Young CCU Grad is Full Time Developer for HCSD

When I recently met 20 year old Jasmine McCray at a Women in Tech lunch when she was on her way back to her full time job - as a programmer for Horry County School District.

Jasmine was a high school student at the Scholars Academy, which is housed at Coastal Carolina University.  Because of the access to college credit she had while in high school, she obtained a degree in Information Systems much earlier than the average student. She mentioned that she still tried to do a 4-year college experience, but eventually ran out of classes that applied to her degree!  

When asked, "Why Information Systems?" she matter of factly stated that she likes to solve problems.  She considered Civil Engineering, which didn't seem ideal for a few reasons, so she landed on Information Systems from there.

Jasmine isn't simply a young, intelligent go-getter that committed all of her time to schoolwork.  She was also highly involved at CCU with Rotaract, Marching Band, and her favorite hobby - World Percussion Group.  She enjoys going back to play with the current students (some of which are still older than her.)

But what about the other strange factor of this article's title? 

A school district with full time software developers?

It was news to me that there was a programming department at HCSD, so I had to ask: What exactly were they building?

It seemed as though Jasmine got that question a lot. She smiled and asked if I knew just how big Horry County School District is in number of schools and social diversity. 

"56 schools with a wide variety of community types from rural to inner city," she explained, "And as the school district introduces new technology programs into the classrooms, more hardware has to be tracked and ticketed. We have also built and maintained original software that tracks travel for teachers."

The robust technology department at Horry County Schools has found that building applications that solve their specific problems has many time been more effective and cost efficient than finding the right existing service to buy. 

Jasmine has realized that one of the most exciting parts of her job is learning how the teachers and students actually use the technology and tailoring the software to give them the best experience. She is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in human-computer interaction.  Whatever it holds, her track record has set her up for a great future as a developer!

To learn more about Women in Tech, reach out to the Grand Strand Tech Council!

- Interview and article by Meagan Nowacoski

Local Software Company Makes Global Impact with Department of Defense

Tkacz Engineering is a software services company that serves the Department of Defense in locations all over the world.  In the past 5 years, Tkacz Engineering ahs sent personnel to Afghanistan, Qatar, Japan and India to provide services to the Department of Defense. Its HQ however, is right here on the coast of South Carolina where Mr. Edward Tkacz calls home: Myrtle Beach.

Ed’s family moved to the Grand Strand of SC when he was 16 years old. He went to the Academy of Art, Science, and Technology as a pre-engineering major.  After high school graduation, Ed attended Coastal Carolina University where he studied Computer Science (Theoretical Track).

He earned his Bachelor of Science in 2001, after the tech bubble had burst in 1999 and just prior to 9/11. Needless to say, the job openings were few and far between for programmers.  Nevertheless, he landed a job on a Lockheed Martin contract with a company called Capstone Corporation, supporting the U.S. Navy at Pax River Naval Air Station in Maryland.  Roughly one year later, he would be working directly for Northrop Grumman, formerly PRB Systems, in Hollywood, Maryland, developing software for various classified programs in support of big DoD agencies such as Air Force Research Labs in Rome, NY.

Towards the end of 2004, he took on some international travels, supporting the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) G3 Exercise Division at Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, Germany where he was tasked to help the Army replicate various fielded systems in Iraq and Afghanistan for the U.S. Army’s training missions at Grafenwoehr, Germany. From there, he started traveling the world. His travels would take him to the Middle East to include Israel, Iraq and Qatar with companies such as Raytheon, SAIC and General Dynamics and back to Europe to include England and Germany.

Tkacz Engineering LLC was established in 2009, when Ed started searching for government contracts to bid on independently.  In 2011, he won his first contract in Afghanistan offering Information Management and Database Design services to a newly formed organization named the Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate – a United States Forces-Afghanistan special staff directorate.  He developed a product which he called ACWARS:

The Armed Civilian Web-enabled Accountability & Reporting System (ACWARS) is a human resources information management system created specifically to track weapons authorizations for the 20,000+ armed contractors and civilians operating across the Afghanistan Area of Responsibility.

ACWARS is an automated information system (AIS) built completely on the Microsoft .NET Framework. ACWARS is DIACAP compliant and now a part of the DoD Information Technology Portfolio.  It increased the client’s reporting compliance rate from 20% to 99%.

Another big win for Tkacz Engineering LLC was obtaining their own contract vehicle through GSA IT Schedule 70 in 2015, which is the biggest contract procurement vehicle for Information Technology for the US Government. Within one year, Tkacz was able to secure two Task Order contracts off their GSA schedule – one with the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, NC and another supporting the U.S. Navy in Yokosuka, Japan.

Looking forward, Tkacz Engineering plans to keep searching for ways to serve the DoD overseas, but is also hoping to collaborate much more with other local Grand Strand tech companies.  He is highly involved in the Grand Strand Technology Council’s efforts to connect the tech sector together.  He is also still connected with what is happening on CCU’s campus.  His vision for ideal direction of business on the Grand Strand would be for more technology firms to grow from here and more businesses embrace tech and new IT Solutions. As his business grows, he would also love to see more CCU students find jobs locally after graduation. Ed is also eager to help tech companies learn how to contract with government agencies.

How Do You Bonk? A Unique Toy Business Grows from the Grand Strand.

Donna Brin is a mother of two boys under the age of six years old. Raising these energetic, imaginative, and fast learning kids inspired her to create a line of toys that encouraged them to get active and stretch their imagination. This is how Pueri Elemental was born. 

Along with her business partner, Nick Borosh, she is building a new kind of toy company: One that is personalized, creativity inducing, and ethically manufactured. Not only are the products environmentally friendly, but they are also 100% American made. 

In fact, all current products are developed, manufactured, and distributed right from Florence, South Carolina! 

Donna moved from New York City to Little River, South Carolina just a few years ago, and quickly got involved in the Grand Strand’s technology and startup scene. She soon realized all that South Carolina had to offer for manufacturing and entrepreneurial support.

To describe her first product, Donna explains that,

“Play is a necessary part of being human -- play in life, play in love, play in work -- play, at any age, opens the mind and inspires creativity. At Pueri Elemental, we started out making kids designer bop bags with recycled-fabric covers. We named it Eco-Bonk.”

Eco-Bonk comes in ten different characters and, because of Pueri Elemental’s local commitment to South Carolina, even comes as a USC Gamecock. Donna continued to explain the evolution of the Eco-Bonk to a new product.

“We found a way to customize the cover of the Eco-Bonk with any photo or image. We call it Bonk Yourself. With Bonk Yourself, in less than 5 minutes, you can turn your favorite photo or image into a one-of-a-kind bop bag for your next celebration. Personalized play, in a new way, with a unique gift they’ll always remember is from you.”

Bonk Yourself has interestingly ventured into all sorts of niche markets. From 40th birthday gag gifts, to bad breakups, sport rivalries, and the presidential election. People everywhere are finding their own reason to have a durable custom bop bag in their home.

Getting back to the original inspiration for Pueri Elemental, Donna is currently creating a cutting edge smart toy that combines active play with digital learning specifically designed for ages 6 to 36 months old. It will have all kinds of unique learning elements, while still remaining eco-friendly with natural rubber material.

This toy has already been pre-ordered by Kohls, Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, Walmart, and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Stay tuned to learn more about this exciting product development.

Interested in hearing more stories from people like Donna Brin? The GS Tech Council is hosting another Pitch Night in Market Common Theater! Come to hear local entrepreneurs pitch their products and ideas to a live audience. This event is packed out every time, so register early!


Original article in VIP Magazine.

Barb Royal: Changing the World One Birthday at a Time

If you run into Barb Royal on the Grand Strand, you might find her taking her kids to their sporting events, volunteering for Coastal Montessori Charter School, or relaxing in her Eno on the inlet. From 9-5, you’ll find her passionately pep talking her startup team of web developers, designers, and marketing gurus, while jetting off to meet with new Kids Can Give Too, Inc. partners and product users.

Kids Can Give Too, Inc. was started on the Grand Strand about three years ago, and closed a round of seed funding just last year. According to Barb, Kids Can Give Too, Inc. was founded to solve a few different problems.

The first problem that Barb wanted to solve:

Kids often get too much stuff on their birthdays that don’t necessarily carry much meaning or value to them.

“When my son, Nate, had a birthday one year, he got three pairs of Incredible Hulk Hands. Packing up the party, I was putting away three of the same toys along with a huge pile of other toys that I wasn’t sure he would play with for very long. I thought that there had to be a less wasteful way to do kids’ birthdays,” she says.

The second problem:

Parents struggle to find relevant opportunities for their kids to show off their giving hearts. 

Barb Royal was an elementary school teacher for 20 years, and one of her favorite things to do was surprise her kids with opportunities to give. She learned from her time teaching that kids actually LOVE to extend kindness and charity to the community around them.

Connecting these two challenges, Barb began to think up ways that kids could use their birthday as an opportunity to be a hero for local charities.

“The truth is that all charities need cash, but with most charity birthday parties that I have been too, the kid doesn’t get anything at all. That didn’t seem like the best option for me,” says Barb.

Enter Kids Can Give Too, Inc! This online service makes it easy for kids to split their birthday gifts with the charity of their choice. Parents register their child’s birthday party and choose a charity. KCGT creates a secure, custom invitation link that is sent to party guests. Guests are asked to RSVP and make a secure online donation, instead of bringing a wrapped gift. After the party, the gifts are split between the child and the chosen charity. The child receives their portion on a Visa Gift card and the charity gets a check. This gives the kids an opportunity to choose who they want to support and ask their loved ones to join them. It also gives them the opportunity to go out and buy that one thing that they really want! KCGT hasn’t stopped solving problems for parents yet! This birthday party service also makes it way easier for parents to plan, invite, and manage their kids’ birthday parties on one online platform. The invites, RSVPs, gift donations, and thank you notes are all managed on Kids Can Give Too!

“I am a mom of three, and my kids are all in different sports and activities. Birthday parties can often require a great deal of added stress. KCGT was designed to create a seamless experience throughout the entire birthday party process,” says Barb.

By focusing on the technology, the KCGT team is committed to making a service that not only makes for great giving opportunities which help local charities, but is also a tool for families everywhere to make life a little less complicated!

Where are they going next? Barb replies, “We have recently realized that this same technology is also something that birthday party venues want to be able to offer their customers, and we are now getting ready to kick off a pilot product in a handful of venues to learn how we can best serve every key player in the entire birthday party process!”

To learn more, visit

Original article in VIP Magazine.

Recent CCU grad develops dashboard that changes hotel management

Cory Shaw moved to Myrtle Beach when he was young, and graduated from Myrtle Beach High School.  After looking at colleges and receiving offers from USC and Clemson, he decided to attend CCU... because he just didn't want to leave the beach!  

While at CCU he worked as a web programmer for the university and was nominated for GS Tech Council's Student Innovator of the Year Award in 2013.  While still in that student worker position, he independently developed CCU's outdoor recreation rental & reservation system.

When Fuel learned about what he had done for CCU Recreation, they hired him and gave him his first project:  

Create a dashboard for their clients to be able to see all of their moving parts at once.  This meant that he would have to connect SEO, Social Reputation, and Web Analytics with the Revenue per Available Room, Check-in/out system, and Property Management systems.  

Cory did more than that though.  He created user management, so that managers are able to set custom access to information for different employees (depending on their department of responsibility).  He also has a personal favorite feature: 

"My favorite part of the dashboard is the ability to compare social media data over two different periods of time.  You can compare two date ranges to see how many likes you received on your Facebook page, how many followers you gained on Twitter/Instagram/etc., and any other social engagement."

It launched about one year ago, and about 50 hotels have access to it now. 

"Right now it is branded for hotels, but in the future we are trying to make it more dynamic specifically for the client that is logging in, whether it is a restaurant or a retail store."

Cory has had this project on his mind since his first month out of college.

"It was overwhelming at first, to say the least." He mentioned before going into a redesign that he already has planned for the booking engine part of the dashboard.

Looking at his success in just two short years, it is no doubt that Fuel is a great place for him to thrive in Myrtle Beach. When asked about the work environment, he replied, "It's not your typical office space.  You aren't designated to a desk. Everyone kind of makes their own space."  The environment and the people are his favorite things about his job.

His drive for seeing Myrtle Beach thrive runs deep in his work, and fosters out in the ocean.

"I love living at the beach. I surf whenever there are waves."

When asked what he wanted the upcoming tech talent to know about working in this community, he responded without hesitation.

"This area has a ton of potential.  Students at CCU assume that they have to leave because they can't make a living here, but that isn't true.  There is a growing startup culture, and the beauty of our work is that we can do it from anywhere.  We aren't tied to an office in a specific location.  That makes Myrtle Beach a great option for living!"

Interested in learning more about Fuel?  Attend the next TechConnect Seminar!

Alyssa Dugan & Family: Creating New Worlds and Advancing Education

Alyssa Dugan is an Indiana native that moved to the Myrtle Beach Area a few years after graduating college. She is highly involved with the local tech community, and with very good reason.  I recently got to ask her a few questions about her professional journey, and quickly learned that she has one of the most interesting stories I have ever heard!

Interview by Meagan Nowacoski


M: You own and operate a business called Honor Education.  Tell me about that.

A: We create educational software, applications, and video games. We actually started out teaching technology classes, and then evolved from there to the products that we are now developing.

M: What makes a project one that is explorable by Honor Education?

A: We like to play on the bridge between education and entertainment.  Everything we do has the elements of both.  Our company is very experimental with the balance of these two elements.

M: How big is the company and what is your role?

A: This company is entirely made up of my siblings.  

I have two brothers that are software engineers, and my younger brother and sister are both graphic artists. That is all of us in the company!  I am the software and game designer.  I basically decide what features we are going for and what the experience will be like for the player.  This includes 2D and 3D graphics and writing the narrative.

M: Wow. So this is a total family affair! How did that happen? 

A: Well we were all homeschooled, so at a young age we just started creating stuff together.

 As we got into our early teenage years we kind of each picked a focus that was complimentary to the rest of the family.  I was about 10 years old when we did our first website together.  Soon after we started making video games.  Ever since I can remember, we knew we wanted to work together forever.

M: Okay, I have to know about your parents. Who are these people that raised five siblings to have a company together?

A: My dad is an optometrist, programmer, and true intellectual. My mom is super creative and an entrepreneur. She started a school in Bangladesh about 15 years ago and still runs the charity.  She was also our homeschool teacher, so many of our early video games were projects for her organization.  One of them was similar to Oregon trail, but instead gave you a firsthand look at what life was like in Bangladesh.  Another video game was a simulation of running your own charity. Our other school projects included hydroponics and aquaponics, so you could say that our education was pretty untraditional.

M: So you and your siblings have always worked together on everything?

A: Yeah I am not really sure why, but we have always gotten along really well. I didn't know until later that this kind of sibling relationship wasn't the norm.

By the time we got close to college, we actually sat down and strategized who was going to go for what degree.  Regardless of age, we graduated within a year of each other. My younger brother actually started college the same time as me at 15 years old, and we finished our bachelor's degrees within 2 years after high school.  Depending on where you were in the birth order - you were either slowing down or speeding up your education so that we could progress together.


M: Last question- What are the most exciting things coming out of Honor Education in the near future.

A: Currently, we are developing an island survival game (codenamed Parang) with the focus on problem solving.

It's an open-world, 3D adventure game about fighting the elements, finding resources, building shelters, and exploring the world around you. The game is designed not only to entertain but also to inform on topics like history, engineering, geology, biology, and botany. (Think of it like a mix of The MythBusters and Lost.)

A: Mayan Math is another project in the works. (It's an major extension of our last product Mayan Multiplication.)

It's a collection of 8 math games to help students achieve mastery in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It includes detailed progress reports, teacher notes, student goals, daily challenges, rewards, and bonus levels. The Mayan Math update will be releasing very soon!

Alyssa Dugan is also a committee chair with the Grand Strand Technology Council's Tech After School Initiative, and an active committee member for Women in Technology.



Cameron Miller on Working Remotely and UX Design

Cameron Miller works remotely from Myrtle Beach for an HR software solution company in Northern Virginia.  He is super active in the Grand Strand Tech scene, and is also part of an electropop music duo. Read his recent blog titled: 


You can attend his upcoming FREE talk on UX Design!

Rodney Michael Starts a Tech Business that Grows on Trees

Rodney Michael is not your status quo kind of guy. Hailing from Cheraw, South Carolina, his life of has not lacked inspiration and opportunities to start new ventures.  His most recent new business concept is called Treely.  It is a marketplace for timber buyers and sellers.  This business idea was incubated at Startup.SC, an initiative of the Grand Strand Technology Council that provides support and mentorship to entrepreneurs.  Since pitching Treely for the first time 14 months ago, the business has seen remarkable growth!  I got the opportunity to sit down with Rodney and ask him a few questions.

Explain Treely in a few sentences.

Years ago, my wife and I sold timber from our land. We did this blindly and fell victim to less than honest pricing and unprofessional logging practices. It left our land a wreck. A bad decision ultimately costs us thousands of dollars and months of labor to get our land back to a point of use. That experience and my love of land is why I founded Treely. Built from a landowners perspective, Treely allows a calm, efficient, re-warding way to sell your timber. Moving from the decision process, through transaction, harvest, and into the future with confidence.

What kind of insight do you have into the timber industry?

I have an extensive background in real estate while my son is a professional timber buyer, and my brother in law is a forestry consultant.  I have been hearing about the stumbling blocks in this industry for years.  One of the biggest things that I most commonly hear about is the struggle that buyers have reaching landowners and converting them into sellers.  About 70% of their efforts are finding the landowner, and then the conversion rate is less than 10%.  Additionally, the forestry consultants have a hard time educating the majority of the landowners in the US about what is the most responsible decision for their land.  There is also a lack of management software platforms for the timber industry. There a many project management and CRM software programs that are designed specifically for most other industries, but not for timber.

So this is where Treely comes in?

TREELY doesn’t just handle the project workflow from start to finish.  It also creates an online presence for timber buys and forestry consultants.  This marketplace helps the timber buyers and forestry consultants reach landowners.  It also helps the landowners find the education and the resources they need to make wise decisions about their property.


When did you get the idea for TREELY?

The thought process began in the early part of 2014.   I pitched at Startup.SC’s Pitch Night in January 2015 where we had originally signed up just to attend.  Two days before the event, my teenage daughter suggested that I pitch “The Tree Idea.”

I was hesitant, because to sit down and put together a pitch for an idea that had no name and was in no way complete yet was a lot to pack into two days.  But my daughter convinced me, and worked with me to get ready to pitch! That is when we came up with the name TREELY, and we even built a landing page before pitching that night!  We practiced the pitch on the drive to the event. 


Tell me more about your daughter!

Leah Michael is a budding entrepreneur and she is learning how to code. She recently pitched about Columbia Startup Weekend and her team got picked in the first round!


How was the experience of pitching?

To even get up in front of the crowd was a huge accomplishment for me!  Since then I have had a lot of pitching practice at Startup.SC and have become a LOT more comfortable talking about my idea passionately with people.  Now I can talk about TREELY (which I love working on) way easier than crafting a message that doesn’t feel genuine.


How did it feel to get accepted into the Cohort?

I really could not believe it.  I have had so much defeat in my past, so for this opportunity to come up was a huge turning point for me.  I was giddy with excitement because I knew I was on the road to making this idea a profitable reality.  I knew that with Startup.SC I had a team that was going to see it through with me.


So what now?

Our Minimally Viable Product (MVP) is out to market.  We have happy experiences and testimonials from our landowners.  We are trying new marketing pieces and innovating on some targeting to reach the right landowners, and we will be tweaking the lead management program for buyers to treat these leads like a real estate company would.  Stay Tuned!

Ray and Rebecca Antonino: Tech Startup Power Couple

Ray and Rebecca Antonino are a Grand Strand power couple and fast paced tech entrepreneurs.  In the last year they have been all over country growing awareness and refining their message about FieldVine, which is a new way for contractors to manage projects, communicate and stay compliant with building permits.

Tell me how you got started with FieldVine.

FieldVine didn't start as a tech startup.  It started as a solution to a problem we had with our rapidly growing construction company.  We were a small business managing projects across 3 states. Communication and compliance through the use of spreadsheets, emails and phones hindered our ability to be efficient and scale. We needed a better way. - Rebecca


How did you start creating the solution?

In 2012, we went to a charity function at CoworkMYR, a coworking space in Myrtle Beach (now Startup.SC an initiative of the Grand Strand Technology Council).  It was there that we met Adam Michel, a software engineer - who understood our problem and offered to build a solution that would help us. - Rebecca


So when did it go from a self-serving solution to a startup for others?

After months of using what we built internally the day came when we gave access to customers and suppliers. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Companies like Lowe’s Home Improvement started using our software for accessing information on their own customers (we installed windows, doors, siding, fencing, etc.) because it was relevant, they could see photos and videos of the jobs in real time and most importantly they could communicate all in one place.

The ‘ah ha’ moment came when Lowe’s sales people starting using FieldVine to determine what municipality a job was located in and if the project required a permit before they met with the customer. This helped them to know whether to charge for permit ahead of time rather than asking for money later. – Ray

Was it scary?

Yes and No, (Rebecca laughs) for us (as a couple), going from corporate companies into the technology world, everyday was a leap of Faith.  We had to adjust from our ‘brick and mortar’ thinking and switch to ‘how does this look’ in the tech startup industry. There was so much to learn. - Rebecca

What has been a Key Success Factor for you?

Distinguishing the difference between a tech startup and a brick and mortar service company was key for us.  They are night and day different and you have to retrain your mind for this. For us, we sought people who understood technology startups and would provide the education and mentorship for us to succeed.

As an Army Veteran I has been blessed to find a tribe of sorts, programs seeking to help and grow Veterans looking to transition into tech entrepreneurs. Cities like Fort Walton Beach that stepped up to provide the funding for my wife to relocate for 3 months and get the education needed, non-profits like Patriot Boot Camp that provided us mentorship and connections to people that would have taken years to establish. Most important, is the people that believe in us, mentor us and genuinely have a #givefirst mentality. - Ray


You’ve been on a wild ride. Give an example of what your journey has been like since deciding to go all-in on FieldVine?

It’s been crazy, in late 2014, we were accepted as 1 of 5 companies, into Startup.SC, the Grand Strand Tech Council’s Incubator. Then, in April 2015, we attended Patriot Boot Camp at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Later that fall we were 1 of 7 companies chosen to attend Venture Hive, an intensive 3 month educational accelerator provided by the City of Fort Walton Beach, FL. Fast forward to Feb 2016 and we are once again moving, only this time to Austin, TX as we beat out over 1,000 applicants vying for 1 of 10 coveted spots to join the TechStars - Austin Accelerator. - Ray

What is the recent MountainTop FieldVine Moment for you?

Without a doubt the announcement days ago of FieldVine getting accepted into TechStars is by far the biggest achievement to date. The startup world is littered with companies that fail, getting into TechStars provides a level of credibility and exposure needed to give us a real chance at making it. - Rebecca


What is a recent Grand Strand Tech community event that you have enjoyed?

Presenting at 1 Million Cups Grand Strand was pivotal for us!  We really nailed down our pitch while in Florida at VentureHive, and had just returned when we were asked to come and present our startup to 1MC Grand Strand.  The pitch went great, but the Q&A was the best session that I have ever had in the history of FieldVine.  I even used the video of the session in other meetings, and it was really helpful!


Final Words and Thoughts?

We’re ready to change the way contractors, builders and municipalities work together on permitting and project workflow. FieldVine is the future for digital permitting. - Ray

Ray and Rebecca with their lead developer, adam michel (also from myrtle beach.)

Ray and Rebecca with their lead developer, adam michel (also from myrtle beach.)

Captain Daniel O'Sullivan: UX Designer and Beard Savant

Daniel's Spot Pick: Sobaya in St. James Square

Daniel's Order: Shrimp Bowl

First comment:

"So I don't really know what you are looking for, but I am not one of those guys that just got an internship and moved up."

He was telling the truth.  

This self-taught User Experience Designer has had a wild and strange path to his current position building solutions for Fortune 500 companies.

Daniel O'Sullivan is a 5th generation Murrells Inlet native from a line of Sea Captains. A descendent of the Morse family (see: Morse Landing Park), he spent much of his college years running the family catering company: Low Country Clam Bakes and Shrimp Boils.  

This guy is as Grand Strand as they get.

However, there is so much more to Daniel's story than this.  As I filled up on some delicious bibimbap, he indulged me on a short summary of his life:

 At the ripe old age of 12, his father taught him AutoCAD for architectural design, so naturally he worked full time drafting high rises at a local architecture firm while attending Coastal Carolina for biology (Zinger? I thought so too.)

In addition to clam bakes, shrimp boils, college, and crafting the Towers on the Grove, 20 year old Daniel was also TAKING PILOT LESSONS, executing a NATIONAL ONLINE MARKETING CAMPAIGN for a local line of skin care products, and ILLUSTRATING A MEDICAL NOVEL. Are you impressed yet?

Well after finishing all of this, he looked back on his full 21 years of life and decided that the logical next step was to get married and start a family.  So he convinced Catherine Dunn to take his last name, and they celebrated their union with (low-key) 800 of their closest friends.

His world took an unexpected turn in 2009 when the real estate market crashed, and there were no more buildings to design for a while.  He decided to spend a year learning the Adobe Creative Suite and hitting the streets to help local businesses with their marketing and design needs. 

"I have always really liked people. Even now when i am sitting at my computer to design something, it is with people in mind."

Eventually he got a job designing fire alarm systems for Simplex Grinnell, and in four short years had become the CAD supervisor for the southeast coast.  Outside of his day job, he began helping the businesses in his live-work townhouse neighborhood with their branding.

His first client came from the usual morning walk with his dogs.  He noticed that his friend with a barbershop in his neighborhood could use a fresh logo.  So he made his friend a trendy new brand in exchange for haircuts.  That was the pivotal exchange that led to FreshCoast Creatives, a design agency by Daniel O'Sullivan.

For a year, Daniel continued to work at Simplex Grenelle by day, and design fresh brands by night.  He traded services in most cases, which got him skydiving lessons among many other adventures.  He will be the first to admit that he had no idea what he was doing at first.

"I didn't even own a computer when i offered to design a logo for the barbershop. my philosophy has always been to say yes and then figure it out.  it has worked pretty well for me so far."

After starting FreshCoast Creatives, Daniel ended up winning 2nd place at a Google Startup Weekend in Charleston for a property management application. Shortly after, he got together with some new friends from Startup Weekend and created a mobile app that is like Tinder, specifically for bearded men and the women that love them.  Yes. That is right. And it was called Single-Beards (later changed to Timber).  Those relationships got FreshCoast clients all over the nation.

"That whole dating app endeavor came about because I had just started my beard oil company called captain Face."

Captain Face. Really.

"I found that if you can make a logo and have a sense for marketing you can pop a company out of nowhere."

Ladies and Gentlemen. Daniel O'Sullivan.

Since then he has been scooped up by local powerhouse ArchetypeSC as a UX Designer.  Working at ArchetypeSC has been a game changer for Daniel.  He explains the people and clients as extremely high caliber and touts the amazing company culture.

"We are treated like family: Always getting the push to be better, and the support to thrive right where we are.  My boss actually took me to a local surf shop for my first performance review and told me to get one custom made on him."

His dream for the Grand Strand is for the Tech Dream to be realized for more people here.  He isn't the traditional techie, but this career has proven to be ideal for him.

"I didn't even know my job existed a few years ago."

This is why he is an advocate for the local tech sector, and committed to supporting personal development for people that can benefit from the community that is growing here!