These 4 entrepreneurs moved their businesses to Birmingham—find out why

HData team
The HData team. (HData)

The Magic City is rapidly growing as a hub for startups and innovative businesses that are changing the game. From Québec, Canada to Denver, Colorado, read on to find out why these CEOs decided to make the move to Birmingham to grow their businesses.

Matt Pierce—Immediate

Immediate founders
Michael Ormel (COO), Matt Pierce (CEO) and Jason Gwizdala (CTO). (Immediate)

We can’t always wait until the next payday to cover the costs of everyday life. As a result, many people turn to predatory loans, overdrafting bank accounts and more options that leave you with financial stress.

Enter Immediate. Immediate works with companies to provide their workforce with access to their paychecks any time they need it. The best part? It’s completely free for employers to enroll, and reports show that Immediate reduces turnover rates by 40%.

Founder and CEO Matt Pierce has been making waves lately as he was recently inducted into the Forbes Technology Council, an invitation-only organization for world-class technology executives.

Origins: Atlanta, GA

Why Birmingham?

Matt explained there were three main reasons for Immediate to move their headquarters to The Magic City.

  1. Payday lending has been deemed illegal in Georgia (where Immediate got its start). To provide people with a responsible alternative to predatory lending services, being in a place like Birmingham was the perfect fit.
  2. There are more than six million people living in Atlanta. Although it’s a great place to build a FinTech (financial technology) business, there’s a much higher potential to get washed out because there are so many. Whereas, here in Birmingham, there’s space to stand out a little more and have access to a unique tech ecosystem, more potential investors and customers.
  3. Matt and his co-founders went through Birmingham Bound, a program started by Shipt in order to build up the tech ecosystem in our city, which gave them a really good feel for what living here is like. They were hooked and decided it was the right place to continue to grow Immediate.

Fave spots in The Magic City: Big Bad Breakfast, Pizzeria GM, Railroad Park

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

“Educate yourself as much as you can. There are so many awesome resources out there to learn just about business. My biggest disappointment about my 20s was that I feel that I wasted a lot of time that I could have been investing in myself, so keep learning and invest in yourself. Spend time watching. Find people that you look up to, watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts. Just keep learning.”

Matt Pierce, Founder + CEO, Immediate

Immediate headquarters rendering
Immediate is getting a beautiful new headquarters in the heart of Homewood, set to be complete this summer. (Immediate)

Devin Davie—The Office Exchange

Devin Davie of The Office Exchange
CEO and Founder of The Office Exchange. (Devin Davie)

After the pandemic, the way we work has changed forever with a dramatic increase in remote work. The Office Exchange makes the most of empty or under-utilized office space by connecting workplaces with the flexibility of short-term rental agreements. Devin describes it as “the Airbnb of commercial real estate.”

Whether you’re a host or an employee, there’s no cost whatsoever to be on the platform. Not only that, but The Office Exchange pays for the marketing to show your spaces. You’re able to determine which users you would like to acquire, whether your space is set up for lab equipment, startups, events or a more traditional office setting.

Alabama Futures Fund, which brings early-stage startups to Birmingham, recently placed an investment on The Office Exchange, kickstarting their growth here in The Magic City.

Origins: Denver, Colorado

Why Birmingham:

“I heard a lot about the commercial real estate in Birmingham and the growth that’s taking place within the startup space. What better place to have your headquarters than a place that’s going through a renaissance of growth and excitement, not only from an influx of new folks, but the people that have been there for years and are excited to help hold true to the beauty of what Birmingham has.

The startup culture here is so unique, it’s something that I think took place in other major cities many years ago. I get chills thinking about it because it’s so exciting to get to be a part of that growth.”

Devin Davie, Founder + CEO, The Office Exchange

Fave spots in The Magic City: Shu Shop, Collins Bar, The Rougaroux

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

“The advice I would give to someone that’s just starting out is to take that opportunity and hold on tight. Your time is going to come. Surround yourself with the right mentors and the right team. When it gets hard, you’ve got to push through, that grit is going to get you further than anything else.”

Devin Davie

Hudson Hollister—HData

Hudson Hollister of HData
Hudson Hollister, CEO and Founder of HData. (HData)

For many energy companies, reporting to the government is a tedious task with lots of manual labor. HData changes that and delivers a new way to manage government regulation for the energy industry. The budding RegTech (regulatory technology) company, that recently partnered with Alabama Power, helps modernize the data reporting process for energy companies that need it.

CEO and Founder Hudson Hollister came up with the idea for HData at his previous government agency job. He saw firsthand that the software they were using was taking a lot of unnecessary manual labor. After working to persuade government agencies to make the switch, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made a big change to stop using its old method of collecting reports.

Since then, HData has been rescuing energy companies from the manual labor they’ve been stuck with and showing them how this digital data reporting platform can make their lives easier.

Origins: Joliet, Illinois

Why Birmingham:

HData made the trip from Illinois to Alabama for the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator, the only energy-focused startup program in the world. Thanks to the accelerator program, HData was able to raise $3 million from investors and grow their team immensely in a short period of time.

“The accelerator that’s running in Birmingham is the best, and only one in the world for startups that have to do with the energy industry. As a result, Birmingham is the best place in the world for startups that work on energy.”

Hudson Hollister, Founder + CEO, HData

Hollister said one of the best parts of being in the accelerator program was having other tech entrepreneurs alongside him throughout the process.

“It was unreal to be able to be alongside other people that were pushing for growth and innovation in the energy industry just like I was…and we’re facing some of the same challenges, too.”

Hudson Hollister

Fave spots in The Magic City: Railroad Park, Jim Reed Books, Helen

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

“Really take advantage of the events and organizations in Birmingham that focus on tech space. Innovation Depot hosts events and organizations, Tech Birmingham is really active, UAB has an entrepreneurship program that hosts a lot of public events. If somebody has an idea that they want to pursue and is passionate about that idea, those are great places to start. The hardest part is to take the first step. Take the steps that you don’t feel ready for.”

Hudson Hollister

Jonathan Lamer—Moduly

Jonathan Lamer of Moduly
Jonathan Lamer, CEO of Moduly. (Moduly)

Let’s face it, we could all use a little help when it comes to sustainability and responsible energy consumption. Not only is managing your energy consumption good for the environment, it saves you money as well. Moduly makes it simple to optimize your energy usage from your home.

Moduly got its start in 2019 and aims to help consumers reduce their energy consumption with best-in-class tools for energy intelligence, automation and prediction. The startup is made up of a superstar team with expertise in energy storage, management and more.

Jonathan Lamer, CEO of Moduly, has been an entrepreneur since he was 18 years old. At his previous job, he decided to work with his team to build an all-in-one solution for customers’ energy needs. Moduly does the hard work for you, providing a customizable product that caters to your unique energy consumption habits.

Origins: Québec, Canada

Why Birmingham:

While some of their team still operates in Québec, Moduly moved a majority of their business to Birmingham as part of the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator. Its focus on the energy industry and partnership with Alabama Power attracted Moduly to join the program. In addition to being a part of the accelerator, Jonathan has loved Birmingham’s southern hospitality.

“The day I brought my son and my wife here, we realized that we feel good here and we love the people here, they’re so welcoming. We feel that this is a beautiful place for a company like Moduly to be in a tech ecosystem, and I love it. We have some great customers here and we don’t have any competitors, so it’s been a great strategy for business.”

Jonathan Lamer, Founder + CEO, Moduly

Fave spots in The Magic City: Railroad Park, Red Mountain Park, Vulcan Park

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

“Never give up. Live outside your comfort zone because as an entrepreneur, most of your time will feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you need to just focus on your inner voice and how you’re feeling because it’s the right one. Never let the fears of others stop you from moving forward.”

Jonathan Lamer

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Gabby Gervais
Gabby Gervais
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