Why my biotech company chose to expand in Philadelphia

July 25, 2016 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Mahesh Narayanan

Like gossip spilling through the halls of a high school cafeteria, word is out. At first it was the faint whispers, but it quickly amplified to boisterous chatter. Philadelphia has everything a new business needs to build, scale, and stay.

It’s why my company, ImMAGE Biotherapeutics, has decided to establish a presence in the country’s fifth largest city.

With close proximity to venture capital, strong ties to some of the best academic institutions in the world and a massive talent pool that continues to grow, Philadelphia has always had a noticeable potential, especially in the biotechnology industry.

Although we still have a small team, and operations are headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland for now, establishing a desk at the University City Science Center is an important strategic decision. Here were some of the key determining factors:


PRESS RELEASE: Startupphl initiative achieves success supporting entrepreneurs & startups in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (July 20, 2016) – Four years after the launch of the StartupPHL initiative, The City of Philadelphia, PIDC, and StartupPHL Fund management partner Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital made a series of StartupPHL announcements taking stock of the goals achieved to date and looking ahead to the future. Attaining many of the set objectives, the initiative has increased startup capital in Philadelphia, catalyzed investment, and increased visibility of and activity in the local startup ecosystem.

“StartupPHL was designed to accelerate the development of a supportive environment for local entrepreneurs,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The City is proud of the success this initiative has achieved to date and committed to its goal to continue to establish Philadelphia as a city of choice for new startups and entrepreneurs.”

A collaborative effort, StartupPHL aims to support entrepreneurs in the city who bring energy, ideas and vitality to Philadelphia as well as further enable the existing entrepreneurial talent that resides in the city’s different neighborhoods to flourish. The StartupPHL initiative encompasses a range of programs including the Call for Ideas grants,StartupPHL Seed + Angel Fund, and several measures to enhance visibility and connectivity of the startup community.

The StartupPHL Seed + Angel Fund is a venture fund, launched with an initial investment by PIDC leveraging additional funding and management from First Round Capital and co-founder Josh Kopelman, which makes investments in Philadelphia-based tech startups. Today, PIDC announced that the fund made a $100,000 investment in Termaxia, LLC, a big data storage solution that hopes to disrupt the market in significant way.

“Philadelphia is home to an increasing number of innovative startup companies like Termaxia, who are choosing to start and grow their business here,” said Josh Kopelman, Managing Partner at First Round Capital. “The startup community in Philadelphia is an ideal place for entrepreneurs to grow their companies and develop their talent.”

Termaxia was founded by renowned innovators in the tech industry in Philadelphia. CEO Dr. Changbin Liu, has extensive industry experience at AT&T and as an Openstack core developer. Fellow co-founder and Chief Scientist, Boon Thau Loo, is an award-winning professor in the Computer and Information Science (CIS) department at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We are thrilled with the Angel Fund investment we received through the StartupPHL initiative,” said Dr. Liu. “Termaxia is developing a big data storage solution and the support of StartupPHL was critical in helping us get started.”

The announcement marks the final investment from the initial StartupPHL Seed + Angel Fund as the three year initial term has been reached. Over the last three years, the fund has invested about $1.1M of PIDC’s capital in 10 Philadelphia startups – which was matched by over $5 million from First Round Capital and Josh Kopelman. The 10 StartupPHL portfolio companies employ more than 100 people and have raised over $36 million in total venture capital to date. Pleased with the results of what is being called ‘Fund I,’ PIDC is looking to continue the momentum into the future.

“Following the success of Fund I, which has increased access to early stage capital in Philadelphia, we are excited about the opportunities for the next iteration of the StartupPHL Fund,” said John Grady, President and CEO of PIDC. “We want to continue to invest as early as possible to support leverage, growth and returns as well as increase capital available.”

PIDC announced today the release of a Request For Proposals (RFP) for fund management and investment services for StartupPHL Fund II. PIDC is seeking an experienced investment organization with a clear vision for cultivating a thriving startup economy in Philadelphia and the demonstrated capacity to market, co-invest in, and manage Fund II. The RFP can be downloaded from the PIDC website at PIDCphila.com/tools/contract-opportunities. Responses are due on August 31, 2016.

The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce has also announced plans for the fifth round of Call for Ideas grants. Further details on the latest Call for Ideas grants, including the focus, will be released in August. The Call for Ideas is a City funded grant program to support innovative, exciting proposals for ideas and programs that support startups and entrepreneurs of all stripes in Philadelphia. Past recipients have included Coded by Kids, Techgirlz, and Philly Startup Leaders.

“As we prepare for the launch of Fund II, the City looks forward to continuing our support of the StartupPHL platform and its many programs,” said Commerce Director Harold T. Epps. “One of the other key resources provided by StartupPHL is the Call for Ideas grants, which help to seed the next generation of entrepreneurs throughout our city. We are excited to welcome the next batch of applicants and to continue fostering a network of support for Philadelphia’s entrepreneurs.”

As part of its ongoing growth, StartupPHL launched a new website earlier this year,www.startupphl.com, to provide entrepreneurs with information about funding and the ability to submit ideas. It also participated in South by Southwest® (SXSW), the premier trade show and conference that serves as a launch pad for emerging technologies and innovative content, and launched the Amplify Philly branding campaign. Officially branded as “StartupPHL Presents Amplify Philly SXSW Edition,” the campaign builds on the city’s existing efforts to attract global investment and accelerate the growth of the Philadelphia startup community.

This young YouTube star launched a haircare startup for women of color

When Muhga Eltigani’s YouTube channel took off, her viewers kept asking how she made her hair products. So she decided to sell them.

July 18, 2016 | Technical.ly by Wafai Dias

Muhga Eltigani’s parents practically had a mid-life crisis when she told them she was going to work on her startup, NaturAll Club, full-time after finishing college.

They figured she would spend some time on it, then come back to her senses and enroll in law school since she had followed a pre-law track at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s the natural career path they expected her to take. As the first born daughter of Sudanese immigrants, the pressure for her to succeed was on.

But as Eltigani’s product drew in customers, her parents started to accept their daughter’s decision.


City Hall is looking for ways the Internet of Things can improve city life

Philadelphia city government is launching a “Smart City Challenge” and issuing a call for ideas. Apply by Aug. 12.

July 18, 2016 | Technical.ly by Roberto Torres

Just the other day, at a press conference announcing Curalate as an official technology provider for the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Jim Kenney said he was glad to see the DNC take advantage of Philly’s tech resources.

Now city government is looking to harness some of that tech energy through the Smart City Challenge, an open call for ideas from citizens and experts on how the city can improve services and operations through tech. At this stage, the city is looking for ideas on how to leverage city assets — think streetlight poles and cell towers — through that elusive idea that is the internet of things (IoT).

City officials said in a press release that they hope to hear from technologists, telecommunications specialists, social entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, designers and general city enthusiasts working locally or internationally.

“We know the people of this city — in the neighborhoods and in the private sector — are steeped in great ideas, and this is an effort to tap into that wealth of creative thinking,” said Chief Administrative Officer Rebecca Rhynhart, who is overseeing the challenge. “Whatever your background, if you have an innovative idea on new uses for city assets, we want to hear from you.”


This Comcast CTO wants to hire you. Here’s his pitch on Philly

The Philly tech scene is yours for the taking, says Comcast Cable CTO Sree Kotay. “You have lots of opportunities to shape, define and lead.”

July 13, 2016 | Technical.ly by Mike Bederka

When Sree Kotay left AOL in 2007 he told himself he didn’t want to move to another big company. The former senior vice president of technology had AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), web publishing, search and mail all under his purview, which led to a wealth of new knowledge. However, AOL’s corporate culture left him burnt out. He wanted to return to his startup roots.

Enter an unlikely savior: Comcast Cable Executive Vice President and Chief Network Officer John Schanz. Schanz had once worked at AOL and offered Kotay a promising pitch: Philadelphia has the startup vibe you are looking for.


Amplify Philly: SXSW Edition

In 2016 Philadelphia had its first formal presence at SXSW. Led by Philly Startup Leaders and a cadre of community leaders.

We’re planning 2017 already, starting with getting the word out about how to become a speaker at SXSW.

Check out the video with highlights from the SXSW Interactive tradeshow floor and an all-Philly lineup concert.