TechBirmingham Blog

Archive for August, 2016

Startup Drinks at Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator a Success!

Guest Post by Jordan Lessley, Planet Fundraiser.

The Velocity Accelerator space at Innovation Depot in Northside Birmingham, Alabama, was packed with over 190 guests at the second Startup Drinks Pitch Night on Tuesday night.


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Meet Our Volunteers – Amrita Lakhanpal

TechBirmingham thrives through its immensely talented and diverse group of member companies and their employees. We are also fortunate to be part of a community that values giving back and helping others to succeed. Meet Our Volunteers is an ongoing Q&A series highlighting the individuals who are crucial to the success of our programs.

Meet Amrita Lakhanpal, a high school student at The Altamont School. Amrita is a San Antonio native and has lived in Birmingham most of her life.  Read on to learn more about Amrita.


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Meet Our Volunteers – Ben Podbielski

TechBirmingham thrives through its immensely talented and diverse group of member companies and their employees. We are also fortunate to be part of a community that values giving back and helping others to succeed. Meet Our Volunteers is an ongoing Q&A series highlighting the individuals who are crucial to the success of our programs.

Meet Ben Podbielski, Business Systems Analyst at Protective. Ben is an Atlanta native and has lived in Birmingham for almost two years.  He regularly volunteers for Super Code Sunday, a monthly club for kids ages 7-17 who like to code. Read on to learn more about Ben.

Hi Ben! Let’s get started — Tell us more about educational background and what you do at Protective.

I have a Bachelors in Computer Science from LaGrange College, Masters of Science in IT and MBA from Florida Institute of Technology and Masters of Science in Project Management from Southern New Hampshire University.

I currently work for Protective Life, a subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life. Protective Life is a financial service holding company founded and headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Originally established in 1907, we now market products and services in all 50 states. My current role is as a business systems analyst on the Enterprise IT Planning & Analytics team.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy exploring all that Birmingham has to offer. Between the growing food scene, the large number of breweries, all of the different events, and the outdoor areas, such as Railroad Park, there is always something to do around downtown.

Why did you decide to volunteer with TechBirmingham?

I’ve personally experienced the difference that an experienced technology professional can have. In high school, I had a teacher, who taught various computer courses, who inspired me to start down the technology path. So I jumped at the opportunity to pay that forward and possibly provide that same inspiration.

What is your perspective of today’s tech scene in Birmingham? What opportunities do you see for these future generations?

The tech scene in Birmingham is growing and growing fast. When I lived in Atlanta, Birmingham was about as far away from a tech city as I could think of. Everyone knows the various companies that are based out of Birmingham, such as Southern Company, Protective Life, and Regions Bank; however, today, with companies such as Shipt and TheraNest being founded here, the perception of Birmingham is changing. While I don’t think we can ever get to a Silicon Valley level, I hope to see Birmingham becomes the place where anyone who has a technology dream is provided the opportunity to pursue it.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to kids that want to pursue a career in technology?

My one piece of advice would be to always ask why and how. Don’t just accept something. If your new piece of software or hardware has a new feature; why did they do that and how was it done? Those are the questions that help you to continue to push your own personal and professional boundaries.

Any other information you would like to share?

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

-Steve Jobs

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Sloss Tech Garners Huge Coverage Around the Southeast

Now that we are a month removed from Sloss Tech, the Southeast’s preeminent technology festival, it’s still amazing to see all the great exposure this event received. Here’s a look back at many of the articles and videos highlighting this important event for our region.

Birmingham Tech Festival Sloss Tech to debut before Sloss Fest

Sloss Tech bringing tech giants to Birmingham Friday

Sloss Tech preview: A leading futurist on technology and growing business

Sloss Tech Gives Nod to Birmingham’s Origins and Its Future

Birmingham is hustling, bustling and poised for tech growth

Silicon Valley isn’t tech’s only hub. Birmingham’s Jones and Shades valleys are big, too

Alabama entrepreneurs on what made them successful: Move fast, and don’t fear falling

Birmingham tech needs a company that reaches ‘significance’ to break out

How Birmingham can keep its entrepreneurs according to #AskGaryVee

Keeping and growing nerds in our city is key to Birmingham’s success

SlossTech: Alabama Fireside Chat Keynote 2016


HARK TV Sloss Tech coverage

8 things we learned at Sloss Tech

7 reasons to regret missing Birmingham’s first technology conference

Sloss Fest 2016: What you need to know heading into the weekend

Sloss Tech: Key takeaways from Birmingham’s new startup event

After a successful launch, where does Sloss Tech go from here?

New technology festival launching in Birmingham this summer

Could Sloss Fest become Birmingham’s SXSW?



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Innovation Week Birmingham 2016 showcases Birmingham as a hub for innovation and technology

Guest Post by Jon Nugent, vice president of innovation and technology for the Birmingham Business Alliance

Birmingham is home to unsurpassed intellectual capital, from UAB to Southern Research, and literally dozens of other companies across the metro area. Leveraging that new knowledge, local entrepreneurs, partnered with our vibrant business community and some of the best investors in the world, are creating the next generation of businesses, transforming Birmingham into a hub of innovation.


Innovation Week Birmingham is a celebration of the innovators, inventors, investors, and entrepreneurs that make Birmingham such a vital community. Now in its third year, Innovation Week provides an opportunity to learn about new products, services, technologies, and trends across multiple areas of innovation. This year’s event will highlight the strength of Birmingham’s innovation ecosystem, focusing on our local resources, incubators, accelerators and maker spaces. There will be roundtable discussions, panels and seminars covering topics central to innovation, including seeking and securing funding, the growth of cyber security, startup pitching, women in IT, coding, infectious disease research and much more.


Participants in Innovation Week Birmingham 2016 will have the opportunity to learn more about the research happening in Birmingham and the startups transforming our economy. Attendees will hear from and meet the people behind some of that work, and learn about their successes in developing new resources, building partnerships and growing their respective companies with local talent.


The week will kick off on Friday, August 19 with a block party at Good People Brewing Co. celebrating the ideas, people and companies that are helping to define Birmingham as a great place to do business. On Monday, August 22, the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UAB will recognize local innovators who were issued patents or whose technologies were licensed or used to launch startups in 2016. Later that day, regional business leaders and elected officials will gather at the Innovation Depot for a ribbon cutting that will officially open Innovation Week. Monday concludes with an open house at the Red Mountain Makerspace, Birmingham’s premier location for programmers, engineers and artists to build their dreams.


Tuesday, August 23 opens with “Funding Your Business to the Next Level,” a panel hosted by Emily Hart, Marketing Director of MotionMobs, followed by TechBirmingham’s popular “TechTuesday” speaker series with Joshua Jones, Managing Partner of StrategyWise. That afternoon, several leading local CEOs will participate in “Behind the Scenes of Innovative Businesses,” a panel designed to inspire entrepreneurs by providing first-person insight into how companies transform their ideas into operating businesses. Also that afternoon, Dr. Tom McDougal, CEO and Founder of Gylen Castle LLC and Alternavisit will share his insights, experiences and strategies for effective marketing and sales to health care organizations, “Selling Your Innovative Solution to the Health Care Industry.” Tuesday’s events close with, “Startup Drinks Pitch Night” at the Velocity Accelerator at Innovation Depot.


Wednesday begins with presentations in the 1 Million Cups program. Designed as a simple way to engage entrepreneurs in communities around the world, 1 Million Cups offers two local entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their respective startups to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs. Later that morning, Dr. Fouad H. Fouad, Chair and Professor at the UAB School of Engineering, and Directors of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center and; Dr. Jason T. Kirby, Professor and Director of the UAB Master’s in Sustainable Smart Cities program, will present an overview of UAB’s unique online Master’s degree program, Sustainable Smart Cities. The Birmingham Business Alliance’s Regional Enterprise Council and Women’s Business Council will then host Tanveer Patel, Co-Founder and CEO of ConcertCare, an international health care services firm that provides business solutions for healthcare organizations. Viperline and Cyphort will host a discussion lead by former Facebook Malware Expert, Nick Bilogroskiy, at Innovation Depot, followed by a celebration of the founding of Depot/U with a one year anniversary soiree at Avondale Brewing.


Thursday will include the Magic City Coders Showcase, sponsored by BBVA Compass, sngular and the UAB iLab; and Depot Connect a unique networking event attended by many of the Innovation Depot member companies. One of the week’s highlights will be a special presentation and panel discussion hosted by Southern Research and including leading infectious disease specialists discussing hot topics like the Zika virus. Immediately following the panel, Southern Research will graciously open the courtyard of Quinlan Castle for a very special Business@Sunset event where attendees will be able to connect with business leaders from diverse industries.


Innovation Week Birmingham 2016 has been designed to showcase the breakthrough innovation and technology we have in Birmingham. Birmingham is a center of innovation, where technologies grow and businesses flourish.


Innovation Week Birmingham is a partnership between Birmingham Business Alliance, Birmingham Venture Club, City of Birmingham, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Innovation Depot, REV Birmingham, Southern Research, TechBirmingham and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Meet our Member Companies – iSeek Solutions

TechBirmingham thrives through its immensely talented and diverse group of member companies. Meet our Member Companies is an ongoing Q&A series highlighting this group of movers, shakers and makers in B’ham’s tech industry.

Meet Annie Allen, Owner and President of iSeek Solutions. Annie is a Huntsville native and has lived in Birmingham over 25 years. Read on to learn more about iSeek Solutions and the great things they are doing in Birmingham and beyond.

Hi Annie! Let’s get started — Tell us more about iSeek Solutions and your typical day.

As owner, president and principal consultant for iSeek Solutions, a boutique management consulting firm, I wear a lot of hats, which means an average day can consist of various tasks.

During normal business hours, I’m either working with clients to identify and prioritize their actual needs – through business process mapping, root cause analysis, requirements gathering or strategic planning – or partnering with vendors to design and implement customized solutions that meet the clients’ objectives.

The rest of my work day (or night) consists of further building the brand and promoting iSeek Solutions, networking for business development or partnering opportunities, and finally the operational aspects of keeping the lights on.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your industry?

I’ve heard it said before, and I fully agree, that many people think the technology industry is all about software (app) development. Just as in the medical industry people still think primarily of doctors and nurses.

I began my IT career as a software developer, and I loved it. But I quickly came to see the divide between IT and the business. The analogy “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” can be applied to software developers and business end-users. They truly don’t speak the same language. And the belief of “build it and they will come” simply doesn’t work anymore. IT enables business, and the business must articulate the strategy and objectives in a way that allows IT to plan and implement accordingly.

How do you feel about B’ham’s tech scene?

Birmingham has a strong technology community. TechBirmingham, Innovation Depot and others are doing a great job spotlighting Birmingham’s tech successes, especially in the area of small businesses.

From a larger organization perspective, I’m very excited about the KeepITLocal initiative. I encourage every local organization to make the commitment to first look in its own community to fill its IT needs. Whatever the need, I can’t imagine that Birmingham doesn’t have available resources with the necessary expertise. It’s a WIN-WIN!

Anything else you’d like to share?

For iSeek Solutions, it’s personal! We focus our attention on developing customized solutions that meet our clients specific business needs. By combining the latest technologies and sound business practices with a personal touch, we guide our clients through the toughest business and technology challenges.

We strive to be a trusted partner who steers clients towards processes and technology that optimize performance, grow revenue, and lay a solid foundation for long-term success.

Thanks so much for sharing, Annie! 

Follow Annie online here:


Twitter: @iSeekSolutionsI


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