Survey after survey has named Atlanta’s burgeoning tech scene one of which to take note. From the convergence of tech giants, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon to the city being named a “Top 3 tech mecca of tomorrow” by FORBES Magazine earlier this year, we’re feeling solid about the metro area’s moniker as the Silicon Valley of the south. And so we’ve rounded up a few companies that are on our radar and that we believe should be on yours. Enter: some of Atlanta’s hottest innovators, M. Cole Jones and Michael Flanigan of Covello, Harold Alexander of Alexander Software and the superteam behind Digital Good Times.
Harold Alexander | CEO, Alexander Software
Everyone wants to pitch Harold Alexander an app idea. So, if you meet him and that urge arises, realize that he may have heard your idea already. Alexander, an electronic engineer, software engineer and CEO of Alexander Software has been in the business long enough that he’s grown accustomed to keeping his profession under wraps. Though the interest he sparks with people in conversation is par for the course considering how he feels about his industry – technology. In his opinion, “It’s the best in the world.”
Alexander Software has created cloud-based B2B applications for 15 years, recently rolling out its marquee offering – TimeCUE, a mobile and online time clock which allows employees to clock in and out using their smart phones (Android and iPhone).
The mobile and online time clock uses GPS software to pinpoint an employee’s location so they cannot clock in or out from locations not approved by their employer. “We are doing something that no one else is doing with regards to time keeping,” Alexander adds.
“After we built TimeCUE, it allowed the company to refocus on that product and push everything we had into making it the best on the market. Our goal is to change the time keeping industry and I believe we have the product to do that. I believe when we look back a few years from now, TimeCUE will be the application that took the company to the next level.”
It was the coup that Alexander attributes to fortuitous inventing.
Alexander Software had recently built a medical application for a physician who, after it was installed, requested a time clock for his staff. So a time clock was added to the application without much of a thought until a couple of months later when another client requested an online time clock. Since they had already embedded one into the medical application, he realized it could actually be made into its own application. Little did he know, if he built it they would come.
The old adage about opportunity favoring the prepared also applies. Alexander is intentional about staying plugged into the industry whose borders of innovation are drifting beyond the West Coast. His method – adapting, enrichment, networking and constant reading.
“I attend a lot of software conferences which help me to keep my ideas fresh. I’ve attended Google I/O a couple of times over the past few years and GWT.create, which is the platform we write most of our applications on. These are essential tools to staying up to date on the latest innovations.”
The Devry Institute of Technology alumnus’ first business endeavor was called A&T services in the ‘90s and involved selling and troubleshooting computers in the “computers in every home era.” That business morphed into Small Office Specialist — computer sales and networking, and now Alexander Software Inc. How has he stayed relevant? His company’s ability to evolve.
Digital Good Times
“Technology is growing faster than access in the city of Atlanta. Atlanta has the largest growing inequality gap in the nation, and the city of Atlanta does not have the infrastructure as of yet to provide enough access to keep up with the growing technology demand. Our goal is to illuminate the road to access amongst the job seeking black and brown middle class through informative, entertaining, educational and innovative tech centered content.” That’s the why of Digital Good Times.
The who: Creator Emman “Small Eyez” Twe, Jack Preston – art director, and creative director Tristan Khavari. Digital innovator Adia Dightman and Lawrence Wayne, vibrational engineer, were early co-hosts and remain friends of the show.
The what: Digital Good Times, a radio show and media platform for a diverse demographic of artists, creatives, and techies worldwide.
AT: How did you come together as collaborators?
DGT: It all started with an idea Emman a.k.a. “Small Eyez” had bubbling in its gestation period for about a year or so to do a music and arts infused tech podcast/talk show. I needed a co-host with tech knowledge and a good mic presence so I asked my friend Web/graphic designer and fellow music collaborator Jack Preston to host the show with me. We soon realized we needed a few more souls to fill up the roster mainly because we didn’t want to be the only ones doing all the talking on the show. Organically we also asked our friends and sound engineers Lawrence and Khavari to come observe our 1st taping and at the last minute they ended up co-hosting the show with us adding those missing pieces to the puzzle. Adia our tech community liaison came into the fold after hearing one of our episodes. I think we were 3-4 episodes in and we realized we were greatly in need of a woman’s perspective in our discussions.
Good times and the impact
ADW: You say that your reach includes creatives, artists, technology enthusiasts and consumers, developers, and entrepreneurs. What are the specific demographics of who you believe you reach?
DGT: A positive behind that statement is that you can use this data to gain insights on whom you’re actually reaching. When we first started digital good times we were casting a pretty big net. Once we zoomed in on who was actually listening to the show we came to the conclusion that we are connecting with the black and brown middle class of Atlanta ages 25-34, employed, or job-seeking tech savvy folks.
ADW: What demo do you hope to be reaching? And further, now that you have this audience, what do you hope to incite/inspire?
DGT: We want to reach the world. We believe that the message of self-empowerment through technology, community and collaboration is a message every person on this earth with tech interests needs to hear and be inspired by. We hope to inspire anyone aspiring to join the tech economy from teens in their parents’ homes building apps, to 20-30 somethings wanting something beyond a 9-5 job where they can create platforms and be entrepreneurs within the tech space.
Be there or be square
ADW: Why should we tune in?
DGT: There is not another show like ours on the planet. Nowhere else are you going to get relevant tech news discussions with entertaining and engaging dialogue, add a splash of shenanigans, incredible music mixes, and actual informative content and resources from a black millennial perspective. It’s about open ears, open hearts and open minds … Digital Good Times.
Michael Flanigan and M. Cole Jones | co-founders, Covello
Big or small, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to collaborate with Covello co-founders Michael Flanigan and M. Cole Jones, more likely than not, you’ve also received their infamous homemade banana bread. “I was doing several things once I graduated from Georgia Tech, and one of those things was teaching myself how to cook and bake. So, I learned to bake banana bread,” Flanigan says. “And two years ago, I had another company and one of the things we would do when we talked and connected with people was just give it to folks. I started doing more things in the community, and it was a great way to meet people and build a connection. So, I just brought that same connection to Covello.”
And while the baked banana bread has proven to be quite a hit over the last few years, Covello’s secret ingredient to success truly lies behind building relationships that inspire new thinking. “What that means exactly is that we help big companies and small companies work together to start on a path of creating a solution,” Flanigan explains. Like the creation of Atlanta Public School’s bus tracking system, to bringing their startup flair to other clients such as Microsoft, Chick-fil-A and The Coca-Cola Co. just to name a few. Flanigan and Jones pride themselves not only on the conception of an idea, but assisting each client with the execution and implementation. “If you want to do something new and different, from technology, to marketing experiences, people, product placement (whatever it is), we help you with those things by finding those relationships to help you achieve those goals. It’s like we’re an adult Disney World,” Flanigan said. “If you have a dream, we can help make it come true.”
Flanigan who is described as the “connector” and Jones the “gladiator” officially launched their business less than three years ago with sustainability plans already in mind. Those plans included the continuation and advancement of built products to specifically meet the needs of each of their clients. “One of the first questions we ask our clients is ‘what are your goals and what are you trying to accomplish?’” said Flanigan. “You can have the greatest idea on the planet, but if it’s not really solving a problem (regardless how big you are), you need something that will help others.” Adds Jones, “So basically, the work we do with our clients helps inspire the products that we build; our own Covello products.”
With a “help local” business model approach, Jones and Flanigan undoubtedly agree that their ultimate goal is to get things done efficiently through their understanding of the challenges faced by both small and large companies alike.
Check out the July/August issue of Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine for more tech companies to watch in Atlanta.