Earlier this year, Holy City tech fest Dig South gave a nod to the digital zeitgeist when organizers announced they would accept the radical crypto-currency Bitcoin as payment for registration. But that’s not the only change for the upcoming event, now in its second year. For starters, this year’s Dig South will be twice as long — lasting four days from April 9 to April 13. “Last year, we had 134 presenters.
"This year we already have 175 … so we’ve definitely increased participation beyond the region,” says Dig South founder Stanfield Gray.
A South by Southwest-style tech event, Dig South is expected to draw some 5,000 attendees, 650 companies, and more than 175 presenters. And just like last year, it will feature several national musical acts. Presentations will range anywhere from a panel discussion about “How to Make Your Evaluating Vectors More Attractive and Maximize Acquire Value as a Means to Exit” to a talk by a BuzzFeed VP on “How Cat Memes Work in Tunisia.” They’re also throwing a party at the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard which’ll have a steam punk theme; Atlanta’s Blair Crimmins and the Hookers will play.
The most exciting new addition, however, just might be something the Dig South crew is calling Wild Pitch.
“It’s like Shark Tank but in front of a live audience,” Gray says. For one of the Wild Pitch events, held at the Charleston Music Hall on Thurs. April 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., organizers will select eight students to pitch innovative tech ideas to entrepreneurs. Winners will get $500 cash and 18 hours of mentorship from three successful entrepreneurs on how to fine-tune their concept, plus two all-access badges for next year’s Dig South. Guidelines and how to enter can be found online at the Dig South site.
“We’ve got some really high-level investors in the crowd,” Gray says. “The idea is that these are legitimate companies with proof of concept, or startups that are excited about their innovative ideas, that will convince an investor to invest in the company.”
Another new edition is a 24-hour hackathon beginning April 11, where aspiring coders and software designers can team up and compete to build the best app. “They’re not people actually hacking into systems,” Gray explains. Instead, Dig South’s nonprofit partner, the Lowcountry Land Trust, will suggest concepts based around their web needs, and developers will build apps to address them. “It’s a cool way to write code, but also it’s philanthropic,” says Gray. The competition will culminate in the HACKCharleston prize awarded April 12 at the Alley downtown during the festival’s finale, Culturama. There, the event-ender will feature music by Nashville’s Nature Child and Charleston’s own Honeyspoke and Logan Venderlic.
“Last year, we had 134 presenters, this year we already have 175,” Gray says. As for how many registrants took Dig South up on the offer to pay with Bitcoins, there hasn’t been a brave soul willing to do it, at least not yet. So Dig South is willing to double down. Gray adds, “If you buy a ticket with Bitcoins, you’ll get two all-access passes for the price of one.”