Philadelphia, November 12, 2014 – Today Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced a range of investments in Philadelphia’s startups and entrepreneurs through Startup PHL, 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. The Startup PHL initiative encompasses a range of programs including the Call For Ideas, Startup PHL Funds, and the University City Science Center QED program. Through Startup PHL Funds and co-investments from First Round Capital six Philadelphia startups have received more than $1 million in combined seed or angel investment since October 2013, and through the Call For Ideas Grants ten organizations have received more than $200,000 in funding to support entrepreneurship programming.
“For Philadelphia to continue to grow we must be a city that welcomes exciting, innovative companies and the type of talented workforce that wants to work for those companies,” said Mayor Nutter. “Through Startup PHL our goal is to send the message that Philadelphia is one of America’s great startup cities and that we are committed to helping entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses in our city.”
In October 2012 the City of Philadelphia, PIDC and First Round Capital announced the creation of the Startup PHL Seed Fund to invest in fast-growing startups in Philadelphia. Today, First Round Capital and PIDC announced a combined $400,000 seed investment in Velano Vascular, an innovative medical device company, which has pioneered a needle-free method for drawing blood from hospitalized patients. The company was recently recognized by the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Hospital, Washington, DC and received a $50,000 prize for innovation in pediatric surgical care.
In addition to Velano Vascular, the Startup PHL Seed Fund has funded two other companies to date, including healthy meal delivery company Real Food Works, announced last year, and a third Philadelphia startup, which is not yet public. Also last year, PIDC made a $750,000 investment in the DreamIT Ventures program to support follow-on funding rounds of those companies participating in DreamIt Ventures’ highly successful accelerator programs.
Mayor Nutter also announced that PIDC and Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital have created the Startup PHL Angel Fund, which increases the range of Philadelphia funding options available to city’s earliest-stage startups. Making investments from $25,000 to $100,000, the StartUp PHL Angel Fund co-invests alongside angel investors to help very early-stage companies build a minimum viable product or validate key assumptions.
“We are thrilled to contribute to the growing resources available to the Philadelphia community of entrepreneurs through the Startup PHL Seed and Angel Funds,” said Josh Kopelman, the founder of First Round Capital. “PIDC has been a terrific partner in this endeavor, and we look forward to working with them and Mayor Nutter’s Administration to attract and support the next generation of Philly founders.”
Josh Kopelman and John Grady, President of PIDC, will announce the first three Startup PHL Angel Fund investments of $100,000 at an event this evening organized by Philly Startup Leaders, Technically Philly and Startup PHL to build connections between Philadelphia startups and young people studying in the city.
Squareknot is a way for people to create beautiful step-by-step guides. Users can collaborate on guides by branching off in separate directions to demonstrate their unique way of doing the same thing. By organizing steps and guides the same way that Google Maps might organize multiple routes, and combining that with the crowdsourcing philosophies of Wikipedia, Squareknot will become the de facto destination site for how to do things online. Founder Jason Rappaport said, “When we were deciding where to put Squareknot, Philadelphia was a very clear choice for us. It’s turned out to be one of the smartest decisions we’ve ever made. Philly has proven itself to be one of the most supportive cities in the country. We feel like we can do something good and make a dent here.”
Tesorio enables companies to self-finance their daily operations, streamlining early payments on invoices so suppliers get paid early and buyers optimize returns on cash. Carlos Vega, founder of Tesorio said, “Philly has a tight-knit and unassuming tech community that has been helpful at every step. Corporations and potential clients are always ready to talk. Investors and lawyers are accessible and generous with advice. Veteran entrepreneurs are collaborative and truly want to see you succeed. The strength of this network and abundance of talent from local universities drove us to choose Philly for Tesorio.”
VeryApt combines user reviews with big data analytics to deliver intelligent, personalized apartment recommendations. Founder Ashrit Kamireddi explained his choice to locate in Philadelphia. “When it came to choosing the long term headquarters for VeryApt, our primary focus was picking a city where we could hire high quality talent. Philadelphia was the obvious choice because of its amazing universities, rapidly growing millennial population, and affordability. We have also been incredibly impressed by Mayor Nutter’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and we’re really excited to be part of Philly’s entrepreneurial revolution!”
“Together the Startup PHL Seed and Angel Funds provide much needed early stage capital to help make Philadelphia an attractive place for entrepreneurs,” said John Grady, President of PIDC. “PIDC is committed to driving growth throughout the city and our Startup PHL initiative is a great way to help support the growth for this important sector of Philadelphia’s economy. We are proud to partner with First Round Capital and Josh Kopelman to create these funds and invest in these terrific businesses to launch and grow here in Philadelphia.”
Finally Mayor Nutter announced that the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department is now accepting applications for the third round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas, a program providing grants to initiatives or organizations that are supporting startups and entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. The program has provided ten grants to date investing $217,400 in Philadelphia’s startup community through a range of organizations such as Startup Corps, Philly Startup Leaders, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Campus Philly, and the Philly Dev Camp. The closing date for applications for the third Call for Ideas is Friday January 2, 2015. Further information, along with details of previous investments and how to apply, can be found at www.startupphl.com.
“Supporting startups and entrepreneurs across Philadelphia through programs such as Startup PHL is one of our top priorities and we’re seeing real success from these efforts,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “Businesses from across the region, country and around the world are giving Philadelphia a second look as a place to locate due to our talented workforce, our livable downtown, the strong network to plug into, and the ease of doing business in our city. It is thanks to partners such as PIDC and First Round Capital that the case for moving a business to Philadelphia is an increasingly convincing case to make.”
The growth of Philadelphia as a startup hub is an exciting trend for the future of the city. From major corporations such as Comcast and Independence Blue Cross investing in innovation to the continued growth of grassroots efforts such as Philly Startup Leaders, N3RD Street, and Philly Tech Week, recent years have seen an increase in the level of activity supporting startups. Companies such as RJ Metrics, Cloudmine, and Leadnomics have raised venture capital and moved into larger office space while businesses such as SevOne, Think Brownstone, and Eastern Standard have established Philadelphia offices.