Software startup expands its Center City office space

October 28, 2015 | by Jacob Adelman

RJMetrics is adding in excess of a third more space to its offices at Center City’s Widener Building, according to PernaFrederick Commercial Real Estate, which represented the software startup in the expansion.

The company will now occupy more than 21,500 square feet on the fourth and 15th floors of the 18-story building at One South Penn Square, PernaFrederick said in a release Tuesday.

RJMetrics, which specializes in data infrastructure and analytics software, has operated out of the building since early 2014, PernaFrederick said.


SnipSnap Debuts Scout, A Deal-Finding Virtual Assistant

October 28, 2015 | Tech Crunch by Sarah Perez

“There are a number of digital tools that can help consumers save money when they’re shopping in-store or online, including mobile coupons, discount codes, rebates, digitized circulars, barcode scanners, and more. But today, the mobile savings app SnipSnap is rolling out a different kind of savings tool with the launch of Scout, a virtual concierge that helps you find savings via a chat-based interface where you can type in a product’s name, scan a barcode, or even just snap a photo of the product you want to buy.

“The launch comes at a time when we’re seeing a rise in the number of digital assistants that go beyond the use cases provided by built-in tools like Siri or Google Now, for example. Today, Facebook is testing a Messenger-based assistant called M, and a range of other startups have launched apps and SMS-based services, including Operator, the shopping concierge from Uber’s co-founder; Magic, GoButler, Fetch, and others.

“Some of these competitors are general purpose assistants that can help you with a variety of tasks, while others are focused only on shopping queries. However, SnipSnap’s Scout is carving out its own unique niche – it’s not about helping you shop, it’s specifically aimed at help you save money while shopping, either in-store or online.

“SnipSnap, as you may recall, was acquired by visual search company Slyce earlier this year for $6.5 million. The startup, which was profitable at the time of the acquisition, runs a crowd-sourced database where its 5 million users snap photos of coupons and share them with others – turning the images into mobile-ready offers you can use when at local stores or restaurants.

“Instead of being spun out into its own dedicated app, Scout builds upon SnipSnap’s established community of deal-hunters as a new feature within the SnipSnap application.”


Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Greenberger Announce New Startup PHL Call for Ideas Awards

Announcement wraps up 10-day focus on startups and entrepreneurship in Philadelphia

PRESS RELEASE: Philadelphia, October 8, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger announced a new round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants to organizations that provide programs and events to support entrepreneurship in Philadelphia.  The announcement comes at the end of a series of events and announcements related to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Philadelphia, kicking off with Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Tour last week and including the Forbes Under 30 Conference which concluded yesterday.  The grants announced today help programs supporting a wide range of entrepreneurs across Philadelphia.

“Over the last week we have showcased our city’s startups and entrepreneurs to leaders from around the country and around the world, demonstrating that Philadelphia is one of America’s top startup cities,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Increasingly, people are learning that Philadelphia has all of the raw ingredients necessary to start and grow exciting companies.  I am confident that the attention our city receives will only continue to grow as more founders and entrepreneurs choose Philadelphia as their home city.”

The latest round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants provides funding to six organizations, bringing the total number of programs supported by this initiative to twenty.  The programs funded in this round include:

  • Asociacion Puertorriquenos En Marcha ($20,000) – APM will convert a parcel of land at 6th and Susquehanna into a pop-up market place and provide entrepreneurial training to aspiring and nascent entrepreneurs, creating a gateway for entrepreneurial activity in this community.


  • Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at the University of the Arts ($15,000) In January 2016, the Center – in partnership with the Philadelphia Free Library – will offer an interactive, program to those considering a business based in the creative economy.  Participants will also receive two hours of one-on-one consulting and the opportunity to apply for seed grants.


  • Refugee Women’s Textile Initiative ($18,548) – The RWTI will empower refugee women with sewing and textile skills and manufacturing contacts to create independent businesses, develop a cooperative store, and merge traditional textiles with new art forms to overcome poverty and gain economic mobility.


  • Schoolyard Ventures ($6,000) – Schoolyard Ventures will create a marketplace where teens with great ideas can connect with those who wish to fund them. After helping over 800 middle school and high school aged students launch businesses providing over $70,000 in direct micro-capital to them, Schoolyard Ventures has learned that as little as $250 can help a young person launch a business, as well as build skills and improve the lives of others in the city.


  • TechGirlz Charitable Foundation ($19,990) – TechGirlz will provide a stipend or college credit for high school and college students who teach the TechShopz in a Box Program in workshops throughout Philadelphia. TechShopz in a Box is a TechGirlz-developed curricula for middle school girls.


  • Tiny WPA ($25,000) – The Building Hero Project is a design, leadership and entrepreneurship incubator for individuals ages 16 and up who want to be a part of a diverse community of civic change agents. Participants will learn how to design and build products for sale and manage an eCommerce store.

Startup PHL is an initiative of the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, PIDC, and First Round Capital to provide funding for early-stage companies and to support programs that develop the startup community in Philadelphia.  Through Startup PHL Funds and co-investments from First Round Capital, nine Philadelphia startups have received more than $1.1 million in combined seed stage or angel investment since October 2013, and through the Call For Ideas Grants twenty organizations have received more than $400,000 in funding to support entrepreneurship programming.  Just last week Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Greenberger, PIDC and First Round Capital announced a $100,000 Startup PHL Angel Fund investment in Scholly, an education startup in Philadelphia connecting students to scholarship opportunities.  Scholly also won the Rise of the Rest pitch competition securing a $100,000 investment from AOL founder Steve Case.

“Our goal through Startup PHL is to provide more capital to growing startups in Philadelphia and to support collaboration and entrepreneurship across the city,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.  “We have invested around $1.5 million into our city’s ecosystem to date and, in the process, sought to elevate the profile of entrepreneurship in Philadelphia by working with incredible partners such as PIDC and First Round Capital.”

The applications were evaluated by officials from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce and PIDC along with representatives of the investment, academic, policy and startup communities.


Safeguard Scientifics a Founding Contributor to AWE Ventures

October 7, 2015 | blog

Safeguard Scientifics, one of the region’s premier providers of capital and operational expertise to emerging and growth-stage healthcare and technology enterprises, has signed on as a Founding Contributor to AWE Ventures – Powered by Ben Franklin.

Says Safeguard Scientifics President and CEO Stephen Zarrilli, “Safeguard is aligned with Ben Franklin’s mission of diversifying the growth of technology and investment activity in our region and beyond. This partnership with the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs is a great initiative both to educate potential new investors of the possibilities within early stage investments, and help women founders access new capital. We’re excited to help our region lead the progress that our world needs.”


OneTwoSee raises $1.2 million from local investors

October 5, 2015 | Philly by Juliana Reyes

Sports-watching app company OneTwoSee raised $1.2 million in a debt round, cofounder Chris Reynolds confirmed to us.

The raise comes 18 months after the Center City startup’s last round, a $1.3 million equity round.

This latest round was backed by previous investors, including lead investor MissionOG, based in Center City, and local angel group Robin Hood Ventures, Reynolds said. The company employs 15 and is looking to hire five more right now.

When asked why the company went with a debt round this time, Reynolds wrote, “We won’t get into the details, but everyone is very pleased with the way the financing turned out.”

The company had a big win earlier this summer when it launched its baseball app with Comcast’s X1 platform, reaching millions of subscribers.


Students: apply to pitch at the first region-wide business plan competition

October 5, 2015 | Philly by Juliana Reyes

Students, wanna be the next Chris Gray?

Here’s one way to polish your pitching skills. Philadelphia is hosting its first region-wide business plan competition for students.

It’s an effort to unite — and celebrate — all the student entrepreneurship activity happening around town. And there’s $15,000 up for grabs.

Apply by December 15th.


Scholly scores again

October 1, 2015 | The Philadelphia Inquirer by Jonathon Takiff

Sometimes, it’s a good thing when it rains . . . and pours. Certainly for the gang at Scholly, the Philadelphia startup that developed an app giving students a fast and easy way to find scholarships for college.

Earlier this week, Scholly founder Christopher Gray presented and won a $100,000 investment (convertible to a stock payback)  from investor Steve Case in the “Rise of the Rest” pitch competition here.

Today Mayor Michael Nutter added to Scholly’s growth potential, announcing that the Startup PHL Angel  Fund  has likewise made a $100,000 bet on the project.  It’s the ninth investment in two years ($1,149,997 total) made to a Philly startup by the Angel Fund, a partnership of PIDC (Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation) and First Round Capital.

“The success of the Startup PHL Initiative continues to showcase Philadelphia as a top competitor in the startup community,” said John Grady, President  of PIDC. “PIDC  is committed to investing in businesses like Scholly that not only serve Philadelphia’s economy but supports priorities like education.”


Mayor Nutter Announces Startup PHL Investment in Scholly

Education startup the 9th Philly company to receive investment

PRESS RELEASE Philadelphia – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the Startup PHL Angel Fund has made a $100,000 investment in Scholly, a Philadelphia startup which has developed an app that gives students a fast and simple way to find scholarships for college. Scholly also recently won the Rise of the Rest pitch competition securing a $100,000 investment from AOL founder Steve Case on his visit to Philadelphia earlier this week.

“My Administration has worked diligently to build on this city’s history of innovation by providing the support and programming needed by young companies to grow and prosper in Philadelphia,” Said Mayor Nutter. “More companies are choosing not just to launch in the City of Philadelphia but to stay and grow their businesses here as well. Talent is also staying and finding opportunities for themselves in the vibrant startup economy in Philadelphia. My Administration is proud to do all we can to continue to promote Philadelphia as one of America’s top startup cities. Thank you to our partners at PIDC and First Round Capital for making this work possible.”

Scholly has partnered with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to provide the app to 275k students across America each year. The app has also been endorsed by the Coca Cola Scholars Foundations and the Gates Millennium Scholars Foundation. In less than two years, Scholly has helped students raise at least $20 million in scholarship funds.

Scholly was recently on Shark Tank and was chosen as one of Inc. Magazine’s Top College Start Ups. The company has won UnderArmour’s Cupid’s Cup Competition as well as Drexel’s Incubator competition and was chosen as one of Philly’s Coolest Start Ups of 2013. Founder Christopher Gray, a recent graduate from Drexel and an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015 for Philadelphia, along with his co-founders Bryson Alef and Nick Pirollo launched the app in May 2013

“Startup PHL is a great opportunity for us and really shows that Philadelphia is growing as a startup ecosystem,” said Scholly founder Christopher Gray. “We are excited to make Philadelphia our home, create more jobs, and be a part of what will be one of the next hubs of entrepreneurship.”

Startup PHL is an initiative between the City of Philadelphia, PIDC, and First Round Capital to support the growth of startups in Philadelphia. The Startup PHL Seed Fund and Startup PHL Angel Fund are partnerships between PIDC and leading venture capital firm First Round Capital to make investments in Philadelphia-based startups. Scholly is the ninth company to receive an investment with $1,149,997 invested in Philly startups since 2013.

“I’ve known Chris since his days as a student investor with our Dorm Room Fund. He and his team at Scholly have accomplished an incredible amount in a very short period of time, and I’m thrilled to continue to work closely with them through Startup PHL.” said Josh Kopelman, Partner at First Round Capital.

“The success of the Startup PHL Initiative continues to showcase Philadelphia as a top competitor in the startup community,” said John Grady, President of PIDC. “PIDC is committed to investing in businesses like Scholly that not only serve Philadelphia’s economy but supports priorities like education. We are proud to partner with First Round Capital and look forward to supporting the next inventive entrepreneur.”

Startup PHL also provides grant funding through its Call for Ideas program. This grant program managed by the Department of Commerce provides grants to initiatives or organizations that are supporting startups and entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. The program has awarded over $300,000 in grants to date to support Philadelphia’s startup community through a range of organizations such as Startup Corps, Philly Startup Leaders, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Campus Philly, Techgirlz and Coded by Kids. The next round of Call for Ideas grants will be made next week.

“Over the last few years Philadelphia’s profile as a city from which to launch and grow exciting, innovative companies has grown tremendously and the success of firms like Scholly is testament to that progress,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “Philadelphia has become a city of choice for startups and for larger firms looking to acquire some of the top talent in the nation and I am proud of what we have been able to do to support the growth of this community.”