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Wind power provider Clean Currents opens Philly office, hiring sales reps

When Clean Currents, a wind power company based in Silver Spring, Md., opened a third office at 15th and Walnut Streets, they wanted Philadelphia to know. Last week, they showcased a 20-foot model wind turbine in Rittenhouse Square, Love Park, Manyunk and at the Wachovia Center in South Philly.
The "See The Power" campaign incorporated social media contests to build buzz around the availability of locally sourced wind power. According to Gary Skulnik, the company's president and chairman of the board, selling this energy is only the first step.

The company -- which has a second office in Baltimore -- also publishes a bi-weekly newsletter on environmental issues and policy, holds sustainability webinars, campaigns for energy efficiency legislation, gives presentations on environmental issues at local grade schools and holds "green neighborhood challenges" with prizes such as rain barrels and compost bins.
"We really view ourselves as a front door to sustainability," says Skulnik. "Once people and businesses sign up with us, we like to help them take additional steps. I think they appreciate an approach that pushes the envelope a little."
In two years, Clean Currents has racked up thousands of customers including businesses, schools and embassies. They have over 12,000 e-newsletter subscribers. From 2011 to 2012, their revenues grew 400 percent. They are currently hiring sales reps to round out their five-person Philly office.
According to Skulnik, Clean Currents chose their new locale because of an environmentally conscious consumer-base -- he credits the Sustainable Business Network and the Delaware Valley Green Building Council for helping drive the movement. In an era of mass information, sustainability requires more than individual action.
"The only way we are going to solve [climate change] is by creating a ground swell of support for solutions," he says. "It’s really vital that we create this sense of community."

Source: Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents
Writer: Dana Henry

Philadelphia Game Lab, an incubator and co-working space for game developers, is set to open

With the recent success of companies like Flyclops, Final Form and Cipher Prime, mobile game-making is carving a niche in the city's creative economy. Now the community needs a home-base -- enter Nathan Solomon, founder of Philadelphia Game Lab, a combination co-working space and incubator.
"Over the past ten years, with alternative distribution channels, the industry as a whole is much more interested in actual creative stuff," says Solomon. "Philadelphia's not in a really great position to pull together teams of over a hundred people, but we are in a really good position to pull together people who have technical expertise and creative drive, and want to make their own games."

The Lab will open its doors at 22nd and Walnut Streets in late March. It will admit small "teams" (usually two to six people) and skilled individuals seeking teams. In addition to benefiting from the networking and support that comes with a game-centric community, teams can better access capital via partnering funders. Opportunities for mentoring and a Quality Assurance (QA) Lab for beta testing are also in the works.
While shrinking startup costs have made the game app industry more accessible, the market is highly competitive. "You don’t need to find that special backer or special publisher anymore," says Solomon. "At the same time, it's really, really hard to make a good game."
The Lab will open with four teams and hopes to serve 12 teams total. Solomon says he’s also planning programs with local universities designed to expose students to game making as a vocation.
Source: Nathan Solmon, Philadelphia Game Lab
Writer: Dana Henry

Philly's first LadyHacks lures women into the hackathon movement

Nationally, computer science programs award more masters degrees to men than bachelors degrees to women.

This statistic helped inspire "Visualizing the Gender Gap," a graphic representation of educational and professional outcomes for men and women. The project was one of several activist platforms created during Philadelphia’s first LadyHacks, a mostly-female hackathon held last weekend at WHYY in Center City.

"A lot of the Hackathons you see are competitive," says Tristin Hightower, co-organizer of LadyHacks. "We wanted to remove that element. We were trying to address stuff that impacts [women] as an under-represented group in tech."

Other projects included Miss Conceptions, a click-through info graph addressing female stereotypes; Power Solvers, a game aimed at increasing tech appeal to 11- to 15-year-old girls; Hacking the Gender Gap, a program that tracks positive and negative tech experiences by gender; STEM everywhere, a regional resource for Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) youth education programs; and SheTechPHL, a comprehensive guide for women looking to engage in the local tech scene.

The event had 64 female and one male participants. Most came from non-technical backgrounds (SheTech, for example, was produced by four English majors) and the teams received mentorship from local female leaders including Yasmine Mustafa of Girl Develop IT Philly, Gloria Bell of Philly Startup Leaders and Tracy Levesque of Yikes. Sponsors included Chariot Solutions, Azavea, Skout MediaMonetate, Yikes and Philly Tech Meetup.

Hightower and fellow Girl Geek Dinner member Sondra Willhite developed the concept as a solution for lackluster female participation in Philly’s hackathons. Eighty percent of attendees admitted that they had never contributed at a tech event before. By the end of the hackathon, most said they planned to participate again in the near future.

Hightower and Willhite will follow up with surveys to see if these newbies do, in fact, continue their pursuit, particularly with regards to the upcoming Philly Tech Week. Additionally, they're re-evaluating the event -- with help of attendee feedback -- in hopes of creating an annual LadyHacks.

"Hackathons have this stereotype that it's all the coders getting together and just coding," says Hightower. "But that's not all they can be. All these other people need to be involved—and can be involved."

Source: Tristin Hightower, Sondra Willhite, Lady Hacks
Writer: Dana Henry

Temple grad buys back social media company Stuzo, hiring across departments

Two years after selling to the Dachis Group, Gunter Pfau has reacquired Stuzo, the company he founded in 2005 as a Temple senior. Considered one of Facebook's first Preferred Marketing Developers, Stuzo is countering industry trends: While competitors have been acquired by Google, Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle, Stuzo is going independent.
Located in Chinatown, the company creates specialized customer engagement solutions and has worked for a slew of corporate brands, including Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, DreamWorks, Intel and Samsung. They have 40 employees (split between Philadelphia and a European office) and plan to hire for positions in customer engagement, accounting, creativity and product delivery.
Pfau says he was one of Facebook’s earliest adopters. Shortly after the social network launched in 2007, Stuzo pivoted from servicing student-to-student textbook sales to brand engagement strategy. 

"With the transformation and democratization of social technologies, you have companies and brands engaged in two way conversations," says Pfau. "If my trusted friends on Facebook tell me how well Swiffer picks up dog hairs off hardwood floors, it's much more impactful."

To date, the company has built over 600 custom social media campaigns that integrate social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. For example, Stuzo doubled the votes cast in the People's Choice Awards (PCA) with an API (Application Programming Interface, software that shares information with multiple websites or applications) that republished the voting activity of PCA's Facebook page to Twitter.

Shortly after iPad was released, Stuzo began focusing their energies on cross-platform mobile solutions, increasing their revenue by 70 percent in 2012. According to a 2012 report by Strategy Analytics, Machine to Machine (M2M) products--where activity is shared across consumer devices without human input -- will increase by over a third this year. Pfau believes that Stuzo's cross platform communications, enabled by APIs, is positioned to meet the demands of the M2M world.

"Mobile is now the key screen that we need to optimize for from a user experience perspective," he says. "Our core technology platform is built to be flexible so that we can integrate new [social] platforms and consumer [devices] with ease. 
Source: Gunter Pfau, Stuzo
Writer: Dana Henry

PlusUs rewrites educational methods with 'design thinking'

As education rapidly digitizes -- think online charters, virtual textbooks and "teaching" monitors -- PlusUs is bringing workshop-based learning back to the classroom. The certified B corporation unites educators and designers, delivering "human-centered" educational programing solutions for clients, including the Franklin Institute and the Public Workshop.

"There’s a lot of resistance to education reform," says cofounder Phil Holcombe. "There’s a lot of good ideas, but they’re being injected from the outside without buy-in from educators."
PlusUs, which operates out of Culture Works in Center City, allows clients to direct their project’s development and employs local educators as consultants. Holcombe, a designer (his cofounder Jake Thierjung is a teacher), believes approaching educational issues with "design thinking" changes the processes.
"I don’t think typography or color is going to change the face of education," says Holcombe. "It’s about the way a designer thinks and the way they can objectively look at problems."
So far, projects have centered on educational spaces and curriculums -- "tool kits" that enable teachers to engage students in real-world scenarios. At the Franklin Institute, PlusUs worked with the Science Leadership Academy to help students prototype new uses for New York City’s payphone system. PlusUs was also hired by the promotional department of a Nascar team to create a distributable math curriculum based on race car engineering. They are currently developing the layout for the  Department of Making + Doing.
As part of their B Corporation idealology, PlusUs also taps into client-funded projects to develop solutions for programs without a budget. Ultimately, according to Holcombe, PlusUs is providing a new path for educational reform.
"Educators are designing, but designers are also educating," says Holcombe. "When two entities start to work together, that’s when change can happen."

Source: Phil Holcombe, PlusUs
Writer: Dana Henry

Girl Develop It Philly gears up for a higher profile in 2013

From meetups to coworking, the "better together" ethos is on the rise. For women in technology, the local peer support network continues to grow with Girl Geek Dinners, Tech Girlz, Web Start Women and Philly Women in Tech.

One such organization, Girl Develop It Philly, more than tripled its membership at the close of 2012. All sixteen GDI-Philly classes—which cover both soft skills and advanced programing—sold out, with most active members attending more than one class. 

Since establishing GDI-Philly in September 2011, Yasmine Mustafa, founder of 123Linkit and self-proclaimed "non-techie software entrepreneur" (Mustafa was profiled by Flying Kite in November 2011), has witnessed more women attending Philly Tech Meetup, Word Camp Philly and Lean Startup Machine Philly. One member landed a tech job at Center City-based ad agency Red Tettemer after completing GDI-Philly’s full roster of front-end development classes. Another member was hired by Zoe Rooney Web Development  after connecting with the founder through GDI-Philly. Many members credit their new skills for promotions and higher salaries.

While Mustafa says she can’t pinpoint exactly why membership spiked—some women sign up to supplement self-directed learning, others want to make a career change—she believes computer science is becoming more attractive to everyone. "You're stuck on developing something and then, suddenly, everything clicks," explains Mustafa. "It's an incredibly empowering feeling."

To match the growing interest, GDI-Philly beefed up their 2013 offerings with three learning trajectories: a comprehensive front end developer track (starting in January), an introductory back end developer track and a mobile Android/iOS  developer track (available in the spring). They’re also launching a mentorship program and a scholarship fund for their classes.  

For Mustafa, watching members develop and share success is the most rewarding part. "Besides educational reasons, the top reason members state that they signed up is to meet other technical women," she says.

Source: Yasmine Mustafa, Girl Develop It Philly
Writer: Dana Henry

Startup News: Sevenpop launches American edition from Philly

Think about your favorite bar or coffee shop. Sure, you enjoy the grub, the décor, even the snarky comments from the hipster behind the counter, but none of this would impress without decent music.

Sevenpop—an Israeli startup with U.S. headquarters in Center City—mines our timeless urge for good tunes, integrating mobile requests into a business' preexisting music player. According to cofounder John Vairo, when patrons influence the sound system, they’re more likely to stay—and spend—giving the business a competitive edge.

Recently, the company closed its first round of financing with a $400,000 investment from JanVest. They’re currently releasing the United States version of Sevenpop across the country.

Cofounders Nuke Goldstein and Eyal Bernstein created the product at a bar in Tel Aviv that later became their alpha test site. When the team asked for a computer to run the system, the bar explained their only apparatus was the music player. "We concluded [Sevenpop] should focus on the music and the product was shaped," says Vairo.

The resulting “Social Jukebox” provides a lean solution for three popular multimedia systems. (The company says they will adapt their software for other systems.) They've landed in bars, cafes and DJ booths, and expect to add grocery chains, gyms and sports arenas to their client base. The company sells added social features, but Vairo says the best way to approach a market segment of this size is to keep the basic software free. “Once [the client] is up and running, the system is theirs for as long as they want it," he says.

Source: John Vairo, Sevenpop
Writer: Dana Henry

Job Alert: Philly's talent pool lures Yorn from Conshohocken

Establishing a quality reputation in the age of social media is a challenge. It takes just one irate customer to drag down a Yelp profile and leave a permanent stain on a virtual record.  

For businesses trapped in twitter-roulette, Yorn (Your Opinion Right Now) circumvents the online commotion with real time customer feedback. The two-year-old company is doubling business every quarter, recently reaching 2,000 accounts including Deutsche Bank, Intuit, UPS, Cisco and Stanley Black and Decker. The good news is they’ve also moved to Philly. 

Unofficially, the company left Conshohocken for 24th and Chestnut Streets in October, but they plan to open the doors of the new office before the end of 2012. Yorn recently added seven employees (rounding out a core team of twelve) and seeks additional leadership in software development, marketing and product management.
Rick Rasansky, founder and CEO, refers to the company's product as "the anti-social network to a certain degree," but it could also be considered an antidote: When experiencing a problem, today’s constomer consults their computer in lieu of confronting the manager. Yorn mends the broken channel for businesses, coneferneces, hospitals, and hotels with a unique URL or QR-code. Customers access the code--displayed on cards, posters and other promotional materials--and receive a temporary app to send comments and ratings directly to the owner.
Rasansky says he scouted a location near two prime clients: Drexel and Penn. Of course, the spot also provides access to another resource—"The base of talent that we’re going after is absolutely centered in here in Center City," he says. "Not to put down Conshohocken, but the action is here in Philly."

Source: Rick Rasansky, Yorn
Writer: Dana Henry

Coworking News: CultureWorks fills a gap in Philly's creative economy

From incubators to venture capital funds, the term “scalability” is used tirelessly to describe startup potential. Yet for Thaddeus Squire, founder and managing director of CultureWorks (formerly Peregrine Arts), value isn't determined by size. "There needs to be space to talk about small and non-scale enterprise and its contribution to the economy," he argues.
Foundation money is tight, Squire admits, but Philly’s "huge startup energy," plethora of arts resources and the timeless "human urge to create" continue to push experimental arts forward. Just two months after officially adding coworking to their programing list, CultureWorks has filled 73 seats—over a third of capacity—with freelancers and individuals representing a slate of new and mid-development organizations, including Recycled Artists In Residency, Next American City and Alchemy Dance Company.
CultureWorks—which outsources management services and helped buoy the development of Hidden City—has been increasingly approached by emerging creators who seek support but can’t purchase the full program. Squire sees coworking as a solution: Build a home base for makers, artists, architects and designers—alongside the curators, publicists, lawyers and marketing experts who support them—and Philadelphia’s collective creativity continues down the path to prosperity.
"It’s the same idea that the VC and startup community has," explains Squire. "You want to see a lot of churn of ideas because every tenth idea might be a real game changer."
Squire believes his space is outside the coworking bubble (new Philly spaces include Venturef0rth, the South Philly Co-op Workshop, Paper Box Studios and Benjamin’s Desk) because it’s geared towards the nonprofit realm. While championing the value of small, he is certainly not shy about CultureWorks' capacity for growth. "We want to prove that this model will work," he says. "The intention beyond that might be to franchise into other cities."

Source: Thaddeus Squire, CultureWorks
Writer: Dana Henry

Job Alert: Zokos, catalyst for friend-funded dinner parties, seeks web developers

In the age of Wiki-pages, Kickstarter and crowd-funded banking, something as routine as dinner can be crowdsourced. At least that’s what the cofounders of Zokos—Christopher Kieran, Bradley Baer, Andrew Hapke and Roger Vandervort—are betting on. Their site helps hosts plan and fund dinner parties by engaging guests in their extended social networks. The team recently moved their headquarters from New York City to Benjamin’s Desk in Center City, Philadelphia, and plans to hire web-developers (particularly Ruby developers) early next year.

Unlike potluck invitations, which are well served by Facebook or Evite, Zokos assumes some people enjoy planning events while others wouldn’t mind contributing a little money in order to partake. The cofounders were pursuing master’s degrees at Yale when they met at the popular Veggie Dinner Club and discovered the appeal of peer-networked meals.

“I was able to have an unbelievable dinner with 10 to 20 interesting people,” explains Baer. “Often these dinners would turn into longer events where I'd make several new friends and connections.”

The Zokos dining community is modeled on the vibrant social exchanges available on a university campus. In addition to the funding feature, Zokos allows hosts to reach out to friends-of-friends, collaborate on the menu with their guests, and join a larger network of foodies and event enthusiasts. Interest groups and book clubs use the platform to plan dinners and fundraising occations. So far, over 4,000 parties have been successfully created, and roughly five percent of guests return to the site as hosts. The company also launched Zokits, a source for complete event planning roadmaps developed by industry experts. As more and more twenty-and-thirty-somethings stray from traditional family life, Zokos could be the antidote to eating alone.

“While good food, saving time and saving money is important, it's all about finding anything that brings people together,” says Baer.

Source: Brad Baer, Zokos
Writer: Dana Henry

Job Alert: Rumble bets on the mobile newspaper revival

Last year Eyal (Al) Azoulay, co-founder and CEO of Rumble and self-proclaimed news junky, bought his first tablet. He expected to view his favorite titles on the go, but there was not a single app for his choices. He was not alone in his disappointment—according to a study by Kontera, mobile accounts for 27 percent of all content consumed on the web (up 430 percent from last year) and news outlets, particularly traditional print media, continue losing readership as they struggle to adapt.
Rumble, based in Philadelphia and Tel-Aviv, and accelerated at the Project Liberty Digital Incubator at the Inquirer/Daily News offices, is a catchall content distribution system for mobile devices poised to conquer this digital divide. They’ve secured $1 million in investments and are hiring rapidly: Seven positions are currently open in sales and marketing.
Over the past five years, the print to web shift has resulted in billions of lost revenue for the newspaper industry. Mobile content represents an entirely different set of complex technologies and user interaction issues, and can be overwhelming to newspaper managers who are down to 70 percent of their heyday budget and workforce. "[Newspaper managers] honestly don’t even have the time to think about a strategy across mobile, let alone execute one," says Azoulay.
The problem is even more severe for mega publishers such as Conde Nast, Gannett, Lee, Knight Rider and Mcklechy—often each title will create individual apps. "As a mega publisher, your network of titles is completely fragmented," says Azoule. "Rumble offers the mega publisher one platform to unify all titles over all mobile devices and leverages the entire network as one."
Newspapers, Azoulay points out, are experts in content creation, not software. With the fourth version of the iPad rolling out after just two years, it’s hard to justify the major upfront investment required for the print-mobile switch. Rumble offers a backend system that publishes across all mobile devices and hosts a complete set of content-related features, including mobile-specific layout, performance tracking, revenue modeling and social media tools. After newspapers, Azoulay and his cofounders—Itai Cohen and Uyen Tieu, who’s served in executive sales and marketing positions for Microsoft and Viacom—expect to add trade publications and television news clients with similar needs.
There are over 1,600 newspapers and 2,000 university publications. Currently, news media gains only $1 from mobile platforms for every $9 they’ve lost, but Azoulay believes that’s all about to change. Mobile usage reveals not just consumers’ demographics and preferences, but where they are and what they’re doing. Of the $30 billion dollars spent annually on advertising, seventy percent come from local ads and no one is more capable of capitalizing on that revenue than newspapers.
"If you couple that with the highly sophisticated targeting available through mobile, you get one of the best combinations you can leverage," he says. "There’s no question that we will learn how to monetize on mobile devices very well."

Source: Eyal Azoulay, Rumble
Writer: Dana Henry

The Corzo Center cooks up a new batch of creative entreprenures

In 2011, Michele McKeone, a teacher and University of the Arts alum, entered the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at the University of the Arts intending to market her specialized curriculum. One year later she launched the beta version of Autism Expressed, an interactive web-platform that helps autistic students develop digital skills. McKeone and three other 2011 Corzo Center/Wells Fargo Fellows will share trials, mistakes, successes and plans from their creative ventures during What’s Cooking at Corzo on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Like many artistic entrepreneurs, McKeone, a former media design student, struggled to turn her passions into something marketable. Many creative startups also have difficulty appealing to traditional funding sources.

“When the politicians talk about ‘job creators,’ they are not talking about the small businesses created in the creative economy,” says Neil Kleinman, Senior Fellow for the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy. “As we know, though, a thriving economic community requires that we have a creative culture.”

The Corzo Center provides workshops, mentorship and consulting to meet the specific needs of creative startups and offers select entrepreneurs a $10,000 grant. The presenting 2011 Corzo fellows demonstrate a diverse range of business concepts rooted in creative education. In addtion to McKeon, presenters include:

ADMK:  As a graduate student at UArts, Andrew Dalhgren, a master crafter, spent a year investigating the state of textiles in Philadelphia. He developed a vision for scalable production of handmade knitting enabled by advanced technology, and plans to launch Knit Lab as a shared workspace.
Bonded Forever Jewelry: This company designs jewelry that “bonds” cancer patients with their loved ones. Cassandra Hoo, a writer, filmmaker and recent Alliance for Women Entrepreneur (AWE) fellow, developed the concept after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Bonded Forever Jewelry is sold in local shops and helps fund cancer research.

Bioskin: Eric Zola is an industrial designer developing new forms of environmentally sound insulation using biomimicry—sustainable design based on biological forms.

McKeone, who since completed the Good Company Ventures accelorator and was awarded a 2011 AWE fellowship, is currenlty testing Autism Expressed at area charter schools. She credits Corzo for pushing her to incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into her vision.

"At the time, I had no clear business model, just an emerging vision," she says. "After working through the incubator, attending its workshops and open office hours with experts in the areas of law, business, marketing, etc., I emerged with not only a well-defined vision, but a scalable product and business model."

In the past three years, six of the ten total Corzo Incubator fellows launched startups that continue to progress. Nonetheless, Kleinman says the ultimate focus is not about success.

"We have emerging entrepreneurs with remarkable stories," he says. "Their time with Corzo was intended to be a learning process—the first stage along a path that may lead to new ideas and new ventures. Each started at a very small spot on the road and has begun to move out into some delightful, surprising forms of recognition.”

Source: Neil Kleinman, Michele McKeone, Corzo Center
Writer: Dana Henry

Azavea prepares for busy election season, hiring

With the presidential race in full swing it’s easy to overlook that thousands of political seats—at municipal, state and federal levels—are up for re-election across the country. Luckily, Azavea keeps track of legislative data with Cicero API, a GIS platform matching people, businesses, advocacy organizations and nonprofits with their elected officials. Azavea is hiring two to three paid research assistance internships to help overhaul Cicero as well as one or two software engineers for their Justice and Enterprise Services Team.

“[A user] can geo-code their address and [Cicero] will know the local district and the state district and tell you exactly who you should contact and what their contact information is,” Maya Gutierrez, Product Manager of Elections and Politics at Azavea, explains.

Unlike similar services which estimate your districts based on zip code, Cicero is remarkably accurate, pinpointing the precise longitude and latitude of an address. The platform holds comprehensive data of federal and state legislative districts as well as city council data for 80 of the largest cities. In addition to updating official information for up to 10,000 inaugural seats, the Cicero team will be working double-time to redraw district boundaries, which have changed in accordance with the 2010 census data. Their product is a valuable informant for a range of clients.

“Cicero is used by the political campaigns but it can also be used by constituents,” Gutierrez says. “A number of clients use it for legislative advocacy projects.”

Winning Mark used Cicero to create a web-app voter’s guide for Oregon residents. SEPTA uses it to remind officials which transportation routes effect their constituency. News outlets view the political landscape through Cicero. The platform has even helped with analysis of the impact of voter ID law. Because nothing like Cicero exists in the public realm, Azavea offers nonprofit pricing options as well as pro bono accounts for several non-profits signed up through TechSoup and selected local organizations, keeping the civilly-minded resource as available as possible.

Source: Maya Gutierrez, Azavea
Writer: Dana Henry

Lots to celebrate, including three winning projects, from State Of Young Philly 2012

By all accounts, the fully revamped State of Young Philly 2012 was a breakout success. From the 12 events that sold out at more than 75 attendees apiece, to the closeout dance party where local leaders and dedicated volunteers partook in the Electric Slide, Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) proved it could pull off a civic-advocacy conference that was bigger, livelier and more ambitious than any seen in Philly to date. 

“It’s that whimsical optimism you have when you’re young,” Sophia Hwang, Outreach Coordinator of YIP, says. “But [YIP] is also rooted in doing good work.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims came by Hamilton Hall at University of the Arts for Saturday’s closing ceremony to commend YIP. He encouraged everyone in the audience, which he recognized as Philadelphia’s rising leadership, to run for political office. 

SYOP’s greatest achievement, however, may have been the launch of three projects, winners of the culminating YIP Challenge: It’s My Life in the education track, OKWork!Philly in the economy track and Bike Generator Demonstrator in the sustainability track. All three received $1,000 seed money and YIP will continue to provide them with networking and public relations assistance.

Lawanda Horton Sauter, CEO of Mission Incorporated, will pilot It’s My Life at four area high schools and help students use live theater to safely practice situation related to their sexual health. Sauter was inspired by her young, HIV-positive client and has been researching staggering realities of rising STD rates among youth.

“[The YIP Challenge] really encourages the next generation of social entrepreneurs to do things that impact the community instead of just worrying about the bottom line for their companies,” Sauter says. “[YIP] made this possible by opening it up to so many people regardless of what their ‘connections’ were.”

OKWork!Philly was created by four UPenn recent graduates—David Wengert, Anne Misak, Maurie Smith and Elizabeth Frantz—three of which are currently seeking employment. Their concept harnesses the networking power of LinkedIn to create a more effective web platform for local hiring.

“It benefits Philly to have jobs filled faster,” Misak says. “We want one central place where you can see a job posting, apply directly through the website and then see who in your network is connected to the employer and ask them to write a personalized recommendation. [OKWork!Philly] will save time and money on both the employer side and job seekers side.”

Aaron Roche, a structural engineer who graduated from Drexel, met recent transplant, Becky Schwartz, during SYOP’s Sustainability 101 event. Together they teamed up with Matt Weaver to develop Bike Generator Demonstrator, a design project that powers light bulbs and small electronic appliances using human-power generated from a bicycle.

“One of our goals is to generate interest in energy efficiency,” Roche says. “How can these common appliances be powered in such a simple way?”

According to Hwang, it takes just one voice to start an avalanche of change:  “A single individual came to State of Young Philly last year and said, ‘it was good but not good enough.’ We met with him, had coffee, and this [year’s programming] was what we did. We’re young, we’re nimble, we’re flexible, so if you have an idea, let’s run with it.” Hwang says.

As noted by YIP’s board chair, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Philadelphia now retains twice the local university graduates it did a decade ago and offers an increasing number of “friends of” groups connected to YIP. SYOP 2012 may be a sample of what YIP will show us for years to come.

Source: Sophia Hwang, Rudy Flesher, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

University City Science Center recieves Venture Impact Award from Early Stage East

University City Science Center received the Sal Buccieri Memorial Venture Impact Award during the 15th annual Early Stage East, venture capital conference, on Thursday (Oct. 4). Previously, this award, which honors individuals and organizations that help early stage companies flourish in Philadelphia, was largely given to venture capitalists.

“[The University City Science Center] has created a true center of innovation,” David Freschman, Founder of ESE, says.  “It offers counsel, resources, facility and thought-leadership which has been the impetus for the launch and growth of many companies in our region that currently employ thousands of employees.”

“This award is especially meaningful as we embark on our 50th anniversary year,” Stephen Tang, President & CEO of UCSC, says of the acceptance.  “I did not have the honor of knowing Sal Buccieri, but from what I've heard about him, he exemplified the pay-it-forward mentality we need to nurture a thriving culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

During the conference, 25 technology startups from Club Pitch presented to venture capitalists and angle investors. Freschman says many participating companies gain their first-round investment from contacts made at ESE. Innovation Capital Advisors, where Freschman serves as Managing Principal, invests up to 70 percent of their capital in companies that participated in Club Pitch. Among the 16 presenters from the Philadelphia region, Freschman cites Snip Snap, Localty, People Linx and Cloud Confidence as companies to look out for.

“Philadelphia is very much a city driven by ‘substantive’ enterprise,” Freschman says. “These are businesses that will grow because of customer acquisition and sales growth versus publicity and marketing presence. Maybe they aren’t as sexy as what you read in INC magazine, but [Philly companies] are really productive.”

Freschman believes the greater Philadelphia public, however, needs to look beyond banking and insurance to find the real success story of our local enterprise community.

“We need to really praise and recognize these emerging companies” he says.

Source: David Freschman, Early Stage East
Writer: Dana Henry

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