PhillyDeals: Apps a Phila. growth industry

September 23, 2013 | The Inquirer by Joseph N. Distefano

Amid the slow U.S. economy, writing software applications for iPhone and Android smartphones is a rare growth industry. Companies are spending big to follow their workers and customers into mobile apps, backed by remote (“cloud”) computer servers, just as they moved online by adding pioneer websites 20 years ago. Here are a few examples of Philadelphia software developers getting paid to go mobile:

Philly-built

John Guillaume moved his family to Philadelphia from Denver after Comcast Corp. bought New Global Telecom, where he was an executive, in 2010.

New Global was one of a group of companies – Center City-based Alteva Inc. is another – building “universal” phone-smartphone-Internet systems for small businesses. Comcast bought it to boost its small-business services.

Its new Comcast Business VoiceEdge apps, which tens of thousands of Comcast users have been downloading free in the last two months, were designed by New Global veterans – and built mostly by Comcast software developers in Philadelphia…

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Nutter welcomes Brand.com to new HQ in Center City Philadelphia

September 5, 2013 | WHYY Newsworks by Zack Seward

Want to look good online? That’s what Brand.com promises. On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter did his best to return the favor, welcoming the company to its new headquarters in Center City. Nutter took the opportunity to highlight his administration’s efforts to build up the Philly tech scene. “We are focused each and every day on companies like Brand.com and many, many others,” Nutter said, “to be in Philadelphia, to encourage their location or expansion and to do everything we can to improve the economy here in this city.”

That includes certain tax exemptions for startups as well as initiatives like StartUp PHL. Brand.com moved into the city from West Chester, Pa., in January, spending months deciding where to locate its corporate headquarters for keeps.

Nutter said the firm’s move is another sign that companies are cluing in to Philadelphia’s growing pool of tech talent. “There’s a tremendous amount of talent right here in the city,” Nutter said.

Brand.com president Michael Zammuto says that was a big reason why his company chose the Curtis Center at 6th and Walnut. The company is on a veritable hiring spree, he says, looking to add 100 workers over the next 12 months, including 30-40 in the next month or so.

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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.

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Project Liberty Digital Incubator Expanding, Accepting Applications

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania will use $345,000 from Knight Foundation to improve incubator and build investment opportunities

Project Liberty now accepting applications from startup and established digital media companies, due noon on August 30, 2013

Philadelphia – Project Liberty Digital Incubator, located in the heart of the nation’s fourth largest media market, will expand its program with $345,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

A project of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Project Liberty launched in 2011 to build a community of startups in Philadelphia and foster newsroom innovation. Since then, Ben Franklin has supported eight startups along with Interstate General Media LLC (IGM,) publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

Project Liberty was the first incubator in the nation to reside within a traditional media company, a model now followed by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and other media outlets.

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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…

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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.)…

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Old City Gets a Farmer’s Market

August 5, 2013 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Jeff Blumenthal

North 3rd Street has attracted so many technology businesses that workers have dubbed it N3rd — pronounced “nerd’ — Street. It has grown so much in recent years that East Falls-based East River Bank opened a branch on North 3rd Street last fall to cater to those businesses.

And starting Tuesday, the techies and their Old City neighbors are getting a farmer’s market. The N3RD Street Farmers Market will run every Tuesday from 2 pm to 7 pm on Church Street between American and 2nd streets in front of Christ Church.

The market was started by Christ Church and co-working space provider Indy Hall…

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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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Investors angle for ‘next big thing’ at DreamIt Health demo day

July 24, 2013 | Newsworks by Zach Seward

Ten startups, four months of mentorship and seven minutes to make their case.

Those were the numbers behind demo day at DreamIt Health—the region’s first-ever accelerator program for new companies trying to improve the health care system via personal technology.

Novel ideas:  It was a standing-room-only crowd of 300-plus at WXPN’s World Cafe Live in University City. About half of those in attendance came with checkbooks in tow, mostly East Coast investors watching the stage in hopes of spotting the next big thing…

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Enterprise Software Firm, Northpoint, Launches Center City Office

July 19, 2013 | Technically Philly by Christopher Wink

NorthPoint, the New York-based enterprise software company that specializes in the financial and digital sector, opened a Center City office last month in One Liberty.

To start, the office, which is the company’s third after Boston, will be a one-woman band. Debra Loggia (@debloggia) will be running the expansion with her sales and healthcare background. As she told Technically Philly recently on a breezy afternoon in University City earlier this month, she was most recently leading digital marketing at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, where she also had done her masters work in health policy.

That background may be one of her best assets for NorthPoint, which is widening its reach and the pharma, life sciences, hospital and other medical businesses that dot this region are in strong alignment.

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