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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.”

Watch Out Organovo! This “Most Innovative” 3D Bioprinting Startup Has You in its Crosshairs

April 29th, 2015 | The Motley Fool by Beth McKenna

Philadelphia-based start-up BioBots is aiming to shake up the human tissue engineering — or “3D bioprinting” — space by making its desktop 3D bioprinters available for only $5,000 to scientists, engineers, and medical professionals who qualify for its beta testing program.

This low-cost product strategy aims at putting bioprinters into the hands of as many professionals in the biotech and medical fields as possible. It has the potential to unleash a wave of innovation in the biotech world, and possibly catapult this upstart into the bigger leagues.

BioBots: Aiming to democratize the bioprinting world

BioBots was founded by several recent graduates of the University of Pennsylvania. Among a field of 48 finalists, whittled down from more than 500 entrants, the upstart from “Rocky’s” hometown knocked out the competition for “Most Innovative” honors at Oracle Corp.‘s South by Southwest 2015 Accelerator venture competition last month. SXSW has a reputation as a breeding ground for innovative new ideas in the tech realm.

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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.

It was a big winter for the first 3 startups in Project Liberty

April 1, 1015 | Technical.ly Philly by Juliana Reyes

At  the beginning of 2012, a Philly media company opened its doors to three startups.

It was an experiment: Could the legacy media company behind the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com invigorate the tech scene while also modernizing its own offerings? (The following year, the New York Times launcheda similar program.)

Four years later, Project Liberty, as its known, is in the middle of its sixth class of startups (they have yet to be announced). The program was initially funded for three cycles by a $250,000 Knight Foundation grant, which got renewed for $345,000 in the summer of 2013.

So, has the experiment succeeded? That remains to be seen, but here’s what we do know: those first three Project Liberty startups had a big winter, full of exits and fundraising. And at least two of them have had an impact on the region’s tech scene.

The startups — SnipSnapCloudMine and Versa — all joined Project Liberty fresh off completing DreamIt Ventures. (The DreamIt accelerator provided mentorship to the first three classes of Project Liberty and now, it supports the program “in any way that [it] can,” said DreamIt cofounder Steve Welch.)

This winter:

  • Center City couponing app SnipSnap was acquired by Toronto’s Slyce for $6.5 million. SnipSnap’s five employees are remaining in Philadelphia.
  • Center City mobile back-end CloudMine raised $5 million in a Series A led by local investorSafeguard Scientifics. CloudMine employs 16 and is currently hiring.
  • Sponsored content startup Versa, formerly known as ElectNext, was acquired by online petition site Change.org for an undisclosed amount. At the time of the acquisition, Versa no longer had a Philly presence. Its three staffers, including CEO Keya Dannenbaum, are joining Change.org.

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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.

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.”

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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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How this Philly Game Forge studio got its game on the front page of Sony’s PS4 network

Nearly four years after Sony first approached Final Form Games, the studio has just launched its “neoclassical” shooter, Jamestown+, for PlayStation4. It’s the second indie game built in Philly to make it to the platform.

March 18th, 2015 | Technical.ly Philly by Juliana Reyes

The story starts at the 2011 Penny Arcade Expo.

At PAX, as it’s known, the Philly team behind Final Form Games — brothers Mike Ambrogi Primo and Tim Ambrogi Saxon and developer Halsted Larsson (who recently left the company) — spent three days in Seattle showing off their PC game Jamestown, a multiplayer “neoclassical cooperative shoot-em-up” set on 17th-century British colonial Mars, at the biggest video game expo in North America.

The booth was completely free, their prize for being chosen as one of the “PAX10,” an indie game honor. That’s where they met Nick Suttner, a Sony account manager and the company’s unofficial indie game evangelist. Suttner was interested in Jamestown.

Back then, Sony had just started reaching out to indie game developers. Developer kits, industrial-strength PlayStations that you can plug into your computer and run live code on, were costly and barricaded by tough security measures. Suttner was excited enough about Jamestown that he got Final Form Games a PlayStation3 developer kit, but the team eventually decided it wasn’t the right time to pursue a PlayStation remake and shelved the project.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, in the thick of Sony’s aggressive indie game push, Final Form just launched Jamestown+ on PlayStation 4 last night as part of a spring PS4 indie promotion. Jamestown+ is one of eight games getting front-page play on PS4’s game network this season. This week only, you can get the game for $10.79 (it’s normally $11.99). Jamestown+ is the second Philly-built indie game to get released on PS4 (Cipher Prime’s Splice was the first).

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What Entrepreneurs Gain When They Venture Outside Of Silicon Valley

March 9, 2015 | forbes.com, by Leadnomics Founder Zach Robbins

As the founder of a Philadelphia-based startup, I’ve fielded the same question countless times as Leadnomics has grown: “Why haven’t you moved West?”Silicon Valley, along with other big startup hubs like New York and Chicago, has held the reputation as the most promising place to build a company — especially in tech — for decades.

However, recent trends among an increasingly large sector of youngentrepreneurs are redefining the optimal location to grow a company, making it even easier to answer the “Why not California?” question. As a result, a new model of startup hubs are popping up in what are considered “secondary markets” across the country, equipped with a set of advantages unique from Silicon Valley, many of which I have experienced first-hand…

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Mobile backend startup CloudMine picks up $5M

March 3, 2015 | Venture Beat by Jordan Novet

CloudMine, a startup that sells a cloud service for operating mobile apps and websites, is announcing today that it has picked up $5 million in new funding.

CloudMine offers several components for mobile developers to tap, including object storage, push notifications, load balancing, and mobile analytics. Such things can come in handy for companies that wish to build or expand their mobile presence but don’t wish to own the physical infrastructure for new apps to run on.

Of course, this area has proven interesting to investors, who have backed startups like Kidozen, Kii,and Kinvey, while enterprise software vendors have partnered with or even bought some startups with mobile backend services. Red Hat last year bought FeedHenry, for instance, while VMware relies on Kinvey’s service to deliver a mobile backend in its vCloud Air public cloud…

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