Penn faculty startup raises $100K from Startup PHL angel fund

March 26th, 2015 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

A startup that spun out of the University of Pennsylvania’s computer science department just raised $100,000 from the city’s Startup PHL angel fund.

Penn computer science professor Boon Thau Loo and a group of graduate and undergraduate students founded Gencore Systems about a year ago. They spent years researching how to analyze huge volumes of network and cloud traffic, and built a product out of it.

Gencore is a software that allows companies that use public cloud infrastructure, such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, to monitor and understand how well their applications are performing in the cloud. It’s unique, Loosaid, because it’s “completely non-intrusive.”

“It provides detailed application performance metrics, yet requires no code modifications to existing applications or add performance overheads,” he said. “This makes it easy to install and adopt.”

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Life Post-Shark Tank At Scholarship App Startup Scholly

March 24, 2015 | forbes.com by Anne Field

When we last encountered Christopher Gray, he had recently launched Scholly, which has an app that streamlines the process of searching for college scholarships. Gray had previously won $1.3 million in school aid from a variety of groups.

Now the Philadelphia, Pa-based social enterprise has helped students raise at least $9 million, Gray and his co-founders are in the midst of raising a series A round, they’ve signed several major partnerships and launched a web site, according to Gray. And, oh yes, they recently won a $40,000 investment during an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, causing a ruckus in the meantime.

And Gray is getting ready to graduate from Drexel University in June.

The Shark Tank experience netted Gray a lot of attention, as well as an investment from panelists Lori Greiner and Daymond John. The investors offered their terms almost as soon as Gray finished his pitch, which is unusual for the show. (Gray says he actually pitched for 45 minutes to an hour, although only a few minutes of that made it to the final edit). Also, according to Gray, they gave him what he’d ask for–$40,000 and a total 15% stake. The hullabaloo happened after that, when the other sharks  got mad that a deal had been made without sufficient questioning and one of them, Robert Herjavec, walked out of the studio in a huff. According to Gray, the company’s social mission, combined with his own life story, are what sold the investors on the company.

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How this Philly Game Forge studio got its game on the front page of Sony’s PS4 network

Nearly four years after Sony first approached Final Form Games, the studio has just launched its “neoclassical” shooter, Jamestown+, for PlayStation4. It’s the second indie game built in Philly to make it to the platform.

March 18th, 2015 | Technical.ly Philly by Juliana Reyes

The story starts at the 2011 Penny Arcade Expo.

At PAX, as it’s known, the Philly team behind Final Form Games — brothers Mike Ambrogi Primo and Tim Ambrogi Saxon and developer Halsted Larsson (who recently left the company) — spent three days in Seattle showing off their PC game Jamestown, a multiplayer “neoclassical cooperative shoot-em-up” set on 17th-century British colonial Mars, at the biggest video game expo in North America.

The booth was completely free, their prize for being chosen as one of the “PAX10,” an indie game honor. That’s where they met Nick Suttner, a Sony account manager and the company’s unofficial indie game evangelist. Suttner was interested in Jamestown.

Back then, Sony had just started reaching out to indie game developers. Developer kits, industrial-strength PlayStations that you can plug into your computer and run live code on, were costly and barricaded by tough security measures. Suttner was excited enough about Jamestown that he got Final Form Games a PlayStation3 developer kit, but the team eventually decided it wasn’t the right time to pursue a PlayStation remake and shelved the project.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, in the thick of Sony’s aggressive indie game push, Final Form just launched Jamestown+ on PlayStation 4 last night as part of a spring PS4 indie promotion. Jamestown+ is one of eight games getting front-page play on PS4’s game network this season. This week only, you can get the game for $10.79 (it’s normally $11.99). Jamestown+ is the second Philly-built indie game to get released on PS4 (Cipher Prime’s Splice was the first).

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What Entrepreneurs Gain When They Venture Outside Of Silicon Valley

March 9, 2015 | forbes.com, by Leadnomics Founder Zach Robbins

As the founder of a Philadelphia-based startup, I’ve fielded the same question countless times as Leadnomics has grown: “Why haven’t you moved West?”Silicon Valley, along with other big startup hubs like New York and Chicago, has held the reputation as the most promising place to build a company — especially in tech — for decades.

However, recent trends among an increasingly large sector of youngentrepreneurs are redefining the optimal location to grow a company, making it even easier to answer the “Why not California?” question. As a result, a new model of startup hubs are popping up in what are considered “secondary markets” across the country, equipped with a set of advantages unique from Silicon Valley, many of which I have experienced first-hand…

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Mobile backend startup CloudMine picks up $5M

March 3, 2015 | Venture Beat by Jordan Novet

CloudMine, a startup that sells a cloud service for operating mobile apps and websites, is announcing today that it has picked up $5 million in new funding.

CloudMine offers several components for mobile developers to tap, including object storage, push notifications, load balancing, and mobile analytics. Such things can come in handy for companies that wish to build or expand their mobile presence but don’t wish to own the physical infrastructure for new apps to run on.

Of course, this area has proven interesting to investors, who have backed startups like Kidozen, Kii,and Kinvey, while enterprise software vendors have partnered with or even bought some startups with mobile backend services. Red Hat last year bought FeedHenry, for instance, while VMware relies on Kinvey’s service to deliver a mobile backend in its vCloud Air public cloud…

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Startup with needle-free way to draw blood raises $5M

February 5, 2015 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

Velano Vascular announced Thursday that it raised $5 million in Series A funding.

The investment round was led by First Round Capital, which co-invested in Velanolast year with Startup PHL (a $6 million seed-fund initiative created by First Round and the PIDC).

Other Velano investors include Safeguard Scientifics and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as Philadelphia outsiders White Owl Capital (New York), Kapor Capital (California) and Griffin Hospital (Connecticut).

The Philadelphia and San Francisco-based company, which is just starting to come out of the woodwork, has created a needle-free method for drawing blood from hospitalized patients, ultimately “bringing compassion into care,” said its co-founder and CEO Eric Stone. Stone founded the company with Pitou Devgon, who invented Velano’s technology. …

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Philly entrepreneurs find home in new Center City working space

February 2nd, 2015 | Philly Metro

For Sinae Pitts, 41, her app design company is finding its feet now that it has moved to Center City.

“Philadelphia is this size where you really can be part of the community,” said Pitts, originally from New York City. “I know most of the people in the tech community and the startup community.”

Pitts’ company, AMMO, (founded in 2008 as Amphetamobile, before “Breaking Bad” became a hit, she said), used to be based out of her converted garage in Upper Darby.

Now they have two offices and two dedicated desks at Pipeline Philadelphia, a new shared workspace in Center City that opened in December.

“The day we moved in I tweeted on our account, ‘We have arrived,’ and I really feel that way,” Pitts said.  “The atmosphere here, the professionalism, the design aesthetic is something we couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Pitts said she feels proud to welcome clients to the new office space, which boasts an aesthetic design few other Philly offices can match.

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Spark Therapeutics Goes Public

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, whose research the company is based on, owns more than half of the company’s shares.

January 30th, 2015 | Technical.ly by Juliana Reyes

Spark Therapeutics went public on NASDAQ today, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one big winner.

The startup, based on a decade’s worth of research at CHOP, raised $161 million with its initial public offering, pricing 7 million shares at $23 each. But then, the share price ballooned to $43, raising the company’s value to nearly $1 billion,according to an Inquirer report. That made the 4.9 million shares owned by CHOP — that’s 53.44 percent of the Spark shares — worth as much as $220 million. (Obviously, this could fluctuate.) CHOP committed $50 million in the fall of 2013 when the company was formed. CHOP CEO Steven Altschuler is chairman of Spark’s board.

Spark Therapeutics is a pre-revenue company that aims to cure rare genetic diseases like types of hemophilia and blindness. Its ticker symbol is “ONCE,” referring to the company’s aim of curing, not just treating, these diseases, the Inquirer reported.

Spark raised a $72.8 million Series B led by Silicon Valley investors Sofinnova Ventures last year, and its 50 employees work out of a 28,000-square-foot office at the University City Science Center’s new 3737 Market Street building.

“Our foundation as a company has been born of the work done in West Philadelphia,” CEO Jeff Marrazzo said last fall at the 3737 Market Street ribbon-cutting. “We want to be an example of a company that can not only have its past here but also its future.”

Marrazzo (the son of WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo) owns 380,000 shares of the company, now worth around $16 million, the Inquirer reported.

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How 4 Strangers Met at a Local Event and Launched a Startup 6 Months Later

Staffluent is the first company to emerge from last fall’s PSLU Bootcamp. The company aims to disrupt existing staffing systems in the healthcare space.

January 30th, 2015 | Technical.ly guest post by Michael Riley

Last fall, 75 people attended the PSLU Bootcamp to learn how to build a successful startup. Out of the 14 teams that were formed through the program, Staffluent is the first to incorporate as a company and build a working product.

Staffluent is a service that connects available workers to open shifts with an initial focus on hospitals. Its goal is to solve problems companies have scheduling shifts and communicating with staff. Kronos is a big player in this space, with a current valuation of $4.5 billion.

Staffluent’s plan is to disrupt the industry, however, like Uber is doing to taxis, by using new logistics and communications technology.

The four founders met for the first time at the Bootcamp in September, entering the program without an idea. Over the course of the 90-day bootcamp, while working side by side, they sowed the seeds of Staffluent and formed their team of cofounders.

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PurpleCloud Technologies Helps the Hotel Industry Rest Easier

The Baiada Institute company is making hospitality management more efficient — starting with a five-star hotel in their own backyard.

January 23, 2015 | Drexel University, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship Blog

“I’ve always been fascinated by psychology,” says Adria Bagdonavicius, a 2012 Drexel LeBow grad. “Color has a very interesting affect on people. The color purple is said to affect people in a wonderful way physically. It is known to be a very calming, uplifting color.”

The effect is similar to the one produced by arriving at a five-star hotel, she says.

“You walk into a luxurious lobby and you instantly feel calm and relaxed,” Bagdonavicius says. “However, behind the scenes of a hotel is a chaotic, scrambling mess.”

That’s where the aptly named PurpleCloud Technologies comes in. The company, founded by Bagdonavicius in 2011, aims to use cloud-based software to make the back-end of hotel operations look more like the customer’s experience.

We caught up with the Shamong, N.J., native to talk about her eye-opening co-op, appearance at the first annual Drexel Startup Day, and PurpleCloud’s string of recent success.

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