Greensboro Business of the Year Has Roots at UNCG

Posted on July 10, 2023

UNCG alum and Xtern Software founder Keir Davis

The office of Xtern Software, Inc. in Greensboro has the markings of many cool tech businesses: table tennis, pinball machines, open concept desks, even a dog. But they also have something fewer tech companies can claim – lots of Spartan pride.

The alum-owned company is filled with UNC Greensboro connections and is now the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce 2023 Small Business of the Year. According to the Chamber, the winning company “exemplifies both business and civic leadership, community involvement, management practices, and overall financial performance.”

Xtern’s team takes an active role in the Greensboro community — adopting the park across the street from their Fisher Park office, holding computer literacy classes at the United Way Family Success Center, and hosting college students for internships in software development.

“Winning the award really validates what we’ve been working toward,” says founder and president Keir Davis ’00 M.S. “Over the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve really made a concerted effort to refocus on Greensboro and make Greensboro our home.”


Davis founded his first business called Digital Interaction – a web hosting company – in college, before the internet really took off in the mid-1990s. He went on to get a bachelor of arts degree in radio, television, and motion pictures from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1994. Davis explains that when his video production career plans didn’t pan out, he started work on a second bachelor’s degree from UNCG in computer science.

“About two years into my degree work, UNCG initiated a master’s program in computer science,” says Davis. “I already had a bachelor’s degree and the prerequisites, so the faculty encouraged me to apply.”

After graduating with his master of science in computer science in 2000, Davis was doing software development work. But when he was laid off during the dotcom bust, he quickly pivoted to another opportunity. In 2002, he founded Xtern Software out of his townhouse and soon managed the company full time. It continued to grow over the years, and he credits UNCG with helping him get it started.

“The knowledge and education I got at UNCG gave me a great foundation to be able to build what Xtern is today,” he says.


The custom software company has continued to keep a strong connection to UNCG. Not only is Davis one of the first alumni of the master of computer science program, but two-thirds of his employees are UNCG alumni, including the vice-president of Software Development. Others in the company have spouses attending or teaching at the University, and Xtern Software also hires interns from UNCG.

“UNCG has been a part of my life since I was thirteen,” says Davis, whose mother was also an alum. “When I was in the Department of Computer Science, it was a small close-knit group and they’ve really grown. I’ve loved being part of it.”

The bachelor of computer science program has expanded from 131 majors in Fall 2008 to 568 majors in Fall 2020. It is one of the largest programs in the state and UNCG is one of only seven North Carolina public universities accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


Despite the computer science program’s growth, it has kept the tight-knit culture Davis enjoyed. Now, he’s a part-time lecturer.

“The program approached me during the pandemic and asked if I would be able to teach a class on Zoom,” Davis says. “I love teaching the next generation about software and software development.”

Davis also serves on the UNCG Computer Science Industry Advisory Board, and Xtern is currently working with some University departments on software development.

In addition to the Chamber of Commerce award, Xtern was just named one of Business North Carolina’s Best Employers for 2023.

As the tech industry continues to see Raleigh and Charlotte as prime destinations, Davis wants UNCG graduates to know that they can get jobs or start a business in Greensboro – and thrive.

Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography by David Lee Row, University Communications



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