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.

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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.

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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 »

These 8 Startups Are in Ben Franklin’s First Fintech Accelerator Class

Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ.

Ben Franklin Tech Partners just announced the eight startups participating in its inaugural fintech accelerator program and the list of companies gives us a strong sense how quickly Philly’s fintech space is growing. As we reported in February, the new accelerator program is the region’s first support program for tech companies in the financial services space, and it’ll run in partnership with the D.C.-based investment firm Village Capital.

The 12-week program will kick off soon on April 24 and by the end, the eight companies will determine which two startups in the group should be rewarded $25,000 in investment capital. Participants will receive mentorship from industry experts including SEI, Wells Fargo, Vanguard, InstaMed and Safeguard Scientifics. And over the course of the program, they’ll focus on learning how to grow their businesses through Village Capital’s investment readiness curriculum.

The eight companies come from all parts of the financial services spectrum and nearly all of them are based in the Philadelphia region. A number of the companies also offer financial services solutions for big problems in education, real estate, philanthropy and health care. “With the blend of both impact-focused and transaction-based fintech concepts, it’s an impressive range of companies, and a great indicator of the depth of opportunity in our region,” said Ben Franklin president and CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal in a statement. Read more »

Philadelphia Among the Country’s Top 10 Emerging Startup Hubs

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

A new report from the nonprofit Progressive Policy Institute and D.C.-based technology network Technet, says it time for policymakers to recognize and support emerging startup hubs across the country, including Philadelphia, that are “Next in Tech.” The report named Philadelphia as one of the nation’s top 10 emerging vibrant startup ecosystems.

To determine the areas that are “next in tech,” researchers developed the “Metro Startup Economy Index,” which measures the “intensity” of each metro area’s startup ecosystem. The index is calculated by determining the percentage of job postings in a given area that use the word “startup.” That percentage is then normalized by dividing by the median percentage for all metro areas analyzed, according to the report. reports that the percentage of job postings using the word “startup” increased by 60 percent from November 2014 to November 2016, the study says, an indicator that the country’s startup landscape is producing more jobs and spreading beyond the traditional tech metro areas.  Read more »

Philly Now Has a Free, Next-Day Online Delivery Service for Used Cars

Image courtesy of Carvana.

Image courtesy of Carvana.

Philadelphians just got an upgrade on their online car buying experience. Carvana, the startup that bills itself as the “Amazon of cars” — with more than 7,250 vehicles in its online inventory — recently launched in Philadelphia. This means shoppers can buy a used car online and get it delivered the next day, for free.

“We’re thrilled to finally be in the City of Brotherly Love. Not only is it a major hub in the Northeast with one of the largest populations in the country, but it has a culture of early tech adoption,” said Ernie Garcia, founder and CEO of Carvana, in a statement.  Read more »

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