From Steel to Startups.
Old Sloss Furnace’s, now a concert venue and memorial to the steel industry that put Birmingham on the map overnight over a hundred years ago.
When most people think of Birmingham, Alabama, their first thoughts are of Nick Saban and Crimson Tide Football, the Civil Rights movement, and delicious BBQ (of course).
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama in terms of population, with over 210,000 people calling Birmingham home. Established in 1871 and named for the English city of the same name, Birmingham very quickly became a center for iron smelting and steel production in the United States. The city happens to be the only place in the world where all the ingredients for making iron are present — coal, iron ore, and limestone, all within a ten-mile radius.
With the steel industry’s demise in the United States, Birmingham has had to reinvent itself to become a city that’s home to a broad range of industries and innovators.
The Tech Ecosystem of Birmingham
In one word, “exciting” is the way to describe Birmingham’s growing tech scene. With the acquisition of Shipt — a grocery delivery service — by Target in 2017 for $550 million, Birmingham has seen an uptick in interest from investors on the coasts. A few months later, Birmingham’s tech ecosystem attracted more attention when Kerry and Ashlee Ammons, the dynamic mother and daughter duo that founded event tech company, Mixtroz, won Revolution’s Rise of the Rest pitch competition.
-Kerry and Ashlee Ammons after winning Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Pitch Competition-
These wins have prompted the growth in the availability of tech-related jobs and an increased interest in our city as a base for out-of-state tech companies looking for remote office locations. Chris Moody, partner at Foundry Group and an Auburn University alum has made a concentrated effort to encourage companies in his portfolio to open offices in Birmingham. Current Foundry Group portfolio companies that have opened offices in Birmingham include Suzy, Integrate, and Pantheon.
Birmingham’s start-up ecosystem is diverse and hasn’t focused on one key industry. Being home to the likes of Regions Bank, BBVA, Alabama Power, and a tier-one research university the University of Alabama Birmingham. Its ecosystem has the opportunity to become a hub for Fintech, Energy Tech, BioTech/ Healthcare, and Direct to Consumer brands.
Startups to Watch
Fleetio: Fleetio is a web-based fleet management system that helps businesses get more from their moving assets.
Babypalooza: A community for first time pregnant and new moms offering live and virtual baby expos to educate, equip, and support them from pregnancy to preschool.
Fledging: consumer hardware startup focused on making premium electronics for everyone.
Case Status: Case Status operates as a cloud-based client management tool for the legal services industry.
Smart Alto: A Y-combinator graduate, Smart Alto offers an appointment Setting System follows up with online leads to set 15-minute phone appointments for busy agents and growing teams.
Linq: Linq is a networking platform that allows you to instantly exchange contact information through a QR code.
Joonko: A Techstars and Salesforce Accelerator graduate, Joonko is the first AI-powered diversity and inclusion coach for companies, which can identify and solve unconscious bias, in real-time, company-wide. Joonko leverages your company’s existing data (from SaaS platforms) to identify unconscious workplace bias as it occurs
Synsormed: SynsorMed is an AI-powered monitoring platform that automates patient care at home.
Landing: Landing is a network of fully-finished apartments across the United States.
Moxie IOT: MOXIE is a team of expert engineers who design custom IoT solutions for their clients.
Conserv: Conserv offers software that protects your collection from environmental deterioration.
Quantalytix: Quantalytix built an intuitive platform to bring bank & non-bank lenders access to internal and external data through a single compatible source.
ProctorU( Meazure Learning): provides secure live and automated online proctoring services for academic institutions and professional organizations.
Birmingham Job Boards
-The heart of Birmingham’s tech ecosystem, the Innovation Depot-
What’s raising money like in Birmingham?
10 years ago, venture funding in Birmingham was virtually non-existent. Fast forward a few years and Birmingham is home to the Alabama Futures Fund. A $25 million fund, AFF is an industry-agnostic seed-stage fund focused on funding great tech businesses in Alabama, and outside of Alabama with the stipulation, they move their HQ to the city.
Before the founding of Alabama Future Fund, the vast majority of seed rounds were not from institutional investors but rather local angels and from family offices like Jemison Investment Co., McKinney Capital, and Timberline.
One company to keep an eye on is real estate tech startup Landing. Founded by Shipt founder Bill Smith, Landing aims to change the way people rent homes. They have introduced living as a service (LaaS) to the consumer, where those looking for homes to rent can pay an annual fee to access Landing’s network of pre-furnished apartments to rent in cities across the United States. The other big plus of Landing? Highly flexible leases that let you pack up and leave at any time and rent for a period as short as 30 days.
Birmingham Based VC’s
Birmingham Tech Scene’s who-to-follow on Twitter.
Groups to follow on Twitter
Slacks to Join
Events to checkout
Sloss Tech: is the Southeast’s premier tech conference located in downtown Birmingham, AL on
Alabama Launchpad: is an entrepreneurial support organization, hosting annual start-up competitions
Other Great Resources
A Bright Future
You can be bullish on Birmingham. It is a city dedicated to learning from it’s past to give it’s people a more inclusive and diverse future.
Birmingham’s tech ecosystem might be in its nascent years, but make no mistake, it will continue to see tremendous success out of its entrepreneur, community builders, and investors.
Birmingham is not one to sit idly by as the rest of the country begins to innovate.
If you’re interested in connecting with any of the founders, community builders, or investors above, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do my best to connect you with them.
For more comprehensive city guides for founders on cities across the Southeast, head here
Special thanks to Grace Huefner and Monique Villa for all their help putting together this guide!