Here’s what city-backed fund StartUp PHL gets right, and what it needs to do next

StartupPHL has done a bang-up job supporting Philly startups, argues VeryApt CEO Ashrit Kamireddi.

August 1, 2016 | Technical.ly by Ashrit Kamireddi

Over the last few months, a lot has been said about the upcoming changes to StartupPHL and more broadly about city and state involvement in fostering an environment that supports local startup growth.

As a non Philly-native who chose Philadelphia as home for my company, VeryApt, and as a StartUp PHL portfolio company, I thought it would be helpful to give my perspective on the program: how it’s driven Philly’s tech ecosystem and how it can be even better the second time around.

Prior to raising a $270,000 angel round led by StartUp PHL, my two cofounders and I had just graduated from our respective grad programs and had placed 3rd in Wharton’s Business Plan Competition. We could have settled our company anywhere, with New York and San Francisco being the obvious choices. For a startup, the initial round of funding is where geography is most critical. Most angels don’t want to invest outside of their backyard, which explains the natural tendency for startups to relocate where there is the most capital.

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This young YouTube star launched a haircare startup for women of color

When Muhga Eltigani’s YouTube channel took off, her viewers kept asking how she made her hair products. So she decided to sell them.

July 18, 2016 | Technical.ly by Wafai Dias

Muhga Eltigani’s parents practically had a mid-life crisis when she told them she was going to work on her startup, NaturAll Club, full-time after finishing college.

They figured she would spend some time on it, then come back to her senses and enroll in law school since she had followed a pre-law track at the University of Pennsylvania. That’s the natural career path they expected her to take. As the first born daughter of Sudanese immigrants, the pressure for her to succeed was on.

But as Eltigani’s product drew in customers, her parents started to accept their daughter’s decision.

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City Hall is looking for ways the Internet of Things can improve city life

Philadelphia city government is launching a “Smart City Challenge” and issuing a call for ideas. Apply by Aug. 12.

July 18, 2016 | Technical.ly by Roberto Torres

Just the other day, at a press conference announcing Curalate as an official technology provider for the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Jim Kenney said he was glad to see the DNC take advantage of Philly’s tech resources.

Now city government is looking to harness some of that tech energy through the Smart City Challenge, an open call for ideas from citizens and experts on how the city can improve services and operations through tech. At this stage, the city is looking for ideas on how to leverage city assets — think streetlight poles and cell towers — through that elusive idea that is the internet of things (IoT).

City officials said in a press release that they hope to hear from technologists, telecommunications specialists, social entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, designers and general city enthusiasts working locally or internationally.

“We know the people of this city — in the neighborhoods and in the private sector — are steeped in great ideas, and this is an effort to tap into that wealth of creative thinking,” said Chief Administrative Officer Rebecca Rhynhart, who is overseeing the challenge. “Whatever your background, if you have an innovative idea on new uses for city assets, we want to hear from you.”

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This Comcast CTO wants to hire you. Here’s his pitch on Philly

The Philly tech scene is yours for the taking, says Comcast Cable CTO Sree Kotay. “You have lots of opportunities to shape, define and lead.”

July 13, 2016 | Technical.ly by Mike Bederka

When Sree Kotay left AOL in 2007 he told himself he didn’t want to move to another big company. The former senior vice president of technology had AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), web publishing, search and mail all under his purview, which led to a wealth of new knowledge. However, AOL’s corporate culture left him burnt out. He wanted to return to his startup roots.

Enter an unlikely savior: Comcast Cable Executive Vice President and Chief Network Officer John Schanz. Schanz had once worked at AOL and offered Kotay a promising pitch: Philadelphia has the startup vibe you are looking for.

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These 3 companies are coming to the Pennovation Center

The Grays Ferry innovation campus adds a robotics startup and two young healthtech companies.

June 30, 2016 | Technical.ly by Roberto Torres

Didn’t we say to expect more surprises from the Pennovation Center?

Since we told you Hershey Co. was going to be the inaugural corporate tenant at the 200,000-square-foot Grays Ferry space, three additional companies have been announced as upcoming members of the community.

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Maryland-based biotech startup gets ready for Philadelphia expansion

ImMAGE Biotherapeutics recently leased space at the University City Science Center.

June 27, 2016 | Technical.ly by Albert Hong

Instead of relying on cancer treatments (like chemotherapy) that often weaken the immune system, a new biotech startup is approaching the problem by making your body’s natural defenses stronger.

ImMAGE Biotherapeutics, founded in May 2015 with an office in Bethesda, Md., is currently working out of lab facilities at D.C.’s Howard University to develop a better treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. The company aims to use the body’s immune system to target a specific type of protein called MAGE-A…

“Our plan is to expand our research collaboration to Philadelphia and NYC universities as well as start building a regulatory team and business development team using talents from the Tri-state area, at which point we will be getting a full office in Philadelphia,” said ImMAGE COO Mahesh Narayanan, who grew up in Delaware County and earned a master’s in biotechnology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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4 things all women STEM grads should know before an interview

Demand respect, know what you’re worth and more advice that tech industry veteran Yvonne Chen wishes she knew when she was starting out.

June 24, 2016 | Technical.ly by Yvonne Chen

If you’re a recent female graduate in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, I have good news: now is one of the best times for you to get hired.

Yes, women are outnumbered by men in STEM fields. But you’re stepping into a workpool where opportunities and smart conversations about women in technology are happening, more than ever. I’ve seen forward-thinking companies, like Etsy and Slack, that recognize the value of a diverse workforce and that are trying ever harder to correct this imbalance. Meetups and organizations across the spectrum like Girl Develop It, Women Who Code and Women in Tech have sprung into being to help and grow women in technical spaces.

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City Council takes a stab at fixing procurement

It’s different than the Nutter administration’s FastFWD approach, but a new Bobby Henon proposal is meant to smooth over some of the same issues.

June 23, 2016 | Technical.ly by Roberto Torres

In 2014, the City of Philadelphia took a million dollars and devoted it to streamlining the procurement process. Why? Because how governments buy goods and services from the private sector can be clunky. …

Well, fast forward to now and city officials are taking another hack at procurement. And this time it’s City Council that’s getting wonky.

Councilman Bobby Henon introduced a bill last week that aims to help Philly small businesses.

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Here’s a new $200 million fund Philly healthcare startups should know about

The University City-based 1315 Capital is aiming to make investments of up to $20 million in promising life sciences companies.

June 15, 2016 | Technical.ly by Roberto Torres

As of today, there’s $200 million in fresh investment money looking for a new home. But you have to dream big. The funding is meant for companies that “have the potential to generate $100 million a year in revenue.”

So says University City-based 1315 Capital. The growth-equity firm announced Wednesday the closing of a $200 million fund aimed at commercial-stage pharma, medical and healthcare services companies.

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ROAR for Good makes Entrepreneur’s top wearables list

The University City-based company is gearing up for the release of its Athena “high-tech rape whistle.”

June 9, 2016 | Technical.ly by Roberto Torres

ROAR for Good, that wearable tech company we’ve been telling you about, just made Entrepreneur’s Top 10 in Wearable Wellness list.

After raising a $150,000 seed round last year, the company is gearing up for the release of its Athena product, a “high-tech rape whistle” that emits an alarm and alerts loved ones by text message at the touch of a button.

An Indiegogo campaign that closed last November raised an additional $300,000 toward the development of the product.

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