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'We had to quickly pivot': Central Georgia tech-startups feel COVID-19 pandemic impacts

HamTECH solutions and Skullz are both web-based small businesses, but neither was prepared for a pandemic

MACON, Ga. — With social distancing and shelter in place mandates happening throughout the pandemic, you may think that COVID-19 is a time for tech companies to thrive, but that's not necessarily the case.

Through our partnership with Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism, Amyre Makupson shows us two Central Georgia tech start-ups, that refused to let a global pandemic put a glitch in their business plans.

"We had to quickly pivot and think on our feet," Christele Parham said.

Christele and Ariane Parham are co-founders of HamTECH solutions, a web development cyber security and HIPAA management firm.

Wes Byrd runs an e-gaming branding and company called Skullz.

Both are web-based small businesses but neither was prepared for a pandemic.

"We were just getting started and had big plans for 2020," Byrd said.

Gaming conferences, the primary source of profit for Skullz, came to an abrupt halt.

"It's hurt the industry in a lot of ways, because there are a lot of businesses and companies that rely on, you know, face-to-face," Byrd said. 

For HamTECH, clients were growing frustrated with online only conversations and consultations.

"I think that like one of the biggest pain points that we encounter, we all can say that we encounter, is the virtual fatigue, right," Christele Parham said.

Both Skullz and HamTECH had a choice: ride out the pandemic until it's over, or change with the times.

"Instead of being face-to-face with our customers, we would, you know make these relationships with other businesses and kind of help them grow and survive in this pandemic and grow and survive ourselves in the same way," Byrd said. 

Skullz opened the door to new partnerships, while HamTECH did something a little different.

"We decided to have HamTECH still do tech support and cyber security... but also create a new company to focus on the creative side of what we deliver," Christele Parham said.

The creative side, HamTECH Designs, now creates virtual experiences for people and businesses to interact and be entertained together on sites like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Hoppin.

"We brought different audiences together to just hang," Christele Parham said.

Now both business owners can say they found some positivity during the pandemic.

"It showed us what was really important and it allowed us to see more of the needs of the community, as well as for our clients," Ariane Parham said.

For more information on the services offered by these two businesses, check out the HamTECH website and the Skullz website.