Twenty Philadelphia-Based Life Science and IT Startups Awarded $1.7 Million in KIZ Tax Credits

January 15, 2015 | via PR Web, University City Science Center 

Twenty startup companies in University City and Center City received a collective $1.7 million in tax credits awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 2014 as part of the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) Tax Credit Program. All 20 companies are located in the University City Keystone Innovation Zone.

Pennsylvania’s Keystone Innovation Zone Tax Credit is a key component of the KIZ program. Up to $25 million of credits are available each year to eligible companies. Companies that do not have any tax liabilities can sell their tax credits themselves or secure a third-party, independent broker to sell the tax credit on their behalf.

Since 2006, over $6.2 million in KIZ Tax Credits have been awarded to 39 companies in the University City KIZ. “Securing non-dedicated funds through the sale of KIZ Tax Credits can be a major boost for early-stage companies operating in the life science and tech sectors” says Robert McGrath, Chair of the University City KIZ Executive Committee and Senior Associate Vice Provost at Drexel University. “The KIZ Tax Credit Program is incentive for companies to move into and stay in the City of Philadelphia and a major economic asset to our entrepreneurial community.”

Eligible companies can access up to $100,000 in tradable credits each year, and many of the awardees will invest those funds in new employees while others will purchase equipment to further develop and commercialize products and technologies. As awardee Robert Moore, Co-founder and CEO of RJMetrics, put it, “Jobs, jobs, jobs! We will use the KIZ Tax Credit to help fund our aggressive team growth. We grew from 40 to 90 people in 2014 and are planning for further growth in 2015.” …

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5 notable Series B financing efforts from 2014

December 19th, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

As the year comes to a close, these five Philadelphia technology startups can look back on 2014 with pride. They all successfully raised Series B financing rounds, a massive accomplishment for a growing business.

When a startup meets significant milestones, it’s likely to secure a Series B round, if it’s going the investor route. The financing round before Series B is Series A, understandably.

  • In June, Curalate, which has had consistent growth in its product’s offerings, raised $8.6 million from longtime investors New Enterprise Associates, First Round Capital and MentorTech Ventures. Vayner RSE, social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk‘s venture firm, also joined in on the funding for Curalate, a 2-year-old analytics and marketing suite for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
  • RJMetrics unveiled in September that it had raised a massive $16.5 million, led by Silicon Valley-based August Capital, which has invested in a slew of successful businesses like Microsoft, Skype and Sun Microsystems. RJMetrics’ co-founder and CEO Robert Moore said the new funding would go toward accelerating the analytics platform’s product development and continuing customer growth.
  • Aclaris Therapeutics is a dermatology biotech company that raised $21 million in a private stock sale in October. The Series B venture capital financing followed the company’s completion of a phase-II clinical trial that yielded positive results for its lead product candidate, A-101, which is being developed as treatment for a common type of skin tumor known as seborrheic keratoses.
  • Earlier this month, Zonoff announced that it raised $31.8 million. Last November, Zonoff entered into an agreement with Staples to provide the software platform that powers Staples Connect, a home automation solution found in hundreds of Staples retail stores today.
  • LiquidHub, a systems integrator and technology consultancy that works with businesses to improve customer engagement and drive growth, announced a $53 million investment led by private equity firm ChrysCapital in March. The investment supports LiquidHub’s development plans — including more strategic mergers and acquisitions (like the one with Foundry9 in October.)

SAUCE

Bootstrapping a Venture Capital Fund

December 19, 2014 | The Huffington Post The Blog by Jon Gosier

“We decided the best way to get into the venture space was to establish our own small fund. With a fund we could collectively share the risk of investing and the burdens of legal compliance, the costs, and the necessary due diligence. We could also leverage more capital than any one of us could on our own. For instance, some of us had dabbled in angel investing before but were only doing about one or two deals per year. The fund could invest in upwards of eight per year!

“So our group of nine eventually came together, each putting in a minimum of $10,000. Over the life of the fund we’ll have deployed between $300,000 and $500,000 in capital. Because we were the third cohort to go through the GS10K program in Philadelphia we named our fund to honor the circumstances, Third Cohort Capital.”

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After Starting 4 Businesses, College Entrepreneur Decides on Degree

December 10, 2014 | New York Times by John Grossman

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics.

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Why this 25-year-old moved to Philly to run her digital marketing startup

December 2, 2014 | Technical.ly by Juliana Reyes

Nadia James used to work at LinkedIn’s London office, running international social media campaigns for major corporations like Google, American Express, IBM and Chanel.

After nearly two years at the company, the 25-year-old realized that smaller companies couldn’t afford digital marketing advice from a place like LinkedIn. So she moved back home, to Northern New Jersey, and opened up her own shop.

Griot Digital, named for the word for a West African storyteller, serves customers like Rutgers University, SemperCon and Practice Unite.

Once James got her business off the ground, she started scoping out cities to move to. She found Philly last spring, right before Philly Tech Week, which she said sealed the deal for her. (Full, self-serving disclosure: Technical.ly organizes Philly Tech Week.)

Below, she explains how she went from apartment hunting in Fishtown to office hunting (in Fishtown) in just six months and what’s overwhelming about the local tech scene.

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New accelerator is solely for firms with a female founder

November 23, 2014 | Philadelphia Inquirer by Diane Mastrull

In Greek mythology, she is the goddess of war and wisdom. In Philadelphia’s University City, Athena is a more earthly vessel, taking shape to make warriors of female entrepreneurs.

DreamIt Athena is a rare business accelerator, exclusively for companies with at least one female founder.

Announced this month and accepting applications until Dec. 8 at https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/2015philly, the program to help women turn their ideas into fundable businesses with growth potential will launch in February with its first cycle of participants, a minimum of four companies. A second cycle is planned for spring 2016.

To qualify, applicants must have technology-based products or services with large market opportunity…

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Startup PHL Keeps Local Investments Flowing with New Angel Fund

November 14, 2014 | Flying Kite by Alaina Mabaso

On November 12 at Philadelphia’s Innovation Lab,PIDCFirst Round Capital and the City of Philadelphia announced the launch of the Startup PHL Angel Fund.

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, who spoke at the event, said that many people have asked him whether investments like this are a risk the City should be taking.

“The answer is simple,” he said, speaking to a large crowd of local startup leaders, packed with aspiring millennial entrepreneurs. To continue transforming Philadelphia into a notable draw for the country’s best ideas, “we cannot afford to do nothing.”

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Mayor Nutter Announces StartupPHL Investments, Creation of New StartupPHL Angel Fund, and Opens Latest ‘Call for Ideas’

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.

Local entrepreneur takes top prize at national pitch event

October 29th, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

Local entrepreneur Gabriel Mandujanotook home the largest prize — $25,000 — at Tuesday’s Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day in New York.

It was Blackstone LaunchPad’s first event of its kind, and 31-year-old Mandujano wasone of 20 national finalists. Mandujano, a faculty member at Philadelphia University, was the only person from the Philadelphia region to make the cut.

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City of Philadelphia seeks Manager, Entrepreneurial Investment

The City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce is looking for a person to serve as the Manager, Entrepreneurial Investments. Best of all, this role supports Startup PHL. Deadline to apply is 5:00 PM, Monday, October 27th

Job Description:
The Manager for Entrepreneurial Investment serves as the City’s point person for promoting Philadelphia as a hub for technology companies helping start-up business owners understand the benefits of locating in Philadelphia. This position works with oversight from the Senior Director, Business Attraction & Retention and the Senior Deputy Director of Commerce. The ideal candidate will understand Philadelphia’s existing startup ecosystem as well as have experience working with or as an entrepreneur.

The Manager for Entrepreneurial Investment is responsible for a portfolio of specific projects including:

  • Manage a pipeline of new entrepreneurial business attraction/retention leads, focusing on startups and technology-based commercial clients; document progress in Project Management database.
  • Work closely with key staff to continue implementation of Startup PHL, an initiative between the City of Philadelphia and PIDC to promote Philadelphia as a tech and start-up hub.
  • Work closely with government officials and economic development partners at local/state/federal levels to secure resources/information appropriate to each business client.
  • Represent the Department of Commerce at various trade shows, speaking engagements, special events and other opportunities, as assigned.
  • Maintain working knowledge of industry trends, targeted business assistance opportunities and financing/incentive programs appropriate to business sectors served.

Typical Examples of Work:

  • Research prospects to determine suitable opportunities for the Philadelphia market.
  • Meet with clients to review ideas and concepts for business development.
  • Lead calls and appointment setting.
  • Monitor projects and assist in resolving government-generated client challenges.
  • Assist the Senior Director, Business Attraction & Retention and the Senior Deputy Director of Commerce in the execution of their responsibilities through project oversight and management
  • Draft talking points, statements and other written work product as needed.

Desired Skills: Excellent written and verbal communication skills; diplomacy and ability to facilitate problem resolution; Microsoft Office proficiency; experience in statistical and economic analysis. Graduate Degree preferred /or 5+ experience in public sector economic development or business development.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest, resume and 2-page writing sample to Clarice Brown, clarice.brown@phila.gov by 5pm, Monday October 27, 2014.