Curalate CEO: Kenney Needs to Support Tech Community

Three takeaways from Apu Gupta's Inquirer op-ed.

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? 

Apu Gupta certainly hopes so. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Curalate, a company that works with 800 clients like Urban Outfitters, BuzzFeed, Crate & Barrel and Nordstrom to reshape the e-commerce market by capitalizing on the increased use of photos online. It just closed a $27.5 million venture capital round and has raised $40 million to date.

On Sunday, Gupta wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer asking Kenney to get engaged and help the community succeed. Here are three highlights:

1. Kenney should help Philly’s tech community get national attention, so it can attract top talent.

Why is this important? Tech start-ups grow by hiring the most talented people in the country and so our success is directly tied to making Philly one of the country’s most attractive, exciting cities for young people. At Curalate we have 120 employees, a number we are looking to double this year, fueled by our recently announced investment of $27.5 million. … When I talk to candidates, I’m selling them not just on my company but on Philly. I’m selling them on a city that has excitement, momentum, and a buzz about it.

2. Just because we’re not Silicon Valley doesn’t mean we’re not on to something.

Philadelphia doesn’t need to strive to be Silicon Valley. We just need to strive. We need to strive to build, to build big, and to celebrate our success.

3. Start them young, it’ll pay off.

As more kids have the desire and the means to code, more will need to know that tech needn’t be a pipe dream. And when they can see that it’s happening in their own backyard, and when they can interact with people who work for or have built these companies, they gain the confidence to follow their dreams.

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