Philly ER Doc Wins Big for Creating a Real Tricorder

Toy Star Trek Tricorder prototypes. Image via Pinterest.

Toy Star Trek tricorders. Image via Pinterest.

Final Frontier Medical Devices, a team led by Paoli-based ER doctor Basil Harris, just won the global $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize competition for creating a groundbreaking device akin to Star Trek’s futuristic Tricorder.

The competition for the Tricorder XPrize has been five years in the making. The California-based nonprofit group XPrize, challenged applicants to develop a tricorder-like device, one that can accurately diagnose 13 health conditions and monitor five vital signs independent of a doctor or a hospital. The tool has the potential to revolutionize the health care space by giving consumers the power to check the state of their health independently at any time. The international competition had 312 entrants from 38 counties and Dr. Basil’s bootstrapped seven-member team of siblings and friends took home the grand prize of $2.6 million dollars for their tricorder prototype — the DxtER.  Read more »

10 Ways to Push Philly Tech Past the Tipping Point

From left to right: Comcast’s director of entrepreneurial engagement Danielle Cohn; Stimulus CEO Tiffanie Stanard; Salesforce VP of SMB Sales Stephanie Glenn; and Robin Hood Ventures executive director Ellen Weber at WeWork's first "Future of Philly" event at their Northern Liberties location.

L to R: Comcast’s director of entrepreneurial engagement Danielle Cohn; Stimulus CEO Tiffanie Stanard; Salesforce V.P. of SMB Sales Stephanie Glenn; and Robin Hood Ventures executive director Ellen Weber, at WeWork’s first “Future of Philly” event at their Northern Liberties location.

WeWork’s first “Future of Philly” event this week gathered a sizable crowd to discuss the future of Philadelphia tech. And the panelists who led the discussion—all women—weren’t called to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace. Stimulus CEO Tiffanie Stanard, Comcast’s director of entrepreneurial engagement Danielle Cohn, Salesforce VP of SMB Sales Stephanie Glenn, and Robin Hood Ventures executive director Ellen Weber shared their thoughts on how Philly tech has changed and where it will be in the next decade. Right now, Philly is at a tipping point, they all agreed. How can the city move past that? Here’s what they had to say:

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10 Philly Startups to Watch in 2017, According to the Biggest Tech Leaders


As we said farewell to 2016, BizPhilly put a call out to the tech community: Which local startups are you most excited about for 2017? That call was answered with overwhelming excitement for what’s ahead in Philly’s innovation space. Here are 10 startups to watch in 2017, according to the Philly tech community.


When Philly’s wildly successful data analytics startup RJMetrics was acquired by Magento Commerce in August 2016, Stitch spun out of the deal. The company evolved out of RJMetrics’ “Pipeline” product, which provided data infrastructure and consolidation services to clients. The product was beta-tested under RJMetrics for more than nine months and these services are now offered to clients like Booktopedia, Instapage and Philly’s Guru. We’ll be watching Stitch for several reasons: Jake Stein, who cofounded RJ Metrics, is leading Stitch as CEO. He’s definitely learned a thing or two about data SaaS after jumpstarting RJMetrics (once one of Philly’s fastest growing startups) back in 2008 and raising more than $20 million from investors in San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia. Stitch is backed by the same investors as RJMetrics—August Capital, Trinity Ventures and SoftTech VC. And less than six months after their August launch, the company passed 100 paying customers. That’s more than five times faster than RJMetrics grew. Read more »

Kickstarter Campaign Launches for LGBTQ Dating App “Sapiens” Geared at Being All-Inclusive

People bata-testing the Sapiens app.

People bata-testing the Sapiens app. Provided by Icon Photography.

A new queer tech startup based in Philadelphia and New York plans to tackle gender inclusivity, harassment, body positivity, safe sex and feminism with a brand new dating app. Named “Sapiens,” its focus is on respect, empowerment and authenticity in the online LGBTQ dating scene. The creators are launching a Kickstarter campaign that is set for September 1st to fund what they are calling “a revolutionary approach to online dating.”  Read more »

Verizon, City Could Tussle Over Fios Franchise Agreement

Verizon Fios ad - Suburban Station

An ad for Verizon Fios in Suburban Station. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Verizon says it’s fulfilled its contractual obligations to roll out Fios to the entire city. Philadelphia isn’t so sure.

Earlier this month, the city asked residents to let them know if they’d tried to get Verizon Fios but were told it was not available in their area. Verizon signed a franchise agreement with the city for its Fios television service in early 2009. One requirement, standard in most franchise agreements in American cities, was for Verizon to have the entire city covered with Fios service by February of this year.

“It’s in our best interests as a company — after pursuing the franchise agreement and investing millions of dollars to build our network — to make the service available to as many city residents as possible,” says Verizon spokesman John O’Malley. He says Verizon completed a build-out of its network a bit before the February deadline.

But Philadelphia has received more than 500 submissions to the city website asking residents if they’ve been unable to get Fios, says Philadelphia Chief Information Officer Charlie Brennan. If it’s determined Verizon violated the agreement, the company could pay fines up to $2.6 million “if we can prove definitively that they have not met their commitment,” Brennan says. Read more »

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 »

Report: Comcast Interested in Buying Yahoo

Comcast-YahooWho’s going to buy Yahoo? A titan of the tech industry, Yahoo has worldwide brand recognition, a $26 billion stake in Chinese internet giant, Alibaba — but it’s struggled to satisfy shareholders in recent years.

Bloomberg, citing “people familiar with the process” is reporting that Yahoo is going to reach out to potential bidders as early as today — and said Comcast is one of several companies interested.

Bloomberg reports: “Companies such as Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. are among interested parties, as well as buyout firms including Bain Capital Partners, KKR & Co. and TPG, the people said, asking not to be identified as the situation isn’t public.” Bloomberg said not to expect actual offers for at least a month. Read more »

Shark Tank Presenter Fired Before Episode Aired

Martin Dell'Arciprete pitches SmartPlate on Shark Tank. (ABC/Michael Desmond)

Martin Dell’Arciprete pitches SmartPlate on Shark Tank. (ABC/Michael Desmond)

If you’re a fan of Philly’s budding tech and entrepreneurial community, Friday night’s episode of Shark Tank was cringe-worthy. It featured Martin Dell’Arciprete pitching Mark Cuban and the gang about a Philly-based invention called SmartPlate — which weighs and analyzes food to output calorie counts and other nutritional information.

Like many of you, I can’t help but root for a Philly company when they go into the Tank. The national exposure is great for the city and its entrepreneurial community — and another Shark Tank success like Scrub Daddy or Scholly would mean a big boost to the local economy.

But as soon as the segment began, SmartPlate seemed dead on arrival. Dell’Arciprete asked for the hefty sum of $1 million for a 15 percent stake in the business, leading Daymond John to offer a surprised “whoa.” The SmartPlate was still in prototype mode so Dell’Arciprete couldn’t even demonstrate the plate’s embedded-camera technology. Read more »

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