from real customers, with tools that already exist. E-commerce tools like Shopify and StoreEnvy allow anyone to display and sell inventory to customers. The cost? About $30 a month. Payment tools like MoonClerk—a Greenville startup and Iron Yard alumni—allow non-technical people to easily set up and accept recurring payments. Pricing starts at $10/month. These tools aren’t the best long-term solution if the company gains traction and grows quickly, but they do allow startups to launch their idea and prove that it works in the real world—which is exactly what investors like to see. The bottom line: there hasn’t been a better time to launch an idea, and technology is making it easier every single day.

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At opposite ends of the state of South Carolina, two cities sit, each offering their own strengths. In the Lowcountry, Charleston is known for its history and culture, beaches and restaurants—a true travelers destination. About 200 miles north, the Upstate sits—a hub of entrepreneurs and manufacturing at the base of the foothills. While the two regions have been touted for years for their differences, what has actually happened is far more amazing—a naturally-occurring symmetry that has built both areas into economic powerhouses, while aligning them as collaborative spaces for the state’s business and economic development communities.

To determine the quality of life in both the Upstate and the Lowcountry, one need look no further than the magazine rack at the local bookstore. With far more awards and notices than we could mention here, both areas have made themselves known for their local culture, their entertainment and food, and their business communities. For Dr. John Kelly, vice president of economic development for Clemson University, quality of life is one of the driving forces bringing people into the state—from all over the world. “The arts are alive in these cities—European countries see that,” Kelly says. “Both cities show so well. Both are very unique small towns, and that causes people to want to live here. It’s pretty easy to convince people that either Charleston or Greenville are great places to move.” In Greenville, you’ll find that named the area one of the “Top 100 Places to Live”, while Men’s Journal called it one of the “Top 18 Coolest Towns in America.” On the business side, you’ll see a business market celebrated for job creation and sustainability by Forbes, Daily Beast, and Bloomberg Businessweek. At the Southern point of the state, Charleston is just as competitive, boasting mentions as “Top City in the U.S.” by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards, and one of the “Best Performing Cities” by the Milken Institute. But Charleston—with history, beaches, and entertainment around every corner—is more than a great place to visit. It was also voted a “Brain Gain” award by the Wall Street Journal, ranking at the very top for biggest growth over the past decade in percentage of adults with college degrees. Two counties considered part of the Metro area of Charleston— Dorchester and Berkeley counties—are two of the fastest growing counties in the nation, according to Claire Gibbons, director of Marketing and Communications with the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. “Both regions in our state have a tremendous amount of momentum,” says Gibbons. “It’s exciting to share what South Carolina offers to business around the world. We have amazing quality of life, we have good schools, solid infrastructure.” After all, while it’s the differences that allow each area to stand out on their own, the synergy found in the area makes the state more competitive, as a whole. “Different markets offer different things,” says Gibbons. “And you don’t have to replicate everything because it’s better to build on what you do best.” Pennie Bingham, senior vice president for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, agrees. “Yes, [the two areas] work together, and yes they are competitive with each other,” she says. “Each are trying to attract the businesses to their market, and yet they find value in connecting and collaborating with each other, because we really want companies to come to South Carolina.”

Numbers reflect U.S. Census estimates for July 2012

Out of more than 2,170,000 people in South Carolina, 326,300 are in the Charleston area. Another 310,800 are in the Greenville area.

Information taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor (2012)

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Jan 2012

Information taken from the U.S. Bureauof Labor (2012)

According to data from the U.S. Census


South Carolina has long been known for manufacturing, and the counterpart of making materials that will be used around the world is that they must also be shipped around the world. Enter the Port of Charleston. While it’s physically based in the Lowcountry, the largest exports through the port actually come from the Upstate. “Manufacturing is a big thing we have in common,” says Bingham. “They are making BMWs in the Upstate, and they are shipping them through our port in Charleston. That’s one of the most direct correlations we have.” Add in the acquisition of Boeing, and the port of Charleston quickly becomes one of the biggest factors in the community that both regions share. In fact, 70 percent of the planes made at Boeing will go to other countries, Bingham adds, and at 10 planes a month and a couple hundred million dollars each, South Carolina’s export status takes another huge leap. “You can just do the math to see how it would increase exports, even if we did nothing else,” Bingham says. Because of this, Charleston is one of only eight cities in the nation to currently be working on a Metropolitan Export Strategy—a result of President Obama’s spoken desire to double U.S. exports. “We’re learning that 70 percent of the economic development is happening outside of the U.S.,” Bingham says. “We are recognizing in our region, that to be competitive, and to grow, we have to look outside of our area. And that’s not just outside of Charleston, or outside of the state or the Southeast…it’s outside of our country.” Interestingly enough, while most people thinking exports associate it with large manufacturers, the strategy the Bingham mentions actually focuses on smaller businesses with little export experience. “Traditionally, Americans sell to each other; the market is big enough,” says Bingham. “It was only the more sophisticated…the larger companies—the multinationals—that knew how to do it. Small companies said ‘Well, let me branch out from Charleston to North Charleston, then to North Carolina.’ We’re saying, ‘No, look at all these places at the same time.’” Eventually, Bingham notes, the Upstate Alliance will take the Charleston strategy as a model to build one of their own for the 10-county region at the top of the state. And with the newest addition of the inland port in Greer—a sprawling area near Greenville Spartanburg International airport that will allow local manufacturers to speed up and simplify their exports through the Charleston port—it will be much needed.

With the port in the immediate area, it should come as no surprise that many businesses are focused on the resources that it takes to run imports and exports efficiently. As a prime example, the College of Charleston—specifically, the school of business—is known for its 20-year-old global logistics and transportation program. And, according to Sandy Krezmien-Funk, the reason for that is the school’s close proximity and working relationship with the port. “We train undergraduate students, but we also have a professional course that lasts for a year, where we train people working in industry who want to know more about logistics and transportation and overall supply management,” says KrezmienFunk, who serves as the director of external relations and marketing for the School of Business at College of Charleston. But the school’s reach extends far beyond the waters of Charleston’s rivers. Based on the same globally-known curriculum, the College of Charleston recently established video modules to train Michelin employees in the Upstate and beyond.

According to data from U.S. Census, 2010.

“With the plans for the ports—and now the construction of the inland port—it sheds light on South Carolina’s overall emphasis on strengthening its supply-chain capabilities….roads, infrastructure, resources, talent, people, education,” Krezmien-Funk adds. “So South Carolina as a whole, not just Charleston, is seen as a world leader or the Southeast regional leader in supply chain and logistics.” But the College of Charleston isn’t the only school looking to offer their strengths to another region. Clemson University has established a satellite campus in North Charleston—again, located intentionally near the port. The campus—built off of the model established by CU-ICAR before it and called the Restoration Institute—will serve as the world’s largest turbine testing facility for the mechanics found in modern- and future-day wind energy stations. Because of the size of the turbines, the Charleston port is instrumental in moving the large pieces in and out of the facility from all over the world. “The goal is to build a very strong research and development enterprise for those companies, and a very comprehensive workforce development program. So we’re developing these centers across the state, in partnership with the technical colleges, to really make sure that the talent that the companies need is also there,” Kelly says. “It’s one thing to have R&D, but if you don’t have the right people, then all the R&D doesn’t do you a whole lot of good.” In fact, Kelly notes, it’s crucial that the state come together as a whole to ensure that the South Carolinian workforce is highly educated and competitive. “Regardless of which [city] it is, there is a real need for highend talent,” he says. “None of [our companies] can reach their full potential if they don’t have the kinds of people who can drive innovation inside the company. It doesn’t matter if it’s a startup company with five people or if it’s a company with 500 people— they have to have that real strong intellectual base that drives innovation. Clearly we have to partner on some of those kinds of things; not one university can do it all.”

Across the U.S. employment in STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) has outpaced all other occupations by 27 to 1, and IT unemployment is less than half a percent. And while are many industries and commonalities that the Upstate and the Lowcountry share, there maybe none so much as the field of technologies and innovation. In the Lowcountry, the emergence of the new name “Silicon Harbor” is making news—bringing to light the focus on the technology community (and mimicking the well-known “Silicon Valley” in California). The Charleston area, in fact, is making strides in technology and innovation that are astounding—even within the industry. “It’s booming, and there are 100s of companies in the hightech arena now,” says Bingham. “There’s now, more than ever, crossovers between different industry sectors, and I see that happening in Greenville, too.” In a place where the regional average annual salary sits around $40,000, a survey of local tech companies by the Charleston Digital Corridor found that their averages were over one-and-ahalf times that, rounding out around $67,000. Through the Charleston Digital Corridor, Charleston has had a tech focus in place since 2001, which many proponents credit for the surge in technology companies, talent and capital in the area. For founder and director Ernest Andrade, it’s been a long, but rewarding, effort.

“The infrastructure has gone from—practically speaking— virtually non-existent, where entrepreneurs will just make it on their own, to an environment where we’ve provided additional resources as time has gone by,” Andrade says. Today, in Charleston, the technology community has built into a strong business force. In the Digital Corridor’s incubator facility, where 56 have graduated since 2009, only three have failed. The community is so vibrant, in fact, that the organization expects to look into the development of its own angel fund later this year. In the Upstate, under the leadership of the NEXT accelerator and the local Chambers, another community is laser-focused on technology and innovation—a community that GSATC (Greenville Spartanburg Anderson Technology Council) sees monthly at their highly popular Tech After Five events (which you’re more likely to see coined as Ta5).


Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

The Ta5 events started in Greenville, and in recent years have had to be controlled for the massive influx of participants. When founder Phil Yanov was approached to start up more events across the state, he was surprised. “I’d been around these economic development people for all these years and they kept saying, ‘Somebody needs to collect this state together…someone needs to build a thread of technology and entrepreneurship and innovation across the state,’” Yanov remembers. “I always thought some smarter, better, more funded dude would figure that out and would do it.” After first taking Ta5 to Columbia, and seeing some success, Yanov decided to expand a bit further. So around two years ago, he took the event into Charleston. Today, Ta5 in Charleston is just as big as Greenville’s event — both boasting just fewer than 250 attendees a month. But technology is only one piece of the innovative community, and Stanfield Gray—originally from Spartanburg but now a resident of Charleston—saw a much bigger possibility to set the state of South Carolina apart when it comes to technology and innovation. After attending an AdAge conference in New York, Gray realized what had been an unnoticed potential. “What I realized was that the timing was perfect to put together a festival that is about the Southeastern digital economy and bring people to Charleston who would otherwise have to go all the way to Austin for SXSW,” Gray says. So, he began Dig South (a play off of “digital South”), which will make its first appearance in Charleston in mid-April. Because industry conferences like SXSW and AdAge have become so big, many times younger entrepreneurs can’t afford to make a big impression there, he adds. And because there is so much knowledge right in the Southeast, traveling across the country to find out about it seems ineffectual. “There’s great stuff going on in Greenville…up in Atlanta…in Raleigh, Durham, Nashville...a lot of areas in our region have emerging technology companies,” he says. “This is the perfect opportunity for us to put something together that is the first and only festival dedicated to the whole southeastern digital economy.”

When you look at quality of life, the focus on innovation and technology, the cultures and focuses on transferable knowledge, it should come as no surprise that the business communities of the Upstate and Lowcountry are also aligned. With focuses on manufacturing (which goes far beyond Boeing and BMW), advanced technologies, bio-sciences and energy, both areas have become a hotbed—not only for those companies that directly align, but also for the business who want to work with those companies. “When we went to Charleston, everyone said ‘Oh, they are all tourism,’”Yanov says. “But the bulk of the tech people we see down [in Charleston] are there from the defense community.” Gray also notes that the booming business community played a part in his decision to start Dig South. “There were a lot of expansions…companies were hiring 100 to 200 people at a time,” he says. “When you see that kind of growth in the sector, it’s very encouraging to look at what happened here.” Like the Upstate, Charleston has developed its own entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes resource providers, suppliers and support industries. Because of these strong ecosystems in both areas, it’s created an environment where business who thrive in one area find it very easy to expand into the other. Immedion was one such company. When Frank Mobley, founder and CEO of the IT support and security company decided to expand, the Charleston area was a logical step. “In general terms, it’s the activity,” he says. “It’s very active down here. You can see it; you can feel it,” Mobley says. “I saw it was we started in Greenville. There was a lot of activity in the tech community. We see that level here.” Now with an office in North Charleston, Mobley notes that of his four locations (also in Asheville and Columbia), Charleston and Greenville are the most active markets for Immedion. And, at least in part, he credits the like energies that surround the markets. “I see simulators. I see a lot of young, smart people who want to be entrepreneurial. I see a like sample of people who have moved here for quality of life in both the Upstate and Charleston…both are places that people want to move and live,” Mobley says. Mobley is only one of many companies that have expanded or will move into a secondary market in one of the two areas, just as other organizations like Ta5, and systems of higher education, like Clemson or College of Charleston, have done before them. It seems to be a natural progression for companies looking to make that next step to a new level of collaboration and business. “There is a booming entrepreneurial environment,” Bingham adds. “In the last eight to 10 years, that whole arena has really changed, as it has in Greenville, too.”




omo podemos definir la reforma migratoria y nuestro modelo económico en estos momentos en que todavía no vemos una mejoría concreta en la economía? El impacto será tan directo que tratar de nombrar todos los sectores que se beneficiaran es imposible. Solo nombremos algunos como lo son la industria de seguros, servicios profesionales, la industria hotelera, comida rápida y restaurantes, etc. Miremos las estadísticas publicadas en el Huffpost Voices y que son discutidas a la saciedad en todos los foros: “la aportación de las personas indocumentadas que residen en los Estados Unidos es de $2 mil millones de dólares en contribuciones. El 70 por ciento de 12 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados son hispanos; 400,000 de ellos están casados con ciudadanos americanos y tienen hijos ciudadanos americanos. Reconocemos que el asunto de la inmigración es uno complejo pero está muy ligado a la economía y un asunto que los americanos quieren resolver. Ya hemos visto que los bufetes de abogados están buscando empleados adicionales en preparación para lo que será el gran numero de personas que


Evelyn Lugo is the founder and President of the South Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SCHCC). With a background in business administration, Ms. Lugo obtained additional experience in working with corporations such as Eastman Kodak, Abbot Pharmaceutical and 3M. Her motivation is to help entrepreneurs, identify business growth opportunities, and help others to overcome challenges during their business development. The South Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in August 2007 and designated a 501(c)6 non-profi organization in June 2009 by the IRS.


necesitarán ayuda con sus documentos. Y este es sólo una parte del sector de servicios al cual se une el de la preparación de impuestos el que también estará jugando un papel importante en la economía. El espíritu emprendedor de los hispanos es reconocido y aplaudido por muchos, al igual que la aportación en otros sectores como el judicial, el sector privado y público, el servicio a la comunidad, la aportación a las artes y mucho mas. Y por último, pero no menos importante, los valores de la comunidad hispana están a la par con los valores tradicionales de esta nación como lo son la familia, la religión y el respeto a la vida. Este, para mi, es el mayor impacto que pueda tener nuestra economía.

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he Rolling Stones song says “you can’t always get what you get what you need.”Too often, elected officials from both the left and the right seem to think that what they want from their own ideological point of view is all that matters, and not what the public wants or for that matter needs. They seem to forget that what the public wants and needs, more than anything else these days, is confidence that their government can actually work, that elected officials are committed to getting things done, and clear proof that the citizen-taxpayers interest are being served. It’s true in Columbia and it’s true in Washington. To borrow from another musical artist, the general mood of the electorate seems to be calling for “a lot less talk and little more action.” Finally, we have before us a good example of getting what many wanted and what was certainly needed. This comes in the passage of the Governor Haley’s Department of Administration bill that gets rid of the Budget and Control Board, an unbelievably antiquated entity unique only to South Carolina. The governor will rightfully take credit for this in the upcoming 2014 elections and her anticipated opponent, State Senator Vincent Sheheen (sponsor of one version) will do the same. And



Chip Felkel is a veteran public affairs strategist, media relations expert and advocacy innovator with over two decades of experience in the State and National arenas. Felkel’s extensive political resume includes roles with Campbell for Governor, the South Carolina Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, as well as the 1988 Bush-Quayle Campaign (Executive Director, Georgia), DeMint 2002 Congressional Reelect (campaign manager) and in strategic and communications roles with Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004. He also serves as a political analyst for WYFF (NBC).


to that I say, who cares? It is a step in the right direction, one that the S.C. State Senate finally got behind after years of debate. So, in my book, we scored one for the good guys, the taxpayers and citizens of the Palmetto State. Farewell, Budget and Control Board and, oh, good riddance. Still, there is a lot of work left to do in this year’s session. Important issues remain that must be addressed such as ethics reform, election reform, and hopefully tax reform, too. There is also the question of how to use an anticipated surplus of $167 million. The governor has proposed that all if not most of those dollars should be used to replace, repair or upgrade our numerous dilapidated roads and bridges. It is a serious issue, one that affects not just safety but economic development and yes, even perception. So, while others will always find something they think is more important, it is hard to argue with Governor Haley given the situation, and a clear unwillingness (the governor also falls into this group) to consider raising the gas tax. The expansion of Medicaid continues to be a highly divisive issue in the state. This battle pits Governor Haley and her Administration squarely against the S.C. Hospital Association membership— as the governor and the GOP majority are opposed while the hospitals maintain this is more about politics and ideology than it is finances. At the center of the debate is Haley’s unwillingness to accept $11 billion in federal funds to expand the Medicaid program, money that the SCHA suggests would offset anticipated cuts and help to create 44,000 jobs. House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (R-Anderson) is proposing an $83 million alternative that would discourage unnecessary emergency room visits and offer support for rural hospitals and free clinics. Proposals for strong ethics reform will be addressed and hopefully, some measure of tax reform will take shape as we get closer to the end of the Session in June. And last but not least, as usual, there is a bill that is well intentioned, but is in fact, not the answer, a bill that penalizes those who are not the problem. This is the case of a bill sponsored by Greenville Senator Mike Fair and Lexington House member Kit Spires that would require you to have a doctor’s prescription in order to purchase any medicine that contains pseudoephedrine­—your allergy medicine. There is no doubt we must do more to tackle the plague of meth in our communities but this bill has some other ramifications that will mean you or your child will have to see a doctor, miss work or school, get a prescription, and then go to the pharmacy when seasonal allergies kick in. Not For more on this topic visit

1 1

As a cleanup boy at Homestead Country Club in Prairie Village, Kansas. Ironically, the organizers of my 50th High School Reunion chose to hold our reunion there.

[2] How do you strike a balance between your personal and professional lives?

I don’t think I have ever done a good job of that. Volunteer activities have always occupied a disproportionate share of my time.

[3] What are some strategies you use to do so/keep yourself in check?

Exercise, good diet, and religion. Actually, those are all lies. Probably what works best for me is good humor and watching sports on TV.

[8] You were instrumental in the foundation of New Carolina. What was the biggest challenge with starting that group?

I did not start New Carolina. In 2003, the Palmetto Institute brought Harvard Professor Michael Porter to South Carolina to make recommendations on the State economy. The S.C. Council on Competitiveness (a.k.a. New Carolina) was created in 2004 to implement Porter’s recommendations. It was started by a diverse group of business leaders with Ed Sellers, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, as the Chairman. I was hired as Executive Director in the Spring of 2005. Our biggest challenge has been to explain the concept of cluster development and the potential impact on the growth and competitiveness in South Carolina.

[9] What is your perspective on the state of South Carolina today?


I think the state has made great progress in the last 10 years—it’s just that few people know it. Porter (who has become perhaps the world’s foremost economic development strategist) has said the changes in S.C. in the next five to ten years will be the envy of the country.

[5] What was your biggest failure as a

[10] What are your hopes for South Carolina’s

[4] What do you struggle with?

professional and how did you recover?

I’m actually pleased with my business decisions, although I’m sure I could have done better. My greatest failure was losing the Greenville Braves after taking the West End location to the City of Greenville. That said, the Greenville Drive has been a fantastic asset.

[6] What is your plan for yourself in the future? Retirement from New Carolina, but I’m also chairing the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Greenville for celebration in 2016, and will be taking courses at the program that my wife built at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman. (They now have 90 courses and 1300 members per term.) I also really want to volunteer with the Miniature World of Trains in Greenville.

[7] If you could be anything in any industry

other than the one you’re in, what would it be? A baseball player. Unfortunately, I had little talent. Or, a sports announcer. Sadly, I never had the voice.

business/economic development sectors?

We need more Fortune 500 corporate headquarters. If SCANA falls off of the list, we have none. We do have some major private companies (Milliken) and non-profits (Blue CrossBlue Shield.) We have significant international investments like BMW and Milliken. However, Fortune 500 companies are not likely to move their headquarters here, so we need to grow them internally. We also need more startups based on innovation from research universities, existing corporations and partnerships such as the SC/Israel collaboration.

[11] What is your hope for South Carolina’s future?

I have many hopes for South Carolina. One is that we approach Israel or Silicon Valley in Innovation, and also that new companies come from the $200 million smart state investment. I want every one of our research universities become world class, and hope that we develop an ICAR for each of our predominant industrial clusters. But I also want us to become more tolerant of races and lifestyles, and celebrate the phenomenal assets we have.

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box


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[1] What was your first job?






THE PITCH: Pain is the unfortunate side-effect of being human...and it tends to motivate our sales. Every time humans invent a new technology, we create a need for improved interaction with it—pistol grips for guns, steering wheels for cars, keyboards for PCs. Today we’ve got mobile devices. That’s where Comfe comes in. Comfe exists to remove and prevent pain and get paid for it. How? We design and sell patentable accessories to improve human interaction with gadgets. Ours are feelgood products that won’t tie you down. We serve the aging world demographic by removing pain and the barriers to a free, active and productive life. Why would someone buy Comfe products? Some of my first customers can answer best: “My hands feel great while using the iPad for any length of time.” “A few days into use, I didn’t want to be without them...I could type more efficiently....” “A very inexpensive fix for big problem.” People pay us to enjoy their gadgets. We are good because we know pain. We know where it comes from, what it looks like, and how to find it. Pain sometimes makes people ugly and impatient. It can encourage profanity. We know! Comfe currently has two product lines: (1) Comfe Hands, a comfort grip to use with tablets, and (2) soon-to-release Comfe Arms, a comfortable mobile armband for everyday athletes. As long as people are around and buying tech gadgets, we will have an addressable market. Thanks to Steve Jobs, our market can be bigger than the average country’s population! ©2013 Comfe Designs

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios




Enter Comfe Hands and you have a great solution to a long standing complaint about the inability to handhold Apple’s flagship iPad for any significant length of time or with one hand. The product is light weight, durable, and, as the name implies, comfortable to use. The marketing matches up as well with a clean cut website at www. and an active Facebook page. In weighing this pitch, it comes down to this: This is a product my grandmother would buy. While the form of the product certainly fits its ergonomic name, visually it looks a bit like adding orthopedic shoes to my sleek iPad. Without careful design considerations in future versions that best reflect the taste of tech-savvy buyers, this product could easily be overlooked on shelves despite that great benefit. This is a product competing in a flooded and highly competitive accessory market where my grandmother represents a very small minority. Comfe Hands runs the risk of fading into the background noise without strong differentiation, placement, or known-brand association.

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of David and his Comfe Designs products. I have tested the Comfe Hands and agree that they greatly increase the comfort of holding an iPad for any extended period. However, I think David’s pitch sells the company short in a couple of ways. First, it buries the lede by not mentioning the current products until the last half of the last paragraph. Second, while the theme of pain relief is a good hook for catching the customer’s attention, the overall pitch seems to argue that Comfe is about much more than that— but the message is somewhat jumbled. There’s no mention of specific pain points, and none of the customer quotes mention pain. It seems the broader purpose of Comfe is “to improve human interaction with gadgets,” so I would make that the headline message, then describe the multiple underlying benefits of pain relief, comfort, efficiency, mobility and increased enjoyment. Finally, from a business execution standpoint, the pitch could benefit from a short description of how the company will get its message into the marketplace, and how it will secure distribution for its products. I look forward to being a customer!


Managing Director Upstate Carolina Angel Network For more from Business Black Box visit

It’s an exciting time for innovators and problem solvers and no better space currently exists than in mobile devices and the array of products we have to accessorize them.

Products made using this technology gain some unique advantages in a wide range of colors, textures, and printed designs that could help the product leap off of the selves and into the hands of a wide range of eager buyers. With these considerations, Comfe Hands has a fantastic product that delivers on its promises. Its greatest success will come from breaking through the cool factor and making a little noise on the shelves.

JAKE KNIGHT Senior Project Manager Rapptor Studios

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box



IFC BMW Performance Center • 7 Carolina Gallery • 73 Charleston Wine + Food Festival •


9 Clemson MBA • 2 Courtyard Marriott •


14 Fisheye Studios •

Anderson CVB

5 Gleaton Wyatt Hewitt • 78 Greenville Chamber of Commerce • 1 Greenville Drive • 19 Greenville Tech • 26 Hampton Inn Riverplace • BC Holiday Inn Express • IBC Palmetto Bank •

SPARTANBURG Carolina Art Gallery Chapman Cultural Center Hub-Bub ShowRoom Hub City Bookshop Spartanburg Chamber GREER Greer Chamber GREENVILLE Barnes & Noble | Haywood Rd Barnes & Noble | Woodruff Rd

63 ProActive •

Coffee Underground Commerce Club

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29 Paul Johnson Interiors •

Fisheye Studios 39 Quality Business Solutions • 57 Sandlapper • 43 Stax Catering • 22 Summit Janitorial • 13 Wyche, P.A. • 10 Zen. •

Greenville Chamber Michelin on Main NEXT Innovation Center Runway Cafe Soby’s on the Side Spill the Beans Stax Epicurean Stax Omega Swamp Rabbit Café

Q2 2013 // Business Black Box






nfortunately, the world is full of people who sleep walk through their lives. They get ot up,long go to work, ago, planning a meeting with a new business partner required a flurry of letters, then go back to sleep, simply because they did that faxes, “long-distance” phone calls and time with a travel agent. The barriers to doing the day before. They live in a state of untappedbusiness potential. globally were very high indeed. James Jordon, the founder of The Jordon Companies, had relationships is not only cheaper and faster, it’s entirely feasible to Today, building a similar time growing up in Milwaukee, Michigan. By do business with far-flung his partners you’ve never actually met in person. Establish your own global junior year of high school, his GPA was with a 1.2a and he was in and the help of a few powerful, cloud-based tools. network process in mind serious G L Odanger B A Lof not graduating. Discovery One of the times he brought a report cardthe home, Finding righteverything person with the experience and expertise you need in a particular market is key. changed. His stepfather sat him down at the kitchen and websites and web searching are obvious places to start. But, the most Industry newsletters,table conference asked him what his dream was.powerful After some thought, Jordon tools by far are social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. eventually wanted to own businesses real to estate. Force and yourself dive His into each of these networks, learn what works for you, and make new stepfather then helped him lay contacts out goalsthere. such as graduating high school, going to college, getting a job—and further, laid Engaging out the day-to-day things he needed to you’ve accomplish to make Once identified someone of interest, it’s time to engage and begin a relationship. Don’t be his dream a reality. shy. Social media people are, well, social people after all! Invite the person to connect on LinkedIn, “My whole trajectory changed after through that follow himgoing on Twitter, post a comment on her blog – these are all starting points. activity. Everything changed,” he said. Over time, Jordon became the founder of the Jordon Companies, which focuses on real estate development and construction services, taking abandoned lots, buildings, and property and to renovate them and make them prosperous new businesses, locations and housing. “If you look at any successful business, person, model, everything just starts as an idea.” But while he was successful at achiving his goal, he wanted Build rapport with counterpart, and when you feel the time is right, setup a phone call. Skype to inspire others through the Jordon Foundation. Justyour as his and Google Talk work great for this. The idea is to keep a conversation going and delve deeper into stepfather did for him, the foundation focuses on helping mutual interest. people map out their dreams andareas give of them the tools to inspire the author... Let’s Meet them About to follow those dreams. At thistopoint you’ve engaged They alsoreplanted encourage interact with one with a few people who you want to take to the next step. But, instead Marc Bolick histhe attendees hopping a plane, videoconference. While a voice call gets you part of the way there, seeing native roots Greenville another and in begin networking ofwith each on other and do seea in afterways living in Europe foreach other yourfulfill counterpart “live” on screen takes the level of engagement way up and you’ll feel you have what they can help their dreams. 13“That’s years. He worked actually ‘met’ a new thehas way you change communities, we friend. need to in all aspects of product surprising how feweach people use video calling these days, yet it can be done for free using the become more related to each otherIt’sand be able to help and service creation for built-in camera of your PC or smart phone. Both Skype and Google Talk support video calls. A bit other out.” companies ranging from careful planning Also, Jordon and his “Dream of Team”—those thatand, assistvoilà, him you’ll be doing Buck Rogers with Günter in Munich in no time flat. Fortune 100 multi-nationals Build the Relationship with the foundation and the events—work one-on-one with to mid-sized European firms you’ve met, it’s time to start extending the relationship. Learning more about each other’s in the further assisting themNow withthat working out their to attendees startups. For past nine business via webtoconference is a good place to start.Two services that are free are and dreams or has leading them in the right direction equip them years he run Dmarc8 As you use the net to keep in touch and engage ever deeper, it’s likely that you will come up with International, a consulting with their endeavors. firm that helps clients collaboration project thatwe will help you both grow business. “Whatever that thingtois insidea you, that purpose, is what qualify, plan and implement Collaborate want to help get out of you.” innovative growth people strategies. Since is the By helping get in touch withcollaboration their purpose andmost valuable part of business relationships, there are many cloud-based can use. in life will follow their dreams and givingtools themyou a purpose If you want a simple, change that person as well as the community around them.task-based project collaboration tool, Basecamp is worth a try. Another app, aYammer, as them a hub for all your interactions with distant partners. Other collaboration “I still maintain that if people have vision andcan youact give youlives,” mightsaid want to use include Google Drive (documents), Zoho (CRM) and MindMeister the tools to walk that vision out, ittools changes Jordon. (brainstorming). Being able to alter the direction of someone’s life is what Building with international partners need not cost a fortune. It just takes an investment matters to James Jordon, and his dream is torelationships be able to touch of your timethem and energy. Go ahead, plug yourself in to the global network of potential partners! 1 million people with his seminars and help realize their true potential and by extension change their communities for the better.


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Q2 2013 // Business Black Box

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Business Black Box Magazine Q2 2013  

The Upstate's leading business magazine.

Business Black Box Magazine Q2 2013  

The Upstate's leading business magazine.