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If you’re wondering what’s been happening in Birmingham’s startup scene, the answer is…a lot! Keep reading to find out about one local startup featured in The Hustle, four startups focused on jobs, networking and training, two new business incubators and a local startup that’s democratizing storage space.
SynsorMed’s wearables are helping doctors + patients in the COVID-19 era
We are big fans of The Hustle, an irreverent + fun daily email focused on tech and business news. Imagine our delight when we came across a lovely writeup about SynsorMed, one of the startups the Alabama Futures Fund has brought to Birmingham.
What they do: create wearable devices to help patients and doctors monitor chronic conditions. Little did they know, when they started, that a global pandemic was coming that would cause demand for their products to skyrocket. According to The Hustle, revenue has jumped 40% since the pandemic started.
Founder Theo Harvey offered the following resources for entrepreneurs of color:
- Alabama Futures Fund puts their money where their mouth is. Instead of offering advice (which doesn’t do much to help a company gain traction), they are eager to invest in individuals and companies with great ideas.
- Atlanta-based techPLUG is an innovation firm that bridges the divide in tech, health and diverse populations.
- The SOS Council is coming soon—they “are a group of influencers, policy makers and technologists who are looking to create positive change for the black community. Our mission is to eliminate health, economic and justice disparities with data and technology.”
Jobs, Networking + Training
Both businesses and nonprofits in BIrmingham are working to disrupt business as usual in the areas of jobs, networking and training.
1. Looking for the right job? GoodJob is here for you
The other day I was chatting with Lorenzo Johnson of YPBirmingham, who told me about the upcoming launch of GoodJob. GoodJob sounds like the job-matching app we’ve all been waiting for. Here’s what they have to say on their website:
“GoodJob was created to [provide] access to countless exciting opportunities paired with an innovative digital assessment tool that was designed to help you connect with companies you’ll fit right in with.”
One of the coolest features? Salary range transparency. Hallelujah. Also, their PATH Assessment measures “how you rely on Purpose, Approach, Thinking, and Habits as you go about your work life.” Which basically helps you, in all your uniqueness, find that needle in a haystack job you’ve been dreaming of.
2. Are you a Black person who works in tech—or do you want to be? Birmingham Black Techies is for you
For this one, which I first heard about from Kellie Clark on LinkedIn, I reached out to founder Niesha White. Here’s what she said:
“Birmingham Black Techies is a supportive community for Black technologists & aspiring techies. We provide opportunities for Black techies to network, speak, talk tech, share job openings, and make sure we’re aware of the tech resources that are available in Bham.
We are building connections and sharing tech resources and information in hopes of increasing the number of Black tech founders and Black tech employees in our corps, non-profits, and startups.
Most importantly, we provide visibility for Black techies in Birmingham and a place to find other Black techies!”
3. Build UP is expanding, and this is good news
Back in January 2019, we wrote about an innovative educational and workforce training nonprofit in Ensley called Build UP. Here’s how founder Mark Martin described the group:
“It’s both a high school and a workforce development program. We take young people from high schoolers to homeowners and landowners.
Build UP equips participants with career-ready skills in construction and real estate.
We expose them to a lot. They get work experience, and they get paid to learn a trade or get direction in where they want to go in their careers.
It doesn’t matter if they stay in construction or become a doctor or a nurse, they learn useful skills, including plumbing, electrical, roofing and framing.”
A year later, we learned from WBRC-6 that Build UP is now set to expand, both within Birmingham and across the country.
If you’ve ever seen an “Over the Mountain” home loaded up on the back of a trailer and wondered where it was headed, chances are it was headed to Ensley to be renovated as part of Build UP. Because why tear down a perfectly good home when you’re ready for an upgrade when it can be repurposed?
Thanks to a win at the Fannie Mae Innovation Challenge, they’ll be able to open another school in Birmingham. While enrolled, students a) make money, b) learn construction and c) become homeowners.
While a lot of us have been camped out at home, three new business incubators on the western side of have been getting ready to help baby businesses grow.
1. If you live on the western side of town + want to start a business, the Western Small Business Incubator can help
Here’s who’s behind this brand new biz accelerator:
- The Western Communities Redevelopment Alliance (WCRA)
- Five Points West—Business Alliance
- University of Alabama Culverhouse School of Accountancy LIFT program
- Midfield Chamber of Commerce
- Fairfield Business Alliance
- Bessemer Industrial Development Board
Look for Zoom small business workshops throughout the summer and fall of 2020.
Once businesses join the program, they’ll do three main things:
- Attend workshops
- Complete projects
- Get a certification from The Culverhouse LIFT program
Here’s what Frank Woodson, President of the Five Points West – Business Alliance had to say:
“In the midst of a global pandemic and the economic crisis that has followed, our relationship with the WCRA has become more vital than ever before. Our mission prior to the pandemic was to help businesses grow and thrive.
Today we have a new mission, which is to help businesses survive. The heart of every economic recovery for a nation, a state, and a city has always been assisting the small business sector.
It’s essential that we not only restart the small business sector, but that we help it grow in order to put our neighbors back to work. The Western Small Business Accelerator will be our tool of choice to help businesses recover.”
Location: 6516 Aaron Aronov Dr., Fairfield, AL 35064
Contact: Email with questions or to apply.
2. Trying to get a salon business started? You need to know about B Elite Suites in 5 Points West
Earlier this month, another biz incubator opened just down the road from the Crossplex, according to the BBJ. Behind many of these doors, you’ll find beauty and wellness businesses getting their businesses started.
Brandon Brooks is the head of this new space, whose goal is to bring new jobs to the area.
Need a place to store a few things? Shippi’s got you covered
Put a bunch of college kids with stuff they need part of the year, homeowners with unused attic, basement and storage shed space together with an entrepreneur and you get Shippi. Well, part of it.
Let’s say you have a mattress or a coffee table that you won’t be needing for 3 months of the year. You pay $10 per month to store your mattress in someone’s unused attic, say, or $6 per month to store your coffee table in their storage shed.
Super-affordable, and everybody wins. Plus, unlike when you rent a place to stay with Airbnb, nobody has to clean up after your coffee table.
Currently, they serve the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas with peer-to-peer on-demand storage.
Another cool thing they offer is large item delivery for all your Facebook Marketplace needs. Say you buy something big and awesome, and you don’t have a truck or literally can’t lift the thing, they’ll take care of it for you for a fee.
Shippi recently secured funding and a second-place prize in The Edge Incubator and Accelerator’s business plan competition.