Penn faculty startup raises $100K from Startup PHL angel fund

March 26th, 2015 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

A startup that spun out of the University of Pennsylvania’s computer science department just raised $100,000 from the city’s Startup PHL angel fund.

Penn computer science professor Boon Thau Loo and a group of graduate and undergraduate students founded Gencore Systems about a year ago. They spent years researching how to analyze huge volumes of network and cloud traffic, and built a product out of it.

Gencore is a software that allows companies that use public cloud infrastructure, such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, to monitor and understand how well their applications are performing in the cloud. It’s unique, Loosaid, because it’s “completely non-intrusive.”

“It provides detailed application performance metrics, yet requires no code modifications to existing applications or add performance overheads,” he said. “This makes it easy to install and adopt.”


Life Post-Shark Tank At Scholarship App Startup Scholly

March 24, 2015 | 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.


Local entrepreneur takes top prize at national pitch event

October 29th, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

Local entrepreneur Gabriel Mandujanotook home the largest prize — $25,000 — at Tuesday’s Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day in New York.

It was Blackstone LaunchPad’s first event of its kind, and 31-year-old Mandujano wasone of 20 national finalists. Mandujano, a faculty member at Philadelphia University, was the only person from the Philadelphia region to make the cut.


PennApps Fellows wins $25,000 grant

March 25, 2014 | The Daily Pennsylvanian by Laura Anthony

The PennApps Fellows Internship Program just got $25,000 richer.

PennApps Fellows, a new internship program launching this summer that will bring 10 students from all over the country to work at Philadelphia startup companies, was one of five winners of the second round of grants awarded by the Philadelphia Department of Commerce’s Startup PHL Call for Ideas.

These awards, which are intended to support entrepreneurship and student engagement with Philadelphia’s tech community, will grant up to $500,000 in total to help jumpstart local startup projects.

“We fit that almost perfectly,” Engineering sophomore and PennApps Fellows co-founder Fabio Fleitas said. “We want to get people to come here to work on Philly startups and grow the Philly startup community and entrepreneurial community [through PennApps Fellows].” …


SEED – Supporting Entrepreneurs in Education – 3.0 is coming October 16, 2013

Buy your tickets online:


SEED (Supporting Entrepreneurship in Education) 3.0 is a crowd-funded and -sourced opportunity for education entrepreneurs and teachers to compete for cash prizes and, even more importantly, present their ideas before an engaged audience of potential funders, users, collaborators, and community members.

SEED 3.0 is modeled off the internationally popular Sunday Soup program, a micro-granting program where attendees pay on a sliding scale (usually $10-20) for a locally sourced dinner during which they hear brief presentations from members of the creative community.  The attendees then vote on their choices for first, second, and third prize.  Once the votes are tallied, the winning groups take home monetary prizes of varying sizes (e.g., $400 for first, $200 for second, $100 for third) funded by the attendance charge.

SEED 3.0 takes the premise of Sunday Soup and tweaks it: the presentations focus solely on education entrepreneurship in the Philadelphia area.  Following a meet and mingle period, during which presenters will be available to answer attendee questions on their concepts, presenters will be given three minutes each to “pitch” their idea to the entire audience.  After each pitch, an esteemed panel of judges has five minutes to ask questions, critique business plans, and make suggestions.  After all the pitches and Q&A, the audience then votes for a winner.

To generate a significant monetary prize (targeted at $5,000 for first place and $2,500 for second place), attendees will be asked to pay a $25 entrance fee and sponsorships from corporate partners will be solicited.  A large portion of this year’s monetary prize comes from a StartUp PHL grant awarded to PhillyCORE Leaders. Other sponsors include PECO, Oxford Mills, and the Philadelphia School Partnership.


The first SEED in March 2012 had over 40 applicants, which were narrowed down to 12 finalists – 6 in an “Emerging” Entrepreneurs category and 6 in an “Expanding/Established” Entrepreneurs category.  The winner of the “Emerging” Entrepreneurs category – PhilaSoup – won $5,000, which it is used to apply for non-profit status and to extend its outreach.  The winner of the “Expanding/Established” Entrepreneurs category – Springboard Collaborative – won a bundle of pro-bono services (legal, accounting, etc.) and sit-downs with several foundation heads in the region.

The second SEED event, called SEED 2.0, was held in October 2012, and the theme was “technology in the classroom.”  We attracted over 20 “ed tech” applicants, which were narrowed down to 5 finalists.  The winner, Teachers Lead Philly, used the $5,000 to create an online portal that would supplement its off-line teacher networking and collaboration events.  Each SEED event had on average 150 attendees and each raised about $9,000, including $5,000 from ticket sales and $4,000 from corporate sponsorships.

This year, there will be two categories for this year’s SEED event.  The first category will be for education entrepreneurs (either non-profit or for-profit) and the second category will be specifically for teachers who are focused on bringing innovation and leadership to their school but are committed to remaining in the classroom as teacher.

WHEN/Where? Wednesday, October 16th from 6 to 8:30 p.m.  at City Hall

Buy your tickets online:

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.


First Round’s Student-Run Dorm Room Fund Has Backed 20 Startups; Adds Entrepreneur ‘RAs’ As Advisors

September 5, 2013 | Tech Crunch by Leena Rao

First Round Capital has made a big bet on students sourcing and making investments at colleges around the U.S. with its Dorm Room Fund. the idea behind the Dorm Room Fund is that if students are motivated enough and smart enough to start a company while in college, then they are capable to run a venture fund, and back the next big ideas. First Round originally launched the fund in Philadelphia and expanded the initiative to New York and San Francisco (and soon Boston). Today, the Dorm Room Fund has made 20 investments in startups, and the firm is announcing the addition of 60-plus mentors.

For background, each city;s fund is around $500,000. Students from colleges in the city apply to be part of the investment team, and then the chosen students source investments and make decisions unilaterally to invest in startup ideas. As students graduate, more will be added. On average each investment is around $20,000, and is structured as an uncapped-convertible note.


Nutter admininstration using paid tech internships in battle against brain drain

August 8 | Newsworks by Zach Seward

The mayor of Philadelphia treated 10 college kids to lunch this week.

The occasion was a city-sponsored internship program that’s part of Mayor Michael Nutter’s StartUp PHL initiative.

Here’s why: Three years ago Campus Philly did a big survey [PDF].

The nonprofit tapped hundreds of local students and recent alumni and found that one thing worked really well at fighting brain drain: If you had an off-campus, paid internship in the area, you were much more likely to stick around…


Inside Wharton’s new summer incubator space for MBA-led startups

The incubator, said Zach Simkin, was “born out of total need.” Simkin helps organize Penn’s Founder’s Club, a university-wide club that supports student entrepreneurs. He and co-organizer Carlos Vega kept hearing about MBAs who were struggling to find office space for the summer, Simkin said.

August 6, 2013 | Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes

If Wharton‘s MBA program is producing nearly three times the amount of entrepreneurs as it did five years ago, where are all these startup founders holding court?

They now have their own incubator in Center City West, for the summer, at least.

In January, Wharton opened a space at 2401 Walnut Street for its MBAs to use for study sessions, club meetings and conferences. Later that spring, Wharton heard from two students that what MBAs really needed was office space. So Wharton opened up the 2401 Walnut space’s many offices, free of charge, to its student entrepreneurs. As of last week, sixteen startups called the spot home. (And don’t forget that Ticketleap and Curalate are headquartered in the same highrise.)…


Startup PHL-backed tech internships hope to fight brain drain

July 31, 2013 | Technically Philly by Juliana Reyes

Campus Philly’s research points to a link between internships and talent retention. According to a 2010 Campus Philly survey of 4,600 undergraduates, graduates and alumni, 70 percent of alumni who stayed in Philly for a year or more after graduation had a summer internship in Greater Philadelphia.

The answer to Philadelphia’s brain drain problem didn’t seem so complicated at Bliss on Broad Street, where Mayor Michael Nutter had lunch with eight students who were interning at local tech companies through a program funded by the Nutter administration’s StartupPHL program.

“What would make you leave Philadelphia?” asked Rob Weber, cofounder of AgileSwitch, one of the companies hosting the interns.

After a brief pause, the whole table — students from Penn, Haverford, Temple and Penn State — agreed: “If I couldn’t find a job.”


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