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Three Startups Mark Growth By Moving Out Of TekMountain

By Johanna Cano, posted Oct 17, 2019
Three Wilmington businesses, SWELL Systems, DesignLoud and BarMembership, have moved out of tekMountain and into their own bigger space as a response to their recent growth.

Derek Schmidt, founder and CEO of DesignLoud, a website design and marketing agency, and SWELL Systems, a startup with a cloud-based application for business management, said Thursday that both his companies moved out Oct. 1.

They are now housed at 202 1/2 Princess St., upstairs from Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods.

Schmidt said he wanted to move downtown because it is a central location and he enjoys the culture.

“We recognize the growth going on downtown and being a Wilmington native, I always wanted to have an office downtown,” he said. “I like the atmosphere here. We are growing and we wanted our own space as we continue to expand.”

The bigger space will accommodate additional hires.

SWELL Systems currently has three employees and three contractors with plans on hiring two more by the end of the year, Schmidt said.

Design Loud, which has five employees and six regular contractors, will be bringing two more employees on board as well.

Last month, NC TECH Association announced that SWELL Systems was a “Top 10 Startups to Watch” winner and a finalist for its awards gala in November.

While both businesses now have their own space, they will continue to be part of tekMountain, Schmidt said.

“We will maintain a membership with tekMountain to support what they are doing and so they can support us,” he said. “We want to be involved with that community and use it as a second space.”

Another company that got its start at tekMountain also moved out earlier this year.

BarMembership, a software startup and manufacturer, moved out of tekMountain in June and into a 2,400-square-foot facility at Dutch Square Industrial Park, Brandon Noel, the company’s founder and CEO, said Thursday.

Because of a North Carolina law, establishments that primarily serve alcohol are known as private membership clubs that are required to track their clients or members.

BarMembership provides software for those bars and nightclubs to manage their members

In addition to providing software, the company also manufactures iPad stands that turn iPads into kiosks for clients to sign-up and check-in.

The need for a bigger space arose out the company’s takeover of its iPad stand manufacturing, Noel said.

“Part of our growth entailed us doing manufacturing,” Noel said. “We have our software at bars and nightclubs and in order for the software to work best, we use iPad holders, but there was nothing like what we needed in the market, so I designed, engineered and started manufacturing specific iPad holders.”

Previously, BarMembership had rented a separate space from tekMountain to manufacture the holders, but the back-and-forth between tekMountain and the space made it a hassle to process orders, he said.

The company’s need for more manufacturing space is marked by the growth in numbers of those who use the platform.

In 2017, BarMembership had 17,000 individuals who had joined private membership clubs through its system. Now, it has 1.3 million members in over 300 private membership clubs in the state, he said.

“More private membership clubs started using our software,” Noel said. “Almost every time someone signs up for the software, they buy one of our kiosks. It’s not mandatory that they have to buy it but works better with it. We kept growing on the software side, so we kept growing on the manufacturing side.”

Noel, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said the company has four employees, all disabled veterans.

By digitizing the process of keeping track of members, BarMembership has provided a solution to a problem that has spurred its growth since it started in 2017, Noel said.

“It’s basic business entrepreneurship,” he said. “We found a niche problem and solved it.”
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