Sigao in Birmingham: Why Our Move Mattered

Regions field in Birmingham

In 2017, as founders of a newly formed company, we made the strategic decision to move to Birmingham, AL. There are quite a few reasons why Sigao moved to Birmingham, but one primary reason stood out above the rest. A seed planted in the wrong soil isn’t going to grow, no matter how well you take care of it. For Sigao to grow, we needed a place where the community’s culture fit with the culture we wanted to build. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the reasons behind the move, how the city has positively affected the company, and what the future holds for Sigao in Birmingham.

We moved for the startup scene

When Sigao made the move to Birmingham we weren’t much of a company. Just four people in basement with a few minor contracts to keep us going. In fact, on paper it probably wasn’t even the right move. When we changed locations we increased our cost of living, increased our competition, and severed many of the connections we had in our previous city. However, we knew that something was happening in the Birmingham tech scene, and we knew we wanted to be a part of it.

What we found surprised us.

We quickly discovered a small yet passionate (and perhaps a bit disjointed) tech community. One that instantly opened its arms to outsiders. From the moment we arrived, we received support and encouragement from everyone we met. People we hardly knew would go out of their way to make high value introductions. It seemed their reasoning was simple: we’re a Birmingham business. That’s just what you do.

Another thing that stood out to us was the lack of harsh competition. Sigao never experienced the cutthroat, calculating environment that so many startups deal with. Instead, we saw companies passing work opportunities to other members of the community. We met business leaders promoting partnerships and collaboration over cold business strategy. Most importantly, we met a group of people stubborn enough to look at huge problems and think “I can fix that”.

We moved for the food

We have always believed that part of being successful at work is being happy outside of work. And to us, few things contribute to happiness and wellbeing like good cuisine.

Food provides a lot of things that other forms of entertainment do not. Its an opportunity to connect to people around you. A chance to expand your tastes. Its even a starting point for learning about new cultures and customs that you otherwise would not have experienced. Eating is a universal activity that brings people together and broadens their horizons.

In Birmingham, we found a vibrant food scene that still continues to surprise us years later. Fine restaurants serving dishes that rival those in major cities. Breweries with food so good they win awards. Hole in the wall shops serving the same meals for over 100 years. The city may be small, but it plays in the big leagues. Even in a post-COVID era, with our team’s rarely ending up in one place, we still make it a tradition to order the same local meals every time we’re together.
Employee wellbeing and happiness is a top priority for Sigao, and being in an area with a rich food culture has helped fulfill that mission. It may seem like a minor thing, but good food is the focal point for many things that aid wellbeing. Its allowed us to explore the city, support local businesses, meet new people, and form bonds with each other and the community.

We moved for the people

Before making the call to move, we had only a basic understanding of Birmingham’s culture. We knew about its history (both recent and distant), and knew that people were working hard to push the city’s image into the future. But, beyond that, we really didn’t didn’t have a strong understanding of the community we were about to join.

Still, we were drawn to the city’s spirit of change and forward-thinking attitude.

It didn’t take long for us to realize how deep that attitude runs. The city is practically overflowing with individuals and groups working to make the city better. From dedicated economic centers, to environmental organizationsLGBTQ community groups, and revitalization advocacies, the city has a culture of progress and civic engagement that we’ve never experienced anywhere else.

Having access to a community like that is not a trivial thing. Starting a business is a difficult, lonely endeavor with a high failure rate. Often the biggest challenge is simply maintaining optimism in the face of hopelessness. It makes a huge difference to know that the people around you truly believe in the future of your city.

In a way, the city its self is a startup, which is why it fits us so well.

Its a group of people using imperfect tools to achieve a common goal in the face of long odds and deep setbacks. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a tech entrepreneur, a lawyer, a bartender, etc. People here have a shared connection and sense of purpose when discussing what the city could be. Its been inspiring and energizing to be a part of that, and we attribute a lot of our success to the people fighting to make the city better.

Environment matters

If there’s one thing we’ve learned on this journey, its that your environment is important. No matter how talented you are, and no matter how hard you work, you’ll always need support and collaboration from the people around you.
As Sigao enters its 7th year in business, we’re transitioning to a stage where we can be on the other side of that support. I recently witnessed someone refer to Sigao as an “established” Birmingham tech company, and I’ll admit it kind of floored me. Its difficult to think of yourself as “established” when the memories of working out of a cramped living room are still fresh on your mind.
Yet, after some reflection, I realized they were right. At some point in the last few years we stopped being the newcomers searching for a place to plant our flag, and became part of the community that drew us here.
That means we now have an obligation to those that come after us. Whatever the future holds for Sigao, one thing is clear. We’ll be here, along side the rest of the community, offering support and encouragement to anyone else who decides to join us. That’s just what you do.

Sigao is on the Move

“I think there’s going to be companies that shut down because of coronavirus and don’t open back up,” he said. “There’s going to be companies that make it to the end. Then there’s going to be companies that figure out how to expand and grow and are not looking at just surviving, but how can we come out ahead. Scrum training that we do prepares companies for that. So we think it’s even more important given the world we’re in … to help them be faster and better.”

Chris Sims
(Birmingham Business Journal Article, July 15, 2020)

COVID19 has forever changed the world. We have to move forward and learn how to exist. First, we must keep people healthy. Next, we must learn where we can pivot and always push to keep ahead of the market.

While many are moving out of office space, Sigao is moving into it. We aren’t bringing everyone back (we will make fact-based decisions that put our team first). But, we cannot stay idle either. We are making choices now that will allow us to adapt to an ever-changing market. Flexible space in a beautiful community gives us the ability to grow and change as we continue to learn more about how to thrive and fulfill our mission of improving lives.

We love #Birmingham and are investing in it. This space allows us to continue our platform of investment in our community. It will serve as an anchor that offers us an ability to deepen our human-centric approach to coaching, training, and development.+

How will this help us

As part of the move, we are creating a media studio that will allow us to build our virtual learning and content creation platforms. These platforms (such as Chris is Agile ( and Sigao ( will allow us to help our community learn the skills needed to practice the lightning-fast pivot.

Additionally, we have built a world-leading virtual training platform focused on Scrum and Agile (Check it out here). This space will allow us to evolve our partnerships with programs like InnovateBirmingham. It will enable us to serve more markets and create engaging educational experiences that empower learners to develop their careers and grow their companies.

More to come…

This is the first of three huge announcements we will be making this month. The BBJ article hints of an exciting, senior leadership hire, and a deepening of our partnership to the Licensed Scrum Community. We can’t wait to make those announcements, but, for now, we are looking forward to this move and seeing what comes next for Sigao, our community, and the world!

In case you missed it, here is the Birmingham Business Journal article that offers more details around our move!

Introducing CreativeMornings Birmingham

This post was written by Sigao Business Development Manager Madison Hall.

In addition to being Sigao’s Business Development Manager, I’ve been working on a fun side project called CreativeMornings Birmingham! I wanted to share a little about it and the reason I’m bringing this group to our small-but-mighty city.

I’m originally from Atlanta, but after college I moved to San Diego to work for a tech startup called Lymber (which has since been acquired by Mindbody). Many of my coworkers, founders, etc., at Lymber were heavily involved in CreativeMornings.

At the first event I attended, I was surprised that more than 400 people were there to listen to Simon Sinek speak. There was free coffee from local coffee shops, free food samples from various local businesses, and tons of smiling faces! It was truly amazing how many people voluntarily showed up at 8 a.m. on a Friday morning to end their week in a positive way.

When I moved to Birmingham and began interviewing for jobs, one tough question I was asked was, “Given your city-hopping track record, how long do you plan to stay in Birmingham?” My response was that I planned to stay here long-term, because my boyfriend will eventually run his family’s company in town. The person interviewing me immediately responded with, “Oh, so you’re stuck here.”

California to Birmingham was a big move, so this kind of attitude was concerning to me. Was I “stuck” in a city where I would be unhappy?

After I started working for Sigao, my attitude changed, and I began to feel more at peace with my decision. I fell more and more in love with the city – the downtown revival, the tech scene, the restaurants, the fitness scene. I started thinking about what I could do to make this city even greater and to bring some of what I loved about Atlanta and San Diego to Birmingham.

CreativeMornings is an opportunity for Birmingham to show off how great it is on both a city level and a global level. It is held in 190 cities around the world and each city’s event is showcased on their website along with their global sponsors (Adobe, MailChimp, and WordPress). This also allows for business professionals from different sectors to connect, see how they can work together, or just start your day off with smiling faces, a good speaker, and a cup of coffee!

I encourage you to stay tuned about CreativeMornings Birmingham through their website or on our CreativeMornings Instagram (handle: CM_birmingham.)

Living out our purpose with Dream on 3

Kurt Cherry on University of Alabama campusThis past weekend was a great reminder for me about why the Birmingham business community is so special.

Kurt Cherry, an 18-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, may have been the biggest Alabama football fan who had never attended a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. That all changed on homecoming weekend when UA partnered with Dream On 3 to give Kurt the trip of a lifetime.

Kurt’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and his smile brightens any room that he’s in. He’s an authority on just about any sport–quoting facts and figures from football, baseball, basketball, and hockey–and he also lives with autism, which creates special challenges in his life.

How Sigao and the Birmingham tech community got involved

Dream On 3–think Make-A-Wish but for children with special needs–arranged for Kurt and his caregiver to fly to Birmingham. When our team heard about his trip to see the Crimson Tide take on the Missouri Tigers, we wanted to be a part of making the event even more special for Kurt.

But we weren’t the only ones who wanted to help. Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa and INFLCR provided accommodations for Kurt, his caregiver, and the team from Dream On 3 that accompanied them. In addition, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Vance loaned the team a van for transportation from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa for the weekend. Knight Eady provided an enormous amount of swag–athletic wear and other items–that was waiting in Kurt’s hotel suite upon his arrival.

Even one of our clients, Easter Seals Greater Houston (Texas), wanted to help. Sigao provided Kurt with a top-of-the-line iPad, and the folks at Easter Seals provided an assessment from BridgingApps,  that will help Kurt find tools and resources specific to his needs and interests.

The trip of a lifetime

Also, when I tell you that Kurt attended the UA Homecoming game, I’m kind of downplaying it. Kurt and his caregiver, Joe McLean, toured campus on Friday before the game, attended Nick Saban’s weekly radio show (and got to meet him!), and then they were included in the Saturday parade, riding with Jim Gibbs in a 1949 Ford pickup truck.

Kurt’s biggest surprise of the weekend was when Dream On 3 founder and CEO Brandon Lindsey surprised him with sideline passes to the game.

We got to meet Kurt, Joe, Brandon, and the rest of the team from Dream On 3 on Friday afternoon, and it was an amazing experience to spend time with this young man, to see and share his enthusiasm for not just football, but also life in general.

What it means to us

When we say that Sigao’s top priority is people, it’s moments like this that come to mind. We’re grateful for the opportunity to help Kurt in a small way, and also grateful for the wonderful business community we’re a part of. Yes, we all want to make money. That’s what businesses do. But, as this experience reminded us, making money is not everything that a business can or should do.

We have a responsibility to our fellow man, to be good citizens and decent people. And when we do that, we find opportunities like this one.

Watch our video below to hear from our team members about what Sigao’s experience helping Kurt’s dream come true meant to them.