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 chapter of socially-minded Investors’ Circle is biggest in U.S.

May 28, 2014 | Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes

With nearly 30 members, the Philadelphia chapter of Investors’ Circle, a national angel group that invests in social entrepreneurs, is the biggest chapter in the country.

The local chapter started in 2009 and was the first of its kind, said IC-Philadelphia president John Moore. Investors’ Circle was traditionally a group of angel investors spread throughout the country. They’d meet twice a year on each coast for two days of startup presentations. Now, cities like New York, Raleigh and San Francisco are following Philadelphia’s lead and building up local chapters of their own.

“This is one way that Philly is teaching the rest of the venture world,” said Moore of the group, which meets monthly to hear pitches from local companies.

IC-Philadelphia has invested $3 million in 10 companies since its launch,including sustainable laundry service Wash Cycle Laundry, sponsored advertising startup ElectNext (now Versa) and women’s financial literacy siteDailyWorth. Those companies have gone on to raise $22 million, Moore said. The group only considers companies in a two-hour train ride radius (that would put D.C. in, but Boston out).

Why create a group that focuses on investing locally?

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Healthcare entrepreneurs who see value in house calls win top prize at startup weekend

March 31, 2014 | MedCity News by Stephanie Baum

The idea that you can develop a concept for a company and launch it within 48 hours is at the heart of Startup Weekend. When you add healthcare to the mix it becomes a lot more challenging but no less interesting. Philadelphia hosted its third Startup Weekend for healthcare at Venturef0rth over the weekend.

Elliot Menschik, who was one of the judges to review the 12 team pitches, heads up shared workspace Venturef0rth and is a managing partner for healthcare with DreamIt Health, DreamIt Ventures’ health IT accelerator. He said it’s the longest running StartUp Weekend for healthcare in the country. About 14 cities have since hosted their own version of the event. Duke University is planning to host one in August.

The top team this time around was OnCall. The group of young physicians and developers think patients who value in-person visits would be willing to pay extra for doctors, physical therapists, or counselors to come by their homes…

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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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CHOP launches tech transfer partnership with Osage University Partners

September 30, 2013 | Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes

One of the main challenges behind spinout companies is “finding dollars to move the companies forward,” said Ellen Purpus, head of CHOP’s Tech Transfer Office. The partnership with Osage, which invests exclusively on startups that are commercializing university research, aims to help that.

The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania has announced a partnership withOsage University Partners that aims to increase the amount of investment behind its tech transfer spinout companies.

Like other tech transfer offices, the one at CHOP, started in the early 90s, looks for businesses that can partner with the hospital and turn its research into products — that can mean anything from vaccines to medicines to research tools. It does about seven to ten licensing deals a year, said Ellen Purpus, head of CHOP’s Tech Transfer Office.

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Penn’s Graduate School of Education launches $2.1M edtech incubator

September 24, 2013 | Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes

This fall, five startups will participate in Penn‘s Graduate School of Education (GSE) six-month edtech incubator, according to a release.

The $2.1 million effort, first announced in May, is called the Education Design Studio, Inc. Participating companies do not have to move to Philadelphia, like they would with other programs like DreamIt Ventures and GoodCompany Group. Rather, the five companies will meet once a month in a different city for training and workshops.

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Silicon Valley investment firm places bet on Philly business-intelligence startup

September 24, 2013 | philly.com by Michael Hinkelman

Robert J. Moore, 29, of Society Hill, is co-founder & CEO of RJMetrics, a Center City business-intelligence software firm. The fast-growing start-up helps e-commerce companies quickly analyze data to make smarter decisions. In May, RJMetrics landed a $6.5 million investment from Trinity Ventures in Silicon Valley.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for RJMetrics?

A: My co-founder [Jake Stein] and I worked at a venture-capital firm in New York in 2006-07. My job was to help them decide on good investments. So I manually analyzed all data about a company’s customers. I saw an opportunity to do this via the Internet.

Q: What about start-up funds?

A: We decided to build the business ourselves and moved back to Philadelphia because it was more affordable and we had roots here. We started in 2009, and it was just myself and Jake. In January 2012, we raised our first outside money, $1 million, from angels, including a customer and local investors.

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