Meet 9 companies in the 2nd FastFWD social enterprise accelerator class

September 18, 2014 | Technical.ly Philly by Juliana Reyes

The City of Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative announced the second class of its social enterprise accelerator, FastFWD, today. Each company is focused on improving public safety.

The second class kicks off this week. Backed by a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg Foundation, the accelerator awards $10,000 to each company, as well as mentorship, training and office space in Kensington’s Impact Hub. Every company will have the opportunity to apply for a city contract at the end of the 12-week program. The idea behind the accelerator is to cut through the bureaucratic red tape involved in the city procurement process…

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Jon Gosier’s new fund wants to make angel investing more inclusive

September 16, 2014 | Technical.ly Philly by Juliana Reyes

The angel investment world felt insular to Jon Gosier.

He wasn’t alone. At the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, Gosier, who runs data science startup D8A, met a group of Philadelphia business people who also wanted to get into angel investing but didn’t know where to start.

So they started their own fund.

Third Cohort, so named because the fund’s partners all met in the third cohort of the 10,000 Small Businesses program, invests between $10,000 to $25,000 in very early stage tech startups. They’ve already made two investments: one in New York City-based, pre-launch dream-remembrance app Shadow and another in Washington, D.C.-based “Bloomberg for Africa” startup Market Atlas. These deals have come through the partners’ networks, he said, as the fund hasn’t really started any outreach efforts yet.

Aside from investing in tech startups, the fund will also provide low-interest loans to early-stage brick-and-mortar businesses that don’t traditionally get funded by angel investors. The group wants to help “these small businesses that make up most of the economy” who may not be able to get a loan from a bank yet, Gosier said…

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Student-run retail analytics startup nabs $20,000 from Dorm Room Fund

August 15, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

On Wednesday, I wrote that First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund in Philadelphia was getting ready to announce some more investments.

News broke Thursday that Prayas Analytics, a startup run by two seniors at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, received $20,000 in funding from the student-run venture firm.

Prayas Analytics is an analytics company that provides brick-and-mortar retailers with store operations-focused data. Basically, its technology monitors what is happening in stores (how long customers are standing in line, for instance) by analyzing surveillance video footage, which then prompts the formation of statistical models. The models can be used to better store operations and customer experience.

Prayas Analytics’ co-founder Pranshu Maheshwari said the startup recently completed its pilot with a Fortune 200 company, which isn’t being identified. The company has also agreed to continue to work with Prayas Analytics longer term, he said.

Maheshwari, whom I chatted with Friday by phone (he’s in India visiting with family), told me he and his work partner Yash Kothari have been using the $20,000 to help pay for developing the technology and other resources.

Backed by investment firm First Round Capital, Dorm Room Fund invests in student-run companies. It recently had its first exit companyFirefly– in June.

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Philly Dev Camp kicks off with help from city fund

July 24, 2014| Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

Zoe Goldberg, a soon-to-be senior at the University of Pennsylvania, has summer plans quite unusual for a typical 21-year-old.

Instead of turning her brain off for the remainder of her last summer vacation, she’s spending five weeks in an intense website development camp, dubbed Philly Dev Camp, run by Zivtech and Neomind Labs.

Philly Dev Camp, which kicked off this week in a Zivtech workroom, is made possible from a $24,000 grant from StartUp PHL, the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation initiative. The camp’s goal is to train interested individuals, and ultimately create a group of talented Web developers, who can boost the city’s tech scene.

“I always hated my job before coming into this field,” said Jody Hamilton, Zivtech co-founder and chief technology officer. “And this is such a good job. There’s demand for this job, it pays well, you can work in Center City in a nice office, it’s creative, you work with interesting people. There’s nothing bad you can say about these [Web developer] jobs.”

The only missing piece, Hamilton continued, is finding people with the right skills to do the work.

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TechGirlz Take Over

Reblogged from Drexel University, Close School of Entrepreneurship

2014 TechGirlz

TechGirlz Take Over

TechGirlz, a nonprofit aimed at closing the gender gap in the technology world, partnered with the Close School to host its third annual summer camp for girls interested in tech careers.

A clan of smart, determined, resilient entrepreneurs hard at work on a new venture is not an unusual sight at the Baiada Institute. But this week, visitors to the Close School’s incubator saw a twist on that familiar scene.

The Baiada Institute hosted 20 sixth- through -ninth-grade girls researching, developing and creating companies and concepts all their own as a part of the TechGirlz summer camp. TechGirlz is a nonprofit organization dedicated to introducing adolescent girls to careers in technology, science and innovation.

The third annual TechGirlz camp took advantage of Close School faculty and staff, as well as the founders of companies incubating in the Baiada Institute, who helped provide support and mentorship as the campers developed ideas, presented prototypes and pitched business plans.

“TechGirlz was born out of a desire to correct the imbalance,” says TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman. “I was shocked to find a severe decline of young women entering computer science programs.”

Welson-Rossman, a Drexel graduate herself, says the Close School was the ideal fit for this year’s program.

“It was a match made in entrepreneur heaven,” she says. “Drexel is definitely leading the way in creating stronger entrepreneurs.”

Close School Dean Donna De Carolis agrees.

“I believe in TechGirlz’s mission. It works in lockstep with our mission of creating a supportive academic environment where students are free to pursue their passions and big ideas,” says De Carolis. “We need to close the gender gap when it comes to the jobs of the future — namely jobs in technological and scientific innovations. And TechGirlz is paving the way.”

Tech Girlz campers accomplish more in a week than many entrepreneurs do in a year. They learn to craft and perfect their elevator pitch, create business use cases, design logos, refine their market strategy and much more. The camp culminates in final presentations of their ideas and business plans.

Tech Girlz is at the forefront of a recent tide of initiatives aimed at increasing the number of women in the tech sector. Google announced last month that it is investing $50 million into its Made With Code project, which also strives to close the tech scene’s gender gap.

Welson-Rossman, a veteran of custom software and development firm Chariot Solutions, says she looks forward to the next phase in Tech Girlz’ continued growth. Companies like SAP and Comcast and universities including Drexel and Harvard spent last year teaching TechGirlz material.

“We expect to have 20 more companies and organizations, and to teach 1,000 more girls this school year,” she says.

Mayor Nutter Welcomes Think Brownstone to Philadelphia

Latest suburban company to open a Philadelphia ‘gateway’ office

Philadelphia, July 10, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Think Brownstone, a Conshohocken-based user experience and design agency, opened the company’s new Philadelphia office at the historic Packard Grande Building in Center City.  Founded in 2007 by Carl White and Brian McIntire, Think Brownstone employs 50 people, including at least 15 who will work in the Philadelphia office, with the potential to expand.   Think Brownstone is the latest in a long line of companies to open a Philadelphia ‘gateway’ office in order to attract the talented workforce that wants to live and work in the city.  Other companies that have recently opened ‘gateway’ offices include Bentley Systems, Fiberlink, SevOne, and Eisner Amper.

“Think Brownstone’s decision to open an office in Philadelphia is the latest demonstration that Philadelphia is a great place to start and grow a technology company,” said Mayor Nutter. “Through initiatives like Startup PHL, my Administration, together with our partner PIDC, continues to do all we can to make Philadelphia a more business-friendly place and put this city on the map as one of America’s most diverse, dynamic and exciting places to build a company.”

Think Brownstone is a user experience and design agency that works with global clients, such as ING, The Hay Group, and Comcast, to improve their digital products. The company uses extensive research and discovery methods to produce user-centered software, including business applications, websites, and data visualization and analytic tools.

“When we originally pictured Think Brownstone, it was going to be in an historic building in the City of Philadelphia,” said Carl White, co-founder and CEO. “Even though we established our first studio in Conshohocken, we are thrilled to see that original vision come to life in our second studio at 15th and Sansom Streets. We are looking forward to being closer to our Philadelphia clients, being more convenient to the extensive pool of talented Philadelphia designers and developers, and taking advantage of all of the business services the city has to offer.”

Supporting entrepreneurs and startup companies in Philadelphia and attracting an educated talented workforce is a major priority for the Nutter Administration. Since the launch of Startup PHL the City has awarded more $210,000 across ten Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants. The latest round focused on attracting and retaining talent; recipients include organizations such as Penn Apps Fellows, Philly Startup Leaders and Technically Philly, NextFab, Zivtech, and the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. In addition, PIDC has also made investments in the Science Center’s QED program and in DreamIt Ventures, which established its global headquarters at 3401 Market Street on Drexel University’s campus.

“Companies large and small are increasingly moving to Philadelphia because they have access to an incredible talented workforce, high quality of life, and a growing support system for entrepreneurs” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “This is a very exciting and promising development for the future of our city’s tech ecosystem.”

For more information about Startup PHL please visit www.startupphl.com. For more information about Think Brownstone please visit www.thinkbrownstone.com

Mayor Nutter Appoints New Chief Data Officer

Philadelphia, July 2, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that Tim Wisniewski has been appointed Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the City of Philadelphia under the Office of Innovation and Technology.  In this role, Wisniewski will coordinate departmental efforts to enhance open government and civic engagement by publishing government data online and will act as the public liaison between data users and data providers.  Additionally, he will oversee the management of the City’s web portfolio, application development and civic technology, including redesigning Phila.Gov as a platform for connecting the general public to open data.

“The Chief Data Officer position plays a key role in our Administration’s efforts to be more transparent, efficient and effective by facilitating information sharing between the City and its residents and between departments,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Tim has a technology and community building background and he has been keenly focused on civic engagement and that clearly makes him a standout choice.  Tim’s appointment will strengthen the City’s commitment to open data and refocus the Administration’s strategy.  I am looking forward to the good work Tim will do with our Open Data policy.”

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Nutter touts Philly tech scene in Friday event tour

June 13, 2014| Technically Philly by Max Ufberg

Mayor Michael Nutter was out making the tech rounds Friday, stopping by four different startup offices — ranging from social media entrepreneurs to medical sales — to offer up words of encouragement, field questions from tech employees and cut a few ribbons.

The four companies — Arcweb, OneTwoSee, Medical Guardian and PeopleLinx— shared little in common, except for a high growth rate: three of the four visits were to commemorate new or increased office spaces, while the fourth stop, at PeopleLinx, offered a more informal setting for discussing the city’s startup scene.

Nutter’s tour started with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the offices of mobile app specialists Arcweb, which recently moved from coworking space Indy Hall into an office at 2nd and Market Streets.

“The is a community that we pay a tremendous amount of attention to,” Nutter said to a packed room of employees and observers, many of whom enjoyed free food and beer afterwards. “You’re bringing people to the city, creating this entrepreneurial, startup, tech-savvy hub that Philadelphia is and will continue to grow.”

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PRESS RELEASE: Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Greenberger Open New Offices for Tech Companies in Philadelphia

Arcweb, OneTwoSee & Medical Guardian move into new, larger space 

Philadelphia, June 13, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, participated in a series of events today to highlight the growing strength of the startup and technology community in Philadelphia.  Three fast-growing technology companies – Arcweb, OneTwoSee and Medical Guardian – officially opened new or expanded office space to accommodate rapid growth and new employees.  Mayor Nutter and Deputy Mayor Greenberger also visited PeopleLinx to participate in a ‘fireside chat’ with founder Patrick Baynes and their employees.

“Philadelphia is increasingly on the map as one of America’s great startup cities thanks to our incredibly talented workforce, low-cost of doing business, and a strong entrepreneurial community that supports the growth of early-stage companies,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Companies like Arcweb, OneTwoSee, Medical Guardian and PeopleLinx are emblematic of a broader pattern of exciting startups starting, staying and growing in Philadelphia.”

The Nutter Administration, in partnership with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and startups in Philadelphia.  Through a range of initiatives, such as Startup PHL and efforts by the City’s Chief Innovation Officer, Adel Ebeid, to streamline contracting procedures to enable startups to participate in City business the public sector in Philadelphia has partnered with the private sector to increase the resources and opportunities available to startups.

“The emergence of Philadelphia as a startup hub is very encouraging for the future of our city,” said Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger.  “A talented workforce increasingly wants to live in an urban environment, enjoy a high quality of life, and work for exciting and innovative companies.  Philadelphia has all of these assets and that’s one reason why our population is on the way up and our unemployment rate is on the way down.”

Mayor Nutter and Deputy Mayor Greenberger made four stops in two hours to demonstrate the City of Philadelphia’s support for fast-growing companies in the city.  In recent months Mayor Nutter has participated in events to highlight startup success stories such as Artisan Mobile, Curalate, RJ Metrics, RealFoodWorks, and SevOne.  The four companies that were part of today’s tour include:

Arcweb

Founded in 2011, Arcweb recently moved out of Indy Hall into new space at 234 Market Street in order to accommodate an employee count which recently grew to more than 20 people.  The company builds software solutions that primarily service the financial and healthcare markets.  Arcweb was founded by Chris Cera, local entrepreneur and one of the original co-founders of Philly Startup Leaders.  “The Mayor’s continued support of the technology and startup communities is admirable, and has been a catalyst of the growth we have seen,” said Cera.  “It’s exciting to be a member of the community, and very easy to be inspired by many of the people that have grown here in recent years.”

OneTwoSee

OneTwoSee is a fast-growing, Philadelphia-based interactive TV application startup that sits at the intersection of digital media, sports and technology.  It has more than doubled in size since November 2013 and is on track to have more than 20 employees by Fall 2014.  OneTwoSee recently closed a $1.3 million round of fundraising and moved out of Seed Philly to take its own office space at 1650 Arch Street.

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian was founded in 2005 by local entrepreneur Geoff Gross and has since grown to approximately 100 employees servicing more than 200,000 clients.  Medical Guardian provides an affordable and reliable medical alert service to all those who wish to live an independent life, regardless of their limitations.  The company moved into 12,800 square feet of space at 1818 Market Street in April 2013 and in June 2014 increased the size of its space to 22,600 square feet.

PeopleLinx

PeopleLinx was founded in 2009 by Patrick Baynes and Nathan Egan to help companies improve their workforce’s use of social networks boosting sales and market reach.  They currently employ 25 people and have more than 50 clients.  Mayor Nutter participated in a ‘fireside chat’ with PeopleLinx employees where he shared his own background and talked about his support for the tech community, taking questions from employees.

Philly looks to attract tech buzz, entrepreneurs

June 12, 2014  | SFGate.com by Kathy Matheson, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tech enthusiasts know Silicon Valley in California and Silicon Alley in New York.

But what about Silicon Philly?

The City of Brotherly Love has become home to a growing and tightly knit community of entrepreneurs at the same time media giant Comcast plans to build a second skyscraper downtown with the potential to house thousands of corporate tech jobs.

Local officials have taken note on many levels, from allowing the startup corridor of N. 3rd Street to be renamed “N3RD Street” (Get it? Nerd Street?) to launching funding opportunities like StartUpPHL. And don’t forget that time people played Tetris on the face of a 29-story office building.

“We’re seeing an explosion of activity and investment in innovation and technology,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. He planned to cut ribbons at two new tech company offices Friday and visit two others to highlight his commitment to nurturing the industry.

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