Curalate CEO: Kenney Needs to Support Tech Community

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Mayor Michael Nutter was a staunch supporter of Philadelphia’s local tech scene. He helped launch StartupPHL, a seed fund and grant program that invests in early stage companies. He’d frequently come to tech events, have a beer and discuss issues with tech founders. To Philly outsiders, he’d brag about N3rd street, a stretch of North 3rd where plenty of tech companies are headquartered.

Will Jim Kenney be just as supportive? In a recent report, Technically Philly said the new mayor and the tech community are in that “awkward, getting-to-know you phase.” Will he keep showing up at events? Will he continue learning about the city’s budding tech economy?  Read more »

Death of a Startup Company

Brian Dragotto (left) and Nick Yap.

Brian Dragotto (left) and Nick Yap.

Just a few years ago Nick Yap and Brian Dragotto had high hopes for their social media app Toboggan, but the 21-year-olds have now realized that the startup world can be an unforgiving place.

Toboggan offers “social points” to users that get the most likes on their photos or videos — and people can cash in those points for real prizes. The platform also curated content on leaderboards to display its most engaging photos or videos. Read more »

College Startup Leaders Show Their Stuff at Pitch Contest

Winners of the College Pitch Philly contest.

Winners of the College Pitch Philly contest.

From an app that aims to transform college meal plans to virtual-reality training to conquer public-speaking fears, the innovations on display at Wednesday night’s College Pitch Philly student business pitch competition were nothing short of impressive.

I served as a judge in the contest and the entrepreneurs blew me away with their passion and ideas. One CEO, Nate Matherson, claimed to already have more than $30,000 per month in revenues for his company LendEDU, which allows users to compare up to 12 different student loan lenders to get the best deals. And he wasn’t even a winner, despite an awesome presentation.  Read more »

10 Weeks After Shark Tank, PiperWai Hits $1.3 Million in Sales

Jess Edelstein (left) and Sarah Ribner. They co-founded PiperWai and will be on an upcoming episode of Shark Tank.

Jess Edelstein (left) and Sarah Ribner are the co-founders of PiperWai.

There’s nothing quite like the Shark-Tank bump, something Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner know all too well as revenues for their natural deodorant company topped $1.3 million just two short months after appearing on the show.

Their company, PiperWai makes natural deodorant, which they argue is much better than Tom’s or other brands because it uses charcoal, which is super-absorbent and not harmful to sensitive skin. On a tense episode of Shark Tank, Edelstein and Ribner got $50,000 from Barbara Corcoran for a 25 percent stake in the company.

Shark Tank will air an update on PiperWai this Friday, Feb 26 — and there’s plenty to talk about. Not only did the company break the million-dollar revenue mark, it’s also reached deals with 70 independent retailers and increased its social media following by nearly 10,000 across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Read more »

Why Campbell Soup is Betting $125 Million on Startups

Campbell Soup Co. headquarters in Camden, N.J.

Campbell Soup Co. headquarters in Camden, N.J.

How does a 147-year-old food company reinvent itself in the face of a seismic shift in the way people eat? Partner with young, innovative startup companies disrupting the space.

For the past few years, Campbell Soup has been on a mission to become a healthier food company as people are looking for healthier, less processed food items. In 2012 it acquired Bolthouse Farms (makers of juices, bagged carrots and salad dressing), and in 2013 it bought Plum Organics (organic baby food and kid snacks). In 2015 it acquired salsa, hummus and dip maker Garden Fresh Gourmet for $231 million.

But this week the company added a new tactic to its arsenal — a $125 million venture capital fund. Read more »

Inside Mt. Airy’s New Immigrant Entrepreneur Co-Working Space

Mayor Jim Kenney attended the formal opening of the Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub on Feb. [tk]. Photo | Brian James

Mayor Jim Kenney attended the formal opening of the Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub on Feb. 4. Photo | Brian James

The following statements have become truisms:

  • Small businesses are the greatest engine of economic growth in America.
  • Immigrants from abroad have played a major role in the revival of many Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Mt. Airy in Northwest Philadelphia is not a neighborhood in need of revival — it remains an attractive and desirable place to live with a healthy commercial district — but the people in charge of keeping it that way saw signs of distress on the horizon and have their eyes on the long run.

Armed with a Knight Cities Challenge grant, Mt. Airy USA has formally opened the Immigrant Innovation Hub this month. Read more »

RevZilla NOT Acquired by Cycle Gear But…

Anthony Bucci, CEO of RevZilla.

Anthony Bucci, CEO of RevZilla.

Late last week, Reuters reported that Philadelphia-based motorcycle parts startup RevZilla was on the cusp of being acquired by Cycle Gear, creating a company worth approximately $400 million to $500 million. But that wasn’t how it turned out.

Today, RevZilla announced that it’s partnering with J.W. Childs (the private equity firm that owns Cycle Gear) to form a new holding company that will own both Cycle Gear and RevZilla. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Read more »

6 Seriously Cool Health Care Innovations Ready to Prove Their Worth

UC Science Center Accelerator

From left: Christina Lopes of the One Health Company; Saurabh Radhakrishnan of GraphWear; and Michele Marcolongo of InvisALERT.

You can’t help but root for the companies in the latest class of the University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator. A patch that analyzes sweat to measure dehydration? Using a smartphone to better treat burns and bruises? Enrolling pets in clinical trials for cutting-edge therapies? Yes please.

Six early-stage healthcare companies have been accepted into the second class of the UCSC health accelerator from a pool of 69 applicants. They’ll receive up to $50,000 in funding along with professional mentorship and networking opportunities with local insurers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and research institutions. During the 12-month program, they’ll also get membership to the Science Center’s Innovation Center @3401. Read more »

Philly Venture Capital Firm Closes $35 Million Fund

Rawpixel Ltd/iStock

Rawpixel Ltd/iStock

Think Philly doesn’t have serious funding sources for startup companies? Think again.

MissionOG has closed its first fund and has now has a cool $35 million under management. The Center City-based company typically invests $500,000 to $3 million initially into business-to-business startups.

It’s invested in 11 companies so far, including Philly-based Cloudamize, OneTwoSee and PeopleLinx. Some recent investments include joining a $3.25 million round for Dallas-based Solovis in January; and leading a $3.4 million series A round with Conshohocken, Pa.-based Journey Sales. Read more »

Hey Business Owners, Want $30,000 from Comcast?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Hey business owners: If you had $30,000, how would you use technology improve your business? Give a compelling answer and you could get a serious windfall of cash and business advice from Comcast.

For the third consecutive year, Comcast Business is looking for startups and seasoned entrepreneurs to compete in its Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs contest. Winners will receive cash prizes as well as business advice from a panel of experts, including the British cuisine connoisseur behind TV’s Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine. Read more »

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