Sidecar raises $8 million Series B

A roster of local investors is backing the Center City ecommerce marketing company in a big way.

November 20, 2015 | by Juliana Reyes

Sidecar, the Center City ecommerce marketing company, raised an $8 million Series B from Boston-based venture capital firm Ascent Venture Partners and a whole slate of local investors.

It’s Ascent’s first investment in a Philly company, according to CEO Andre Golsorkhi’s blog post announcing the round.

For the people who say there’s no local venture dollars, check out this list of local investors who participated in the round, as per Golsorkhi’s blog post (we saw many of these investors at venture capital conference IMPACT).

Osage Venture Partners; Michael Rubin, former CEO of GSI Commerce; Sashi Reddi, former CEO and founder of AppLabs; Jonathan Brassington, CEO of LiquidHub; Paul Melchiorre, President of iPipeline; Michael Phelan, former CEO of SevOne; Scott Tarte, CEO of Sparks; Richard Vague, former CEO of Energy Plus and First USA; Tony Ibarguen, CEO of Quench; NextStage Capital; Robin Hood Ventures; Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Innovation Capital Advisors; and ARC Angel Fund.


Ben Franklin Technology Partners Joins ic@3401 and Drexel to Boost Startup Resources in University City

November 19, 2015 | Drexel Now

A number of developments in University City’s startup ecosystem are aligning—all to the benefit of Philadelphia’s burgeoning community of entrepreneurs. Drexel University and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania are teaming up to create a $10 million early stage seed fund that will support spin-off companies from the University. Concurrent with the launch of the new fund, Ben Franklin will join Drexel and University City Science Center’s efforts to strengthen the offerings for members at the Innovation Center @3401 (ic@3401). And the technology and healthcare growth capital provider, Safeguard Scientifics, is also joining ic@3401 in a high-level capacity.

“Ben Franklin has a strong track record of seeding and growing successful companies,” said Ben Franklin President and CEO, RoseAnn B. Rosenthal. “Linking our capabilities with Drexel and the ic@3401 community gives entrepreneurs fantastic new opportunities to leverage each organization’s unique assets, while strengthening the region’s robust engine for innovation.”


Hometown Glory: Get Startup Grants and Seed Investments From Your City

November 16, 2015 | Entrepreneur Magazine by Michelle Goodman

After earning an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Ashrit Kamireddi was prepared to go wherever he had to in order to raise seed money to grow VeryApt, his apartment-review platform. But thanks to a $100,000 angel investment from Philadelphia’s StartUp PHL program, which invests in local entrepreneurs, he didn’t have to leave town. This was good news for Kamireddi, who has hired four full-time employees since raising a total of $270,000 in seed funds, and expanded his operations to 10 other cities. Philly, which launched its $6 million startup fund in 2012, is among several major cities offering grants and seed investments for entrepreneurs. Among them, Detroit boasts two venture funds for early-stage companies, with a portfolio of nearly 80 startups; Denver awards $35,000 in annual grants to new companies.

So, what’s the best way to gain access to these funds? To identify opportunities, check with your city’s economic development office, incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, networking groups and anywhere else startup founders and advisors congregate. Begin building relationships long before you’re ready to raise capital—even a year or two in advance, advises Archna Sahay, Philadelphia’s manager of entrepreneurial investment, who regularly counsels entrepreneurs about pitching Startup PHL. “The minute you realize you want to take on the investment is when you need to start having that conversation,” she says.


Join the PHL party at SXSW

A collaborative community effort to organize Philadelphia companies and attendees of SXSW launched last week. The initiative is hoping to organize any attendees into a unified block while at the conference. If your company is attending, or you’d like to sponsor, check out the details at

BuLogics CEO Felicite Moorman on Philly startups: ‘We’re here to build something that lasts’

November 12, 2015 | by Juliana Reyes

BuLogics won the Technological Excellence of the Year award from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Here’s Moorman’s acceptance speech.

Felicite Moorman chose Philadelphia over New York when she joined East Falls internet-of-things company BuLogics as its CEO.

That was because of BuLogics founder Ryan Buchert. But it was also because of the camraderie of the local business community, she said in her acceptance speech for a Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Small Business Excellence Award last week.

“We lack the transience that is representative of NYC,” she said. “We aren’t here to get something done or accomplish some thing, and then leave. We’re here to build something that lasts, and in doing so, build community.”


Taking the Pain Out of Slow Payments

November 9, 2015 | Inc. Magazine by Leigh Buchanan

Earlier this year, the alcoholic beverage giant Diageo gave its supply chain a nasty yank. The company told vendors it was extending to 90 days payment terms on new contracts because it had “significant investment projects underway” and needed to improve cash flow. Suppliers were expected to understand. After all, it’s not like they needed cash themselves for new projects or, say, to stay alive.

Under public pressure, Diageo backtracked. But its actions-and similar actions taken by many other companies-remind us about the vulnerability of B-to-B vendors. Not all large customers that pay late or stretch terms to 90 or even 120 days are opportunistic. Many just want to ensure their own financial stability. But delaying payment hurts small businesses and damages vendor-customer relationships. Much as large and small companies say they want to be partners, that’s tough to achieve when the power imbalance is great.

One partial solution is dynamic discounting: a 10-year-old good idea that improving technology has made better. In this model, customers that pay sooner pay a little less, with the savings determined by dates of payment. Last year, the White House persuaded Apple, Coca-Cola, and 24 other corporations to accelerate their payment rates as part of an initiative called SupplierPay. Taulia and C2FO are among the companies active in this space.

The newest entrant, fresh out of Y-Combinator, is Philadelphia-based Tesorio, which recently raised money from investors like First Round Capital and Funders Club. The company’s founder and CEO is Panamanian-born Carlos Vega, 34, who met his Cuban-born co-founder, Fabio Fleitas, 21, at Wharton in 2013.

The model is fairly simple. Once the large customer approves an invoice, it is sent automatically to Tesorio, which notifies the supplier. The supplier has the option to click a button if it wants to be paid immediately at a discount. Discounts are calculated to be lower than the borrowing cost of the supplier (a rate determined algorithmically) and above the cost of capital of the buyer (a rate determined when new customers are brought onboard). “They split the difference,” says Vega, and “everyone is a little more motivated to participate.” Tesorio takes a percentage of the customer’s savings.

One nice thing about Tesorio is its attention to the supplier side. “While we do develop a lot of tools for the large companies, really, if the small companies don’t play, no one wins,” says Vega. “So we are very focused on designing things so they are helpful to the suppliers.”

Vega hopes that suppliers who like the system will, in turn, implement it with their own vendors. Thus dynamic discounting may promote the creation of a virtuous supply chain, in which all links-no matter their size-are financially stable and pulling together.



From Fashion to Pop-Up Markets, New Grants Support Entrepreneurial Philly

November 6, 2015 | Next City by Cassie Owens

“Victoria Wright, Senpai & Kohai, Wild Mantle — these are some of the fashion brands that have hired sewers from the Refugee Women’s Textile Initiative, and put their work in stores. Last month, the Philadelphia-based RWTI won a grant for nearly $19,000, as part of StartUp PHL’s effort to spur entrepreneurship in the city. (The initiative is a collaboration from the commerce department and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.) In this latest funding round, six organizations received awards ranging from $6,000 to $25,000.”

Entrepreneurship wasn’t even in RWTI’s sights in the beginning. The group grew out of Philadelphia Burmese Women’s Initiative two years ago, and the seeds were sown when Jessica Lee, an organizer and Ph.D. candidate in social work at Bryn Mawr College, polled women to find out what activities they’d like to undertake. With sewing classes as a top result, Lee began to search for an ideal classroom. Enter designer-teacher Rachel Ford, and her school MADE Studios. The initiative has expanded beyond proper sewing, to a curriculum around textile arts, with artist Shira Walinsky bringing in local designers to collaborate with participants on weaving projects. But Ford has her eye on small-batch manufacturing.

“What I’ve come to realize in my own world is that everybody is a designer,” says Ford. “Everybody ultimately gets to a place where they want to scale things and hire other people to do their sewing. And as it is now, there’s really a lack for [that workforce.]”


Tiny device aims to help protect women from sexual assault

November 2, 2015 | Mashable by Marilyn La Jeunesse

“…Roar for Good is dedicated to preventing physical assaults. The company’s first product, Athena, is a petite round button that clips onto a belt or lapel. When pressed, Athena emits a loud alarm and texts the wearer’s location to their designated emergency contacts.

“The product is currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo. With a goal of $40,000, Athena was fully funded less than 48 hours after its launch. The campaign had earned $150,310 by the time of writing.

“Athena is expected to be available internationally in early May 2016 and will retail for $99.”

“Athena cofounder Yasmine Mustafa said the inspiration for the device came to her during a solo backpacking trip across South America. “As amazing as [the trip] was…literally everywhere I went I would hear of a time where a woman had been attacked,” Mustafa told Mashable. When she came back, a nearby neighbor had gone outside to read her meter when she was attacked, brutally beaten and sexually assaulted. “When I read the news story the next day, that’s when the idea for ROAR was born.”