Philly Dev Camp kicks off with help from city fund

July 24, 2014| Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

Zoe Goldberg, a soon-to-be senior at the University of Pennsylvania, has summer plans quite unusual for a typical 21-year-old.

Instead of turning her brain off for the remainder of her last summer vacation, she’s spending five weeks in an intense website development camp, dubbed Philly Dev Camp, run by Zivtech and Neomind Labs.

Philly Dev Camp, which kicked off this week in a Zivtech workroom, is made possible from a $24,000 grant from StartUp PHL, the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation initiative. The camp’s goal is to train interested individuals, and ultimately create a group of talented Web developers, who can boost the city’s tech scene.

“I always hated my job before coming into this field,” said Jody Hamilton, Zivtech co-founder and chief technology officer. “And this is such a good job. There’s demand for this job, it pays well, you can work in Center City in a nice office, it’s creative, you work with interesting people. There’s nothing bad you can say about these [Web developer] jobs.”

The only missing piece, Hamilton continued, is finding people with the right skills to do the work.

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TechGirlz Take Over

Reblogged from Drexel University, Close School of Entrepreneurship

2014 TechGirlz

TechGirlz Take Over

TechGirlz, a nonprofit aimed at closing the gender gap in the technology world, partnered with the Close School to host its third annual summer camp for girls interested in tech careers.

A clan of smart, determined, resilient entrepreneurs hard at work on a new venture is not an unusual sight at the Baiada Institute. But this week, visitors to the Close School’s incubator saw a twist on that familiar scene.

The Baiada Institute hosted 20 sixth- through -ninth-grade girls researching, developing and creating companies and concepts all their own as a part of the TechGirlz summer camp. TechGirlz is a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing adolescent girls to careers in technology, science and innovation.

The third annual TechGirlz camp took advantage of Close School faculty and staff, as well as the founders of companies incubating in the Baiada Institute, who helped provide support and mentorship as the campers developed ideas, presented prototypes and pitched business plans.

“TechGirlz was born out of a desire to correct the imbalance,” says TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman. “I was shocked to find a severe decline of young women entering computer science programs.”

Welson-Rossman, a Drexel graduate herself, says the Close School was the ideal fit for this year’s program.

“It was a match made in entrepreneur heaven,” she says. “Drexel is definitely leading the way in creating stronger entrepreneurs.”

Close School Dean Donna De Carolis agrees.

“I believe in TechGirlz’s mission. It works in lockstep with our mission of creating a supportive academic environment where students are free to pursue their passions and big ideas,” says De Carolis. “We need to close the gender gap when it comes to the jobs of the future — namely jobs in technological and scientific innovations. And TechGirlz is paving the way.”

Tech Girlz campers accomplish more in a week than many entrepreneurs do in a year. They learn to craft and perfect their elevator pitch, create business use cases, design logos, refine their market strategy and much more. The camp culminates in final presentations of their ideas and business plans.

Tech Girlz is at the forefront of a recent tide of initiatives aimed at increasing the number of women in the tech sector. Google announced last month that it is investing $50 million into its Made With Code project, which also strives to close the tech scene’s gender gap.

Welson-Rossman, a veteran of custom software and development firm Chariot Solutions, says she looks forward to the next phase in Tech Girlz’ continued growth. Companies like SAP and Comcast and universities including Drexel and Harvard spent last year teaching TechGirlz material.

“We expect to have 20 more companies and organizations, and to teach 1,000 more girls this school year,” she says.

Mayor Nutter Welcomes Think Brownstone to Philadelphia

Latest suburban company to open a Philadelphia ‘gateway’ office

Philadelphia, July 10, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Think Brownstone, a Conshohocken-based user experience and design agency, opened the company’s new Philadelphia office at the historic Packard Grande Building in Center City.  Founded in 2007 by Carl White and Brian McIntire, Think Brownstone employs 50 people, including at least 15 who will work in the Philadelphia office, with the potential to expand.   Think Brownstone is the latest in a long line of companies to open a Philadelphia ‘gateway’ office in order to attract the talented workforce that wants to live and work in the city.  Other companies that have recently opened ‘gateway’ offices include Bentley Systems, Fiberlink, SevOne, and Eisner Amper.

“Think Brownstone’s decision to open an office in Philadelphia is the latest demonstration that Philadelphia is a great place to start and grow a technology company,” said Mayor Nutter. “Through initiatives like Startup PHL, my Administration, together with our partner PIDC, continues to do all we can to make Philadelphia a more business-friendly place and put this city on the map as one of America’s most diverse, dynamic and exciting places to build a company.”

Think Brownstone is a user experience and design agency that works with global clients, such as ING, The Hay Group, and Comcast, to improve their digital products. The company uses extensive research and discovery methods to produce user-centered software, including business applications, websites, and data visualization and analytic tools.

“When we originally pictured Think Brownstone, it was going to be in an historic building in the City of Philadelphia,” said Carl White, co-founder and CEO. “Even though we established our first studio in Conshohocken, we are thrilled to see that original vision come to life in our second studio at 15th and Sansom Streets. We are looking forward to being closer to our Philadelphia clients, being more convenient to the extensive pool of talented Philadelphia designers and developers, and taking advantage of all of the business services the city has to offer.”

Supporting entrepreneurs and startup companies in Philadelphia and attracting an educated talented workforce is a major priority for the Nutter Administration. Since the launch of Startup PHL the City has awarded more $210,000 across ten Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants. The latest round focused on attracting and retaining talent; recipients include organizations such as Penn Apps Fellows, Philly Startup Leaders and Technically Philly, NextFab, Zivtech, and the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. In addition, PIDC has also made investments in the Science Center’s QED program and in DreamIt Ventures, which established its global headquarters at 3401 Market Street on Drexel University’s campus.

“Companies large and small are increasingly moving to Philadelphia because they have access to an incredible talented workforce, high quality of life, and a growing support system for entrepreneurs” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “This is a very exciting and promising development for the future of our city’s tech ecosystem.”

For more information about Startup PHL please visit www.startupphl.com. For more information about Think Brownstone please visit www.thinkbrownstone.com

Mayor Nutter Appoints New Chief Data Officer

Philadelphia, July 2, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that Tim Wisniewski has been appointed Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the City of Philadelphia under the Office of Innovation and Technology.  In this role, Wisniewski will coordinate departmental efforts to enhance open government and civic engagement by publishing government data online and will act as the public liaison between data users and data providers.  Additionally, he will oversee the management of the City’s web portfolio, application development and civic technology, including redesigning Phila.Gov as a platform for connecting the general public to open data.

“The Chief Data Officer position plays a key role in our Administration’s efforts to be more transparent, efficient and effective by facilitating information sharing between the City and its residents and between departments,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Tim has a technology and community building background and he has been keenly focused on civic engagement and that clearly makes him a standout choice.  Tim’s appointment will strengthen the City’s commitment to open data and refocus the Administration’s strategy.  I am looking forward to the good work Tim will do with our Open Data policy.”

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