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Interactive Recruitment Consultants staffs creative digital companies

Technology has changed how business is done – many companies are adopting lean startup principals, non-traditional marketing strategies and cultivating relaxed cultures. Interactive Recruitment Consultants (IRC), an employment agency for creative digital businesses and professionals based in Old City, has adapted the hiring model to meet those needs.

"With our clients, it's really more of a partnership," says Adam Heagy, founder and CEO of IRC. "With everyone we work with, we have several meetings. We're not afraid to give bad news or constructive feedback."

Heagy admits that staffing agencies can have a bad reputation. A client will often meet with an agent once, fill out some paperwork, and wait for the agent to return with an offer. IRC provides a range of custom services to companies and contractors, including digital branding and social media, and assistance with online portfolios. They've even acted as an outsourced human resources department, providing job offer letters and employee orientations.

Before starting IRC, Heagy worked for 15 years at a large staffing agency. In his off hours, he enjoyed finding friends the right job and grew that hobby into a business.

IRC celebrated their first year anniversary with their highest grossing month to date -- $300,000 in April sales. They currently serve fifteen technology companies in the Philadelphia region and have been placing multiple contractors per week. They plan to hire two to four employees over the summer.

"No matter what the economy, or how the market is doing, there's always a strong demand for technical professionals," says Heagy.

Source: Adam Heagy, Interactive Recruitment Consultants
Writer: Dana Henry

Philly hosts second GameLoop, an "unconference" for the gaming industry

For Philly's burgeoning community of indie game makers and enthusiasts, GameLoop is a chance to swap ideas, learn techniques and make new contacts in a growing industry. Philly's second incarnation of this event takes place at University of the Arts' Terra Hall on Saturday, May 18.

Dubbed an "unconference," GameLoop has no set agenda. Participants propose and decide on talks and roundtables at the beginning of the day during an open floor discussion.

"[The local gaming community] has brought together programmers, artists, musicians, designers, modelers -- you name it," says organizer Ray Merkler. "A rapidly growing indie game scene needs events like this to share ideas and create new relationships."

GameLoop originated in Boston in 2008. Merkler brought the concept to Philly in 2011, after meeting founder Scott Macmillan at the PAX East gaming show in Boston. Philly's first GameLoop drew 80 people, including leaders from Boston, New York and Baltimore. Topics covered included 2-D and 3-D design, prototyping, and business models, but Merkler says GameLoop isn't just about development or the industry. For example, someone looking to build a new narrative into a classic game, such as Dungeons and Dragons, is welcome to share.

"You can attract new talent into your city, or you can take the talent you already have and let it interact in new ways," says Merkler. "GameLoop tries to do the latter."

Source: Ray Merkler, GameLoop Philly
Writer: Dana Henry

CultureBlocks mapping tool catalogs and curates neighborhood arts

In an innovative effort to help neighborhood arts thrive, the City of Philadelphia has launched CultureBlocks, a GIS-enabled mapping tool that helps agencies and grant providers link cultural assets to place.

CultureBlocks was created in partnership with the Social Impact of the Arts Project at Penn and the Reinvestment Fund, which provided PolicyMap, a GIS mapping tool that became the foundation for the site.
"We're trying to showcase what's happening in Philadelphia," says Moira Baylson, deputy cultural officer at the City's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. "It's not just about what's happening downtown -- it's exploring the ecosystem of arts and culture. We say on a neighborhood level, but we're really talking about Philadelphia in its entirety."

By typing in a zipcode, neighborhood or council district, users can identify cultural work, events, resources and related information. They can create a profile of an area or match their specific interests to locale. The tool includes more than formal institutions -- with over 50 data sets, it also features collectives, daycares and churches across all neighborhoods.

Ultimately, the app is intended to encourage longterm growth in the creative sector by helping funders and policymakers -- including Parks and Recreation, the Planning Commission, and the Commerce Department -- view arts and culture as an asset for neighborhood development.

The tool is free to the public and expected to serve relocating businesses, community development corporations, organizations looking to build an audience and residents who want to check out the arts in their neighborhood.

"A lot of people understand the role of arts and culture in economy and in creating vibrant neighborhoods," says Baylson. "CultureBlocks is how we demonstrate it."
Source: Moira Baylson, Deputy Cultural Officer at the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
Writer: Dana Henry

RJMetrics introduces data "dashboard" for e-commerce, are hiring

Thanks to the power of Google Analytics and online databases, businesses now have volumes of precious data about their customers. The hard part is figuring out what all those numbers mean. 

Enter RJMetrics, a company that creates custom business intelligence software for large e-commerce sites, translating obtuse numbers into real-time metrics. Now, with the beta launch of their "dashboard," RJMetrics is going a step further, handing the metrics back to the clients so they can use the generated charts and tables to inform timely marketing agendas.
Typically, if an e-commerce site wants to know the value of a customer over time or how much revenue their Facebook campaign is generating, the answers require complex calculations.

"The kind of analysis that people want to do or have been doing takes a painstakingly long amount of time," says Matt Monihan, UX designer for RJMetrics. "We take that workflow away -- you have a chart that's constantly updated with new data that you don't have to manage."
Founders Bob Moore and Jake Stein developed RJMetrics while working for the VC firm Insight Venture Partners where their jobs included gathering metrics on potential investments. After creating countless Powerpoint decks, they realized their process could be automated and that the findings would be invaluable to businesses.
Their signature offering, cohort analysis, identifies consumer behavior among groups. Customers who purchase on a certain date, for example, might have a projected lifetime value. Illustrating and responding to these patterns is increasingly critical as online businesses focus on longterm customer relationships.
"People care more about customer lifetime value because that data is now available," says Monihan. "There's been a ton of data for as long as e-commerce companies have existed and it's been dormant. Now people can unlock the data."

The company launched in Camden in 2009, but moved to Center City last year to make room for new growth -- their workforce grew from 15 to 26, and their client base has doubled to 130. They are currently hiring for positions in software engineering, programing, marketing and sales, and product management.
Source: Matt Monihan, RJMetrics
Writer: Dana Henry

DMi Partners launches Prism, an innovative content management system; is hiring

Working with clients can be a challenge. For example, every time DMi Partners, a Center City-based internet marketing firm, launched a new campaign, they had to rely on the client to provide a decent landing page -- the final juncture in converting a surfer into a customer. Prism, the company's new content management system, lets DMi handle that critical component internally.

DMi mainly serves large corporations in consumer packaged goods, insurance and continuing education who are looking to add thousands to tens of thousands of new customers per month. With Prism, they can seamlessly integrate preconfigured forms into any of their webpages, turning a static advertisement into customer engagement.

"When we configure a new offer or a new campaign in our system, it's very easy for us to turn that campaign into a landing page," says James Delaney, COO of DMi Partners.

DMi is ten years old and has 80 employees. They are currently hiring marketing specialists, junior developers and business development reps. As the company expanded, they moved from a 8,000-square-foot space on South Broad Street to 16,000 square feet closer to City Hall.

Ultimately, Prism is expected to get more customers onto landing pages, which translates into greater likelihood for success. "It helps the speed that the end consumer perceives when they arrive at one of the sites," says Delaney. "The faster you can serve those pages to the consumer, the more likely you are to get a conversion, because they’re not waiting around."

Source: James Delaney, DMi Partners
Writer: Dana Henry

Wash Cycle Laundry teams up with Neighborhood Farms CSA

Thanks to an innovative partnership with Wash Cycle LaundryNeighborhood Foods CSA will soon begin delivering its food shares from urban farms to subscribers via bicycle.

This past year, the Merchants Fund introduced Neighborhood Foods CSA to Wash Cycle Laundry, a wash-and-fold two-wheeled delivery service. Both businesses are new, local, independently-run and invested in creating quality jobs while advancing sustainability. Cross-promotion seemed natural, but Wash Cycle had a better idea.
"The more we thought about it, the more we thought it made sense to do delivery," says Gabe Mandujano, founder and CEO of Wash Cycle Laundry. "We've gotten really good at hauling things around town. For us, it's the first time we've hauled anything other than laundry."
Neighborhood Foods CSA, a project of Urban Tree Connection, provides shares comprised of seven to ten varieties of produce sourced from two multi-acre farms -- 53rd and Wyalusing in West Philly and one in South Philly -- supplemented by a small Lancaster farm. Add-ons include fruit from Breezy Acres Farm and Beechwood Orchards, bread from Four Worlds Bakery, jam from Green Aisle Grocery, honey from local beekeepers and coffee from La Colombe. In their first year, Neighborhood Foods provided 68 shares over the course of 22 weeks. By offering delivery service from Wash Cycle Laundry, they expect to serve 100 customers from May through October.
"Our hope is that by offering delivery, it will make the CSA more attractive to a new type of customer," says Mandujano. "A lot of people like the idea of local food, and might even be willing to pay a little bit of a premium for it, but can't get to a pickup site every week."
At the partnership's inception, Wash Cycle Laundry obtained a $50,000 loan from Patricia Kind Family Foundation and increased their workforce from 12 to 16 employees. They expect to grow to 30 employees by the end of this year.
Source: Gabe Mandujano, Wash Cycle Laundry
Writer: Dana Henry

Indie game developers Cipher Prime climb into international spotlight, hiring

Like so many accidental entrepreneurs, Will Stallwood launched Cipher Prime -- an independent mobile game development company -- while trying to get a job. Auditorium, the game Stallwood first created with music composer Dain Saint as an example of his capabilities, won him no job, but earned millions of downloads. In 2009, shortly after that unexpected success, Cipher Prime was born.

Now based in Old City, the company has since released four games on seven platforms, earning countless awards from the likes of Google, Apple, the Indie Games Festival and Pocket Gamer.

, their most recent product, gained international attention after debuting on the iPad as Google's "Feature Launch of the Week." The game was named runner-up for Game of the Year by Apple's App Store -- and it was developed on a $120,000 budget, compared to a $1 million budget for the winner.

The company builds games in the "instructionless play" genre. Players solve abstract layered puzzles with no rules and no text. Cipher Prime incorporates work by local musicians and original art. The format starts simple but has a plethora of variables, making the games hard to master. Stallwood says this formula has helped solidify their international success.

"Basically, you're dragging and dropping these little nodes to try to form and outline," he says of Splice. "By the time you’re done the game, it's like a petri dish. You’re pulling cells around all over the place and they’re multiplying and you’re bending time back and forth. It really gets involved."

The company has raised $71,000 on Kickstarter for their next game, Auditorium II, and is hiring a marketer.

Cipher Prime is dedicated to building a local community of unconventional gamemakers. They host weekly development nights (regularly attended by 20 to 30 gamers), organize game-making challenges, hold public book clubs and host Skype conferences with industry leaders.

"We're really trying our damnedest to make sure there are more game developers here in Philadelphia," says Stallwood. "Everyone here loves what we do, and we want to share with other people."

Source: Will Stallwood, Cipher Prime
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: A public call for 'Innovators Walk of Fame' nominees

The University City Science Center is now seeking nominations for their Innovators Walk of Fame. The inaugural members will be revealed during the organization's 50th anniversary celebration in October. In preparation, the Science Center is asking Greater Philadelphia to recommend regional candidates who have made an impact in science, technology, engineering, art or math (STEAM). There is also a category for innovative companies.
"We're not doing this prescriptively," says Stephen Tang, president and CEO of the Science Center. "We want to hear from the community."
Final selections will be made by a committee comprised of Science Center affiliates and members of the regional innovation and entrepreneurial communities. By opening in conjunction with Philly Tech Week and the Science Festival, the call for nominations is expected to draw on the city's growing enthusiasm for discovery and invention.
Not yet officially decided, the location of the walk -- think the musical stars on Avenue of the Arts -- will likely be on the Science Center's campus. The monument aims to draw public attention (particularly from local K-12 students) to these individuals and their accomplishments.

With leaders like Buckminster Fuller, biotech pioneer Hubert Schoemaker and radar technologist Britton Chance, Philadelphia has a powerful history to pull from. Tang is looking forward to nominations that reach beyond traditional science hubs.
"Innovation is kind of an ethereal concept," he says. "I think we will surprise people because they'll recognize that we've had geniuses in our midst for some time." 
Nominations can be submitted here through June 15.

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.
Source: Stephen Tang, The University City Science Center
Writer: Dana Henry

The GreenLight Fund, a growing network of best-practice nonprofits, launches in Philadelphia

When the GreenLight Fund, a Boston-based nonprofit network for children and families, decided it was time to expand, they searched nationally for the right city. After a year of research and many lengthy visits, they chose Philadelphia.
The fund has launched with $2.3 million dedicated to establishing two nonprofits -- Single Stop USA and Year Up -- in the region.
"A lot of it came down to where there was receptivity, where were folks excited about the model -- Philadelphia rose to the top of that process," says Matt Joyce, executive director of the GreenLight Fund Philadelphia. (Joyce works out of The Exchange, a coworking space for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors recently profiled in Flying Kite).
To effect change on a local level, GreenLight works with community leadership to identify needs, then searches nationally for best-practice programs they can import. In Philadelphia, they met with members of city government, the Philadelphia Youth Network, the Philadelphia Education Fund, and the Community College of Philadelphia. From these discussions, college persistence and workforce development were identified as central issues for local youth.
The program is partially funded through the Social Innovation Fund, a federal program. Additional funding was provided by the William Penn Foundation, the Barra Foundation and the Bank of America Foundation.
GreenLight has operated in Boston since 2004, where they’ve established seven programs -- all are still operating and some have become independently sustainable.
"We were looking for an appetite for innovation and new ideas," says Joyce. "Among the folks we talked to, there was a lot of interest in trying to get some of the best ideas from around the country launched in Philadelphia."
Source: Matt Joyce, The Green Light Fund
Writer: Dana Henry

Team Slopes takes dramatic victory at the fifth Philly Startup Weekend

Cramming the development of a smart, thoughtful minimum viable product into a grueling 52-hour session requires the passion and stamina often associated with athletic competition. Fittingly, the team behind Slopes, a performance app for snowboarders and skiers, took a come-from-behind victory in the fifth Philly Startup Weekend, held April 26-28 at Workbridge Associates in Center City.
Curtis Herbert, developer and founder of Consumed by Code, had been discussing the concept with fellow snowboarders since January. "When you're on the slopes, you want to track your stats," he explains. "How fast were you going? Were you going faster than your friend?"
Yet Slopes faced an uphill battle at the competition. During Friday's round -- when 50 presented and 110 participated – the concept did not receive enough votes to make it to the next round. After the setback, Herbert joined Tim Li, Jiate Zhang and Liwen Mao in a different team. The new collaboration eventually dropped their original pitch and chose to design Slopes instead. Their winning product is akin to Nike+, using GPS-capacity to track individual stats including speed, distance and calories burned.

During Startup Weekend, the team established user needs, the back-end GPS-processing, and identified runs and ski lifts that affected the data. Their user interface garnered an impromptu award for "best design."
In second place was Adventures of Bob, a game that encourages kids to eat well by featuring a super hero who grows stronger through smart dietary decisions. DesignSync, the third place winner, helps graphic and user interface designers transfer work created with proprietary software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) to clients and teammates who don’t have those programs using Dropbox.
Organizers Chris Baglieri and Melissa Morris Ivone -- who have been with Philly Startup Weekend since the beginning -- said this event was marked by a growing comradery. When they needed to reconfigure the wifi, a sponsor picked up the tab; when they ran out of beer, an organizer made an emergency trip. In the final hours, when most participants were operating on red bull, beer and sheer will, teams tweeted messages of support for one another.
"You see some of the turmoil a team goes through," says Baglieri. "Then you see them present, and you’re like, ‘Oh, you guys are all over this,’ but 12 hours ago, they were freaking out."
Source: Curtis Herbert, Team Slopes; Chris Baglieri and Melissa Morris Ivone, Philly Startup Weekend
Writer: Dana Henry

The Resource Exchange, recycler to Philly's creative community, is hiring

When the Resource Exchange opened in 2009, Karyn Gerred, the executive director, spent much of her time stocking lumber and buckets of glitter. Today, the Port Richmond reuse center -- which caters to the arts, theater and film communities -- collects a bevy of fabrics, craft supplies, theater props and architectural salvage. The organization is currently developing programming to help these materials flow back into creative use.

"We started with film and theater [materials], but it’s much broader now," says Gerred. "Now we get a lot of individual donations and a lot of business and manufacturer surplus."

To support their growing operations, the Resource Exchange is hiring a logistics manager, and sales and marketing associates.

This month, the organization launched a monthly workshop on creative reuse projects taught by Philly artists. They're also partnering to provide local arts organizations -- including Fleisher Art Memorial and Village of Arts and Humanities -- with sustainably-sourced supplies.

To make inroads with the performance arts community, the Resource Exchange is working with local high schools, including New Hope Academy, on building theater sets from reclaimed pieces. They've also teamed up with the Philadelphia Film Registry on a local guide to reused set materials for visiting film production.

"We're trying to show people sustainability in the arts," says Gerred. "It's not only about saving materials -- it's about inserting sustainability into the dialogue."

Source: Karyn Gerred, The Resource Exchange
Writer: Dana Henry

Fairmount's Design Logic releases innovative cargo "fat" bike

In 2010, Lance Portnoff placed ninth among fifty contestants at the Motor Assisted Bike Death Race in Tuscon, Ariz., on a bicycle he designed and assembled himself in the basement of his Fairmount home. Shortly after, he earned a patent for the design -- dubbed "Da Bomb" -- and launched Design Logic Bikes.

The company makes heavy duty cargo bikes with built-in electric motors that travel up to 50 miles per hour (20 mph, legally). The frame includes a carrying rack that can hold up to 150 pounds, allowing the bike to haul anything from camping gear to humans over the back wheel. These are bikes built to do more than just get a person from place to place.

"The rear of the bike basically has a built-in rack," says Portnoff. "With most bikes you’d have to buy an accessory and bolt it in."

In mid-May, Design Logic will release a cargo bike, "Da Phat," with tires 4.8 inches thick. In addition to the built-in rack, the frame has a hitch that allows the Da Phat to move a small automobile trailer.

"There's a new trend in bikes within the last few years called a 'fat' bike with big fat tires," explains Portnoff. "A couple of manufacturers make bicycles with that size tires. We’re pretty much the first cargo fat bike."  

Design Logic plans to keep their operations lean (they outsource the machining). In addition to the new release, Portnoff is organizing an electric bike racing team. 

Source: Lance Portnoff, Design Logic
Writer: Dana Henry

DeTours opens its fourth season of Philadelphia Segway tours

In July 2010, Rassa Vella, founder of DeTours, returned from a trip to Paris with a new idea for exploring Philadelphia. Vella decided that a Segway -- a two-wheeled standing vehicle common in Europe -- could give tourists a more intimate view of the city compared to a traditional bus or carriage outing. DeTours open its fourth season this month and runs tours through October.

Since launching with just one guide, the company has grown to 13 employees and a full-time operations manager. DeTours has doubled their fleet to 15 vehicles and offer up to five tours per day. Trips cover Philly's murals, South Philly cheesesteak tasting and Center City sights. Stops include the Betsy Ross House, the Liberty Bell, Elfreth's Alley, Franklin Court and the Avenue of the Arts.They also cover contemporary Philly, including the Comcast Center, the Cira Center and urban parks. Longer trips go off-road on the Schuylkill River Trail.

"It's not just Betsy Ross," says Vella. "We integrate the present and the future along with the past. It's who Philadelphia is -- it's immersion."

Vella says the tours have grown increasingly popular for family gatherings and corporate outings. DeTours also serves larger private events and offers on-campus Segway demos at Temple student events. In the coming years, she hopes to open two other offices in the Greater Philadelphia region. 

"You can cover as much ground as you would on a bus, but you're experiencing it from the view of a pedestrian," says Vella. "You’re in the neighborhoods -- you're hearing, seeing and smelling them."

Source: Rassa Vella, DeTours
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Philly Tech Breakfast builds bridges in the local tech community

Even when it’s not Philly Tech Week, the region has an ever-growing schedule of hackathons and startup events. Despite the crowded landscape, Philly Tech Breakfast has already racked up over 200 members -- including local notables from Philly Startup Leaders, Technically Philly and Drexel's ExCITe Center -- and they haven't even held their first meetup yet.
The group will meet every third Thursday in Mitchell Auditorium at Drexel’s Bossone Research Enterprise Center. The morning will feature three-to-six presentations from local tech innovators. According to Enterprise Law Associates' Gary Smith, a founding sponsor, Tech Breakfast is "technology agnostic," meaning that folks working on any tech-driven enterprise -- be it a videogame platform or a medical diagnostic device -- are welcome to participate.
"We wanted focus more on the fact that the companies are early-stage and in technology than on the fact that they're in a particular vertical," explains Smith.
By joining the greater Tech Breakfast network -- a listserv boasting thousands of members from Baltimore, Washington D.C., Columbia, Md., and Northern Virginia -- Philly can engage a broader community. A venture capitalist from Northern Virginia, for example, is more likely to build relationships and invest in a Philly software company if they belong to the same community.
"We’ll become part of a larger flow of information," says Smith. "There's a lot of talk about that, but not a lot of practical facilitation of that."
Current sponsors include Namsa, a medical product consultancy, Outlook.com, Technically Philly and Bizelo, an inventory management company for e-commerce. The event was organized by Bizelo founder Ron Schmelzer.
While these breakfasts are free to the general public, they are tailored to tech startup members and supporters. Meetings start April 25 with presentations from AxisPhilly, SnipSnap and Acclaim, among others. 

Source: Gary Smith, Enterprise Law Associates 
Writer: Dana Henry

Philadelphia Science Festival offers over 100 interactive events

Mummies, baseball and hallucinogens -- these are just a few of the marvels explored in the third annual Philadelphia Science Festival, created by the Franklin Institute. Running April 18 through 28, the festival offers over 100 events throughout the city.

Over the past two years, the Festival has engaged over 120,000 people, including 30,000 students. The hallmark of the fest is promoting "citizen scientists" and all events are interactive. Here are a couple of our picks:

For fans of local fare, Yards is offering Beer Chemistry: Perfect Pairings, a chemistry lesson with a brewmaster’s twist -- and carefully selected food and beer pairings. Elsewhere, Chef Max Hansen of Max Hansen Catering will illustrate the science behind farm-to-table with a four-course meal during The Sustainable Table: A Dinner Experience.

Sustainability seekers should also check out Sweet and Savory: Hives and Honey, a bee expo led by local beekeepers; Urban Farming at Bartram’s Garden, an exploration of agricultural science; and Naturepalooza!, an outdoor Earth Day celebration hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.

Those still awaiting the zombie uprising can watch local taxidermist extraordinaire Beth Beverly -- her accessories fashioned from road kill earned her a spot on AMC’s Immortalized -- demonstrate how to bring the dead back to life with Skinned, Stuffed and Mounted: Taxidermy Exposed. They can also help solve a mystery pandemic at Murder at the Mütter: Outbreak! and learn how to compile forensic evidence while listening to live music from Cornbread Five during Nerd Night: CSI.

Arts and culture lovers will appreciate a multi-media presentation from the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts [PIFA] on Icarus at the Edge of Time, based on the children's physics book of the same name. Breadboard will also open a Cellular/Molecular Exhibit showcasing local bio- and chem-inspired art. Meanwhile, the Science of Jazz will demonstrate sound waves at work using live scores.

And be sure to save room for the Science Carnival, the Science Festival's signature event featuring live science demos outside on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

For more on the festival -- and to check out a full calendar of events -- visit PhilaScienceFestival.org.
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