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Why everyone loves CloudMine's backend solution for mobile apps

CloudMine is the developer's developer. The DreamIt Ventures backed company was the buzz of Philadelphia Startup Weekend. The fledgling company used the event as a platform to officially launch in open beta, providing the underlying structure for several mobile apps that were created during the 54 hour marathon. CloudMine's goal is to take care of backend programming for mobile apps so you don't have to. Their tagline is "The mobile developers' backend-as-a-service-done-right company."
Here's an analogy. When you get into a car for the first time, you have to figure out where the turn signal and lights are. Some manufacturers have standardized their design so these basic controls are always in the same spot. That's what CloudMine is doing for mobile apps. "The majority of what mobile developers need is the same," explains engineer Ilya Braude, one third of the CloudMine trio, which also includes engineer Marc Weil and Brendan McCorkle, who describes himself as the suit.
"We're doing a ton of extra work to make it plug and play for you," says Weil, who toys with the term productization to define CloudMine's server side operations function.  While CloudMine counts among its competitors StackMob, Kinvey and Parse, Weil points out that CloudMine is the first to launch in open beta, and one of the leanest in terms of initial investment.  The national blog TechCrunch gave big props to CloudMine's launch in a recent post, which subsequently increased customers from 50 to 380 in about 48 hours. There are now 410 customers on board.
CloudMine is free while in beta, and once billing begins, will make money with each API call, or single server request. While individual requests can cost as little as $0.0001, eight million of those add up to some serious money. CloudMine, which uses Amazon Web Services for cloud computing, is a disruptive technology. While there will still be need for front end developers to make mobile apps pretty, CloudMine aims to do the under the hood work, handling server maintenance and other tiresome tasks. Weil also points out that CloudMine is designed so that front end developers are not locked into any specific way of designing apps, adding and changing features easily.
The company is actively looking for first found funding, and is pitching both locally and nationally. Also on the agenda in the near future is team expansion, and has just added intern Tess Rinearson. CloudMine is operating out of DreamIt offices at the University City Science Center.

Source: Marc Weil, Ilya Braude, Brendan McCorkle, CloudMine
Writer: Sue Spolan

Local tech VP appointed to FCC's advisory committee on diversity

Brigitte Daniel is on her way up, literally. By the time you read this, Daniel will be on a seven-week fact-finding mission through Southeast Asia funded by an Eisenhower Fellowship. But wait,  that's not all. Daniel was just appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age. We'll get back to that tour of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore in a minute.

How about that FCC appointment? Daniel, an attorney and Executive Vice President of Wilco Electronic Systems, is one of the youngest appointees to the committee and the only representative from Philadelphia. The committee will meet in Washington, DC to ensure that minorities and low income communities get broadband access. "It's being reframed as a civil rights issue of the 21st century," says Daniel, who adds that increasingly, institutional interactions require internet access. If you want to apply for a job, apply to college, and get social services, you need the web.

Wilco is a family business founded by Will Daniel, Brigitte's father. One of Wilco’s primary missions is to provide low cost, high speed advanced telecommunication services to minorities and underserved communities in the Greater Philadelphia area.  “One of the reasons I was appointed to the diversity committee for the FCC was because Wilco served as a catalyst to bring together the various partners and community groups that formed the Philadelphia Freedom Rings Partnership. Freedom Rings is a citywide consortium of educational institutions, municipalities, The City of Philadelphia, and Wilco, which had the goal of providing high speed access to underserved and economically stressed areas."

While Freedom Rings provides free access to participants, Daniel stresses that ultimately, the goal is affordable service. "When you start talking about free, it's hard to be sustainable. Someone will always have to pay for it." Daniel adds that if the service is free it will perceived to have less value. "Our whole point is to make it affordable." To prove that point, Wilco customers can get digital cable, high speed internet and a laptop for under $50 a month. "It's our version of the triple play," says Daniel.

Back to that whirlwind trip to the other side of the globe: Daniel is a 2011 Eisenhower Fellow. The India and Sri Lanka segments of her seven week trip are funded by the fellowship; she added the other destinations in order to gather even more knowledge of emerging technologies and policies for connecting impoverished populations.

Daniel returns in December and begins a two-year term at the FCC while remaining at Wilco. "Whatever we recommend, I hope it's taken to heart. At Wilco, we are on the ground, in the trenches. If the FCC takes our policy recommendations seriously, that's exciting."

Source: Brigitte Daniel, Wilco Electronic Systems
Writer: Sue Spolan

DreamIt-backed data mashup startup Metalayer hiring

Matthew Griffiths and Jon Gosier dream of clean data. The pair formed Metalayer to sort and visualize any kind of information gleaned from just about any source. The DreamIt Ventures backed company grew out of Gosier's 2007 company Ushahidi, founded in Africa to collect and map eyewitness reports of violence in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election.

Griffiths and Gosier met in Uganda, and although neither is Ugandan, both profess a love for all things African. "We met two years before Metalayer, working to find signal in noise," says Griffiths. "We identified key bits of information in times of crisis." Ushaidi's SwiftRiver project was awarded the 2011 Knight News Challenge.

Both came to the United States this year, where Gosier was raised (Griffiths hails from the UK), and realized that Ushaidi's algorithm could have verticals in other industries, particularly journalism. "Our passion is tools for better data narratives." For example, you might want to mash up a real time Twitter feed with XML, email, and a document you downloaded onto your hard drive. You might be looking for certain keywords.

Once Metalayer gathers data from diverse sources, the user can create infographics or visualize it on a map. Griffiths recalls that the whole process began by going through the motions of research themselves to understand the steps that human brains take. Gosier put together a video to explain the way the application works.

As far as revenue, Gosier says the idea is to package the technology. "We plan to offer the underlying APIs to developers. The application will be available for businesses or individuals to use." One potential revenue source is governments, which could use Metalayer to pre-empt or respond rapidly to uprisings and crises.

Gosier says Metalayer has virtually no competition because the only other companies doing this kind of data mash up are at a very high level, working for the military. "In that landscape, there are a couple of key players at the top."

Metalayer, now in talks with investors, is looking to hire in the area of business development. In addition to being a DreamIt company, Metalayer is also supported by the Comcast Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program.

Source: Jon Gosier, Matthew Griffiths, Metalayer
Writer: Sue Spolan


AssetVUE changing game in data center inventory management

When Comcast is your first customer, you know you're doing something right. It helps that Gary Aron has ties with the media giant, but as vice president of business development for AssetVUE, he has a lot more to offer than just some friendly advice.

Aron and company president Sean Cotter explain that AssetVUE has adapted RFID technology to rapidly read and inventory assets in massive data centers. AssetVUE works within the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) framework, cutting inventory time by up to 90 percent.

Aron and Cotter had worked together previously, when Cotter was CIO for the DVL Group and Aron was an executive running data centers for Verizon, JP Morgan Chase and Comcast. "We talked for a period of time about things that didn't exist," says Aron. "I said, 'Let's go after those holes in the products.'" The biggest one, says Aron, is keeping information up to date. "Building a data repository is time consuming. People purchase products that can take years to implement, and they don't take full advantage of the tools they purchase."

The second piece is validation, which takes a considerable amount of time as well, working out where physical assets sit, as well as validating information pertinent to specific clients. This maintenance level information is kept in massive databases.

Before RFID technology, the client would go in, open up the doors to a rack, count information and compare. Now, with RFID, the same data gathering happens instantly, and it's also possible to get advanced views of a rack. "With these tools, you can get a top down, or elevation view," says Cotter. "When you click on a rack, it brings up every device in that rack within a minute's time."

Asset VUE now employs three full-timers as well as two contractors, with a recent $200,000 investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania slated for marketing and staff development.

"We have just two clients installed right now and we've engaged in a handful of proof of concepts that have gone well, so we expect that half dozen more companies will come on board," says Aron.

Source: Sean Cotter, Gary Aron, AssetVUE
Writer: Sue Spolan

Fast-growing software startup VCopious receives funding, expects to double staff by end of 2012

VCopious is expanding rapidly. The nine month-old, Conshohocken-based software company just announced it has received funding of an undisclosed amount from a consortium of four funders, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, Emerald Stage2 Ventures, MAG and Silicon Valley Bank.

CEO Ken Hayward says VCopious is now "into a stage of development geared toward market facing activity," and capital raised in this round of funding will go toward global expansion. VCopious also announced that Siemens Corporation has signed a multi-year agreement to use the VC2 platform, billed as the "world's first virtual spaces application server appliance." The firewalled networking, socializing and tracking tool allows people to meet in cyberspace, regardless of physical location.

VCopious already has a strong relationship with SAP, which it counted as one of its first customers. "It's a proven model," says Hayward of the technology that was built with no original outside financing. "Unlike other tech startups that are trying to raise money to build the technology, we've been out raising money to expand market activities."

The next step for VCopious is to build out a sales organization that's focused on high level direct sales to enterprise, and then find distribution partners that will move the product beyond the reach of its own direct sales force, according to Hayward. "One of the most sought-after destinations is around collaboration, ecommerce and social media. Between those, the VCopious platform is an aggregation tool for all those capabilities."

While Hayward will not talk about revenue or company growth in concrete terms, he projects that the company's staff will double by the end of 2012, from 25 to 50 employees, which is impressive for a company that only launched in early 2010.

Source: Ken Hayward, VCopious
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

Two newcomers among six startups to rake in more than $1M in Ben Franklin Technology funds

Two suburban companies, AssetVUE  in Bucks County and MobileReactor LLC in Chester County, were each approved for $200,000 investments in the latest round of funding announced in a news release on Monday from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

AssetVUE, based in Bristol and led by President Sean Cotter, provides hardware, strategies, support, assembly and upgrades for data centers. The other new investment was for MobileReactor, based in Devon and doing business as OneTwoSee, which develops products and services that allow TV viewers to use mobile devices to play along with their favorite shows and other viewers in entertaining ways that are also meaningful for advertisers.

Also funded were:

Essential Medical, Wayne: $250,000 to aid in developing innovative products for use in cardiac catheterizations in leg arteries.

Novetas Solutions, Philadelphia: $200,000 toward processing and marketing of recycled glass that is crushed through a patent-pending grinding process and used in industrial processes. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $300,000.

Real Time Tomography, Villanova: $150,000 to continue its development of state-of-the-art image processing and image reconstruction for next-generation 2D and 3D medical imaging systems. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $425,000.

, Philadelphia
: $25,000 for the e-commerce company providing online ticket-selling services for event organizers also provides barcode scanning, instant credit card swiping and design and tracking services. Previous Ben Franklin investments total $500,000.

Source: Jaron Rhodes, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Writer: Joe Petrucci

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

King of Prussia life sciences Sharepoint provider NextDocs 'hiring nonstop'

NextDocs has probably quadrupled in the last two years, according to CEO and co-founder Zikria Syed, who says the company, a Microsoft SharePoint partner, is now in a period of 60 percent year over year growth. "We have 100 people now. In 12 months we'll employ 160."

As a result, King of Prussia based NextDocs is in a hiring way, and jobs are available throughout the entire organization, from technology and customer support to sales and marketing. NextDocs is also growing geographically, with a new office in Portland, Oregon to cover west coast operations. The company already has a presence in Western Europe and Canada, and in the next few weeks, will open another office in Japan.

When asked how many people NextDocs is hiring, Syed responds, "We're hiring nonstop. It's hard to tell. New people start literally every day. We are only limited by our ability to find people quickly enough."

In the past three years, the company has grown more than 3,000 percent; at the end of fiscal year 2010, it reported $9.8 million in revenue, and it projects 2011 annual figures at $15 million. NextDocs just received $10.3 million in Series A financing from OpenView Venture Partners.

The company, which has garnered best in class status in just five years, was founded by Syed and CTO Matt Walz in 2006. Both had been at Microsoft. "Essentially we are a technology company. We're focused on document quality management." When NextDocs began in the basement of Syed's home, it was in response to a lack of existing solutions for compliance and quality management.

Syed defines NextDoc's relationship with Microsoft as the software giant's go to market partner for life sciences, pharma, medical devices and biotech. He says that the recent $10.3 million injection will go to three areas: first, further investment in solutions and products; second, geographical expansion, and third, a deeper investment in customer support.

Source: Zikria Syed, NextDocs
Writer: Sue Spolan

Open Data Race lets you vote for data sets that are most fit for public consumption

Data collection and dissemination: how much fun is that? If you are participating in Philadelphia's Open Data Race, you might actually squeeze a good time out of otherwise flat statistics. Voting in the Open Data Race is open to the public until Oct. 27, and currently, you can make your opinion known on which of 24 data sets you would like to see made public.

"We hope to generate excitement around open data," says Deborah Boyer, project manager at Philadelphia-based Azavea. Nominations contributed by non-profit organizations were reviewed by OpenDataPhilly partners, namely Azavea, NPower Pennsylvania, The William Penn Foundation, and Technically Philly.

It's probably too early to judge, but right now the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's request for stats on reported bike thefts is atop the rankings with 55 votes, followed by Demographic Info for Individuals Accessing Shelter Services submitted by Back on My Feet with 50 votes. Other organizations represented in the voting ranks include the Committee of 70, The Urban Tree Connection and The Sustainable Business Network.

Boyer says, "Public participation has been a key feature of OpenDataPhilly and is also crucial to the Open Data Race. We encourage people to submit data sets for inclusion in OpenDataPhilly or nominate data they would like to see made available."

Boyer points to difficulties municipalities might have in identifying which data is most needed. "Through Open Data Race, non-profit organizations have the opportunity to let the city and OpenDataPhilly partners know what information they need to fulfill their missions."

Winners, to be announced on Friday, Oct. 28, will receive cash prizes. First place gets $2,000, second place gets $1,000, and third receives $500. At that point, the fun really begins, when OpenDataPhilly works with the city to unlock the requested sets and then hosts hack-a-thons to create applications that use the data.

Source: Deborah Boyer, Azavea/OpenDataPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

GPIC awards $1.3M in regional energy efficiency grants to seven research projects

They might not reinvent the light bulb, but with any luck, they’ll cost less to use.

The Opportunity Research Fund of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster announced $1,327,253 in grants to seven research projects on Monday, all aimed at improving energy efficiency at the Philadelphia Navy Yard-based cluster.

The grants, which ranged between $100,000-$250,000 and were announced in a news release, "support research, development, demonstration and deployment of technologies, policies, business models and training programs that advance GPIC goals." GPIC is one of the nation’s three energy hubs working toward reducing American energy use in buildings by 50 percent and stimulate private investment and job creation in our region and beyond.

"The selected projects reflect the priorities and areas of need for GPIC where additional research will contribute significantly toward meeting GPIC goals and spurring innovation," says Henry Foley, executive director of GPIC and VP for research at Penn State University.

GPIC’s 24 member institutions were eligible to apply, but had to partner with a non-member on their proposals. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania managed the proposal review process. The funded projects include:

- Integrated Lighting Controls with Hybrid Connectivity for Energy Efficiency and Easy Retrofit, $200,573: Penn State University and Phillips Research North America

- Beta Testing, Validation and Manufacturing of Low Cost Next Generation HVAC Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid Retrofits for Commercial and Residential Applications, $146,692: Penn State University Center for High Performance Buildings and Pace Controls

- Demonstration of Modelica-Based Tool Chain for Rapid Prototyping and Evaluation of Integrated Business Controls, $233,000: Purdue University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

- The Sustainability Workshop, $200,000: Drexel University, Penn State University, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

- Electro Chronic Glazing for Improved Performance of Commercial Buildings,$200,000: Penn State University and Sage Electronics

- Navy Yard Operations Center: An Innovative Energy Management, Workforce Development and Education Opportunity for Greater Philadelphia, $161,487: Drexel University, Penn State University, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, University of Pennsylvania, and Viridity Energy

- Construct Baseline Commercial Building Envelope to Evaluate Energy Retrofit Strategies, $185,501: Bayer MaterialScience and Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Source: Christine Knapp, GPIC
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Old City web developer Slash7 is making moves and changing names

The developers formerly known as Slash7 are happier than ever. So happy that they are rebranding, and will soon be known as Cheerful Software, complete with a new address in Old City.

While husband and wife team Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs have been at Indy Hall, they will be moving around the corner to 113 Arch Street between Front and 2nd.

"We'd love to be in Indy Hall, but there's no room for us," says Hoy of her four-employee team, which also includes Kara LaFleur and Jess Victor. Nonetheless, Slash7/Cheerful maintains close ties with Indy Hall, and our meeting takes place in one of the coworking space's conference rooms.

Slash7's two big products are Freckle, a time management software program with a total of 12,000 users, of which about 20 percent are premium subscribers, and the brand new customer support program known as Charm, the biggest focus of their business, according to Hoy.

"I am a developer. I have some theories about the way software should treat people who use it," says Hoy.

LaFleur adds, "Good software is cheerful software. It should serve you."

While it may seem that software development is primarily a men's club, Hoy will not go there.

"It's not a gender thing," she says. Hoy does admit to influencing at least one aspect of the Slash7/Cheerful suite of offerings. "We teach programming in a very different way. It's more people centric and personal," says Hoy. Next on offer is a JavaScript Master Class on Oct. 24-25, and possible to join no matter where you are as it's held online. The company also creates eBooks and downloadable workshops.

Hoy maintains a non-gender specific sense of humor about the world of software development. Check out her blog, UnicornFree, where you can read her thoughts on product launch and marketing. And check out her narwhal.

Source: Amy Hoy, Kara LaFleur, Slash7/Cheerful Software
Writer: Sue Spolan

ElectNext, like eHarmony for voters, part of DreamIt's Comcast minority entrepreneur accelerator

Want to blow your voting mind? Head over to ElectNext, a new website that matches citizens with candidates. "If you change the context from Republican vs. Democrat, it changes the world," says ElectNext Communications Director Dave Speers, who recently joined founders Keya Dannenbaum and Paul Jungwirth to fundamentally change the way you think about your vote.

Speers describes ElectNext as eHarmony for voters. When you sign up, you answer a series of questions about your political philosophy. The results can shake people up. A lifelong democrat may find that her take on the issues most closely aligns with a moderate republican like presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. "I'm a Republican," says Speers. "What could separate you and me is one issue. In reality, we're 99 percent in agreement."

Speers reports that some voters go ballistic upon seeing their results, which may not align with their perception of the candidates or themselves. "When you walk into a voting booth, like millions of people, you see one or two names you recognize. As far as the rest of the candidates, you might skip the vote, or vote dogmatically down party lines, or it could be arbitrary, like picking someone by the ethnicity of their last name."

Dannenbaum met Jungwirth at a Philly Tech Meetup. Jungwirth, who's working on a PhD in Classics from Penn and has a professional background in computer programming, was looking for an opportunity to use both sides of his brain, and Dannenbaum terms the partnership a perfect fit.

The startup is funded by DreamIt Ventures and is part of the Comcast Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP) within DreamIt. Dannenbaum, who is on leave from MBA studies at The Wharton School, says that getting the $25,000 DreamIt grant was possible after participating in the Good Company incubator program, which provided office space at University of the Arts.

"The training and the curriculum at Good Company is what prepared us to be able to talk to the DreamIt folks at the end of the summer," says Dannenbaum.

DreamIt also receives a 6 percent equity stake in the for-profit company with five employees. Dannenbaum credits the Wharton Venture Initiation Program as well, which offers ElectNext on-campus meeting space and mentors.

Dannenbaum says her leave from Wharton is open ended, and the team hopes to take ElectNext national in time for the 2012 presidential election.

Source: Keya Dannenbaum, Dave Speers, ElectNext
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
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