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Innovation & Job News

Startup PHL keeps local investments flowing with new Angel Fund

Mayor Nutter spoke at the event

On November 12 at Philadelphia's Innovation Lab, PIDCFirst Round Capital and the City of Philadelphia announced the launch of the Startup PHL Angel Fund.

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, who spoke at the event, said that many people have asked him whether investments like this are a risk the City should be taking.

"The answer is simple," he said, speaking to a large crowd of local startup leaders, packed with aspiring millennial entrepreneurs. To continue transforming Philadelphia into a notable draw for the country’s best ideas, "we cannot afford to do nothing."

Two years ago, the City of Philadelphia, PIDC and First Round Capital teamed up to launch the Startup PHL Seed Fund, and at this event, leaders announced the Seed Fund’s latest investment: $400,000 for Velano Vascular, a medical device company based in Philadelphia and San Francisco, that has pioneered a way to draw blood without needles.

Startup PHL has many other facets, including its Call For Ideas grant program and Startup PHL Funds, the latter of which has given a combined $1 million in seed or angel investments to six companies over the past year.

Mayor Michael Nutter, First Round Capital founder Josh Kopelman and PIDC president John Grady were all on hand to help announce the latest addition to the Startup PHL initiative: the Startup PHL Angel Fund, which will dole out investments of $25,000 to $100,000 dollars to "very early-stage companies."

The inaugural Angel Fund recipients briefly took the microphone. Jason Rappaport's Squareknot is a new app that applies the principle of Google Maps -- where users can see and compare different travel routes -- to the creation of crowd-sourced step-by-step guides for other tasks.

Locating in Philly was "a very deliberate bet" that it was right atmosphere for his startup, said Rappaport, who also considered Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston.

This year's other Angel Fund recipients are Tesorio, a service that helps companies self-finance their daily operations, and VeryApt, a new app that combines user reviews with "big data analytics" to streamline and personalize the apartment-hunting process.

"If we’re going to ask the private sector to do something, 99 times out of a 100, the public sector’s going to have to jump in too," said Mayor Nutter. "If you're an entrepreneur, Philadelphia is the place for you…and we want you right here."

The evening also included an announcement from the Commerce Department -- the third round of Startup PHL’s Call for Ideas grants is now open; over $200,000 has already been invested in ten different initiatives and organizations.

Greenberger urged attendees to apply with their most robust ideas. The deadline for applications is Friday, January 2, 2015.

 Writer: Alaina Mabaso
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