Going Geek: The Start-Ups

Is there a future Google in our midst? Not necessarily, but these 11 young tech companies could be laying the groundwork for a new Philly economy

MyYearBook Begun by siblings Catherine and Dave Cook in 2005, when they were 15 and 16 (they’re now 20 and 21), the New Hope company has raised $16.9 million from First Round Capital and Norwest Venture Partners.

Lifepages does actual yearbooks—online versions of official college and high-school editions. It’s close to signing major schools.   

Invite Media is a marketplace for online display ads, working with seed capital from First Round and Genacast.

ClickEquations, which helps companies market through search engines, was founded by a former fund manager for Safeguard-affiliated Internet Capital Group.

The guys from OpenHatch, a site where programmers show off their work, moved from Atlanta to headquarters at 47th and Baltimore in West Philly for the food trucks, claims co-founder Asheesh Laroia, 24.   

PackLate, a website that matches owners of resort rental properties with vacation travelers, started this year with a bang, nabbing $685,000 in funding from a trio of local firms.   

Digital mapping company Azavea has done just fine for 10 years without a dime of outside funding, says CEO Robert Cheetham, 41. Profitable, with $2.2 million in revenues and a staff of 28 at 12th and Callowhill (seriously!), the firm produces terrific websites for locating things on maps, including local projects for PhillyHistory.org and the Committee of Seventy.   

PlaySay, based here but launched with angel funding from Japan, creates iPod-based foreign-language-learning apps. Founder Ryan Meinzer, 26, says he uses only native speakers to prepare the lessons—he gets foreign exchange students to intern for free.   

 Notehall, born in 2008, is an online swapping post for college class notes. (Is that legal?) The company uprooted from Tucson to Manayunk after participating in the DreamIt program. Its latest funds are from local entrepreneur-turned-angel Gabriel Weinberg, 30.   

Founded by marketer Yasmine Mustafa, 28, 123LinkIt makes it easy to link advertising to words in your blog, so you can make some $ as your readers click.   

Music genius Greg Wilder, 37, went to IndyHall with software he’d concocted to analyze recorded music. The code jockeys there optimized the software, making it a viable product. Then Wilder hooked up with IndyHall member David Frigeri, 40, an experienced business exec. Now Orpheus Media Research has a magical product and is targeting the commercial music industry.

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