See the 5 winners of City of Philadelphia’s ‘Call for Ideas’ grants

March 20, 2014 | Technical.ly by Juliana Reyes

The second set of the city-backed StartupPHL ‘Call for Ideas’ grants focus on training and retaining talent in Philadelphia. The grants were created “to support the culture” of the Philly tech scene, said city Commerce Director Alan Greenberger in an interview last month.

Full disclosure, as listed below, Technical.ly applied for and, in partnership with another community group, received one of these grants. This reporter was not part of the process.

According to a release, the awardees, which were announced today at SevOne’s new Center City Office, include:

  • PennApps Fellows Internship Program: $2,500 per student participant to support a local program connecting student interns from across the nation to Philadelphia based companies for a 10-week internship during the summer of 2014.
  • Philadelphia Fashion Incubator: $25,000 to create a series of monthly seminars, panels and interactive workshops focused on the business of fashion for the design community.
  • Zivtech Developer Boot Camp: $24,000 to teach a six-week developer bootcamp to a class of 30 participants.
  • NextFab Fellows Coop Program: – $25,000 to support four co-op fellowships. Students will receive training and materials while gaining experience working for NextFab companies who struggle to find talent.
  • Technical.ly / Philly Startup Leaders: $25,000 to create and execute a series of eight workshops to better connect the PHL tech community to universities and students. (Find coverage of the event that sparked this idea here)

*Full Disclosure: Technical.ly applied and won a Call for Ideas grant. This reporter was not part of that process.

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Start-up businesses thriving in Philadelphia, Nutter says

February 19, 2014 | philly.com by Claudia Vargas

Just before Mayor Nutter addressed the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce at its annual luncheon Tuesday, he celebrated the new office space of a Philadelphia start-up company that nearly doubled in size in the last year.

RJ Metrics, a tech firm that helps businesses analyze their data and has more than 250 clients including Hootsuite and Threadless, is an example of a company that can “start in Philly, grow in Philly and stay in Philly,” Nutter said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Dozens of young professionals mingled around a fancy breakfast spread at the top of the Weidner Building on Broad and Chestnut Tuesday – RJ Metric’s new home to fit its 46 employee base and more – as RJ Metric’s CEO Bob Moore offered remarks alongside the mayor.

Moore, who cofounded the firm with Jake Stein in 2009, called the Philadelphia start-up scene a “rekindling of the entrepreneurial spirit of the city.”

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Start-up Opens Digital Door for Students with Autism

February 17, 2014 | Philly.com by Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA One of the hottest start-ups in the city sprang up in an unlikely place – a fourth-floor classroom at South Philadelphia High.

In between lesson plans and parent conferences, teacher Michele McKeone has attracted some major buzz, along with sizable grants from the University of Pennsylvania and the Milken Family Foundation, attention from national media, and a start-up-of-the-year prize at the Philadelphia Geek Awards.

Autism Expressed, her fledgling business, teaches digital skills to students with autism. It is the first program of its kind on the market, experts believe, and one McKeone hopes will modernize special-education services.

It began in a way familiar to many teachers. She saw a need in her classroom, so she filled it.

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Entrepreneur Works aims to help female business owners

February 10, 2014 | The Philadelphia Tribune by Ayana Jones

A new initiative aims to help women-owned businesses gain access to capital and mentorship.

Entrepreneur Works, an organization that provides loans and support services to local entrepreneurs, was selected as the Philadelphia loan partner for Elizabeth Street Capital — a Tory Burch Foundation and Bank of America initiative.

The Elizabeth Street Capital initiative aims to foster economic independence and strengthen local economies through job creation and community revitalization. The initiative is designed to provide early-stage women entrepreneurs in the United States with access to low-cost capital, mentoring support and networking opportunities to grow their businesses, creating communities of women entrepreneurs.

“When we started our foundation, we understood that women entrepreneurs need access to capital as well as access to business networks, and by partnering with Bank of America, we are thrilled to be providing help to women across the United States. The combination of loans, mentoring support and peer networking expertise opens up new opportunities for women looking to build and grow their businesses,” said Tory Burch, founder of TBF.

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Philly’s ‘Super-Group’ Startup Accelerator Targets Urban Problems

January 5, 2014 | Forbes.com by Anne Field

Attention social entrepreneurs focused on public safety: You can apply to a new Philadelphia-based accelerator that recently won a $1 million grant.

Called FastFWD, the “super-group” accelerator was formed by the City of Philadelphia, along with  GoodCompany Group, a nonprofit, social enterprise accelerator in the city, and the Social Impact Initiative at the  Wharton School, after winning Bloomberg Philanthropies 2012-2013 Mayors Challenge, along with four other cities. (They included Providence, Chicago, Houston and Santa Monica).

The Mayors Challenge awards grants to cities that come up with innovative, entrepreneurial ideas for addressing urban problems.  Some 335 cities submitted proposals.

Why public safety? Basically, over a period of six months, researchers at Wharton surveyed a handful of potential challenging areas to focus on. After interviews with more than 75 experts, they concluded that public safety  was “fundamental to other problem areas,” says Garrett Melby, co-founder and managing director of GoodCompany.  Accounting for more than one-third of Philadelphia’s budget, according to Melby, it also involves a larger portion of local discretionary spending than, say, education. They also broke the problem into four categories–”built environment”, “recidivism”, “community violence” and “enabling technology”–and nine sub-categories, including neighborhood surveillance, vacant lots, re-entry employment for ex-inmates, and effective technology, among others. (Here’s more about the areas).

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DEADLINE EXTENDED Take the Techncial.ly Philly Tech Startup Survey!

When discussing Philadelphia’s technology community, questions about what its entrepreneurial leaders feel about the region often come up. It’s time to create a benchmark understanding of our young technology business leaders.

If you’ve founded an active company or are a CEO of a startup, Technical.ly Philly, the Center City District, and Philly Startup Leaders  want to hear from you in the first ever Technical.ly Philly Tech Startup Survey. It should just take 10-12 minutes.

Take the survey here before Dec. 31.

Few quick details:

  • Technical.ly Philly will share with everyone the anonymized data, so our community can better understand ourselves. Give us your time, and get back a better view into your peers.
  • Technical.ly Philly are tying all survey responses to specific companies for data accuracy’s sake, but we won’t share any specific firm details publicly. (i.e. employee counts through time)
  • Generally speaking, Technical.ly Philly considers tech startups to have fewer than 200 employees and be no more than 3-5 years of age doing work on digital hardware, scalable software or related services. However, this is largely a self-selecting group, and so if you feel you fit in this category, please take this survey.
  • Find a more detailed description of technology companies on the survey page.

PRESS RELEASE: Philadelphia Launches Fastfwd; Challenges Entrepreneurs to Address Public Safety Issues

October 30, 2013–  Mayor Michael A. Nutter officially launched FastFWD, an Urban Innovation Refinery, a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group, a social enterprise accelerator, and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  FastFWD, formerly known as the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership, is an initiative that seeks to recruit and support entrepreneurs in developing solutions to urban challenges.  In its inaugural year, FastFWD will focus on public safety.

“Our Administration is committed to public safety, spending $1.8 billion last year on behalf of our citizens,” said Mayor Nutter.  “FastFWD is a unique approach to engage and utilize public-private partnerships and to encourage private sector to work with government in the public interest.  In FastFWD’s first cycle, our goal is to harness entrepreneurial talents, resources and innovative ideas to create solutions to the most pressing public safety challenges that our city, and other cities, face every day.”

FastFWD invites entrepreneurs to offer their most innovative public safety solutions, services and products for consideration.   Entrepreneurs that submit the most promising ideas will be given capital, development support and access to experts to help refine and implement their ideas.

“As cities face greater challenges with increasingly fewer resources, the need for entrepreneurial innovation has never been greater,” said Story Bellows, Co-Director, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. “With the launch of FastFWD, we are calling on entrepreneurs to submit their brightest and boldest ideas for consideration.  We look forward to seeing the depth of talent and creativity they have to offer.”

Applications are due by January 22, 2014.

Ten finalists will be selected in spring 2014 to participate in an intensive, twelve-week accelerator program.  During the program, finalists will refine their proposal under the guidance of legal counsel, investors, industry experts and fellow entrepreneurs.  Finalists who enter the accelerator program will receive $10,000 stipends provided by FastFWD.

Upon completion of the accelerator program, the finalists’ proposals will be eligible for implementation as a fast-track funded pilot.

Professor Katherine Klein, Vice Dean for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative added, “Wharton Social Impact Initiative is thrilled to be helping the city in spurring entrepreneurial solutions to urban challenges. The FastFWD process represents a cutting-edge approach, linking business, city government and the University to create sustainable solutions.  There’s a palpable sense of excitement and optimism among all who are participating in this process, including the Mayor – a Wharton alum – and his team.”
“Above all, FastFWD will offer entrepreneurs access. The program will provide access to the core problems, prioritizing and presenting them as target of entrepreneurial opportunity, said Garrett Melby, Founder and Managing Director, GoodCompany Group. “FastFWD will also provide access to expertise for entrepreneurs to refine their ideas with subject-matter experts, and hone their business model with finance experts from The Wharton School.”
In addition, the City announced that FastFWD will partner with Impact Hub on entrepreneur engagement and Code for America on procurement reform.
For more information on FastFWD, including applications, log onto http://fast-fwd.org.

DreamIt Ventures gets new home, $3M investment

December 11, 2013 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Zenovia Campbell

DreamIt Ventures has a new headquarters. The startup accelerator is moving to theUniversity City Science Center in a partnership with Drexel University. The second and third floors of the Science Center building will transform into an “innovation hub” in April 2014. In addition to housing DreamIt Ventures, the 17,500 square foot space will also have space for local entrepreneurs. Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center, which opened last fall, occupies the Science Center’s first floor.

Also announced Wednesday was Drexel’s $3 million investment to DreamIt Fund II, a fund for aspiring entrepreneurs. While the company hopes to raise $30 million, DreamIt Co-Founder David Bookspan declined to comment on the amount raised to date.

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Drexel, Science Center unveil coworking space, DreamIt Ventures HQ

DreamIt Ventures is ramping up efforts to support its graduating companies by offering its Philadelphia startups both office space and capital, as DreamIt is currently raising a $30 million fund to invest in startups that have completed its program.

December 11, 2013 | Technical.ly Philly by Juliana Reyes

This spring, 3401 Market Street will launch as a tech startup hub.

DreamIt Ventures will establish its headquarters on the second and third floor of the building, a 17,500 square foot space that’s being developed by the University City Science Center and Drexel University for about $1 million, the organizations announced this afternoon.

DreamIt aims to host all of its Philadelphia accelerator programs for early-stage startups, as well as offer office space for its graduating companies. The space will also be open to non-DreamIt startups. On the ground floor  of the building is the ExCITe Center, Drexel’s cross-disciplinary music and tech lab.

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Full day in Philly for Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian

December 2, 2013 | Newsworks by Zach Seward

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is on an epic book tour: five months, 150 stops. On Monday, Philadelphia hosted three of those stops: a tech breakfast with local executives, a pizza-side chat at First Round Capital and an early evening event at UPenn. The man knows how to hustle.

“I want to just help these startups be great,” Ohanian said at the day’s second stop. “A conversation with a successful founder isn’t necessarily going to change your life, it isn’t necessarily going to give you the light bulb that makes your company 10X or whatever it is, but hopefully it’s helpful. And that’s the kind of atmosphere I expect at a place like this.”

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