In Fast Company

Okay, Philly being named one of America's emerging tech hubs is pretty cool. But not nearly as cool as how it happened

Silicon Valley is so last decade.

In January, business innovation magazine Fast Company ran a five-part series exploring emerging entrepreneurial technology hubs around the country. As the first cities in the series were published online — Boulder, Colorado and New York City — Blake Jennelle was pinging his network, wondering who’d been contacted by the magazine to represent Philly.

Jennelle, who keeps in close touch with hundreds of entrepreneurs in the region, is likely to have come across a lead. As far as he could tell, Philly was being counted out. [SIGNUP]

“Let’s change that,” he soon penned on his blog — a catalogue of ruminations about Philadelphia startup scene, which boasts a healthy local following. “How would you answer the question,” he asked his readers, “Why start a company in Philly?”

Change it did.  Jennelle’s call-to-arms, with support from the local community, eventually ended up in the hands of Fast Company contributor Laura Rich. Philadelphia was featured in the series last week.

I’ve argued that this coverage isn’t important. The necessity for recognition only amplifies Philly’s second-rate-city self-consciousness. And it wastes time, I said to Jennelle when I called him a few day after the story hit. He was on a third wind, having just finished an early morning meeting after an all-nighter for a new project.

“If we were living in a community where passion was scarce, then I would entertain that argument. But we’re investing in creating more passion and more energy,” he said. “I thought it was an opportunity for the community to come together.”

There’s two things I first noticed about Jennelle when we met at a Center City bar in February.

He’s young. The twenty-something entrepreneur is the founder of Philly Startup Leaders, a grassroots networking group that hosts several popular monthly meetings that serve fledgling businesses. He started the group while building his first company, a social network for business colleagues which eventually failed.

Second is the distinct twinkle in his eye. Jennelle’s amiability is as gold as a glass of pilsner. His positive attitude is a reflection of Philadelphia’s youthful startup community, which he felt needed a movement like Startup Leaders for mentorship and support during the tough times and long hours.

I quickly recognized a third: Jennelle was right. It wasn’t the press that mattered, it was the spirit embodied to get there. Philly’s got plenty of it.

Just don’t call us Philacon Valley.   — Brian James Kirk

TECHNICALLY PHILLY is a news site that covers technology in the region. The site covers startups, investment, government policy, Comcast, social media and all that is Philadelphia tech. Read more