Philly EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist Pool Is Tech Heavy for the First Time

A few tech community EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 finalists for Greater Philadelphia. Clockwise L to R: Andrew Voudouris & Steve Voudouris of Turn5; Darren Hill of WebLinc; Yasmine Mustafa of ROAR for Good; David Lindsay of Oncora Medical; and Felicite Moorman of StratIS. 

Now in its 31st year, the coveted Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards boasts another impressive list of entrepreneurs, and in Philadelphia, the pool of finalists serves as a barometer of the city’s innovation landscape.

For 2017, 45 percent of the 45 finalists are in the tech sector, the largest representation of the industry yet. “We’ve seen a big shift this year to the tech sector,” Corinne Good, EY Entrepreneur of the Year program co-director for the Greater Philadelphia region told Philadelphia magazine, “And we believe the pool of finalists is directly connected to the activity and focus that our city government has on our startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Tech companies represented on the list include the Malvern-based after market auto parts e-commerce company Turn5, precision radiation oncology software platform Oncora Medical, and digital commerce solutions company WebLinc. This increased representation of tech entrepreneurs on the list makes sense. The region has created 25,000 new tech jobs since the early 2000s, and we’re likely to see as many as 44,000 new tech jobs in the region over the next decade, according to a new report from the Economy League.   Read more »

Meet the Queen of Airbnb in Philly

Jen Jordan is arguably Philadelphia’s busiest Airbnb host. She drives around the city — from Fishtown to Fairmount to South Philly — cleaning bathrooms, making beds and leaving tourism brochures on coffee tables. She carries a computer at all times so that she can respond to inquiries immediately. She also makes sure to get Airbnb notification alerts on her phone.

But there’s one thing that’s different about her — most of the properties she manages aren’t her own.

“I am definitely not the average Airbnb host. I’m doing it as a small business,” said Jordan. Two listings are under her Fishtown apartment — one for her couch ($25-$30 per night) and another for the entire house ($110-$150 per night). When she rents out her entire place, she stays with family or friends. Read more »

Meet the CEO Who Turned His Love of Data Into One of Philly’s Most Successful Startups

Robert Moore, CEO of RJ Metrics.

Robert Moore, CEO of RJ Metrics.

What started in 2008 with two data geeks in a stinking hot, non-air conditioned attic in Collingswood, N.J., has blossomed into a business with 120 employees in a slick space on the 15th floor of a Center City high rise. When co-founders Robert Moore and Jake Stein started RJMetrics, they never dreamed they’d have employees playing ping-pong during down time, gain $22 million in investment capital, and become one the Philly startup scene’s leading voices.

The company’s mission is simple: Offer a data analytics platform designed to empower online businesses make smarter decisions. RJMetrics takes a company’s fragmented data, places it into one centralized data warehouse and then offers analysis to help clients better understand how their business is performing. In today’s era of Big Data, RJMetrics has carved itself a very profitable niche. Read more »

Most Co-Founder Marriages End in Divorce



Sometimes business divorces happen over office locations, sometimes things get tense when your frozen yogurt co-founder gets arrested for assault, and, sometimes co-founders split when one of them wins the lottery, even though most of you say you wouldn’t. It happens enough that co-founder speed-dating is a business.

Imagine this: It’s last call at the local pub, and you’ve spent the past hour talking about this great new business idea with Jolene on the barstool next to you. You keep working at it. The idea no longer fits on a cocktail napkin, but it’s also not ready for prime time. Congratulations — you are now business-married to Jolene for that idea. Read more »

Military Veterans Turned Entrepreneurs Have Space of Their Own in Philly

Dan Tobon, a veteran entrepreneur at the grand opening of The Bunker. (Comcast Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

Dan Tobon, a veteran entrepreneur at the grand opening of The Bunker. (Comcast Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

Dan Tobon sees plenty of similarities between his time in the Army and his new life as an entrepreneur. The founder of Starchup – basically a GrubHub for laundry and dry-cleaning — Tobon said both groups attract risk takers who think on their feet, solve abstract problems and have a unique ability to stay calm in stressful situations.

“Being an entrepreneur and being a veteran are very similar,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s very cool, but would not do it themselves.” Read more »

5 Things I Learned at the Philly New Technology Meetup

Sharing a launch at the Philly New Technology Meetup's College Demo Night.

Sharing a launch at the Philly New Technology Meetup’s College Demo Night.

As the founding editor of BizPhilly, I’m finding myself at more and more tech meetups. They’re generally a good time with food, beers and lots of smart young people. In fact, watching college entrepreneurs pitch businesses at last night’s Philly New Technology Meetup, I couldn’t help but feel like a slacker. Why didn’t I start a business in college? Was I too busy drinking beer and watching reruns of The Simpsons?

At the tech meetup last night at Quorum at the University City Science Center, nine college entrepreneurs delivered spitfire demos of their new products, many of which looked sleek, cool and scalable.

Read more »

Do I Start a Business or Get a Job? Sage Advice from Stephen Tang

Stephen Tang, CEO of the University City Science Center.

Stephen Tang, CEO of the University City Science Center.

Excited about Philly’s innovation boom over the last five or 10 years? Well the University City Science Center has been funding entrepreneurs and advancing innovation for 52 years.

Under the same roof on 37th and Market Streets, there are scientists working on treatments for Ebola, blood sensors to detect heart attacks and cancer, and beer tests to prevent spoilage. It’s a place where early-stage companies can get free space, free coffee, free wifi, and connect with other entrepreneurs and startups. It’s also happens to be the oldest and largest urban research park in the country.

Read more »

Benjamin’s Desk Opens The 8th Floor


Benjamin’s Desk celebrated innovation last week with a cocktail party on “The 8th Floor,” its new work and party space at 1701 Walnut Street. Benjamin’s Desk is a coworking space for mobile professionals, entrepreneurs and startups on Rittenhouse Row.

Individuals and companies can rent space at the Desk  from $99 a month to $1,100 plus for full-size companies. The atmosphere is similar to a think tank, with lots of people from different companies working alongside each other. At any given time conversations and ideas can flow from one work station to another, and a new innovative idea is born.

The newly-acquired eighth floor will welcome the first “smart-space” in Philadelphia, featuring Nest thermostats, seven flat-screens, Philips Hue lighting and streaming video, all of which can be controlled by an iPad. The space can be rented for events to outside vendors. Eventually it will have a roof deck.

More of HughE’s photos from Benjamin’s Desk after the jump »

ThinkFest Video: Josh Kopelman

The growing start-up community in Philadelphia is a major point of interest in this interview with First Round Capital founding partner, Josh Kopelman, and Philadelphia magazine editor, Tom McGrath.

Spending 25 years in Philly, Kopelman feels that it is not until recently that he considered Philadelphia a place where he works in addition to a place where he lives. He explains why within the past 5 years, Philly has taken a turn for the better and become a competitor in the financial ecosystem. Kopelman also asks young entrepreneurs their opinions on starting a business in Philadelphia, and shares a story about how his undergraduate office manager got his company a free photocopier for a year.