Philadelphia Welcomes Entrepreneurs

Philadelphia’s own NextFab, a high-tech workshop and prototyping center, will host a casting call for ABC’s Shark Tank reality show on May 11th. This is the only East Coast casting call, and the expectation is that more than 500 folks from the region will travel to Philadelphia for the opportunity to spend two minutes with producers.

Local media has taken notice, and Next Fab is prepared. Participants can find up to the minute information on transportation and visitor information, and special pre-event practice sessions, by subscribing to the NextFab Shark Tank mailing list and by following NextFab on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow the conversation via #SharkTankPHL on Twitter and Instagram.

Visiting entrepreneurs take note: Philadelphia is a growing hub for entrepreneurs. With changes to the City’s tax code, zones that offer tax credits and savings, and a growing investment community, Philadelphia has a lot to offer growing companies. 

Jump Start Philly is designed to attract new businesses and entrepreneurs that create jobs to Philadelphia by exempting them from paying the Business Income and Receipts Tax during the first two years of operations. Additionally, fees will be waived for eligible new businesses for a variety of licenses and registrations, including the Commercial Activity License, formerly the Business Privilege License.

Philadelphia Job Creation Tax CreditTo qualify for the credit, a business must demonstrate the ability to create at least 25 new full-time jobs, or increase full-time workforce by at least 20% within the required five-year period. The business must also demonstrate financial stability, project viability and the intention to maintain operations within the City for a period of 5 years from the date the tax credit certificate is submitted to the Philadelphia Department of Revenue.

Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ) are specially designated areas throughout Pennsylvania that receive special tax treatment. Philadelphia’s KIZ is administered by the University City Science Center KIZ program. Although often Life Sciences focused, KIZ benefits have been expanded to include Information Technology companies. You can also learn more about KIZs here.

Tech companies located in Philadelphia can also apply to the Startup PHL Seed Fund, a $6 million investment fund that helps tech startups grow.


PIDC to Invest $500K in University City Science Center’s QED Program

Philadelphia, March 19, 2013 – The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation announced today that through its Penn Venture Fund, it will invest up to $500,000 in the University City Science Center’s QED Program, the country’s first multi-institutional proof-of-concept funding program for healthcare and life sciences technologies.  PIDC’s loan will provide direct funding to qualifying research projects at Philadelphia-based academic and research institutions participating in QED. The projects will be developed and selected through QED’s market-driven process. The loan will be repaid from PIDC’s share in proceeds from successful projects.

“PIDC is excited to invest with partners like First Round Capital and the University City Science Center, both of which are highly respected national leaders in their fields,” said PIDC President John Grady.  “These new investments are both designed to bring more capital to entrepreneurs in Philadelphia at earlier stages, so that they can turn their big ideas into reality sooner and more efficiently.  Today’s announcement illustrates PIDC’s ongoing commitment to find innovative ways to partner with the public and private sectors and to develop new resources for Philadelphia businesses.”

The QED Program has funded a total of 16 projects since its launch in April 2009.  So far, five of the projects have resulted in technology options or licenses, and close to $9 million in follow-on funding has been raised. Twenty-two universities and research institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, including 11 in Philadelphia, participate in the program.

“Due to a lack of funding, promising technologies are often stranded in the lab and never make it to the marketplace where they can have a positive impact on patients’ lives,” says Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA. “PIDC’s investment will help launch new companies that commercialize Philadelphia-based discoveries.  We at the Science Center look forward to working with PIDC to encourage these companies to stay and grow in the city.”

First Startup PHL Call for Ideas Awards Announced

Philadelphia, March 19, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced today that six local organizations will receive Startup PHL grants from the City of Philadelphia for programs or services that support the entrepreneurial community in Philadelphia.  The Startup PHL ‘Call for Ideas’ received more than 115 submissions, which were reviewed by City officials, PIDC, and representatives of the entrepreneurial and startup community. The grant winners are the following:

  • Ben Franklin Technology Partners/Campus Philly – $25,000 to create a Targeted Internship Matching Program to place Philadelphia-area college and university students at BFTP portfolio companies in Philadelphia this summer. The goals of the program are to provide Philadelphia startups with talent and to connect college students to startups/mentors, increasing the likelihood that they stay in Philadelphia post-graduation.  Matching funding will be provided by the companies hosting interns.
  • The Enterprise Center, Center for Culinary Enterprises, Philly Food Innovation Program – $15,000 to support the development of a workshop series for 25 early to middle stage food entrepreneurs to help accelerate their businesses.
  • Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce – $18,400 to develop an online Entrepreneur’s Resource Directory, working with Select Greater Philadelphia, PACT and the Philadelphia startup community.  The Directory will provide a centralized location for entrepreneurs to find information on funding sources, professional and technical expertise, specialized facilities and professional services.  Matching funding will be provided by a corporate sponsor or the Chamber.
  • PhillyCORE Leaders – $15,000 to support the Supporting Entrepreneurship in Education (SEED) program, which includes a pitch event for education entrepreneurs to compete for funding.  The winning teams will then participate in the Fels Institute Social Innovations Lab to further develop their ideas.  Matching funding will be provided by corporate sponsorship.
  • Startup Corps – $20,000 to support the expansion of the high school entrepreneur program that provides programming to a diverse range of teenagers looking to develop entrepreneurial skills and build businesses.  In 2013 Startup Corps plans to expand the number of students served by 50% and develop new partnerships with organizations that support entrepreneurs.  Matching funding will be provided by private sponsorship.
  • VentureF0rth – $25,000 to create a ‘community commons’ space at the existing VentureF0rth co-working facility that will provide an increased range of services to the startup community, including daytime programming, job training for individuals looking for work in the technology sector, and an increase in the number of entry-level low-cost spots available to entrepreneurs.

Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, said, “The overwhelming response to the ‘Call for Ideas’ is further evidence of the strength of Philadelphia’s startup and entrepreneurial community and one of the many reasons why the Nutter Administration is committed to supporting business creation in Philadelphia.  Increasingly Philadelphia is becoming a place of choice for businesses to start, stay and grow and the Startup PHL initiative is just one more tool we have to help make that happen.”

The City of Philadelphia and PIDC expressed their gratitude to the following people for their support and assistance: Andrea Allon (Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and PIDC Board Member), David Brussin (Monetate), M. Therese Flaherty (Wharton Small Business Development Center), Steve Goodman (Morgan Lewis), Apu Gupta (Curalate), Sam Landman (Comcast Ventures), Bob Moul (Artisan Mobile and Philly Startup Leaders), and Richard Vague (Gabriel Investments).

Startup PHL Announces Call for Ideas Finalists

The first Call for Ideas received an overwhelming response with almost 120 organizations and individuals submitting creative, innovative ideas for how to support and strengthen Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial community.  The selection committee is currently evaluating the finalist’s ideas, and will announce the winners this month.

Startup PHL anticipates future Calls for Ideas and encourage people and organizations to apply. Sign up for updates or follow @startupphl on twitter for further information, including what makes a successful application.

In no particular order…

Top 20 Call for Idea Finalists:


Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT) – The PACT Enterprise Hackathon

The PACT Enterprise Hackathon will provide an opportunity for technology entrepreneurs to develop solutions that address specific needs posed by any one of several enterprise participants across the healthcare, financial services, infrastructure and government sectors. Hackathon participants in the government sector will work with the City of Philadelphia to address specific technological problems.


Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce – Entrepreneur’s Resource Directory

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce will develop and maintain an on-line, searchable, sortable, linked Entrepreneur’s Resource Directory, replacing and improving out-of-date and unsearchable resources that currently exist. The Directory will provide a centralized site to find information on funding sources, professional and technical expertise, specialized facilities and professional services within the region.


Seed Philly – Startup Data Collection Engine

Seed Philly is creating a vetted directory and data collection engine of members of the startup community. By capturing relevant information related to a startup’s daily activities, we intend to create a blueprint for more efficient growth in Philadelphia.  Data collected includes the software and hardware products used by each startup, vendor relationships, and details about different growth milestones.  The data can be used to create a baseline for entrepreneurs to benchmark their growth, make faster decisions, and ultimately grow more efficiently.


Campus Philly and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) – Targeted Internship Matching Program

The Targeted Internship Matching Program will place students at Philadelphia area colleges and universities at BFTP/SEP portfolio companies based in Philadelphia. The goal of the internship program is twofold: 1) provide Philadelphia start-ups with immediate help on current projects and a talent pipeline they can hire in the future; and 2) connect college students to start-ups as employers and mentors, thereby keeping college students in Philadelphia in the future after they graduate.


RJ Moore, RJ Metrics – Entrepreneurship Podcast

We invite interested listeners across the country to join us for a weekly podcast about everything entrepreneurship. Produced in collaboration with Philadelphia media outlets, startup organizations, and universities, our project reinforces Philly as a prominent and dynamic part of the national startup ecosystem. This entertaining podcast fosters collaboration among local organizations and universities, creates an audio archive of educational content for entrepreneurs, and places a sustained spotlight on Philadelphia as a center for thought leadership.


The Franklin Institute – STEM Opportunities at the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival

Young people need to learn what it takes to turn a great idea into a business opportunity. Startups and entrepreneurs need the chance to showcase their products and ideas. This project will: underwrite the presence of up to 15 STEM-related startup companies or entrepreneurs at the 2013 Philadelphia Science Festival; produce events for students to learn about entrepreneurship; create opportunities for companies to present their ideas to industry leaders.


The Moore College of Art and Design – Women’s Creative Entrepreneurial Launch

Moore College of Art & Design, the only women’s art and design college in the US, will create the Women’s Creative Entrepreneurial Launch to promote entrepreneurship among women, retain college graduates in Philadelphia, and build on Philadelphia’s assets as a center of design and creative innovation. Tailored specifically to art and design-related businesses, the Women’s Creative Entrepreneurial Launch will link recent Moore alumnae who are entrepreneurs and small business owners to mentoring, networking, educational opportunities, co-working sites, StartUp fellowships, micro-loans and access to capital.


Slash 7 and Indy Hall – Philadelphia Bootstraper Conference: BaconBizConf

BaconBizConf: The only conference exclusively for bootstrappers who’ve chosen the awesome yet thorny path of selling software, ebooks, videos, training resources, and tools. While most startup conferences feature a lot of soft-touch stories and venture capital advice, BaconBizConf is relentlessly focused on helping you create, market, and support a product your customers will love. Speakers will include industry stars such as Patrick McKenzie (“The Bingo Card Guy”).


GreenLight Fund, Scattergood Foundation, and Wharton Social Impact Initiative – Collaborative Work and Learning Space: The Exchange

The Exchange brings together entrepreneurship, capital, and capacity building support under one roof to support high performing and high potential nonprofit and social innovations. The Exchange is a collaborative work space and community of practice shared by philanthropic organizations, emerging nonprofit and social ventures, evaluators and service providers. In addition to space, the exchange will provide workshops, access to shared services and technology, networking, and partnership building opportunities.


The Enterprise Center – Center for Culinary Enterprises Program

The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation supports Philadelphia’s food entrepreneurs. Using state-of-the-art, shared-use commercial kitchen space at The Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises in West Philadelphia, startup entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to develop new and innovative local food products and bring those products to market.


Philly Tech MeetupProgram Expansion

Philly Tech Meetup is the connective glue of the local innovation ecosystem, and convenes technologists, entrepreneurs, investors and the broader community regularly to learn and share. We want to advance entrepreneurship and innovation in Philadelphia, and will 1) develop enriching programs and content, 2) engage more participation and collaboration from stakeholders in the ecosystem, and 3) use our big microphone wisely to benefit the overall community.


The University City Science Center – Formalize and Expand the Regional Affinity Incubation Network (RAIN)

RAIN brings together the regional network of 50-plus research parks, business incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces and support organizations, in order to encourage the sharing of information, capabilities and opportunities. By leveraging, and better connecting, the programs and facilities that support Philadelphia entrepreneurs, RAIN will coalesce, extend and invigorate Philadelphia’s startup community, leading to more ideas developed, more companies formed, and ultimately more jobs created.


Venture F0rth – Program and Facility Expansion: VentureF0rth Commons

Increasingly less of Venturef0rth’s space has been available to support educational programming and community events such as Startup Weekend, DreamIt Ventures, Meetups, and its own series of speakers. Modest modifications to the campus will enable an expansion of the tech, design and entrepreneurship events that have become a centerpiece of the region’s tech ecosystem. The Venturef0rth Commons will support round-the-clock events and programming for the community alongside our shared workspace, providing the flexibility required to better share experiences and teach critical skills to those growing the region’s tech economy.


Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP), Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital Technologies (PACT), Philly Startup Leaders – The Philadelphia Startup Information Web site

The Philadelphia Startup Information Web site will be an interactive, Web-based data collection and display tool that will be integrated into regional organization sites. The site will highlight and market the diversity, range and impact of Philadelphia area start-up companies by showing: key start-up leaders and connectors, start-up related non-profit and member organizations, and the impact and history of start-ups in Philadelphia.


Technically Philly, the Knight Foundation, Delaware Valley Grantmakers – Social Entrepreneurship Asset Map

Technically Philly will lead a reporting and mapping asset analysis project to highlight the existing pipeline for mission-focused social entrepreneurship in the region. The mapping platform and identified community of social enterprise will serve as a tool for individuals and organizations to better understand the mission-minded entrepreneurship landscape in the region, as well as a basis for the local Knight chapter, in partnership with DVG and Technically Philly, to develop a fund dedicated to this focused slice of Philadelphia entrepreneurship.


Philadelphia’s Coalition of Rising Education Leaders (PhillyCORE Leaders) – Education Entrepreneur Support and Pitch Night

PhillyCORE Leaders we will host SEED (Supporting Entrepreneurship in Education), a crowd-sourced pitch night for education entrepreneurs to compete for funding and present their ideas before an engaged audience. Over the course of the year, we will also provide access to ongoing social entrepreneurship training and create an online portal for education entrepreneurs to share resources.


The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic at the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University – Open Source Legal Documents

The Drexel Entrepreneurial Law Clinic supports Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing free legal services to startups. With input from the leading startup lawyers in the region, we will partially “productize” our core services by creating an open source set of customizable organizational documents with instructions for use by entrepreneurs.


Advancena, LLC – Lean Start-ups for the Minority Community Program

“Lean Start-ups for the Minority Community” is a six-week, intensive workshop specifically designed to empower members of the minority community to build successful business ventures using the principles of the Lean Start-up methodology. Students will hear from a variety of industry experts and engage in practical, hand-on activities, while collaborating with one another to methodically build their entrepreneurial visions into viable economic opportunities.


GoodCompany Group –Program Expansion

In order to increase the number of social venture startups in Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group will launch a series of community engagement initiatives to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem for civic and social enterprise startups in Philadelphia such as: GoodCompany Alumni Network; PHL Civic Innovators Council; and an Ecosystem Opportunity Survey.


Startup Corps – High School Entrepreneur Program

Startup Corps helps teens learn to create value for themselves, others and the world through entrepreneurship. The program provides classes, mentorship, and micro-capital to help Philadelphia’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders launch businesses and non-profits.