Philly’s Coolest Companies 2015

These 20 companies have dynamic leaders, innovative projects and disruptive corporate cultures.

Seer Interactive CEO Wil Reynolds.

Seer Interactive CEO Wil Reynolds. (Photo by Nell Hoving)

With dynamic leaders, innovative projects, disruptive corporate cultures and inspiring environments, Philly’s Coolest Companies are pushing the city’s work scene forward — and changing the way we do business.

It took months for our staff to determine which companies made the list. We sought nominations and received hundreds of applications. We also asked key contacts in a multitude of industries for their top picks. In that process, we found plenty of amazing companies with great workspaces, awesome people and killer perks — like unlimited vacation and private chefs. That made whittling the list of companies down to 20 no easy task, as there were many strong contenders that didn’t make the list. 

Here we present our first edition of Philly’s Coolest Companies. Interested in nominating your company for next year? Email editor Jared Shelly (jshelly@phillymag.com) for more information.

160over90

Industry: Branding/advertising
Location: Center City
Employees: 133

Artists at 160over90.

Artists at 160over90.

In the branding game, you don’t get clients like Under Armour, Ferrari and Nike without being bold. 160over90 isn’t about winning creative awards or developing wacky publicity stunts; it’s about creating work that moves people emotionally (see: the viral Philadelphia Eagles hype videos narrated by Bradley Cooper and Brian Dawkins). The company offers benefits like volunteer service leave, a lax dress code, free dinner if you work past 8 p.m., and time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day.


AmerisourceBergen

Industry: Health-care solutions
Location: Chesterbrook
Employees: 16,000 (900 locally)

AmerisourceBergen's Conshohocken office (Photo by Christopher Leaman)

AmerisourceBergen’s Conshohocken office (Photo by Christopher Leaman)

At number 16 on the Fortune 500 list, AmerisourceBergen is one of Philadelphia’s largest companies. By providing distribution services, generic medicines, over-the-
counter products and equipment to hospitals and pharmacies, it handles some 30 percent of the world’s pharmaceuticals and rakes in $120 billion in revenue a year. Employees here seem almost too happy, thanks to perks like tuition reimbursement, dry cleaning, fitness classes and car-wash services, plus monthly kaffeeklatsches with the CEO.


Comcast

Industry: Media and technology
Location: Center City
Employees: 139,000 (8,000 locally)

Comcast-center-daylight-jeff-fusco-940-full

Insert your cable horror story here and then get over it, because the truth is that Comcast is Philadelphia’s Google/Amazon/Facebook. This company is almost always growing (don’t dismiss those rumors about a third skyscraper), is on the forefront of new technology, has an endless product catalog, and is dedicated to helping local start-ups thrive (not to mention that its NBCUniversal is having one of the best years of any movie studio in history). Among the perks: Employees get free (FREE!) cable and Internet.


Curalate

Industry: Digital marketing
Location: Center City
Employees: 94 (46 locally)

The Curalate team is "hustlin."

The Curalate team is “hustlin.”

Curalate may only be three years old, but it’s quickly becoming the go-to place for businesses hoping to tell their stories, connect with customers, and make sales through visual digital platforms like Pinterest. The company was the first to make Instagram shoppable, via its “Like2Buy” button, which was conceived at an all-night internal hackathon. Curalate has grown by 75 percent in the past year and is adding more employees; the impressive client roster includes Gap, Urban Outfitters and Martha Stewart Living. All this success is probably why they like to have fun. There’s a spirit week during which they hand out awards like “Most Likely to Get Into a Bar Fight.”


Evolve IP

Industry: Cloud services and communications
Location: Wayne
Employees: About 180

The folks at EvolveIP.

The folks at EvolveIP.

Evolve IP takes a company’s desktops, call centers, servers and phone systems to the cloud — one of the hottest areas in tech right now. Despite playing in the same field as behemoths like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, Evolve IP has grown more than 170 percent in the past three years, has more than 1,300 clients (big names include Virgin and Christian Dior), is expecting to finish 2015 with $70 million in revenue, and plans to add up to 80 more employees over the next two years.


Fame House

Industry: Digital marketing
Location: Center City
Employees: 43

A video game break for employees at Fame House.

A video game break for employees at Fame House.

With a client list that reads like a lineup of Grammy performers — Eminem, Tiësto, Pearl Jam, Ice Cube, Robin Thicke, Maroon 5 — Fame House has become a central hub for entertainers and event promoters looking to interact with fans on a smart digital level. By controlling branding, social marketing, website development, online advertising and e-commerce for its clients, Fame House has reached more than one billion people collectively. (The festival tickets and Mario Kart tournaments just make the job even more fun.)


Franklin Square Capital Partners

Industry: Financial services
Location: Navy Yard
Employees: 286

Franklin Square

Franklin Square Capital Partners employees getting some exercise outside of the company’s sprawling Navy Yard HQ.

A national leader in the investment industry, with $15.7 billion under management, Franklin Square Capital Partners offers high-paying financial-services jobs, professional training and development, and ample opportunity for upward and lateral mobility. It’s growing at an amazing clip: In 2009 it had 15 employees; now it has 286 and is adding more. Housed in a sweet $24.3 million Navy Yard office building surrounded by green space, employees have access to full-time trainers, a nutritionist, car detailing and more.


Independence Blue Cross

Industry: Health insurance
Location: Center City
Employees: 9,000 (3,500 locally)

The IBX crew at the Indego Bike Share launch.

The IBX folks at the Indego Bike Share launch.

Independence Blue Cross is building its business on health-care-related engagement. How? They’re putting $50 million in seed money toward companies that incubate and create innovative health-care ideas or products (two examples: DreamIt Health business accelerator and CareCam’s health app). They do a ton of outreach to Philadelphians, and employees get paid time off for volunteer work, wellness rewards and continuing-education support.


La Colombe Torrefaction

Industry: Coffee roasting and retail
Location: Fishtown
Employees: About 280 (177 in Philadelphia)

La Colombe is putting its rum and draft coffee to good use.

Inside the La Colombe rum distillery.

Led by dynamic, innovative CEO Todd Carmichael, La Colombe is on a quest to go from regional powerhouse to global household name. The company plans to build 100 cafes across the country in the next five years and will soon release its new one-of-a-kind draft canned lattes to the nation. But with dedication to a high-quality product, a focus on good design and a personality-driven workforce, it still maintains the air of a place where entrepreneurial employees can get ahead. (Or maybe that’s all the free coffee talking.)


MSC Retail

Industry: Real estate advisory and brokerage
Location: Rittenhouse Square
Employees: 26

The MSC offices.

The MSC offices.

MSC is part real estate broker and part neighborhood-maker, and one of the local forces behind Philadelphia’s surging market. The company is hired by retailers, builders and universities around the country to place the right kinds of businesses (i.e., hip ones like Saxbys, Federal Donuts and hotels) to create vibrant neighborhoods.


Power Home Remodeling Group

Industry: Construction
Location: Chester
Employees: 1,500 (500 in PA)

Power Homer Remodeling co-CEOs Corey Schiller and Asher Raphael.

Power Homer Remodeling co-CEOs Corey Schiller and Asher Raphael. (Photo by Nell Hoving.)

Fueled by a workforce that’s 84 percent millennials — including its co-CEOs — the nation’s second-largest residential exterior remodeling company is anything but run-of-the-mill. Employees get a kick-start to their careers because they’re encouraged to try different roles and have the opportunity to advance quickly. Unabashedly based in Chester, the company has been growing at a breakneck pace: It’s projecting $400 million in revenue for 2015, up from $172 million in 2012. They pay out, too: Remodeling consultants make $60,000 to $100,000 a year, and top-performing sales reps make approximately $300,000. Fortune magazine ranked it the number one “Best Place to Work for Millennials” in the country.


QVC

Industry: Retail
Location: West Chester
Employees: 17,000 (2,800 locally)

Mike George, CEO of QVC.

Mike George, CEO of QVC.

While TV home shopping seems like something the Internet age would have chewed up and spit out, QVC continues to thrive. (It’s an $8.8 billion empire.) Growth is only helped by a fast-paced environment, a modern campus, and an affiliation with Lori Greiner of Shark Tank that positions the company as a place where entrepreneurs succeed.


RevZilla

Industry: E-commerce
Location: Navy Yard
Employees: 177 (160 locally)

Anthony Bucci, CEO of RevZilla.

Anthony Bucci, CEO of RevZilla, where awesome motorcycles are just part of the fun.

RevZilla has made huge leaps of late, adding 80 employees in 2015, bringing in $75 million in revenue in 2014 (they’re projected to top that by 30 percent this year), and reaching 158,000-plus YouTube subscribers, all thanks to selling high-end parts, equipment and apparel to a vibrant community of motorcycle owners. (The company’s focus is on providing outstanding customer service.) They’re the epitome of cool: Their swank Navy Yard offices have Ducatis, BMWs and Triumphs parked outside, free lunches, yoga sessions, beer meetings, giveaways and a bike-loving workforce.


RJMetrics

Industry: Business analytics software service
Location: Center City
Employees: 115

Robert Moore, CEO of RJ Metrics.

Robert Moore, CEO of RJ Metrics, home of a sweet mural and lots of data geeks. (Photo by Jared Shelly)

From humble beginnings in a sweaty attic in Collingswood, RJMetrics has developed into one of the region’s most successful and fast-growing start-ups. How? It created a user-friendly and comprehensive platform that lets businesses analyze data (like marketing campaigns and e-commerce) to make faster and better decisions. All of that has gotten the business $24 million in investment capital, put it on pace for a $1 billion IPO, and made founders Jake Stein and Robert Moore rock stars in the local start-up scene. Employees get a stock-option plan, flexible scheduling, unlimited vacation, and 100 percent company-paid health insurance.


Scholly

Industry: Technology and education
Location: Center City
Employees: 10

Scholly CEO Christopher Gray during his appearance on Shark Tank.

Scholly CEO Christopher Gray during his appearance on Shark Tank.

Christopher Gray is unstoppable these days. In the span of one week this fall, his app, Scholly, was awarded two separate $100,000 investments: one from Steve Case (AOL founder and angel investor extraordinaire) and the other from the StartUp PHL angel fund. This is in conjunction with the $40K he secured from a turn on ABC’s Shark Tank last winter and the press he got by partnering with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which provides the app to 275,000 students across America. The attention — and inevitable growth — is well deserved. Scholly is a smartphone app that helps college students easily find scholarship funds, giving them access to the hundreds of millions of scholarship dollars that go unused each year.


Seer Interactive

Industry: Digital marketing
Location: Northern Liberties
Employees: 104 (82 locally)

Seer Interactive CEO Wil Reynolds.

Seer Interactive CEO Wil Reynolds. (Photo by Nell Hoving)

At a time when getting to the top of a Google search can make or break a business, Seer has established itself as one of the best search-engine-optimization shops around. Founded in 2002 by Wil Reynolds, the company employs tricks of the trade that have brought a boom of clients in the past five years; Reynolds has added some 70 employees since 2011. Growth hasn’t compromised his mission to create an environment centered on learning, support and philanthropy. The company offers unlimited paid time off (including time off to volunteer) and a generous parental-leave package.


SEI Investments

Industry: Finance
Location: Oaks
Employees: 2,772

Al West, chairman and CEO of SEI Investments.

Al West, chairman and CEO of SEI Investments.

SEI has a unique approach to corporate hierarchy — it hates it. Titles and offices don’t exist here; instead, all employees get the exact same desks, equipped with wheels, that they can move anywhere. That creates an environment where everybody’s ideas and opinions count and people at all levels of the organization have access to top leaders. (The campus is also legendary for its avant-garde art collection.) Standout benefits include a comprehensive wellness program and on-site newborn daycare for parents returning from leave.


Susquehanna International Group

Industry: Finance and technology
Location: Bala Cynwyd
Employees: 1,800 (1,100 locally)

Poker is part of the job at SIG.

Poker is part of the job at SIG.

Working at Susquehanna isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you can hang in a fast-paced, results-driven, work hard/play hard environment, you can make a handsome living and earn some serious perks. The company does stock trading and quantitative research and even built its own trading software, and when it comes to talent, it’s known for going after the best and the brightest. (Employees partake in poker tournaments so they can learn decision-making strategies.)


Victory Brewing Co.

Industry: Beer
Location: Downingtown
Employees: 342

A look at the extensive tap selection at Victory's Kennett Square brewpub.

A look at the extensive tap selection at Victory’s Kennett Square brewpub.

What started as a microbrewery has turned into a regional industry leader that delivers 125,000 barrels of beers like Hop Devil and Golden Monkey a year to 34 states and countries that include Australia, Germany, Italy and Japan. Victory used the fruits of its labor to open a 260,000-square-foot facility in Parkesburg, has plans to expand its brewpub locations, and is committed to sustainability. Always innovating thanks to dynamic leaders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, Victory was the first brewery to partner with Invisible Sentinel, a company providing handheld tests for certain types of bacteria that spoil beer.


Villa

Industry: Retail
Location: Center City
Employees: About 1,200 (250 locally)

Team members at a Villa store in Philly.

Team members at a Villa store in Philly.

Villa might be one of many chain stores selling clothes and sneakers, but its authentic dedication to building and fostering a community hub puts it a cut above. (In fact, it considers itself a “New Age barbershop.”) Customers get access to Macs and free Internet at the stores. It offers sneakers for good grades and allows local designers to take part in the “Home Sewn” program to potentially sell their wares. Employees are often chosen from neighborhoods near each location, and community service is a major part of the company culture.

RELATED: Philly Companies With the Best Employee PerksPhilly’s Coolest Offices

Published as “Philly’s Coolest Companies” in the November 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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  • Hey Now

    This listicle is probably the most useless of them all. For Comcast… it’s cool because? You get free cable and it’s a monstrously large company? Sounds so “COOL” Shelly! Great job!

    • Jared Shelly

      It’s the Google/Amazon/Microsoft of Philly. Developing and releasing new technology all the time. I frequently write about frustrations with customer service but the fact remains, it’s an innovative company that treats employees very well.

  • http://charliethemarketer.com/who-am-i/ CharlieSeymourJr

    Wil Reynolds is one of the sharpest guy’s I’ve met. And three cheers for Victory Brewing – been to two of their places and they’re terrific!

    • Wil Reynolds

      @CharlesSeymourJr:disqus Thank you buddy. Trying to do our part to make this city proud.

  • Giuseppe Armstrong

    So much is wrong with this article. Promoting a company like Comcast is nothing but pandering to advertisers. Many of these companies are in the insurance/financial services; I find nothing amazing about gauging people for medicine, or simply taking it as a large investment firm. The other companies? Big deal, they make Youtube videos. When this dotcom bubble 2.0 bursts, they’ll all be gone.

    • http://instagram.com/BrendanLowry Brendan Lowry

      If YouTube doesn’t exist, I don’t want to exist either. So that’s fine by me.

    • Mike Strong

      Says the guy who probably works at Pep Boys.

    • K&A

      “When this dotcom bubble 2.0 bursts, they’ll all be gone.” Lol, thanks for the in-depth financial analysis.

  • Epic Careering

    And if you want to know how to get hired by 3 of these companies, read this Philly Magazine article: http://ow.ly/TLKHL

  • http://www.brickellprincess.com/ Brickell Princess

    More than likely, these companies paid to get on this list. This reads more like a pathetic attempt at improving a sour corporate image and improve deplorable employee engagement numbers. If you want the truth, head on over to GlassDoor. Those reviews will show you who’s cool or not!

    • Jared Shelly

      That is completely untrue. Nobody pays to get on this list or any other list published by Philly Mag. We worked for months to determine which companies offer the best perks and have the coolest projects to work on. Also, we used Glassdoor as a resource quite a bit during this process.

    • DVM790

      As I said in an above post. I worked for a couple companies on this list. I can tell you I don’t believe they paid to be on lists like this. What they did do…they would go out of their way to make it known they were up for consideration on a list like this. You would get reminders to take a survey so that others could be aware of what a great company you worked for; so that others could be aware of the opportunities available to them at the company you work for…etc. (not saying that’s what this is…I’m self employed, and wouldn’t have a clue as to the goings-on at these places now)

      I always thought of it as a recruitment tool. It seemed that being on a list like this was a way to attract new heads (fresh out of school) at a cheap rate via being a ‘hip place to work”…when in reality, it’s pretty much the same as everywhere else.

  • Jawny Bravo

    Actually worked for two (2) companies on this list.

    Can’t say I’m missing either.

  • Jessica Monteith

    Philadelphia is such a bustling hub for up and coming companies, and I believe this article partially missed the mark. The real estate/marketing companies were over-represented, and there was no mention of the biotech scene in Philadelphia. Our city is home to a great deal of scientific innovation and we should be highlighting that.

  • MichaelJ

    Agree with the majority of comments… This is a joke. Companies calling themselves “cool” is like the bully running around the playground saying he’s the smartest kid in school. Shameless self promotion if you ask me. Like Jawny said, visit Glassdoor.com if you want the real deal. “Cool” companies don’t need to brag.

  • A2er

    An amazing array of con artists. Comcast?! Crooks and liars. PowerHRG – more of the same – slick con artists. Sell stuff you won’t do at inflated prices and disappear.