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Trippy puzzle game-maker Cipher Prime blooms in Old City, to release CD of game tunes

Cipher Prime has the market cornered on the music of beauty, and the beauty of music. The startup game developer based in Old City recently released Fractal: Make Blooms Not War on the Steam network, which Cipher Prime co-founder and Creative Director William Stallwood terms the largest game distribution platform in the world, for Mac or PC in English, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

With in-game titles like Clustodial Duties and Bippity Boppity Bloom, Fractal is a good example of Cipher Prime's philosophy of fun, creating a new genre of trippy puzzle games.

"I like pretty pictures and colors," jokes Stallwood, who is responsible for the gorgeous graphics that set apart Cipher Prime games like its newest title, Pulse: Volume One, which Stallwood says was the number one selling iPad music game in the world in May 2011, and Auditorium, the team's first title and its largest revenue generator.

Like the other titles in the Cipher Prime catalog, Pulse is easy to learn and hard to put down. A review in Digitally Downloaded called the newest release of Fractal " a thoroughly charming and chilled out little puzzle game." 

Co-founder Dain Saint is the soundtrack powerhouse of the duo, and Cipher Prime's music is set to spin off, with an upcoming CD release of game tunes.

Stallwood says the three and a half year old company is about to launch a fourth title, Splice, in the next month, although he cannot furnish details just yet. Stallwood, who is from South Jersey and attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and Saint, who grew up in North Jersey, are able to make a living having fun. Auditorium was a web based game that was then launched on iPhone, PS3 and PSP.

Fractal, built using Flash, initially didn't do as well, says Stallwood, hence the new and improved relaunch on Steam. Pulse began life as an iPad only game, and has won many awards, with 10,000 downloads a day at the outset, and currently purchased an average of 100 times a day, at a price of $2.99. Fractal is available at the iTunes store for $1.99, and Auditorium on Steam sells for $6.99 per download.

Source: William Stallwood, Cipher Prime
Writer: Sue Spolan

Change By Us launches as virtual, social Post It note for community innovation

It would be great to stick a Post It note on the front door of City Hall. Philadelphia's new Change By Us initiative, officially launched last week, offers citizens the virtual and social networked version of the Post It experience. The Knight Foundation, one of the project's funders along with The Rockefeller Foundation, also announced that it has thrown $25,000 into the mix, divided in a way to be determined, with the understanding that the funds will help facilitate community generated change in Philadelphia, according to Knight's Donna Frisby-Greenwood.

So far, says Jeff Friedman, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation in the Mayor's Office, the Change By Us website has attracted 229 users who have generated 234 ideas, from poetic to prosaic. For example: "We've started our own grassroots campaign in Old City named Scoop the Poop Campaign. Our slogan is "No Pile Left Behind," reads one note. While there are many similar ideas having to do with pets and regulation of their behavior, there is also a groundswell of support for better use of community centers and public facilities. "The way the world communicates is changing," remarked Mayor Michael Nutter during the Change By Us press conference. "As social media evolves, the City of Philadelphia is at the forefront." Of the 234 ideas, 32 projects have so far been created on the site.

An important aspect of Change By Us is connecting citizens with resources, and a section of the site, which was developed with the help of the Philadelphia's Code for America fellows, offers one click connections to the East Park Revitalization Alliance, Congreso, and The Center City District, among dozens of others.

The second city in America to adopt Change By Us, Philadelphia is following the blueprint of the recently launched New York City Change By Us program, developed through a $100,000 initial grant, according to Jake Barton, whose group Local Projects created the New York version and acted as consultant for the local initiative. Going forward, Barton announced that the Change By Us platform is open source, freely available to every village, town, city or megalopolis.

The Philadelphia initiative has its own public service announcement, created by PhillyCAM, featuring local leaders like Young Involved Philly's Claire Robertson-Kraft and Department of Parks and Recreation's Mike Deberardinis telling viewers they are listening. Kraft says, "Jeff and I were talking about the priorities of the Change By Us program, and our three choices were smarter, safer and greener." Rather than attempt to choose one of the three, says Robertson, the Change By Us tagline includes all three goals. "There are projects on Change By Us that are similar to ideas generated at State of Young Philly."

Friedman adds that Change By Us can eliminate duplicate efforts. If a community group has improved a park in Northeast Philly, people in South Philly can find out about it, reducing time and sharing resources, he explains. Response leaders, says Friedman, will monitor projects coming in to steer them to the right departments and organizations.

Source: Jeff Friedman, Michael Nutter, City of Philadelphia, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Copyright, innovation and whack-a-mole: Protecting technological innovation in the 21st century

"I've been thinking a lot about Napster," says Rutgers-Camden law professor Michael Carrier. "Google just gave me a research award to examine the effects of Napster on digital innovation." Nice gig if you can get it, and Carrier gets it.

The author of Innovation for the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of Intellectual Property and Antitrust Law, which came out in paperback earlier this year, Carrier promotes a new way to look at copyright, anti-trust and patent law as technology rapidly and dramatically changes commerce in several areas, including media, pharmaceuticals and innovation.

Ever since the advent of the VCR, issues of copying and sharing have kept courts busy. "Peer to peer offers real benefits to consumers," says Carrier, who points to the concept of dual purpose use, where a technology can be used for both infringement and non-infringement. As long as there is a single substantial non-infringing use, the technology should be upheld, he explains.

Carrier's work also extends to brand name and generic pharmaceutical products, a topic close to home, with the world's largest drug manufacturers within a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia. The big brands, says Carrier, pay generic makers out of court settlements to keep them off the pharmacy shelves. "The brand company is able to pay $100 million, which is a drop in the bucket for the billion it will make. The problem is that consumers don't have access to generic drugs," says Carrier.

On a grander scale, when asked if Carrier's bent is pro-consumer, he responds, "That's such a loaded term. Pro-consumer is consistent with what I am doing, but I would characterize it as pro-innovation." says the Rutgers-Camden prof, who also mentions threats to locally based media giant Comcast.

Two controversial bills were recently introduced into the U.S. Congress. The Protect IP Act, now known as the E-PARASITE Act (S. 968), goes after piracy and rogue sites all around the world. While E-PARASITE may be too controversial to move through congress, yet another bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was just introduced into the House on Oct. 26.

"It's a whack-a-mole game, designed to allow the government, and even private parties to shut down websites. The proposed laws are not as nuanced as those we have now," explains Carrier. "Internet service providers like Comcast would have to take measures to make sure these sites would not be able to be accessed."

While Carrier says anti-corporate sentiment is fashionable these days, he adds, "I don't know if I need to go that far. I believe in patents. Patents are needed for innovation, and for companies to able to make money." Rather, Carrier stands against the overly aggressive use of laws that limit innovation across a wide range of business practices.

Source: Michael Carrier, Rutgers-Camden Law
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly Stake deadline looms for next round of microgrants

Back in July we reported on the growing micro-funding event series known as Philly Stake.  The series combines fast, no-nonsense funding for great ideas, combined with local food and fun with friends.

The next round of proposals is due by noon on Sunday, Oct. 30. Creatives, artists, organizers and thinkers are asked to submit their best ideas. It's a four-question application, and it could help your project earn fast funds. Ten proposals will be chosen to be voted on at the next Philly Stake event on Nov. 13 at the Ukie Club (847 N. Franklin St., Philadelphia).

Tidal Schuylkill River Tour ($1,000), Fair Grounds ($600) and Sunday Suppers ($500) were winners at the last Philly Stake.

Source: Philly Stake
Writer: Joe Petrucci

State of Young Philly has never looked better

If you want to know how young Philly's doing, let me sum it up for you: smart and good looking. From the highest reaches of government right down to our youngest up and comers, there's never been a more attractive bunch of people in charge.

The second annual State of Young Philly, convened by the all-volunteer Young Involved Philadelphia for a two-week run, was a series of six events designed to engage, connect and represent citizens. Targeting community engagement, education, sustainability and the creative economy, State of Young Philly drew close to 1,000 young professionals and representatives from over 50 organizations in the city, according to organizers. From the first packed event at World Cafe Live on Oct. 4 to the standing-room only crowd at the finale at The Gershman Y, the crowd was diverse in age and background and alike in its forward-thinking approach.

Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia Board Chair, says, "When I first moved to Philadelphia just over a decade ago, I was initially struck by the negativity of the city. But the spirit in the discussions over the course of the past few weeks has been very different than that initial perception I got when I first moved here. Rather than focusing solely on what was in need of improvement, each of the discussions was as much about how to build on already existing innovation and assets the city has to offer."

Alain Joinville, Public Affairs Coordinator for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and a Young Involved Philly board member, adds, "It was easier to get partnering organizations involved. The State of Young Philly series is the biggest and most audacious project our organization has undertaken in its 11-year history, and we did it pretty well last year, so we are seen as a credible organization in the eyes of the City's leaders and leading organizations."

Robertson-Kraft points to several initiatives that launched in the lead-up to this year's State of Young Philly: a local version of the online web portal Change By Us,a partnership with United Way to improve Philadelphia public education, entry into the Open Data Philly challenge, and social media hashtags #WhyILovePhilly and #PhillyArts.

But ultimately, the draw of State of Young Philly is the promise of doing good combined with a commitment to fun. Reports Robertson-Kraft, "Let’s just say that the after-party went into the late hours of the night. At all of our events, we strive to achieve that perfect balance of meaningful conversation and a good time."

It's a whole new take on a thousand points of light.

Source: Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Audaciousness Alert: Eff the PPA emerges a winner from Philly Startup Weekend

If you want to get ahead in the startup world, it helps to be audacious. Startup Weekend Philadelphia took place this past weekend, and the winner was Eff the PPA, a mobile app for finding parking, preventing tickets, and fighting parking tickets for a mere $5 fee. Second place went to HangPlan, a mobile app and website that helps people make plans with friends. Third place was awarded to Intro'd, a simple mobile app for connecting your colleagues.

Philly Startup Weekend (Twitter hashtag #phlsw) took place at the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University, thanks to law professor Karl Okamoto, who was also a participant in the 54-hour event. Okamoto's initiative, ApprenNet, with the Law Meets project, grew out of the first Philly Startup Weekend in February and is already in use in 60 law schools as a way to leverage peer learning, with potential vertical applications in other kinds of businesses. In fact, Okamoto and team will be meeting with a national restaurant chain this week to see if the Meets model can translate to hospitality management.

But back to the winners. Eff the PPA draws its rebel energy from the team of Drexel Law student Hans Smith and entrepreneurs Ted Mann and Ashwin Dhir. In short order, the team built a powerful app that even includes a geolocation function and timer so you don't lose track of your vehicle or the time left on your meter. The team exhorts, "It's time to beat the parking authority at their own game. This app gives you the inside scoop on how to score a legal spot. And if you are still socked with a ticket, it gives you a quick and easy way to get it thrown out." While judge Tracy Welson-Rossman voiced her concerns about the name, saying she didn't want to sign up for the startup's twitter feed, the group got the most audible and hearty audience response of all presenters.

HangPlan, which came from the mind of Melissa Morris-Ivone, who recently made an impression at Ignite Philly with her presentation about the Operation Nice blog, is a way to streamline social gatherings. Rather than find out after the fact about a great party, HangPlan, endorsed by Philly Party Ambassador, lets users get the scoop before the first toast. "We not only created a web app, mobile app, and an API, but we developed a brand, gathered research, and put together a social media presence," says Morris-Ivone.

You can see a full list of all 20 startups that presented this weekend. Brad Oyler, one of the organizers of the weekend, thinks the more full-time presence of mentors made a big difference and he's looking forward to the next startup weekend in April.

"Also, a lot of the teams focused on customer feedback to help shape their business," says Oyler. "A few teams, like SME Brain and ApprenNet, even had meetings with some serious clients."

Source: Karl Okamoto, Brad Oyler, Melissa Morris-Ivone, Philadelphia Startup Weekend
Writer: Sue Spolan

Take me to your leaderboard: Gamification growing up

It's pretty much impossible to surf the web these days without coming across some kind of gamelike feature. Do a Google search and a glinting +1 button accompanies each result, beckoning you to click. What's all this about? It's called gamification, and it's the hot topic for web design. There's only one problem. No one really knows how gamification works. There is no formula for fun.

Last Monday (Oct. 3), Penn's Wharton School hosted Gamification: Practical Advice from Game Developers. Ultimately, practical advice was trumped by theory. Panelists and speakers agreed that gamification is a nearly undefinable term. We know it when we see it. But how to achieve it?

If you think about the kids today and their incessant videogaming, refocusing the online experience to act more like a game makes sense. "Ninety-seven percent of kids 12 to 17 play videogames," cited Wharton professor Kevin Werbach, referring to a recent Gartner study. The mobile check-in service Foursquare is the poster child for gamifying, he said, with its point system, leaderboards, badges and fun little icons. Werbach also pointed to FoldIt, which was developed by researchers to crowdsource the process of protein folding. Werbach's current provisional definition of gamification: "The use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts."

It's plenty easy to define what gamification is not. But getting to a place of practice is quite another challenge. Panelists included Frank Lee from Drexel University's gaming program who comes from a psychology background; Playmatic's Margaret Wallace; Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor at Wharton; Jesper Juul, who writes The Ludologist blog and is a visiting prof at NYU; and 30 year gaming veteran Eric Goldberg, managing director of Crossover Technologies.

Mollick, who wrote the book Changing The Game, said that the billions of hours spent online playing games are a powerful message to business. "It's a reality is broken approach," explained Mollick. "Life is boring. Games are fun." One thing all agree upon: if gamifying a site is purely a marketing ploy, it will not fly. Chris Grant, editor in Chief of Joystiq, posited to the panel that no one is fooled by a crass attempt at commercialization. Gamifying cannot be unethical, immoral, or exploiting people's time.

Eric Goldberg responded, "Games are an art form, like movies and fiction. One of the core lessons game developers learn early on is that we are in the crack cocaine business. It's the manipulation of people. Manipulation, like any other tool, has the potential for evil and good."

So, back to practical advice. Mollick concluded, "Fun is hard to theorize about. Competition is fun. Randomness and art are fun. The best way to figure out what is fun is through development, testing and gathering data on how to get closer to fun." Because fun is good. And quite possibly lucrative.

Source: Kevin Werbach, Ethan Mollick, Eric Goldberg, Chris Grant, Wharton Gamification Conference
Writer: Sue Spolan

MilkBoy Recording taking over The Studio above The Electric Factory

First, MilkBoy the cafe took Center City. And now MilkBoy Recording is following suit. While the lease has not yet been signed, Jamie Lokoff reports that MilkBoy Recording has a signed letter of intent and will be moving from Ardmore to Philadelphia, taking over The Studio, Larry Gold's state of the art recording facility above the Electric Factory at 7th and Callowhill.

"It's the best studio north of Atlanta and south of New York," says Lokoff.

With the upcoming expansion, MilkBoy will breathe new life into a recording studio just blocks away from its live music venue at its new location at 11th and Chestnut. The Studio --a  20,000 square foot converted factory space with walls covered in gold and platinum records -- is legendary in the music business, having hosted luminaries like The Roots, Tori Amos, Al Green, Patti LaBelle and many other award-winning acts.

Gold, who is also a virtuoso musician and is still arranging for Jay-Z, John Legend and Jennifer Lopez, will be handing over the reins to MilkBoy, itself an established talent factory, working with Usher, Dave Matthews and the Dixie Hummingbirds. For a brief time last year, The Studio was run by Solomon Silber, who is no longer associated with the organization.

At this point, Lokoff does not have plans for MilkBoy's current multitrack digital and analog Ardmore recording studio, and until the impending move, continues with a full schedule that includes film and TV work as well as album recording.

Source: Jamie Lokoff, MilkBoy
Writer: Sue Spolan

Speak up: TEDxPhilly 2.0, TEDxSJU on the horizon

The Femininjas are coming to TEDxPhilly, along with a whole cast of speakers designed to blow audiences away with their words, ideas and inspiration. The second annual local version of the global TED talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design) will be Tuesday, Nov. 8, all day, starting at 9 a.m. at the Temple Performing Arts Center on North Broad Street.

The major difference with this venue, besides the location, is that we have the room to accommodate twice as many people," says TEDxPhilly organizer Roz Duffy. "We sold out last year (at the Kimmel Center) and had to deny people tickets leading up to the event due to capacity. This year, there should be more than enough seats for anyone who wants to attend."

The theme is The City, and organizers have invited  a compelling group of speakers to define the parameters of the urban landscape. "The City is about all aspects of urban life from people making a difference in Philadelphia and cities across the country to our collective experience of city life from the soundscape of our environment to the way we work, play, eat, live and breathe in the city," says Duffy.

Jennifer Pahlka, Executive Director of Code For America, will tell her tale of a year in city government. Speaker Youngjin Yoo is Director of Temple University's Center for Design+Innovation and Open Access Philly member.

Gregory Corbin, founder of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, where the Femininjas were born, will speak about creating an urban youth writing workshop that recently won national honors at Brave New Voices 2011 and a Knight Foundation grant. DJ Rich Medina will speak on spinning around the globe; sculptor Janet Echelman describes her art which combines ancient techniques with cutting edge technology; Chris Bartlett, Executive Director of the William Way Center, hosts the event.

"We will probably get close to 20 speakers this year and I’d guess around 800 attendees, but we have room for over 1,000 attendees, so we hope we can really fill the place with passionate, creative and inspiring individuals," says Duffy, who points to one returning guest she's particularly thrilled about. "Stanford Thompson leads a very intense music education program. Stanford’s students’ performance was so moving last year that there was not a dry eye in the house."

A full list of speakers and a link to purchase tickets can be found on the TEDxPhilly website.

By the way, St. Joe's is getting into the TED act with its inaugural TEDxSJU, which takes place on Oct. 13 from 4-7 p.m. at St. Joe's Campus Commons Building and will feature social entrepreneurs from across the country, including Olivia Bouler, who at age 12 created Save The Gulf, and LynnMcConville, whose Power Up Gambia is bringing solar to the African nation. The event is free and open to the public.

Source: Roz Duffy, TEDxPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

R.E.Load bags the recession, retools boutique manufacturing of messenger bags

You’ve more than likely come close to sideswiping a cyclist sporting a messenger bag with your car. You better pray that’s a R.E.Load product at stake. Operating out of a small boutique on 2nd Street in Northern Liberties, the Philadelphia company and its staff stand much larger and tougher than meets the eye. While growth has been slow, according to co-owner Roland Burns, R.E.Load continues to try new methods to stay afloat. "We discovered that, due to the nature of our production methods and materials, increases in volume didn't necessarily result in that much more of a bottom line, and it made us miserable."

The company prides itself on durable products that that honor self-expression, and an underlying business integrity rooted in humble beginnings. Roland Burns and Eleanor “Ellie” Lum, the ‘R’ and ‘E’ in R.E.Load, began the business while working full-time as bike couriers in Philadelphia, creating custom bags for friends and co-workers on the side.

“We're doing our part to inspire a resurgence of manufacturing within Philadelphia,” co-founder and materials engineer Roland Burns says. The company has grown from producing a few prototypes to creating an internationally marketed product.

“We're very lucky. Our bags are pretty recognizable, and in a lot of cases, when somebody has a really custom bag, other people will approach them to talk about it,” Burns says. Lucky is one way to describe it. With distributors in Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago, Japan and several European nations, lucky seems awfully generous.
R.E.Load has made a name for itself in a largely cycling-friendly demographic. The company is comprised of a dedicated group of six staff members who produce all merchandise in-house.
The recession has posed challenges for the small company. “One of the main things we face is the rising cost of material,” Burns says, adding that he’s seen a steady decrease in the availability of US-made material. Rather than sacrificing quality for quantity, the company is now aiming for plainer designs.
New product lines have less focus on originality and limited edition bags. “I'd like to think that we give people a chance to express themselves in a way that they might not have previously considered,” Burns says.

Source: Roland Burns, R.E.Load Bags
Writer: Michael Murphy

Rutgers-Camden prof gets $500K call, 'genius' status

Jacob Soll was on his way to the library, which is one of his favorite places in the world, when he got the call that changed his life. "It was raining. I was suffocating. I thought, 'Oh God, what's this?' I thought it was a joke."

No joke: it was the MacArthur Foundation informing Soll that he was the recipient of the so-called genius grant, a $500,000 no strings attached gift. It was all quite unexpected. Soll, a professor of history at Rutgers University-Camden and West Philadelphia resident, says, "I just think it's really lucky. I work in a really interdisciplinary way, in all different fields and countries."

While the selection process is shrouded in mystery, Soll points to his 2009 New York Times Op-Ed piece as a possible call to attention for the Macarthur committee. Soll's research, at its most elemental, is about the juncture of numbers and letters.
Beginning with Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Soll redefines history, tracing the relationship between libraries and accounting and tracing the birth of information technology. The 16th to 18th century is where large scale libraries are invented, and where, says Soll, the modern computer comes from.

"It's the most fascinating thing," he says. "Colbert was an accountant by training. Accountants keep massive amounts of books. They're basically financial librarians. Colbert understood he could harness a library system for power. It's an incredible vision -- kind of dark -- it was used for repressive power. It was completely innovative. This guy invented the modern world."

These days, Soll laments that for the first time in history we are not that interested in our libraries. While he terms our country's founders 'real book people,' and points out that the Library of Congress sits across from the U.S. Supreme Court, the push is toward digitization. "Today, we're having financial crises, and no one asks how good are your accounting skills. Our founders thought that without that kind of knowledge, you wouldn't be effective at running an enlightened state. Political currents are running counter to those of the original founders."

While at the moment, Soll is overwhelmed with a life that "is literally like something out of a movie, "with 800 forms of people contacting me," he expects to be able to settle into a very comfortable routine of reading and writing, without having to worry about the electric bill, or paying the babysitter. "It's not just the money. It's also the moral force and the publicity. I've received a hundred emails from former students. They're all great emails, and make me feel like everything was worth it. I'm not going to second guess myself as much."

Soll is now at work on a book that traces the entwined history of politics and accounting, and is allowing himself to admit aloud that his dream is to write a series of books on how states work and what politics actually mean.

Source: Jacob Soll, Rutgers University
Writer: Sue Spolan

How to Ignite hearts and minds, one slide deck at a time

The first thing you need to know is that Alex Hillman is dangerously awesome. He is the Pied Piper of the tech community. And he had a lot of competition onstage at Ignite Philly 8, which took place before a packed audience on Thursday (Sept. 22) at Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown.

Anyone who creates slide presentations needs to attend the next Ignite Philly. That would be you. Aside from 12 presentations about incredibly cool initiatives taking place in Philadelphia, the most inspiring part was the creative way presenters used Power Point. Makes a geeky girl sigh with pleasure.

The evening, hosted by Geoff DiMasi, David Clayton and Dana Vachon, began with Melissa Morris Ivone's Operation Nice. Talking about the inception of her blog, Ivone told the story of one morning commute during which she was cut off by another driver, but the day turned around when a stranger was nice to her on an elevator. That tiny act bloomed into the Operation Nice blog, which sports the tagline, "Encouraging individuals to be proactively nice." Kind of a pay it forward for the intelligentsia.

Did you know that Philadelphia has an Art Hotel? Krista Peel and Zak Starer run an artist residency located in East Kensington. Each year, the hotel accepts 10 residents free of charge. Chirstian Kunkel is bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to Philadelphia public school students with Startup Corps, which has already helped 70 young entrepreneurs in 6 schools, with the help of 150 mentors. Kunkel's dream is to offer an opportunity to start a business to every public school student in Philadelphia.

Hillman and DiMasi presented K'House, their coworking and cohousing experiment now under construction in Kensington. A last minute addition to the lineup, Hillman and DiMasi's presentation was created by drawing on bar napkins, taking iPhone pictures of the napkins, and building a brilliant slide show that had the crowd roaring. "I never know how the talks are going to turn out, but they always seem to exceed expectations," comments DiMasi, who counted 300 people in the capacity crowd.

Danielle Redden took us boating on the tidal Schuylkill; Michelle Bland invited everyone to Nerd Nite Philly; Theresa Rose, Jordan Rock and Brett Mapp explained the Philly Stake dinner concept; Mira Adornetto and Joel Fath planted the idea of Philly Seed Exchange; Tristin Hightower and Nicole Kline told the story of Philly Girl Geek Dinners; Greg Hoy made an argument for why Sansom Street should be confined to pedestrian traffic in his talk, "Less Garbage Juice, More with Love xoxo;" Gabriel Mandujano and Joel Hommes encouraged sustainable cleanliness with their business Wash Cycle Laundry, and Sarah McEneany  talked about the latest developments along the Reading Viaduct.

The majority of the night's proceeds were awarded to a former Ignite Philly Speaker, the EVX West Philly Hybrid X Team, which won $1,000 toward teaching high school students to build hybrid cars.

Source: Geoff Di Masi, Ignite Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

As seen on TV: Danny's Guitar Shop of Narberth restrings marketing

Sometimes putting the cart before the horse works just fine. Danny's Guitar Shop began life as a media entity, morphed into a brick and mortar store on the Main Line, and now Danny's Guitar Shop is also the title of a new television show.

"It came to me in an epiphany six years ago," says Danny Gold, proprietor and host of the 30 minute series. "In the wasteland of cable TV, where there are whole stations about food, golf, and cars, there was nothing of substance about guitars." Sure, says Gold, there are plenty of performance videos and interviews with rock stars, but there's been no nutritional value about the instrument itself.

At that time, Gold was a rep for Fender, and saw a marketing opportunity in a media product. With the help of Bruce Warren, Gold created the radio series Danny's Guitar Shop for WXPN more than two years ago. While the budget starved series came to an end after four episodes, in its ashes rose the actual guitar shop in downtown Narberth, a bustling location that offers personal service, lots of lessons, and corny jokes to the Main Line and beyond. It's the only store of its kind for miles.

That quirky personality has been translated to the boob tube, thanks to the creative production team of videographer Ron Stanford and sound recording engineer Larry Friedman. "Danny is a natural," says Stanford. "He's able to speak in complete sentences in front of a camera."

Rather than make sizzle reels until the end of time, says Stanford, the team opted to create a complete 30-minute show, starting with a VIP tour of nearby Nazareth, Pa.'s Martin Guitar factory. "It gives the viewer a real insider's glimpse," says Gold. "It's a privileged look inside the world of music that's appealing to music geeks as well as a general audience." Stanford and Gold's proudest accomplishment is the new episode featuring a talk with Wilmington, Del.'s David Bromberg, whom Gold calls the popular kid on the block.

The series now airs on the web and on the Lenfest owned WMCN, also known as Get It On TV. It's got four sponsors: Old City Publishing, Union Transfer, Onion Flats and Yards Brewing. "We're responsible for filling the whole 28:30," says Stanford. It's like old time TV."

As it is, the team, which donates labor, goes so far as to create ads for those sponsors. "Our goal is to become an economically viable TV series," says Stanford. "It's a chicken and egg thing. No one will believe it until they see it on the air."

With three already in the can, eleven more shows are slated for this first season. You can catch Danny's Guitar Shop on Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. beginning Oct.1 on WMCN, which is carried on cable stations from the Jersey shore to Reading. 

Source: Danny Gold, Ron Stanford, Danny's Guitar Shop
Writer: Sue Spolan

Crowdsourced education comes to Philly with Skillshare

What do you know? There's a new way to make money based on your particular set of skills and talents. It's called Skillshare. Launched in Philadelphia last month with national headquarters in New York City, Skillshare allows anyone to teach anything and get paid for it. Brendan Lowry has been in charge of launching the program in Philadelphia. "Every city is a university, all the restaurants and cafes are classrooms, and our neighbors are our greatest teachers," says Lowry, whose title is Special Operations.

Here's how it works: Say you are really good at knitting. Sure, you could sell your stuff on Etsy. But with Skillshare, you can also hold knitting class at a location of your choice. Set your own price per student, and get paid through PayPal. Skillshare deducts 15 percent of every ticket sold.

Skillshare, on a mission to democratize and redefine education, launched in New York in May of this year, and is now operating in Philadelphia and San Francisco, with hopes for setting up in cities across the US. Each city needs to be unlocked by popular vote. When the vote count surpasses 500, a team is created to get the word out. "We've targeted the tech community. It's one of the first industries we tapped into, but we don't want to fall exclusively in that category," says Lowry, who says right now there are over a hundred classes on offer in the Philadelphia area, ranging from The Art of the Cold Call to Beer 101. Teachers post credentials and a feedback process is designed to ensure a quality learning experience (full disclosure: I am teaching Communications for Startups on Sept. 20).

"Our marketing budget is literally zero dollars," says Lowry, who has done outreach through social media and word of mouth. There is also a newly created, limited time $1,000 scholarship fund which encourages more people to take classes in Philly and SF. Skillshare is set to launch next in Boston, Washington DC and New Orleans.

Source: Brendan Lowry, Skillshare
Writer: Sue Spolan

HIRING: Kimmel Center looks for Community Engagement Manager to grow Education Program

Because of its size, location and breadth of activity, it's hard to believe that the Kimmel Center has only been part of Philadelphia's arts and culture landscape for 10 years.

Beyond all the first-class performers and performances featured at the Kimmel, one of its best-kept secrets is its Education Program, which has grown steadily through the last several years. It now serves more than 7,000 local youth of all skill levels and socioeconomic backgrounds, according to the Kimmel's Director of Education Julia Lopez.

"There's so much more we can do," says Lopez.

The Kimmel is hiring a Community Engagement Manager to help grow its Education Program. The successful candidate ill be critical to the development of community engagement strategies to support long-term relationships with a "diverse intersection of Philadelphia-area communities."

Part of that includes aligning the Education Program with select performances at the Kimmel. Experience in community organizing and cross-cultural competency is key.

Send cover letters and resumes to the Kimmel, 260 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102, or email [email protected].

Source: Julia Lopez, Kimmel Center
Writer: Joe Petrucci

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