Maryland-based biotech startup gets ready for Philadelphia expansion

ImMAGE Biotherapeutics recently leased space at the University City Science Center.

June 27, 2016 | Technical.ly by Albert Hong

Instead of relying on cancer treatments (like chemotherapy) that often weaken the immune system, a new biotech startup is approaching the problem by making your body’s natural defenses stronger.

ImMAGE Biotherapeutics, founded in May 2015 with an office in Bethesda, Md., is currently working out of lab facilities at D.C.’s Howard University to develop a better treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. The company aims to use the body’s immune system to target a specific type of protein called MAGE-A…

“Our plan is to expand our research collaboration to Philadelphia and NYC universities as well as start building a regulatory team and business development team using talents from the Tri-state area, at which point we will be getting a full office in Philadelphia,” said ImMAGE COO Mahesh Narayanan, who grew up in Delaware County and earned a master’s in biotechnology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Philly tech ambassadors trying to spread the word at SXSW

March 7, 2016 | Newsworks.org by Todd Bookman

Representatives from the Philadelphia region’s tech scene are packing their bags for Texas.

This Friday, the 2016 edition of South by Southwest kicks off in Austin, and while the festival is still best known for showcasing new musicians, it has also become a key place for tech entrepreneurs to show up and show off.

For the first time, a collection of Philadelphia startups, along with local networking groups and some big name companies, are joining together to host a booth inside the Austin Convention Center as part of the SXSW Interactive Trade Show. It’s a tactical effort to highlight the Philly tech scene, and lure companies and capital to an area that may not yet be on the national radar.

“We all know how great Philadelphia is, and we all understand all the great wonderful activity and energy that’s going on in our city, but you have to get out, and you have to promote it, you have to market it,” said Archna Sahay, director of entrepreneurial investment for Philadelphia.

The SXSW Philly effort and its branding concept, Amplify Philly, are sponsored in part by Comcast and Independence Blue Cross. Yuval Yarden, program director for the group Philly Startup Leaders, says nearly 100 local representatives will head to Austin for the Trade Show’s opening on Sunday.

ORIGINAL SAUCE

Join the PHL party at SXSW

A collaborative community effort to organize Philadelphia companies and attendees of SXSW launched last week. The initiative is hoping to organize any attendees into a unified block while at the conference. If your company is attending, or you’d like to sponsor, check out the details at sxswphilly.com.

Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger Announce New Startup PHL Call for Ideas Awards

PRESS RELEASE

Mayor visits Coded by Kids after-school program providing tech training to young people in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, May 7, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger announced today a new round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants to organizations that provide programs and events to support entrepreneurship in Philadelphia.  The funding supports the goals of providing opportunities to young people in neighborhoods all across the city; increasing the diversity of Philadelphia’s technology sector; and fostering greater collaboration among universities and better connecting students to startups in Philadelphia.

“Through Startup PHL our goal is to create opportunities for all Philadelphians to participate in the new technology-driven economy,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Programs such as Coded by Kids, TechGirlz, and FirstHand are reaching into diverse communities throughout our city and providing the skills and confidence needed to work in the technology sector, or even to start a company.  This is all part of our commitment to establish Philadelphia as a thriving startup city with opportunities available to all.”

John Grady, President of PIDC, said, “We are proud partners in the StartUp PHL initiative.  PIDC is pleased to help support entrepreneurship in Philadelphia with this multifaceted initiative to increase the availability of capital and make Philadelphia an attractive place for entrepreneurs.”

The latest round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas grants provides funding to four organizations, bringing the total number of programs supported by this initiative to fourteen.  The programs funded in this round include:

  • University City Science Center FirstHand Program ($25,000) – a youth STEAM initiative serving Philadelphia youth from under-resourced schools and the teachers, professionals and families from their communities. The Startup PHL funding assists in lab equipment acquisition for the FirstHand Lab, a dedicated lab space for students.
  •  Drexel University, Regional University Business Plan Competition ($23,500) Startup PHL funding will help establish a multi-university business plan competition run by a new consortium of university-based entrepreneurship programs and incubators.  Drexel University’s Chuck Sacco, organizer of this initiative, commented, “A number of us at university-based entrepreneurship programs wanted to find new ways to have entrepreneurially-minded college students work across the region and build their networks at other universities and colleges and within the community.  A regional business plan competition will be a great way for that to occur”.
  • Coded by Kids Instructor Pipeline Project ($19,870) – Coded by Kids provides inner city children with free, engaging, challenging and creative tech education program. Startup PHL funding will establish an adult training program for instructors in the Coded by Kids workshops.
  • TechGirlz Entrepreneur Bootcamp in a Box ($10,000) – TechGirlz hold workshops and an annual entrepreneurial summer camp serving middle-school girls. Startup PHL funding will expand the existing and successful TechGirlz Summer Entrepreneur Bootcamp materials into sharable, lesson plan formats so other groups can teach the program.  TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman commented, “This Tech Entrepreneur Camp is unique in this country and we are extremely happy to be partnering with the City to have more girls understand how they can participate in the tech and startup economy. Innovation is gender blind.”

Later today Mayor Nutter will visit the Coded by Kids after-school program at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center to see how this initiative is providing a coding-focused education program that would normally be out of reach for many Philadelphia residents and is preparing prepare both children and adults for careers in web development.

“Providing tech education opportunities to Philadelphia residents who have traditionally lacked access to these opportunities is critical to the social and economic success of our communities,” said Coded by Kids founder Sylvester Mobley.

Startup PHL is 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.  Through Startup PHL Funds and co-investments from First Round Capital eight Philadelphia startups have received more than $1 million in combined seed stage or angel investment since October 2013, and through the Call For Ideas Grants fourteen organizations have received almost $300,000 in funding to support entrepreneurship programming.

“Philadelphia’s emergence as a hub for startups and technology companies is one of the most exciting trends for the future of this city,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.  “This Administration, through Startup PHL and a range of other initiatives, is proud to support the work of entrepreneurs across Philadelphia who are building companies, developing exciting new products, and providing innovative, challenging job opportunities for the growing number of people who want to live and work in our city.”

Application Deadline for DreamIT Health Philadelphia 2015 is May 1

DreamIt Health Philadelphia 2015, running June 26th thru Oct 16th, is looking for startup teams who are fanatical about solving significant healthcare problems by combining relentless business execution, software or hardware, and inspired design.

DreamIt provides

  • seed capital (up to $300k per team)
  • access (customers, partners, investors, KOLs, SMEs)
  • coaching (from been-there-before, successful entrepreneurs)
  • freebies (legal, accounting, space, AWS, etc)
  • tools/techniques/best practices

The program is an unrivaled opportunity to work closely with Penn Medicine and Independence Blue Cross who have committed to provide access to and partnership with clinicians, executives, and industry leaders for designing, testing, launching, and deploying your solution at scale. Teams also benefit from speakers, office hours and content designed around healthcare-specific challenges such as navigating regulatory and reimbursement hurdles.

DreamIt Health alumni include Biomeme, Tissue Analytics, BioBots, and Haystack.

More info and applications at www.dreamithealth.com. Applications are due May 1st!

About DreamIt Ventures
We uniquely combine a startup accelerator program and an early-stage seed fund to help exceptional entrepreneurs build thriving, fundable companies. Our managing directors all have deep startup operating experience that we bring to bear in stacking the deck in favor of our portfolio companies. We’ve worked with 195 startups across all sectors and which today are valued at nearly a billion dollars. Over the course of a given DreamIt accelerator, participating teams identify and eliminate risks, build out their products, focus on customer acquisition and establish paths to building sustainable revenues. Beyond the program, DreamIt Ventures remains an active and committed investor in our alums helping wherever we can over the entire lifecycle of their companies.

Mayor Nutter Announces Startup PHL Angel Fund Investment in Gencore Systems

Philadelphia, March 27, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the Startup PHL Angel Fund has made a $100,000 investment in Gencore Systems, a software company based in Philadelphia founded by a computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The growth of a vibrant startup economy is one of the most exciting developments to take place in this city over recent years and my Administration is proud to do all we can to continue to promote Philadelphia as one of America’s top startup cities,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Through Startup PHL and a range of other initiatives we are providing the resources and support system to help exciting companies start, stay and grow in Philadelphia.  Thank you to our partners at PIDC and First Round Capital for making this work possible.”

Gencore Systems offers a non-intrusive, network-based application performance management solution that provides deep-insights into service delivery and user experience of cloud applications, and helps troubleshoot performance bottlenecks in a proactive manner. The Gencore solution is compatible with both private and public cloud setups, as well as data centers that deploy state-of-the-art Software-defined Networking (SDN) technologies. The company is a spinoff from the University of Pennsylvania, and has incorporated award-winning research into its products.

“We are excited to receive the Startup PHL investment, and plan to use the funding to continue product development, and enhance our product through our ongoing pilot deployments with customers,” said Gencore Systems founder Boon Thau Loo.  “Gencore Systems is delighted to be in Philadelphia. We have been able to benefit from a steady stream of engineering and business talent from local universities. Moreover, the community here is close-knit, and we have always been able to get advice from other entrepreneurs when approached. We look forward to growing the company here in this city.”

Startup PHL is an initiative between the City of Philadelphia, PIDC, and First Round Capital to support the growth of startups in Philadelphia.  The Startup PHL Seed Fund and Startup PHL Angel Fund are partnerships between PIDC and leading venture capital firm First Round Capital to make investments in Philadelphia-based startups.  Gencore Systems is the seventh company to receive an investment.

“We’re thrilled to be investing in a company with such deep roots in Philadelphia’s academic community, and are extremely excited to see what lies in store for Gencore,” said Josh Kopelman, Partner at First Round Capital.

The Startup PHL Call for Ideas is a grant program managed by the Department of Commerce 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.  An announcement of additional grants is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

To learn more about Startup PHL visit www.startupphl.com.

Life Post-Shark Tank At Scholarship App Startup Scholly

March 24, 2015 | forbes.com by Anne Field

When we last encountered Christopher Gray, he had recently launched Scholly, which has an app that streamlines the process of searching for college scholarships. Gray had previously won $1.3 million in school aid from a variety of groups.

Now the Philadelphia, Pa-based social enterprise has helped students raise at least $9 million, Gray and his co-founders are in the midst of raising a series A round, they’ve signed several major partnerships and launched a web site, according to Gray. And, oh yes, they recently won a $40,000 investment during an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, causing a ruckus in the meantime.

And Gray is getting ready to graduate from Drexel University in June.

The Shark Tank experience netted Gray a lot of attention, as well as an investment from panelists Lori Greiner and Daymond John. The investors offered their terms almost as soon as Gray finished his pitch, which is unusual for the show. (Gray says he actually pitched for 45 minutes to an hour, although only a few minutes of that made it to the final edit). Also, according to Gray, they gave him what he’d ask for–$40,000 and a total 15% stake. The hullabaloo happened after that, when the other sharks  got mad that a deal had been made without sufficient questioning and one of them, Robert Herjavec, walked out of the studio in a huff. According to Gray, the company’s social mission, combined with his own life story, are what sold the investors on the company.

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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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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.

Philly Tech Week Open Data Event: Bytes and Mortar

More than sixty people attended Bytes & Mortar: Using Open Data to Help Your Business, an event co-hosted by the Office of Innovation & Technology and the Department of Commerce during Philly Tech Week.

As more government data becomes open to the public, new and interesting uses are emerging. This event served as an overview and introductory discussion for the business and technology community to help get people thinking about what business opportunities there may be for utilizing open city data. Business people, technologists, and government employees all gathered together to learn about the vast array of data sets and resources available to the public through the following portals:

We’re posting the slides below for those who could not attend. For additional open data questions, reach out to data (at) phila.gov. Beyond questions, please share your successes with us!