A Catalyst in the Chamber

The Catalyst Center Sneak Preview took place Thursday evening, bringing together over a hundred people who wanted to learn about, and celebrate in the advent of this new entrepreneurial resource. For the past decade the Charleston Chamber of Commerce has been making strides to support the growing tech entrepreneur contingent here. The Catalyst Center is one of their latest efforts to foster this community. The word is out that scalable tech business can prosper here, and the Catalyst center is expecting the techies to come, though they are prepared to support all ventures.

Megan Reilly, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager said, “It’s easy for us to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the community,” something they want to share with the city’s budding businesspeople. The Catalyst’s presence in the Chamber building will give members – the Entrepreneur Crowd – access to the Chamber’s resources, as well as its 1,000 business members. That’s 80,000 people, or 11 percent of the metro population

The Catalyst’s goal is to help both aspiring and active Charleston entrepreneurs with high-impact, scalable ideas “to think outside the box” Reilly said. Entrepreneurs are never lacking passion, yet often overlook the scalability of their ideas. They are targeting two groups, or entrepreneurial stages, based on what the community now offers in places like the Harbor Accelerator. The first are potential Accelerator candidates who need to further develop their ideas. Second are Accelerator graduates who need a temporary home as they figure out their workspace needs.

The Entrepreneur Crowd – comprised of both Chamber members, and those who pay a mere $100 annual membership fee – will be provided various programs, as well as the use of the space being built. With a handful of touch-down workspaces, an audio-visual studio for marketing needs, a conference room, and potentially a 3D printer for prototyping, it is truly an all-purpose space.

The Sneak Preview showcased keynote speaker and tech entrepreneur extraordinaire, Scott Moody. He founded the company responsible for the Touch ID technology that is now on every iPhone 5s. His most recent company is K4Connect, which develops software to make smart homes more cohesive and responsive. He had every person in the room inspired, and considering their priorities.

He reminded entrepreneurs that, mostly when seeking funding, “you really have to be able to take no for an answer.” He likened the experience to standing on the side of the road with a “will work for food” sign, watching everyone drive past you. He got buy, he said, on the notion of the “fallacy of failure” in which every “no” is just a step towards the next, or first, “yes”.