Spark Therapeutics Goes Public

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, whose research the company is based on, owns more than half of the company’s shares.

January 30th, 2015 | Technical.ly by Juliana Reyes

Spark Therapeutics went public on NASDAQ today, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one big winner.

The startup, based on a decade’s worth of research at CHOP, raised $161 million with its initial public offering, pricing 7 million shares at $23 each. But then, the share price ballooned to $43, raising the company’s value to nearly $1 billion,according to an Inquirer report. That made the 4.9 million shares owned by CHOP — that’s 53.44 percent of the Spark shares — worth as much as $220 million. (Obviously, this could fluctuate.) CHOP committed $50 million in the fall of 2013 when the company was formed. CHOP CEO Steven Altschuler is chairman of Spark’s board.

Spark Therapeutics is a pre-revenue company that aims to cure rare genetic diseases like types of hemophilia and blindness. Its ticker symbol is “ONCE,” referring to the company’s aim of curing, not just treating, these diseases, the Inquirer reported.

Spark raised a $72.8 million Series B led by Silicon Valley investors Sofinnova Ventures last year, and its 50 employees work out of a 28,000-square-foot office at the University City Science Center’s new 3737 Market Street building.

“Our foundation as a company has been born of the work done in West Philadelphia,” CEO Jeff Marrazzo said last fall at the 3737 Market Street ribbon-cutting. “We want to be an example of a company that can not only have its past here but also its future.”

Marrazzo (the son of WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo) owns 380,000 shares of the company, now worth around $16 million, the Inquirer reported.

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5 notable Series B financing efforts from 2014

December 19th, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

As the year comes to a close, these five Philadelphia technology startups can look back on 2014 with pride. They all successfully raised Series B financing rounds, a massive accomplishment for a growing business.

When a startup meets significant milestones, it’s likely to secure a Series B round, if it’s going the investor route. The financing round before Series B is Series A, understandably.

  • In June, Curalate, which has had consistent growth in its product’s offerings, raised $8.6 million from longtime investors New Enterprise Associates, First Round Capital and MentorTech Ventures. Vayner RSE, social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk‘s venture firm, also joined in on the funding for Curalate, a 2-year-old analytics and marketing suite for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
  • RJMetrics unveiled in September that it had raised a massive $16.5 million, led by Silicon Valley-based August Capital, which has invested in a slew of successful businesses like Microsoft, Skype and Sun Microsystems. RJMetrics’ co-founder and CEO Robert Moore said the new funding would go toward accelerating the analytics platform’s product development and continuing customer growth.
  • Aclaris Therapeutics is a dermatology biotech company that raised $21 million in a private stock sale in October. The Series B venture capital financing followed the company’s completion of a phase-II clinical trial that yielded positive results for its lead product candidate, A-101, which is being developed as treatment for a common type of skin tumor known as seborrheic keratoses.
  • Earlier this month, Zonoff announced that it raised $31.8 million. Last November, Zonoff entered into an agreement with Staples to provide the software platform that powers Staples Connect, a home automation solution found in hundreds of Staples retail stores today.
  • LiquidHub, a systems integrator and technology consultancy that works with businesses to improve customer engagement and drive growth, announced a $53 million investment led by private equity firm ChrysCapital in March. The investment supports LiquidHub’s development plans — including more strategic mergers and acquisitions (like the one with Foundry9 in October.)

SAUCE

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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After Starting 4 Businesses, College Entrepreneur Decides on Degree

December 10, 2014 | New York Times by John Grossman

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics.

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Why this 25-year-old moved to Philly to run her digital marketing startup

December 2, 2014 | Technical.ly by Juliana Reyes

Nadia James used to work at LinkedIn’s London office, running international social media campaigns for major corporations like Google, American Express, IBM and Chanel.

After nearly two years at the company, the 25-year-old realized that smaller companies couldn’t afford digital marketing advice from a place like LinkedIn. So she moved back home, to Northern New Jersey, and opened up her own shop.

Griot Digital, named for the word for a West African storyteller, serves customers like Rutgers University, SemperCon and Practice Unite.

Once James got her business off the ground, she started scoping out cities to move to. She found Philly last spring, right before Philly Tech Week, which she said sealed the deal for her. (Full, self-serving disclosure: Technical.ly organizes Philly Tech Week.)

Below, she explains how she went from apartment hunting in Fishtown to office hunting (in Fishtown) in just six months and what’s overwhelming about the local tech scene.

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New accelerator is solely for firms with a female founder

November 23, 2014 | Philadelphia Inquirer by Diane Mastrull

In Greek mythology, she is the goddess of war and wisdom. In Philadelphia’s University City, Athena is a more earthly vessel, taking shape to make warriors of female entrepreneurs.

DreamIt Athena is a rare business accelerator, exclusively for companies with at least one female founder.

Announced this month and accepting applications until Dec. 8 at https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/2015philly, the program to help women turn their ideas into fundable businesses with growth potential will launch in February with its first cycle of participants, a minimum of four companies. A second cycle is planned for spring 2016.

To qualify, applicants must have technology-based products or services with large market opportunity…

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Startup PHL Keeps Local Investments Flowing with New Angel Fund

November 14, 2014 | Flying Kite by Alaina Mabaso

On November 12 at Philadelphia’s Innovation Lab,PIDCFirst Round Capital and the City of Philadelphia announced the launch of the Startup PHL Angel Fund.

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, who spoke at the event, said that many people have asked him whether investments like this are a risk the City should be taking.

“The answer is simple,” he said, speaking to a large crowd of local startup leaders, packed with aspiring millennial entrepreneurs. To continue transforming Philadelphia into a notable draw for the country’s best ideas, “we cannot afford to do nothing.”

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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.

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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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