DevDigital: Nashville’s hometown hero for small businesses

Debby Dickens has lived in Nashville, Tennessee her entire life.

“My Grandmother would’ve been 100 years old this past April, and she was born and raised in Nashville. So, my family officially has a century worth of history here. It’s my home, I’ve raised my kids here.”

For 30 years, she’s been the financial expert for companies across the city, taking up roles as financial advisor, controller, and everything in between, for businesses and companies in every industry under the sun.

“Just to send an international wire transfer, it was costing me $50 and them $50. With Veem, that’s all over.”

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For nearly 6 years, Debby has taken up the mantle as CFO and Partner of DevDigital, a web development company based in her hometown.

“When a contract comes in, I’m here to make sure we stay within hours, and if we don’t, figuring out why, creating financial statements, dealing with the resources and expenses required for our projects, all that. I take care of where our money is going, when it’s coming in, basically everything that we pay or get paid for, that’s me.”

To us, it might sound like tedious work. But, after nearly 3 decades, Debby has grown a fondness for writing up statements and tracking down dollars and cents, and a fondness for what DevDigital does to help small businesses.

Small business web development

“When you’re selling development, it’s actually more about relationship building,” Debby notes.

“It’s about gaining the trust of our clients by proving to them that we can get it done, and get it done well. We have so many clients that come to us $100,000 or even $1 million in the hole from their last development endeavor, and they still don’t have a working website. They come to us wounded.”

Especially for startups and small businesses, the world of web development can be hard to navigate. DevDigital wanted to make that process easier, and create fantastic projects as a result.

“My Grandmother would’ve been 100 years old this past April, and she was born and raised in Nashville. So, my family officially has a century worth of history here. It’s my home, I’ve raised my kids here.”

– Debby Dickens, CFO of DevDigital

Custom solutions for small business

Surprisingly, DevDigital didn’t start out as a web development company. And, even more surprisingly, its Founding Partner and CEO, Peter Marcum, wasn’t even trained in programming.

“Peter was in the fiber optics industry before DevDigital, but has a 40 year history in the software programming business, and was self-taught. His company helped lay the lines to get fiber optic internet to cities in California, Atlanta, and more cities across the United States,” Debby recalls.

While running that business, Peter started doing the very thing that what would turn into DevDigital: creating websites

Building business through outsourcing

“When the fiber optics company was bought, the buyers didn’t want the web development part of the business. So, Peter turned that into DevDigital. He started working with a ton of people in the music business.”

Peter’s experience in business has always been ahead of the curve. He is able to know what is catching and develop companies to suit those interests.

The music industry can be cutthroat. No artist has the time to stop booking gigs and writing songs to build their own website, no matter how valuable it might be. Peter and his original development team noticed a major need for their web-building expertise in Nashville. Between the thriving music industry and the amount of small businesses, it seemed like no small business owner had the time to get a website up and running. Plus, it’s hard to gain the trust of startups and other vulnerable companies.

Small business builds trust overseas through secure international payments

“It’s hard to convince people that we can get the job done, and ultimately get them to trust us. That’s one of the nice parts about working with businesses right in Nashville, it means we can have one-on-one, face-to-face meetings without talking through a screen.”

Having a home base in the US is even more important for DevDigital specifically, because they actually have 4 offices: a home base in Nashville, one in India, one in Zambia, and one in the Bahamas. In this way, DevDigital is a kind of touchstone for companies in Nashville to build trusting relationships with employees overseas. As Debby says, “they’re like family to us.”

“A lot of people ask us if we contract or outsource our development, and we don’t. We have over 100 programmers working around the clock for our clients, and they’re full time DevDigital employees. We’ve actually had an office in India nearly as long as we’ve been in business.”

Nashville has always been DevDigital’s home. But Debby and the team quickly realized the importance of remote and offshore work to produce a high-quality product. They’re bridging the gap: literally, and in perception.

“When you’re selling development, it’s actually more about relationship building,”

– Debby Dickens, CFO of DevDigital

International Payments Overseas

Small and medium sized businesses need trust. Hiring somebody for all of your tech needs costs huge amounts of money, and huge amounts of time.

“One-person shows don’t have the time to get it all done. We’re able to come in and complete excellent projects. We’ve completed every project we’ve taken on. And since we do projects in phases, the scaffolding helps build our clients’ trust.” A lot of DevDigital’s startup clients come right from the heart of Nashville. Those one-person operations love meeting Debby and the DevDigital team in-person, putting a face to the digital services they so desperately need.

Nashville clientele grows through offshore development

But, to the surprise of many of their customers, DevDigital’s core development team is actually offshore, working from offices in India, the Bahamas, and Zambia.

Their experienced team of programmers makes any project scalable.

“Nashville is growing like crazy. It’s the healthcare capital. We have tons of healthcare companies here that require tech. There’s such a variety in Nashville, from music, to construction, restaurants, and escape rooms. With so much diversity, it’s never boring.”

And with so much variety, the capacity of a US-based team can become overwhelmed. Nashville is growing exponentially, and is one of the most diverse cities in the US in terms of business type.

Simplify international payments with Veem

“The people are diverse, the businesses are diverse, but the solutions really weren’t. We had an office overseas and figured, why not use it to its full potential?”

So, they did. Now three offices strong and with a growing client base, DevDigital has taken their Nashville baby abroad, while holding onto their ever-so important roots.

“I’ve thought about moving further south before, and I just haven’t been able to make it happen. I love it here in Nashville. My family’s here, my job is here, and I can’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon.”

With Nashville as the priority headquarters and a major part of the team working overseas, managing payroll and finances became more difficult. As Debby delved deeper, she found places for improvement, and started looking for an option to streamline the paymentS methods her team needed to keep DevDigital’s production line moving.

“There’s such a variety in Nashville, from music, to construction, restaurants, and escape rooms. With so much diversity, it’s never boring.”

– Debby Dickens, CFO of DevDigital

Small business international banking just got easier

Debby is an expert in managing people’s money and small business accounting.

“Whether it’s a dollar or five thousand dollars. It’s all the same to me, whether someone owes you money, or vise versa. That’s the bottom line.”

Debby is no stranger to the boundaries in small business banking, especially when it involves payments. One of DevDigital’s biggest business challenges was sending money overseas to their company in India, with wire transfers zigzagging between US and India banks. International money transfers were time consuming, and DevDigital lost out on the money Debby was so passionate about tracking.

At times, Debby was made to wait until local time in India to complete wire transfers. On top of that, the fees were draining, for both the sender and receiver. She began looking for other ways to send money online.

Why Veem for international money transfers

She tried PayPal, but ultimately found the fees were too high. “I never really liked to use it. It’s not worth it. For every $25USD they were charging me $1. It was ridiculous. It wasn’t worth it.”

As the wire transfer fees added up for each time payments were due, Debby became increasingly frustrated. “Just to send an international wire transfer, it was costing me $50 and them $50. I felt like I couldn’t get money to go where I needed it to go.”

Even the bank she worked with for so long was now charging her $200 a month in fees.

Then, DevDigital gave TransferWise a shot. But, Debby found the process daunting. Like many businesses, she began to wonder: how long does a wire transfer really take?

“It took forever. Even to get a payee set up was just crazy. I couldn’t understand what could take so long. It took about two weeks to get them set up and I realized I would have more payments in the future. I didn’t want to have to do that process again. I had done one or two before I got a call from Veem.”

The simplicity of sending with Veem

DevDigital’s search to find the safest, quickest way to send money eventually ended at Veem. Debby was so impressed by Veem’s platform that she announced it in an executive meeting. After sending her first payment, she was hooked. Other payment methods wouldn’t cut it.

“Talk about ease. Veem’s payments processing is a breath of fresh air. Like most people, my time is valuable. Sending payments online through Veem is so simple and saves so much time. It’s a no-brainer for me. The sign up was very easy, but the simplicity of sending the payments is the best part.”

Debby’s passion for finances drives her to look for the best payments methods, both for DevDigital, as well as her startup clients’ funding.

DevDigital uses Veem for international money transfers, and plans to use it for domestic payments in the future. After reflecting on her bank’s current process for bill pay and ACH and discovering many hidden fees involved, she claims, “It’s pretty costly. Veem would probably make my life easier for domestic too. It’s not just my money, it’s other people’s money too, per transaction. It’s wasteful. I want to save people money, especially DevDigital.”

Debby and DevDigital have now been using Veem for over a year, and are looking into more ways to integrate with their favorite payments platform.

“Talk about ease. Veem’s payments processing is a breath of fresh air.”

– Debby Dickens, CFO of DevDigital

Re-designing small business in Nashville Tennessee

After 2 years at DevDigital, Debby became a partner in the business, and is continuing to help expand DevDigital’s customer base and reach.

“Like I said, Nashville is our home, but we’re always looking to expand. Whether it be to cities in the US or outside of it, everyone needs a website. DevDigital is here to make that happen for those businesses that just don’t have the time.”

Nashville meets big-tech

You wouldn’t think of Nashville as the next up-and-coming tech hotspot. But, as Silicon Valley and Boston bustle with more money and innovators than ever before, the talent is spilling out to the rest of the country.

It’s these gems, these diamonds that investors and business partners need to watch out for. The days of guitar strumming and tumbleweeds aren’t gone, but the skyscrapers and big-tech headquarters are here, and they aren’t going anywhere.

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