#CountDown: 8 Days To Launch in Charleston, SC

Brian Laung Aoaeh, CFA
5 min readMar 20, 2019

Acknowledgement: I am grateful to Laura Corder and Benjamin Johnson of the South Carolina Department of Commerce for pointing me to relevant stats and data for this article.


It is with great excitement and anticipation that I write this blog post; At 5:00 PM on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, I’ll join Michael Rentz as he launches The Charleston Supply Chain Meetup. The theme for the event is: Supply Chain & Innovation in South Carolina. The evening will feature a keynote address by Jim Newsome, President & CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority. That will be followed by two discussion panels. You can find out more details by clicking to the event page using this link: #TCHSSCM01 — Launch: Supply Chain & Innovation in SC.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago — without as much of a focus on Charleston: UnderConstruction | Why Is A Global Grassroots Supply Chain Community Starting in NYC, and Charleston, SC?

What is The Charleston Supply Chain Meetup?

The Charleston Supply Chain Meetup is the first domestic, active sister-chapter of The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation.

In August 2017, Lisa Morales-Hellebo and I teamed up to start building The New York Supply Chain Meetup (#TNYSCM). Our goal was a very simple one; to create a grass-roots driven community that brings together the BUYERS of supply chain innovation and the BUILDERS of supply chain innovation. We have now built it into the world’s largest, fastest growing, and most active supply chain meetup, with 1700+ members in NYC alone. That success has led us to start creating The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation based on requests from people in other cities, like Charleston, SC. The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation is the world’s first network of collaborative and grass-roots driven supply chain meetups. Our network has 1880+ members globally. We are in the process of building an active chapter in Bangalore — The Bangalore Supply Chain Meetup held its first event on November 24, 2018, and we will now have our second active chapter in Charleston. We expect to launch a few more chapters by the end of 2019, and we already have a few communities in progress — awaiting the emergence of a community leader whose obsessive enthusiasm for supply chain and innovation drives them to opt-in to lead the initiative to build the local communities that will become part of our network on the ground.

Our Mission

To nurture and grow the world’s foremost open, global, multidisciplinary community of people devoted to building the supply chain networks of the future — starting in NYC.

Our Vision

To create a global movement; the largest community on the planet of people obsessed with supply chain technology and innovation.

Why Charleston, SC?

This is a question that arises whenever we tell people about The Charleston Supply Chain Meetup. The first answer is really quite simple. We’re optimising for enthusiasm. In the past year of building the community in New York City, we have discovered that you can’t manufacture enthusiasm for our declared mission. So, we need people like Michael who opt-in because our mission is something they believe in, not because it is part of some strategy. The enthusiasm for what we are trying to build has to be intrinsic, not extrinsic.

A little bit about Michael; He is a native of South Carolina. He studied Civil Engineering at the University of South Carolina — Columbia. Then he obtained a JD from the Charleston School of Law, and an MBA from the College of Charleston. Most recently, he spent 2 years at Maersk, and was based in the New York City area, before decided to return home to South Carolina towards the end of 2018. Before returning home, he joined us in NYC for several of our meetups, gaining a sense of the community we are building and understanding our mission better. Once he was settled in Charleston, he let us know he wanted to recreate a sister community in Charleston. We couldn’t have wished for a better sequence of events.

It turns out Charleston, SC is an ideal place to consider building grass-roots driven community that focuses on supply chain, innovation, and technology. Here are some stats;

  • According to the World Trade Atlas, South Carolina traded with 198 countries in 2018. Given that the Port of Charleston will boast the second deepest habor on the United States’ East Coast by 2025, one expects this number to increase in the very near future. Presently, the state’s biggest trading partners are China, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, South Carolina’s GDP was $221.7 billion in 2017, having grown by 114% over the past 20 years. When you marry that with a 2015 economic development estimate that the Port of Charleston generates roughly $53 billion in annual economic activity that supports about 187,200 jobs across the state, one realizes how pivotal Charleston is to economic progress in South Carolina.
  • According to the South Carolina Ports Authority, $38 billion worth of exports travelled through South Carolina.
  • The Port of Charleston hosts 13 of the world’s 15 biggest container shipping lines, and the South Carolina Ports Authority plans $2.4 billion in capital expenditures to improve its physical and technological capabilities in order to handle more freight from post-Panamax vessels. It is one of the top 10 ports in the United States, and has the stated ambition of vaulting itself into the top 5.
  • According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance; The Charleston region ranks 9th among U.S. metros in attracting foreign direct investments, benefits from transportation infrastructure that puts shipments through Charleston within 48 hours of most domestic markets, with more than 20% of the U.S. population within a day’s drive of the region.

So, while Charleston, SC may not be the first place most people think of when they think of the location for the next domestic chapter of our supply chain community, I would argue that Michael is right when he observes that the ground in Charleston, SC is fertile for a community like the one he’s set out to build.

As The Charleston Supply Chain Meetup grows, Michael and it’s other members will have the support of our growing network of communities, starting with the community in New York City. Join us in spreading the news about the community we are building, and specifically, The Charleston Supply Chain Meetup.

About The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation

The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation is the collaborative, and mutually supportive coalition of open and multidisciplinary grassroots communities focused on technology and innovation in the global supply chain industry. Founded in August, 2017, The New York Supply Chain Meetup is its founding chapter.

About REFASHIOND Ventures

REFASHIOND Ventures is an emerging early stage venture capital firm that is being built to invest in early-stage startups creating innovations to refashion global supply chain networks. REFASHIOND Ventures is based in New York City. The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation and The New York Supply Chain Meetup are initiatives of REFASHIOND Ventures.

Originally published at innovationfootprints.com on March 20, 2019.



Brian Laung Aoaeh, CFA

Early-stage VC — Supply Chain Tech at REFASHIOND Ventures. #TWSCF. NYUTandon. Research. | I’m not afraid to be different. Blog @ www.innovationfootprints.com.