What is Skookum Nightshift? 7 questions with Stephen

What is Skookum Nightshift? 7 questions with Stephen
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  • How do we use technology to bridge the gap in families between the elderly and the tech-savvy?
  • For the homeless, the difference between housing and a home is vast.
  • Can we bring strangers together with food and technology?
  • How do I keep track of everything I own, especially products with warrantees?
  • I have a dog. I want to take my dog places. Some places are terrible. How do I know where good, dog-friendly places are in Charlotte?
  • Speak Up Magazine shares the stories of the homeless. The publication is sold primarily by homeless individuals. Why have I not heard of it and where can I buy it?

I’ve been lucky enough to have been a part of Skookum Digital Works inaugural Nightshift, a free, intensive 14-week program.

The Nightshift group is split up into six teams, composed of designers, developers and a product strategist, that are building digital applications to solve the real problems listed above.

I sat down with Nightshift creator Stephen Davis at Skookum’s uptown office. Davis, 28 years old and from Sydney, Australia, moved across the Pacific to Charlotte last June where he found Skookum.

(1) What is Skookum and what do you do here?

Skookum works with large companies, and a lot of Fortune 500 companies, to solve their business problems with technology. We do a number of things, like updating old or outdated systems, fixing or creating new platforms for clients, and a lot of innovation, for instance, figuring out how to unlock a car with a phone when the phone is in proximity.

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I’m a “designer” by title, but at Skookum, we don’t have any specific design roles. We’re all do-everything designers. A lot of what I do is work on client projects with Enterprise UX (User Experience in Enterprise software).

(2) Describe this Nightshift program.

There’s a collaborative aspect where everyone’s working in teams and with different roles, then there’s a hackathon aspect where we’re creating things, and lastly there’s a university aspect, where there’s teaching and a learning experience. About half of the structure came from my teachings at the University of Sydney and the other half came from the process we use at Skookum. Of course my first thought was, “How can we fit this into 14 weeks?”

(3) Why did you create Nightshift?

I felt Charlotte was missing an innovation space. There’s Tech Talent South and a few others, but you have to pay. Skookum had the resources and I saw this model work in Australia. Although it would be an after-hours program, people at the company bought in.

(4) What did you hope to get out of it?

Our vision is simple. We want to connect the Charlotte tech community, build great things and get smart people in a room together.

(5) What has been the best part of the experience so far?

I really like the social aspect. I’m very impressed with the participants. We found engaging, dynamic, social people, which is difficult to do in technology sometimes.

(6) How else can people get involved with Skookum programs?

Tech Talks are a great way to get involved with Skookum. You don’t have to be involved in the industry at all to take part. It’s a very organic, natural company, where the more you get to know someone and sit down and have a conversation, the more likely you are to learn and break into the industry.

(7) What will happen in the next two years in the Charlotte tech scene that would surprise some people?

Hopefully it’ll be growth. Charlotte’s not the biggest tech scene, but the hope is that it grows and we’ll start to see some amazing startups that don’t leave the area when they experience growth or success. Hopefully Charlotte can become a hub. People think San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and then New York, but it would be awesome if Charlotte could be right up there.

Nighshift Launch Night is Thursday, May 7th. Details to follow.

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