3 takeaways from Birmingham’s Sloss Tech, including Mayor Randall Woodfin’s poignant message

Bham Now Sloss Tech
Bham Now Sloss Tech
Photo of Bozoma Saint John by Bham Now

It was the hottest place to be in Birmingham for techies, innovators, entrepreneurs, social media marketers and marketing professionals this week.

Sloss Tech was the culmination of a week dedicated to innovation in Birmingham, and I was not disappointed! The sold-out Sloss Tech crowd had the opportunity to hear from the who’s who in the tech world. Here are my 3 takeaways from the event:

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Photo of Mayor Randall Woodfin by the Birmingham Mayor’s office
  1. The South Got Something To Say!

During the opening session of Sloss Tech with INFLCR’s Jim Cavale and Mayor Randall Woodfin, Woodfin put everyone on notice that Birmingham is an emerging city where tech companies can find talent and grow their businesses. Quoting Andre 3000 at the 1995 Source Awards, Woodfin declared: “The South (Birmingham) got something to say.”

“You can be successful here in the innovation space, tech space and entrepreneur space,” Woodfin said.  

Woodfin also stated that Birmingham can pave the way by becoming the next tech hub in the country.

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Mayor Woodfin and Daniel Deriso. Photo by Daniel Deriso

“We don’t have to be the next Austin or Chattanooga. We have to be the next best version of ourselves.”

This week we’ve seen the best version of ourselves with two major tech companies announcing they are calling Birmingham home.  On Monday, DC BLOX announced that they are opening their next state-of-the-art campus in Birmingham’s Titusville neighborhood, and on Thursday, SHIPT announced that they are staying in Birmingham, bringing more than 880 jobs to the Magic City. These economic development announcements come after Amazon broke ground earlier in the month on a distribution center in Bessemer.

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Mayor Randall Woodfin’s tweet to Google

Shortly after Mayor Woodfin left the Sloss Tech stage, he tweeted Google that Birmingham was the best kept tech secret.  

 

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These future business leaders are part of the Stream Innovations programs. Photo by Bham Now.
  1. Put Good In, Get Good Out
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Chris Moody of the Foundry Group. Photo by Bham Now

Chris Moody, partner at Foundry Group, expressed the importance of helping others by stating if you help others without expecting anything in return, then the community will flourish.  You also have to communicate with others in your community in order to grow and prosper.

“You get out of communication, what you put into communication.” On Birmingham’s energy, Moody stated that he is excited about what people in Birmingham are doing, but that he also is excited about what he is doing, meaning that we’re all in this together. Moody said that he felt like the magic was back in the Magic City.

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Photo of the Level Up panel by Bham Now

During the Level Up Panel, panelist Josh Carpenter, director of economic development, City of Birmingham, told the audience that there is an era of builders and makers in the city who are innovators. He added that talent is distributed equally throughout the city, but that the opportunity was not. All the panelists agreed that in order for the city to grow to its fullest potential, a full representation of the city should be brought to the table and opportunities created for all the builders and makers to spark growth.

“We all need to up our game,” Carpenter said.

  1. Take Risks

This was a recurring theme throughout the day. Shipt CEO Bill Smith emphatically stated:

“Ideas are cheap, everyone’s got one, but you just gotta do it.”

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Photo of Payne Lindsey by Bham Now

Payne Lindsey, host of the “Up and Vanished” podcast, took it a step further by telling the audience that they didn’t have to be perfectionists and that no one was successful without taking risks.

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Photo of Bozoma Saint John by Bham Now

Perhaps the most inspirational words came from the day’s most anticipated speaker, Bozoma Saint John, the chief marketing officer at Endeavor and former chief brand officer at Uber, when she said that the innovators should just go for it when pushing the boundaries of innovation.

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Photo of Bozoma Saint John by Bham Now

“Innovation has become my calling,” Saint John said. “You have to always move forward and change—because if you’re not changing, you’ll be left behind. You cannot sit down comfortably in your success—you have to keep moving.”

So Bham Nowers, what was your biggest takeaway from Sloss Tech?