There’s a New Online Business Selling Greeting Cards Crafted by Philly Women Artists

Images courtesy of Groundswell Greetings.

Images courtesy of Groundswell Greetings.

Chances are the last time you walked down the greeting cards aisle of your local grocery store you didn’t see cards for Holi, Ramadan, or Rosh Hashanah. And there were probably no cards to celebrate a gay marriage.

Enter Groundswell Greetings. The Philly e-commerce startup has been up and running for just three weeks now and wants to add some Philly flair to the $8 billion domestic greeting cards industry that’s still dominated by companies of generations past like Hallmark and American Greeting.

“The cards in the aisle at the local grocery store don’t appeal to millennials and the modern-day shopping experience,” Groundswell Greetings CEO Ali Moore told me. Last year, Moore was on Comcast’s user experience research team, and back then, her day-to-day was all about boosting the e-commerce experience for Comcast customers. But in December, she walked away from her gig with the telecom giant to launch Groundswell Greetings, which offers a very different kind of e-commerce experience.  Read more »

Verizon Open to a Merger Talk With Comcast

Images via Flickr.

Images via Flickr.

“Comcast Verizon NBCUniversal” just might become a thing at some point in the future. Don’t believe me? Here’s what Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam told Bloomberg recently: “If Brian came knocking on the door, I’d have a discussion with him about it.”

McAdam is referring to Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts.

A merger between Comcast and Verizon would drastically reformat the media and telecommunications world that’s already in flux. AT&T has moved to acquire Time Warner Inc. and Verizon has already swallowed up AOL and Yahoo’s internet assets. And Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal happened only six years ago. Read more »

Vanguard Tax Whistleblower’s Case Should Be Reconsidered, Appeals Court Rules

Image via Instagram.

Image via Instagram.

Former Vanguard Group tax lawyer David Danon, who filed a whistleblower suit against the company after being fired in 2013, just got a ruling in his favor.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled last week that the federal court in Philadelphia should reconsider Danon’s complaint that he was fired by Vanguard in retaliation for “blowing the whistle” on what he alleges are the Malvern-based mutual-fund giant’s federal and state income tax underpayments, the Inquirer reports. Read more »

White People Own Nearly 4 Out of 5 Businesses in Philadelphia

Pew Charitable Trusts released its annual “State of the City” report this month, which gives us a snapshot of Philadelphia’s progress in categories like the economy, education, housing and the arts.

In its ninth year, the report found that Philly is still battling some long-term problems like unemployment and poverty. But Pew also found that the Philadelphians they surveyed believed the city was moving in the right direction, and more respondents believed this than in any other year of the survey.

Here are seven business-community related takeaways from Pew’s report:

Read more »

Accelerator Exclusively for Women Business Owners to Launch in Philly

Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock

Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock

Her Corner, a Washington D.C.-based accelerator created by women business owners for women business owners, will open its second program in Philadelphia this year.

The organization, led by founder and CEO Frédérique Irwin, and president and COO Kimberly Berger, a Penn and Wharton alumna, is also an international peer group and membership organization that has more than 800 members, the Business Journal reports (paywall). They’re bringing this community to Philly to give women the support and resources they need to grow their businesses.

According to the organization, there are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the country that employ about 9 million people and generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenue, but between 2007 and 2016, women-owned-firms increased by 45 percent, compared to just a 9 percent increase among all businesses. Her Corner took this as a signal that women are great at creating businesses but need help growing and sustaining them.  Read more »

Does Every Child Need to Learn to Code?

BSD’s Christopher Geary at the company’s Bryn Mawr HQ. Photo by Gene Smirnov.

BSD’s Christopher Geary at the company’s Bryn Mawr HQ. Photo by Gene Smirnov.

Christopher Geary doesn’t look as tired as he ought to. In the past week he’s met with educators who run private schools in Beijing and then some school leaders in Hong Kong, where he lives, and just this morning in late March with the headmaster of Hill Top Prep in Rosemont. He logged 286,000 air miles last year and doesn’t seem to be cutting back. Right now, at least he’s sitting in one place — the little reception area of his company, in its year-old American headquarters in the back of the Rosemont Square shopping center on Lancaster Avenue. He’s with Ashley Govberg of the Philadelphia jewelry-store Govbergs, who have become Geary’s business partners here. Their company is BSD Code + Design Academy, which was set up first in Asia and now is here to teach computer coding to our schoolchildren. The company holds classes and camps at its clubhouse of an office suite, sends a small staff out to teach at a growing number of local schools, and develops curricula for private- and public-school teachers to use.

One thing Geary does look is like a hipster: He’s dressed in black, with thick-rimmed glasses, scraggly Johnny Depp facial hair, and a man bun tied behind his head. But the hipster tag doesn’t quite fit. Raised by parents who toted him around Asia and educated him in Britain, he speaks with the kind of English boarding-school accent that sounds refined and exotic in Philadelphia. Geary, who’s 34, has a law degree. He’s written for the Huffington Post about the ethics of shark fin soup. With his wife, in Hong Kong, he owns a jewelry business concerned with “ethical sourcing” of metals and gems. He technical-dives off the coast of Indonesia. (Technical is deeper and more dangerous than recreational scuba.) He trains in martial arts in Hong Kong (really, the place you want to do it). Read more »

A Swanky Escape Room Is Coming to Center City

A scene from Escape Entertainment's New York location. Image courtesy of Escape Entertainment.

A scene from Escape Entertainment’s New York location. Image courtesy of Escape Entertainment.

The next wave of escape rooms has apparently arrived, and Escape Entertainment says it’s at the forefront of evolution. The company, headquartered in New York with a location in London, will open its doors in Philly next week.

Founded by a group of former executives from companies like McKinsey, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America, Escape Entertainment says it’s geared toward corporate team building.

“When I first heard about live escape games, I was impressed by the enthusiasm for the activity but it also seemed that the market was in pretty early stages of evolution,” said Escape Entertainment founder and managing partner Bradley Albright. “It seemed there was an opportunity to adapt the concept to have a greater purpose than entertainment.”  Read more »

Q&A: How Comcast May Still Sell Your Online Data Even Though It’s Promised Not To

Image courtesy of the Wharton School.

Kevin Werbach. Image courtesy of the Wharton School.

Last month, Congress voted to repeal landmark online privacy rules written by the Obama administration. The rules, which were scheduled to take effect this year, required Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to get permission before collecting and sharing customers’ online information.

The repeal sent consumers into frenzy — is Comcast telling advertisers what I searched for on Internet last night and making a profit off of it? What protections do I actually have? And though Comcast, AT&T and other ISPs have released statements saying they won’t sell people’s information, how long will these pledges endure?

Now that we’re somewhat removed from the immediate outcry over the repeal, Biz Philly sat down with Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor Kevin Werbach for his take on the state of online privacy. Werbach weighs in on what the repeal means for everyday Philadelphians and what Internet privacy might look like a few years from now. He also tells us why the repeal puts Comcast in the best position compared to all of the other telecom giants.  Read more »

Kudos for a One-Man Community Development Corporation

Chestnut Villa at 40th and Chestnut streets, the building that launched Brooks on his real estate career. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Chestnut Villa at 40th and Chestnut streets, the building that launched Brooks on his real estate career. | Photos: Sandy Smith

For many years, the nicest building at the intersection of 40th and Chestnut streets in University City was the one with the sign reading “Chestnut Villa” on top of it. Neat and tidy, with crimson awnings over its storefront windows, it was a signal that at least one person cared about this sometimes-bedraggled crossroads on the fringe of the University of Pennsylvania campus.

The crimson awnings are still there, and it’s still neat as a pin. But redevelopment has caught up with it: across Chestnut from the Villa now rises a slick postmodern tower, the Brawer & Hauptman-designed Hub on Chestnut.

So Chestnut Villa’s owner, Ronald Brooks, has decided to renovate the building he has owned for the past 40 years to reflect the changed face of its surroundings. To mark the occasion, many of the other people whose lives and businesses he has helped fix up turned out to pay homage to him on Tuesday (April 11th) in a currently vacant storefront in his building. Read more »

Chamber of Commerce Votes Against Philadelphia Tax Reform Plan

A coalition of city business and political leaders led by Center City District President and CEO Paul Levy and Brandywine Realty Trust President and CEO Gerard Sweeney have long called for the city to lower its business and wage taxes to create more jobs. Under the Levy-Sweeney plan, they city would increase the property tax rate exclusively on commercial real estate, leaving residential tax rates alone, essentially putting a down payment on the city’s jobs growth. And last year, state lawmakers even moved toward altering the state constitution to let Philly levy taxes in this way.

While the tax overhaul plan has garnered support from Mayor Kenney and organizations like the African American and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Dougherty’s Local 98, and SEIU 32BJ, City Council President Darrell Clarke remains an adversary of the plan and now the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce recently voted to oppose SB 41, the bill that would alter Pennsylvania’s uniformity clause to let Philly tax commercial and residential properties at different rates as long as it matches the increase with a reduction in the wage and business taxes. Read more »

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