Pull back the curtain on some of the more visible Asheville tech happenings in recent years — TEDxAsheville, Spark Tech Talk podcast, Asheville Green Drinks — and you’ll find the Oz-like figure of Ty Hallock , Web entrepreneur and constant generator of ideas.
Although Hallock insists he’s scaled back his side projects lately, the 30-year-old still runs TopFloorStudio, a Web design and software development company he founded 11 years ago in Asheville. He describes the area as a magnet for talented individuals and a main reason he chose to return after going to school in Orlando, Fla.
“I think there’s a surprising amount of creativity and talent here. The idea that the creative economy, for our size, is so large was really a big factor for me. I had gone to bigger cities and there wasn’t the sense of a community,” says Hallock.
There are more people working here in the industry than people realize, he suggests, adding that they may not be as visible as other professions because their line of work keeps most of these cyber architects behind monitors.
Since 2003, Hallock and his TopFloorStudio team have created about 100 websites and nearly 40 apps. His clients have included the United Nations, Yahoo and Netflix and, more locally, Park Ridge Hospital, High Point University and nonprofit Wild South on a new website called Cherokee Journey. It was about four years ago, when mobile applications first started gaining popularity, that Hallock made the decision to add app development to his roster of services.
“For the last six months, we’ve been working on the engagement directory, which are mobile apps that are geared specially around engagement for colleges, hospitals, events and attractions,” says Hallock.
High Point University, for example, had Hallock and his team design an iPad app that allows prospective students to take a guided virtual tour of the campus, and pull up videos and other related information. Similarly, TopFloor launched a new website for Park Ridge Hospital and a brand new mobile app that serves as a physician directory.
“We’ve developed really good software that we can reuse now,” explains Hallock. He says rather than build new projects from scratch, he has the framework in place to sell apps like the one he made for High Point University to similar clients.
Asked to recommend other local tech companies and wired individuals in the area, he can instantly rattle off at least a dozen. Over the years, Hallock has been involved in many side projects focused on technology advocacy. He even cofounded TEDxAsheville, an offshoot of the popular California conference that brings together influential speakers in the realms of art, science and business. He says the creative economy is what motivates him to keep innovating.
“The brand of Asheville is very strong. People see Asheville as being a place capable of producing the type of work that they need,” says Hallock.
TopFloorStudio pulls in about $500,000 in revenue annually, but Hallock says he has no plans of expanding. He describes his 10-person company as having the perfect “footprint,” with the ability to tackle both bigger and smaller projects. Hallock is satisfied with his workload right now, he says, but does predict better opportunities in the future for the larger Asheville tech community and startups.
“We’re about to be, or we’re years from being, in the golden age of technology,” says Hallock of Asheville. “We’re doing all the right things.”
For more information on the company, visit TopFloorStudio.com.
— Julia Ritchey can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 122, or firstname.lastname@example.org.