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.

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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.

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Shark Tank Deal Falls Through

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover of ZOOM Interiors.

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover of ZOOM Interiors. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

If you watched Shark Tank on Friday, you might have seen Philly-based ZOOM Interiors strike a deal with Barbara Corcoran.

After other sharks like Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner passed on spending $100,000 for a 20 percent equity stake in the tech-meets-design business, a visibly uncertain Corcoran offered $100,000 for 33 percent — and they struck a deal.

Yay! Cue the hugs and the happy Shark Tank theme music…

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Philly Interior Designers Ready for “Shark Tank Bump”

Beatrice Fischel-Bock (left), Madeline Fraser, and Elizabeth Grover about to enter the Shark Tank.  (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Beatrice Fischel-Bock (left), Madeline Fraser, and Elizabeth Grover about to enter the Shark Tank. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Hiring an interior decorator seems like something only available to the extremely wealthy. If you have a mansion or killer apartment, you can probably afford to have a professional pick out your sofas, coffee tables, pillows and lamps.

If you’re like the rest of us, you’re stuck doing the best you can to make things match. In fact, I saw this trend first hand. My parents used to own a retail drapery, window treatment and wallpaper store from the 1980s to early 2000s and worked frequently with designers. (If you remember Dana Interiors on Old York Road in Jenkintown, you’re instantly in my cool list.)

But two-year-old ZOOM Interiors offers a new approach: Design your living room, dining room or bedroom online and have designers pick out the sizes and styles. You send in photos, measurements and answer a few style-preference questions — they send you conceptual photos and a shopping list with links.

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9 Cool Events to Do at Philly Tech Week


Philly Tech Week is upon us! It certainly has come a long way in five years. Just look how dated this website from the first one looks! It would still be functional now, but it’s nowhere near as nice as the fancy, sponsored-by-Comcast look of this year. Plus, Christopher Wink and Brian James Kirk got their own profile here in Philadelphia magazine this year.

Right: Philly Tech Week is bigger than ever. That means there are even more cool events to go to this year than in previous years. Here are nine event picks for Philly Tech Week, one for each day. Read more »

Philadelphia Venture Capital Status? Perfectly Mediocre



Last November, Mayor Nutter announced a batch of grants for local entrepreneurs, funded through StartUp PHL—the joint venture between the Commerce Department, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and Josh Kopelman’s First Round Capital. StartUp PHL—the city’s main pipeline of support to the city’s entrepreneurial community—has contributed more than $1 million in seed funding or angel investments to local startups since its inception two and a half years ago. “For Philadelphia to continue to grow we must be a city that welcomes exciting, innovative companies and the type of talented workforce that wants to work for those companies,” Nutter said, in announcing the latest grants.

But to breed an urban-tech community of startups, you need lots of private investment—a lot more cash than StartUp PHL can provide. And there’s new research out showing that Philly remains something of a laggard in attracting private capital for its startups. A senior fellow at Brookings compiled data on “first fundings”—the initial round of venture capital for new companies—in metro areas of more than 100,000 people nationwide. In the report, there’s good news and bad news for Philadelphia. Read more »

“Philadelphia Business Journal” Names Region’s 25 Top LGBT-Owned Companies

philadelphia business journal top lgbt owned companiesTomorrow, the Philadelphia Business Journal (PBJ) will debut its list of 2014’s 25 top LGBT-owned companies at a cocktail reception at Cuba Libre. The honorees include a variety of businesses — from Midtown Village natural beauty nook duross & langel to the Giampolo Law Group. PJB Editor-in-Chief Crag Ey says this is the second year they’ve released this LGBT-specific list, and the objective is to “show the largest businesses in a certain category.” This year’s winners were chosen based on objective criteria obtained from a questionnaire sent out to employees. “We also ask a few bonus questions,” he says, “Like have you ever been discriminated against, or whether or not its easier to get a bank loan than it was 20 years ago.”

I’ve got the complete list below of honorees below, broken up into categories so you can easily reference it next time you’re in the market for, say, a gay-owned realty group or catering company. It goes without saying that these are the first companies to dole out your dollars to.

The cocktail reception takes place tomorrow, Dec. 3, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Cuba Libre in Old City. To reserve a $52 ticket, go here.

See the complete list of winners after the jump »

ThinkFest Snapshot: Wayne Kimmel

We’re rounding up the reasons Philly Mag readers should not miss ThinkFest, our week-long event connecting the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in Philadelphia. 

Wayne KimmelWayne Kimmel‘s title is founder and managing partner of SeventySix Capital, but that only scratches the surface. Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and volunteer, Kimmel has titles and awards from multiple boards and organizations, including being named one of Philadelphia magazine’s “Smartest People in Philadelphia” in 2012. Wayne’s latest fund, Bread, was acquired by Yahoo in October, which marks the company’s third “exit” in 2013.

With fellow business tycoons at coworking space Benjamin’s Desk—otherwise known as start-up central and a hub for like-minded professionals to collaborate in Philadelphia—Kimmel will be sharing tales from his experiences on the start-up scene. The panelists will  discuss the art of creative collaboration and what we can expect from Philadelphia’s greatest innovators in the future.

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ThinkFest Snapshot: Josh Kopelman

We’re rounding up the reasons Philly Mag readers should not miss ThinkFest, our week-long event connecting the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in Philadelphia. 

Josh KopelmanWho better to hear from about the current state and trajectory of the emerging Philly tech scene than from serial entrepreneur Josh Kopelman? Kopelman was the brain behind successful start-ups like Half.com, TurnTide and, most recently, First Round Capital.

While an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, Kopelman founded his first business, Infonautics Corporation.

Three start-ups later, First Round Capital, a Philadelphia-based venture capital firm, is among the first to invest in the Startup PHL Seed Fund, a system intended to help provide innovative Philadelphia startups with investment capital.

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