Philly, Vote Now to Bring Back Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Tour

Steve Case (center) with Curalate co-founder and CTO Nick Shiftan (left) and Curalate co-founder and CEO Apu Gupta (right). Image via Twitter.

AOL co-founder Steve Case is bringing his Rise of the Rest tour back, and Philadelphia has another big opportunity to be in the campaign’s spotlight.

Case’s team has launched #BringBackTheBus, an effort to bring the tour back to one past Rise of the Rest city. That means 26 cities, including Philadelphia, are in the running to bring Steve Case back as part of the upcoming 6.0 Tour.

The bus tour visited Philly in 2015 and gave the city’s startup scene some deserved national attention. The tour’s mission is to amplify cities like Philadelphia that have bustling entrepreneurial scenes that aren’t widely recognized like Silicon Valley or New York. According to Case, cities like Philly will rise with continued support from investors and the media.  Read more »

Guru Lands $9.3M in Latest Funding Round

L to R: Guru CEO and co-founder Rick Nucci and Guru CTO and co-founder Mitch Stewart.

Guru is having a great 2017. On Wednesday, the startup — which turned two at the beginning of the month — announced that it secured an impressive $9.3 million in Series A funding. And the round brought in a new investor — Emergence Capital —and included previous investors FirstMark Capital, which led the startup’s $2.7 million seed round, and also MSD Capital, Michael Dell’s personal investment fund.

Founded by serial entrepreneurs Rick Nucci (CEO) and Mitchell Stewart (CTO), the startup says it’ll use the new funding to build out machine learning-based coaching capabilities for its customers that now include big names like Shopify, Square, Dell, Airbnb,, InVision and Procore.  Read more »

Q&A: Yasmine Mustafa on ROAR for Good’s Athena Product Launch

Courtesy photos.

Philly startup ROAR for Good has been snatching headlines and wallets for the past two years, and now the startup’s highly anticipated first product — the Athena — has officially made its way into the hands of consumers.

Remember when cofounders Yasmine Mustafa and Anthony Gold crowdfunded a whopping $267,000 in 30 days for the product back in 2015? Now, two years later, with the window for pre-orders coming to a close this week, the company again has some fascinating numbers to share. In a week, Athena will have its official out of preorder launch when it’ll retail for $129 up from its $99 promotional price.

If you need a refresher on the device, here’s a short video:

BizPhilly caught up with ROAR for Good CEO Yasmine Mustafa for more insight on the launch, a new local partnership, and what’s on the horizon for the startup. And though the company says it’s getting tons of good feedback on Athena, Mustafa shares some challenges the company continues to face.

Read more »

Too Busy for Online Dating? New Philly Startup Will Swipe for You

Image courtesy of Wingman

There isn’t a lot that the duo behind Wingman, the dating startup launched this month in Philadelphia, will let their customers know about them.

“It plays into the culture of the service,” they say of their anonymity.

What “J” and “B” will tell you is that during their four years at the University of Pennsylvania (well, they’ll share the name of their alma mater), J was the de facto “smooth talker” amongst their group of friends. And B? B did all right with the ladies in person, but when it came to texting, he’d quickly grow frustrated at his inability to master the nuances of what he saw as an impersonal medium for romantic communication.

Eventually, he’d toss his phone to J, and three minutes later, J had scheduled B a date with the girl he’d been pursuing on a dating app for weeks. And Wingman was born.

Read more »

Wharton Prof Says VCs Keep Women-Led Startups From Raising More Money

Wharton management and entrepreneurship professor Laura Huang. Courtesy photo.

It’s 2017 and the gender gap in venture capital funding is only widening by the minute. Last year, venture capitalists invested $58.2 billion in male-led startups, while women-led companies received a paltry $1.46 billion in comparison. To put it another way, women own 38 percent of businesses in the U.S. but only get about 2 percent of all venture money.

Why? Some claim that that gap exists because of a lack of female VCs—the venture capital world is still largely a boys club that women just can’t access. Others even pin the gap on female entrepreneurs themselves—they’re simply not asking for enough. But new research from Wharton management and entrepreneurship professor Laura Huang, published in the paper “We Ask Men to Win & Women Not to Lose: Closing the Gender Gap in Startup Funding” suggests that the gap exists because of something venture capitalists do.

After observing Q&A sessions between 140 prominent venture capitalists and 189 entrepreneurs at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt — New York’s premier startup funding competition — Huang and her colleagues recognized that venture capitalists posed different types of questions to male and female entrepreneurs. Following the observations, the study tracked all funding rounds for the startups that launched at the competition and found that the male-led startups raised five times more funding than female-led ones.

According to Huang, the difference in questioning is one big reason why women-led companies get less funding than companies launched by men. BizPhilly chatted with Huang to learn more about her research and what it all means for female entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Read more »

These 4 Startups Landed a Spot in the New Sixers Innovation Lab

Photo | Haley Weiss

On Tuesday, the Sixers Innovation Lab officially opened its doors, solidifying the franchise’s new mission to back go-getting entrepreneurs. The 8,000-square foot lab space located at the Camden-based Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex, will be home to four up-and-coming startups, three of which were revealed for the first time on Tuesday.

The four companies will receive office space in the innovation lab furnished by Kimball Office. They’ll also have access to industry experts, and third-party consulting from advisors like Penn’s Wharton School; they’ll get legal services through a new partnership with Pepper Hamilton and website, graphic design and branding help through the lab’s partnership with Maven Creative. Entrepreneurs will even get an opportunity to pitch investors and venture capital firms through the Innovation Lab that says its open to investing in the four companies. And what differentiates the space from other incubators is its emphasis on speed and flexibility, the leadership team says. They’ve also developed an individualized approach to supporting the companies—the startups aren’t forced to meet blanket growth deadlines, for example.

Innovation Lab managing director Seth Berger, told Philadelphia magazine that another purpose of the hub, aside from helping the companies grow, is to bring and attract more talent to southern New Jersey and Philadelphia that will continue the region’s upward trend in innovation. Because the Sixers have “forward-thinking” team members and executives, Berger said, the franchise is in a position to move these entrepreneurs ahead.

The Lab’s inaugural portfolio of startups features companies in a wide variety of industries from esports and daily fantasy sports to pet care and digital media. Here are the four companies that landed the lab’s first spots:  Read more »

EO Philadelphia Unveils New Accelerator for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs’ Organization Philadelphia convening. Courtesy of EO.

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Philadelphia — the organization that claims a global network of more than 12,000 business owners in 163 chapters across 52 countries — announced on Tuesday that it is launching the organization’s Accelerator program in Philadelphia. The goal: Get more Philadelphia startups to $1 million in annual revenue.

“When you’re an entrepreneur and you start a business, for some reason your first goal is to hit $1 million. And typically it’s the hardest number to hit,” Tim Devers, president of the Board of EO Philadelphia, told Philadelphia magazine. “Once you hit it, you blow by it and you shoot for $10 million. And we want to encourage and support entrepreneurs who want to get at that level.

EO says the program, because of its explicit focus on helping companies reach the $1 million mark, will be the first of its kind in the region. The 18-month accelerator will provide mentorship and peer learning experiences focused on four areas: money, strategy, people, and sales and marketing. Each program session will be held at a different locations across the city, Devers said, with speakers coming in from EO chapters around the world.   Read more »

Kauffman Index Shows Philly Startup Economy Has Much Room to Grow

Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

According to Kauffman’s 2017 Startup Activity Index, the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area is in a bit of a lull when it comes to new business creation activity.

Dropping two spots from last year’s ranking, the region took the 36th ranking out of 40 spots, coming in just behind Baltimore and a few spots ahead of Pittsburgh, which ranked last.

The list, topped off by Miami, Austin, and Los Angeles, was compiled using three distinct measurements for each metro area. The first – the rate of new entrepreneurs – represents a percentage of adults in the area that are entering entrepreneurship at a given point in time. The second measure, opportunity share of new entrepreneurs, evaluates the percentage of people entering entrepreneurship out of “opportunity” rather than out of “necessity.” And startup density, the final measure, looks at the number of new employer businesses normalized by population.

Read more »

Ben Franklin Tech Partners Pumped $3.7M Into These 21 Philly-Area Startups Last Quarter

Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ.

Tech investment powerhouse Ben Franklin Technology Partners released their third quarter investment plan this week and 21 early-stage companies got approved for investment. A total of $3.7 in funding has been approved, and eight companies in the physical sciences sector got approved for the biggest sum of investment. The eight companies will receive $1.4 million in total.

The group’s three other divisions – information technology, digital health, and health – each hold 5 or fewer companies. Read more »

Curalate Launches in London

At Curalate's Philly HQ. Image courtesy of Curalate.

At Curalate’s Philly HQ. Image courtesy of Curalate.

After five years of rising to the top of Philly’s startup scene, Curalate has now expanded overseas.

The company announced this week that it has launched in the UK, where it’s already hired five people London, including a sales director for EMEA, to be temporarily based out of a WeWork office in London’s Soho neighborhood.

Curalate’s been picking up “great traction” in Europe said Luke Butler, the company’s head of strategy and operations. “Having an official presence in London leaves us much better positioned to take advantage of that opportunity and grow the number of European clients we’re working with.”

The company’s commerce platform links consumers to shopping opportunities by way of tags on online images and videos. Their Like2Buy product for example, makes Instagram shoppable. Curalate’s portfolio of has more than 800 clients like Sephora, BuzzFeed, and Nordstrom and partnerships with Google, Facebook and Instagram. And they’ve already locked in dozens of UK brands like Lipsy and Farfetch. Read more »

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