Innovation Depot CEO heading into private business

Innovation Depot will be looking for a new CEO.

Drew Honeycutt will be leaving the post by the end of August to pursue a business venture.

A Birmingham native, Honeycutt was named to the post in 2020 following a national search. The previous CEO, Devon Laney, had been with the Birmingham tech startup incubator for 14 years.

During Honeycutt’s time, Innovation Depot underwent a brand refresh, began two entrepreneurial programs, unveiled a mobile app and revamped its Birmingham campus. Those accomplishments came after Honeycutt was hired during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“They hired me the week the world shut down,” he said. “I started April 1, 2020. It was a strange time to say the least. What we did was we really went out and operated like a startup, and asked people in the community what they wanted and what they needed. We tried to create a reason why people would want to come into the building.”

And the pandemic made many changes to the Birmingham business landscape. Honeycutt said the popularity of remote working has opened up opportunities for workers nationwide, and has made it easier for entrepreneurs to link up with investors. Landing CEO Bill Smith made similar comments last week, saying the pandemic has loosened access to venture capital.

“People are not looking for as large a space as before,” Honeycutt said. “What we’ve been focused on at the Depot is building additional density, going from 110 to 200-plus companies as the goal. And I think (the pandemic) definitely has opened up the capital flow. I think people are more adept to having conversations through Zoom and online.”

Honeycutt said he will be leaving the Depot to head Talladega Castings and Machine Co. with his father Rick.

“It’s core of the economy products,” he said. “We do a lot of work in mining, machining, rail, wiring.

“I’m really excited about where the Depot is and our tech ecosystem is in general. I just had a very unique opportunity to acquire a 73-year-old manufacturing business in Talladega. It’s full of innovation. People bring problems to us and we make solutions. There was an opportunity and, as they say, I jumped at it.”