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Health Watch: Penn's cancer breakthrough spurs development

Twenty years of research and clinical trials led to the recent announcement that 7-year-old Emma Whitehead's luekemia was in remission. It was the moment that T-cell immunotherapy technology burst from the laboratories of Penn Medicine into the national headlines. Now a commitment from Novartis to build a $20 million Center for Advanced Cellular Therapy (slated for 2013) will speed up FDA approval and enable treatment in greater numbers.

For something as large and complex as cancer research, philanthropic and federal funding only goes so far. "We’re so fortunate to have the opportunity, with this alliance with Novartis, to hand off what we’ve developed in an academic medical center," says Bruce Levine, director of the Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

Just how big is the breakthrough?

The Penn team is already building t-cell programs to treat pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. Eventually, this treatment could affect tens of thousands of lives.

Understandably, Penn medicine has been deluged with calls from patients worldwide. In an effort to coordinate a response, the Ambrason Cancer Center has launched a separate section on their website for access to detailed trial information, physicians and additional clinical trials.
It’s hard to measure the full impact T-cell immunotherapy will have on economic growth for our region, but Levine anticipates a "ripple effect." In addition to the construction, staffing and management jobs necessary for a $20 million facility, a greater number of clinical trials leads to more opportunities for care providers and researchers. For now, Penn Medicine’s technical groups are offering highly skilled positions while Novartis builds up their expertise.

"It’s huge," says Levine. "We’ve seen from [Penn] University and Penn Medicine a great commitment to facilitating this research." 

Source: Bruce Levine, Penn Medicine
Writer: Dana Henry

Job Alert: Mobile marketing experts TapCLIQ are hiring

Mobile technology presents a marketing conundrum: Personal devices gather valuable specifics about the viewer, including location and activity, but render web advertisements distorted and invasive. Malvern-based TapCLIQ is changing all that.

After 14 years directing software development and strategic partnership at SAP AG,  founder and CEO Chirantan Bhatt created a "customer engagement platform" that responds to user-generated feedback in real time. The company recently graduated from Project Liberty Digital Incubator and is hiring data scientists, software engineers, and marketing and sales directors.

Bhatt says he’s always the first to try a new gadget, but finds "an abundance of annoying and unrelated advertisement constantly appearing on mobile applications." When his four-year-old daughter came to him with a file downloading over the game app she was playing Bhatt realized the problem was urgent. 

"Advertising completely interrupts the user," says Bhatt. "[Mobile devices] can’t have ads like a web page."

According to a 2012 study by Azullo, 80 percent of smartphone users have already forgotten all the mobile ads they’ve seen in the past 6 months. Yet internationally, spending on mobile advertisement is predicted to reach $28 billion by 2016 (based on reports from International Data Corp.).

Big ad companies—including Google, Real Media 24/7 and Flurry—are still stuck on display ads, explains Bhatt. TapCLIQ, conversely, doesn't asks users to leave their app and offers related purchases and commenting options for their current activity. Now in private beta, the company has created 1 million interactions with over 20,000 mobile users.

"We have an intense focus on user experience," says Bhatt. "That means better ads, coming at the right time, with more relevance to the customer."

Source: Chirantan Bhatt, TapCLIQ
Writer: Dana Henry

Open for Business: Drexel's ExCITe Center launches in University City

It’s not every day a plainclothes professional opera singer performs to the hum of industrial knitting machines. Nonetheless, it was the perfect display of synergy for the opening ceremony of Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center at the University City Science Center. Held on Wednesday, November 28, the celebration showcased surprising STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) combinations and permutations.

"In academia, it’s hard to collaborate outside your department," says Dr. Youngmoo Kim, director of the ExCITe center and professor of computer engineering at Drexel. "The whole purpose [of ExCITe] is to create multidisciplinary projects at this nexus between technology and the arts. There’s so much synergy there."

The 11,000-square-foot facility features conference rooms, countless desktops, sound equipment and a knit lab, all available to Drexel faculty, staff and students, regional partner institutions and other universities. The space will host hackathons and other tech and arts related events.

Opening demos included an app for understanding live classical music and a digitally-enhanced grand piano. ExCITe also houses and provides seed funds to three startup projects: a Microsoft Kinect therapy game for people with cerebral palsy; a virtual reality opera project made in partnership with the Philadelphia Opera Company; and Sonic City, a Breadboard project incorporating city sounds into musical pieces.

The Shima Seiki Haute Technology Knit Lab houses four top grade fabric machines, a donation from Shima Seiki Manufacturing in Japan worth $1 millon. The facility is unheard of in academia and, according to Kim, rivals Nike’s Design Lab. Each apparatus prints items designed on CAD software; during the grand opening event, the machines produced knit kitchen gloves, custom seamless dresses and three-ply blankets.  

A knit-bot machine prints three-dimensional fabrics complete with electronic sensors. At the opening, a staff member hooked a spiraled piece of fabric into a control system and rolled it across the table remotely. Observers seemed impressed by the novelty, but Kim says knit-bot technology has implications for the future: One day you might be able to change the color and cut of your shirt with the press of a button, and sensors-enhanced fabrics could help individuals monitor health and weight. In addition, skins from these textiles could make plastic robots more resilient, while external sensors could help disaster-relief androids respond immediately to challenging environments.

Kim runs Drexel's Music Entertainment Technology Labratory, home to robots that dance and play music. He conceived of the center nearly two years ago while holding cross-departmental faculty meetings as a solution to academic silos. It wasn’t long before other key local institutions, including the Science Center, the Philadelphia Opera Company and the Franklin Institute, joined the planning.

"We can do great things here with Drexel folks, but there’s great people with ideas at Penn, UArts, Philadelphia University, Temple and Swarthmore," says  Kim. “They’re people that we know. A lot of people throughout the region, not just in academia, helped shape this."

Source: Youngmoo Kim, Drexel ExCITe
Writer: Dana Henry

Update: NextFab's Washington Avenue grand opening rescheduled for Jan. 17

Washington Avenue West—the gritty home to plumbers, mechanics and supply outlets—is the new landing spot for Philly’s next generation of fabricators. After months of construction, NextFab Studio is set to reopen in a 21,000-square-foot workspace nearly five times the size of their former University City location. Unfortunately, due to some delays, the grand opening celebration has been moved to January 17, 2012.

NextFab has helped springboard a local ecosystem of high-tech creative entrepreneurship, a community that now includes Breadboard Philly and Drexel’s ExCITe. In addition to readily available 3D printers, laser cutters and robotics paraphernalia, Philly’s “Gym for Innovators” will now feature a loading dock, a crane, an industrial textile machine and an auto lift. Stay tuned for more information on their new facilities and grand opening party.

Source: NextFab
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

WizeHive expands with business apps, hiring

In just a few years, WizeHive has established a successful track record selling their collaborative platform as an application review tool and is ready to expand into new verticals. The Conshohocken comapny is hiring several positions including high-level web developers, web designer, experienced sales lead, and business development expert.
So far, WizeHive has largely served national and international nonprofits. Many of WizeHives clients, which include Society for Petroleum Engineers, American Humane Society, American Heart Association, Global Health Core, and Consumer Electronics Association, manage multiple programs. Some have up to a few hundred reviewers and receive as many as tens of thousands of applications. WizeHive's "customized workflow" has successfully eliminated endless sorting and meandering email chains from their review process.
"Foundations have sent us pictures of their offices before WizeHive and its just stacks and stacks of paper everywhere," Sarah Lang, Director of Marketing, says. "Now its all online and it's much easier."
The company is realizing their sophisticated automation of data and tasks may serve a variety of internal business needs as well, including bug tracking, employee database, and project management. The company has launched WizeHive 3.0 in private Beta for new business applications.
WizeHive has been doubling their business every quarter. They recently returned from the Dublin Web Summit, where they were one of 50 companies selected for Start.
"Every two weeks we're adding new features," Lang says. "Compared to this time last year we are well over double [our clients] and we keep growing every month." 
Source: Sarah Lang, WizeHive
Writer: Dana Henry

Election season drives membership, hiring and investment growth for ElectNext

ElectNext has grown membership by 1,000 percent for four straight months. Having partnered with 40 media sites and secured more than $750,000 in investments, the civic-engagement startup is moving fast to keep up with upcoming federal elections and their own ambitions. They are hiring data scientists and engineers.
According to Dave Zega, National Director and CMO of ElectNext, political campaigns operate like a corporate marketing agenda: They purchase personal information, available via internet, and deliver highly tailored messages to individual voters. So how do you know who you’re really voting for? ElectNext turns the tables by collecting data on the politicians from multiple sources, including interest group ratings, campaign finance records, and politicians’ websites, to reveal candidates’ true stance on various issues. Members sign in, answer a series of issue-related questions, and receive their best voting ‘match.’
“What do we know about our politicians?” Zega asks. “Most of us can’t even name them and that is a huge data divide. That is why we are building the big dataset on your politicians and putting it together with a recommendation engine, so that anyone, anywhere can use our data and technology to engage on their most important political issues, every day.”
As elections approach, voters seek the company’s partner news sites, which include national and local outlets, driving traffic to ElectNext. Upon discovering their match, new members can publicize their results on social media platforms, sparking political conversations and civic activity while creating more potential members.
Collectively, the answers members provide illustrate the policy positions of the voting public. ElectNext generates profit by leasing access to this aggregated data to broadcast media, search engines, and educational nonprofits, without revealing anyone’s personal information.
So far, the “big dataset” accounts for federal elections, but ElectNext expects to build state and local elections into their platform in 2013.
“Some of our most important issues happen on a daily basis in our communities,” Zega says. “Think community centers and public parks, property taxes and the neighborhood school. So that is where we most want to help you engage.”
Co-founder Keya Dannenbaum, worked on several campaigns before entering Wharton’s demanding MBA program and losing all civic awareness—it’s difficult to balance political research with real life. ElectNext aims to better connect estranged voters with authentic politics. They’re continued success could help make super-packs and fact-checking frenzies a thing of the past.  

Source: Dave Zega, ElectNext
Writer: Dana Henry

Comcast Internet Essentials, for low-income residents, enters year two with expanded program

Comcast celebrates the first anniversary of its Internet Essentials Program, declaring it a great success, and is now moving into year two. "In less than a year we've signed up over 100,000 families," says Comcast Corporation Executive Vice President David L. Cohen, who multiplies that number to estimate the number of individuals accessing the low cost service at 400,000. 
The average family pays upwards of $150 per month for Comcast's Triple Play package, making home internet access a luxury that's out of reach for the region's many low-income households. But Cohen notes that getting on the web is increasingly vital for employment, services and information. In sheer numbers, adoption for avagerage income Americans is somewhere around 75 to 80%, but for low-income families, the number drops dramatically to under 25%.
Comcast calls Internet Essentials the largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program anywhere in America, providing low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month, the option to purchase a full-service, Internet ready computer for under $150 and options for digital literacy training in print, online or in-person for eligible families.
New this year are expanded benefits for children enrolled in reduced school lunch programs. Also, says Cohen, Comcast is looking to create an echo chamber effect, getting out information through word of mouth at churches and schools, though neighbors, and via increased reliance on nonprofit partners like OIC.
Cohen adds that it's even easier to sign up this year, and Comcast will follow up with potential customers. "As a public policy matter, it's inconceivable that the ability to access internet should be determined by where you live or your parents' income. This program is designed to level access the playing field."
Interested families can call 855-8-INTERNET, or 855-846-8376, to get started.

Source: David L. Cohen, Comcast
Writer: Sue Spolan

Super stealth: Perceptual Newtorks scores $1M in seed round funding without the details, hiring

He's not going to talk about specific products. Cheyenne Ehrlich, CEO of Northern Liberties based Perceptual Networks, says, "We have not really gotten into much public detail about what we are doing."
Nonetheless, whatever he and partner Jim Young are planning is sufficient to have garnered $1 million in a seed funding round from some of tech's biggest players. At least 20 players, including First Round Capital, founders of YouTube, PayPal, Rackspace, Bebo, and Demand Media have put chips on the table.

But Ehrlich remains mum on specifics. "Jim has a track record of building products that consumers love. People fundamentally get excited by people who make products that people love." Ehrich is referring to Young's product hotornot.com, which skyrocketed in a matter of months from launch to being one a top 25 web property.
Perceptual Networks, says Ehrlich, is in the process of building a suite of products intended to connect people to one another for work, for love, and for community. That's all Ehrich is willing to divulge at this time to everyone but investors. "Apple is an example of a company that builds great products that people love. That's what the focus should be on," says Ehrlich.
Ehrlich was scouting cities for some time, considering New York, the San Francisco bay area, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and ultimately chose Philly for its combination of great educational institutions, regional access to capital, easy access to New York City, lower cost of living and better quality of life, with great restaurants and culture and the growing tech community as added benefits.
With five on staff, Ehrlich says Perceptual is aggressively hiring right now, particularly in engineering to create products that will live on iOS, Android and the web, with possible expansion to other platforms in the future.

Source: Cheyenne Ehrlich, Perceptual Networks
Writer: Sue Spolan

DreamIt's Fall 2012 startup class will get more social

Tech incubator Dreamit Ventures has announced its Fall 2012 Philadelphia lineup. Moving three blocks up the street to 3701 Market Street but still at the University City Science Center, Managing Partner Karen Griffith Gryga says Dreamit will be leveraging its proximity to the Science Center's Quorum.

"There is a great deal of programming planned for this class," says Gryga. "In addition to the one-on-one mentoring that we establish for the companies based on their particular needs and the frequent meetings with the DreamIt partners, we have speakers from leading VC firms, leading industry players and operational experts as well as workshops on technologies and operational components. We have investor office hours with ventures capitalists from across the country as well as angel investors."

Gryga places a high value on accelerator participants' interactions with each other,and reports that Dreamit will hold more regular social events to add some fun to the mix.
Speaking of fun, this year, recipes and bridesmaids dresses are the focus of two companies. "The entrepreneurial team is the critical decision area and less so the idea because we know that with the right team we can always refine or reformulate a market/customer centric solution.  Over the years, we have had many consumer facing opportunities and, in fact, had both Bazaart and TopShelf in the New York program this summer and KeepRecipes the New York summer before."
As in years past, the Dreamit teams come to Philadelphia from locations worldwide. Five of the companies are part of the DreamIt Access program, a dedicated effort to launch 15 minority-led startups over the next 12 months. Comcast Ventures is an investor in the DreamIt Access program.  Here's a detailed listing of this year's companies.
The 14 startups in the program are:
Altair Prep, Philadelphia:  Performance-based homework platform that analyzes learning trends and customize curricula
Applique, New York, NY:  Drag-and-drop ease for building iPhone and iPad Apps
Betterific, Washington, DC:  Crowdsourcing platform aims to improve products and brands by allowing consumers to submit ideas and suggestions
brandREP.me, Los Angeles, CA:  Crowdsources brand marketing campaigns to student
Brideside, Chicago, IL:  Oline boutique for bridesmaids dresses.
CallGrader, Denver, CO:  Marketing analytics and rich data for phone calls
Charlie, Chicago, IL:  Mobile app provides vital contact information whenever you need it
CloudConfidence, Philadelphia:  Platform for analytics-driven cloud monitoring and management
FlagTap, San Francisco, CA:  On-site rewards that are easy to manage
mor.sl, Washington, DC:  Recipe recommendation platform that personalizes based on tastes, cooking skill and allergies
Peeractive, Sydney, Australia:  Social commerce technology with real-time analytics 
The Whoot, New York, NY:  Short-term social planning
Tripkno, New York, NY:  Travel guide incorporates social and e-commerce to help people find things to do
Zenkars, Philadelphia:  Online used car retailer

Source: Karen Griffith Gryga, Dreamit Ventures
Writer: Sue Spolan

A reason to celebrate: Girl Develop It Philly approaches 600 members on first birthday

Girl Develop It Philly turns one year old this month, and founder Yasmine Mustafa has been hard at work organizing a kick ass party on Thursday, Sept. 27 at SEER Interactive in Northern Liberties.
"We're going with a nerd theme and we'll have a photo booth, a tattoo artist making geeky temporary tattoos, a scavenger hunt, nerd glasses to give out at the door, candy, food, liquor and beer, of course," says Mustafa. The winner of the nerdiest costume gets a free GDI class. The event, says Mustafa, is not just a celebration of GDI, but also of the city's burgeoning female-centric tech community, with award winning organizations like TechGirlz and Girl Geek Dinners. TechGirlz, in fact, will share in the proceeds from the GDI raffle.
Mustafa is thrilled with the number of sponsors who have stepped forward to provide over $3,000 in prizes for the raffle, with a list that includes Rackspace, Treehouse, Wildbit, Indyhall, ThinkGeek, and O'Reilly Media all donating goods and services. "We already have enough sponsors, so we're asking companies that want to come on board to provide funding for an unemployed woman to take a class."
Girl Develop It Philly has grown enormously since inception, launching 12 classes and over 2 dozen Meetups with 400 members, with the goal of increasing technical literacy among women. The GDI Meetup counts over 560 members in its ranks. Mustafa won top prize for her presentation about GDI at ignite Philly 9.
Mustafa seeks to vanquish the intimidation factor in the developer community, which she cites as about 90% male. GDI's classes include both basic and advanced topics, like server side programming, the ins and outs of Wordpress, intro to HTML and JavaScript for non-programmers. 
Girl Develop It Philly is part of a larger international organization with six chapters including New York, San Francisco, Ottawa and Sydney, and over a thousand participants.

Source: Yasmine Mustafa, Girl Develop It Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Coming round the mountain: Philly Startup Weekend 4.0

Here comes the one of the Philly tech community's favorite events: Startup Weekend Philadelphia. Version 4.0 is back at the Univeristy of the Arts, and is being organized by tech twins Melissa Morris-Ivone and Chris Baglieri, who take the reins from Brad Oyler. "UArts has always been incredibly supportive of Startup Weekend," says Baglieri. "The space encourages collaboration, offers teams plenty of space to work, and is in the center of town, with ample nearby parking, so convenient to all."
Morris-Ivone looks forward to standouts from April's event, which hatched Yagglo, Tubelr and SeedInvest. Those companies, among others, are still moving forward. And taking a cue from the concept of leaving a good thing alone to flourish. Morris-Ivone reports there will not be any dramatic changes. "It's a recipe that works," she says.

Adds Baglieri, "Every Startup Weekend is different in terms of the backgrounds it attracts, that's part of what makes every event unique. 4.0 has reached capacity on non-technical tickets. We're strong on the designer front too. While there's a good showing of developers, that's the area that probably needs the greatest promotion. I met Melissa at Startup Weekend 2.0 and that pairing has made a world of difference for me. As a developer, there's nothing quite like finding a partner in crime designer that you can work with. If there was ever a Startup Weekend in this city where a developer can find their designer match, 4.0 seems to be the best so far."
As far as judges, Baglieri and Morris-Ivone say Chris Fralic  of First Round Capital returns. "We set out to further diversify the judges panel a bit this time around, involving individuals outside the investor community." New faces on the panel are largely conversions from previous Startup Weekend coaches and include Bob Moul and Ted Mann, as well as Morris-Ivone's colleague Apu Gupta, CEO/Co-founder of Curalate.
You can register for Startup Weekend through Eventbrite.

Source: Chris Baglieri, Melissa Morris-Ivone, Startup Weekend Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

AppRenaissance announces Artisan mobile platform

This is big. Old City based appRenaissance is changing the game in mobile app development with the release of its new platform Artisan. Now in private beta and due to roll out publicly by January 2013, Artisan allows non-developers to create, change and test mobile apps without having to learn to code. Relying on the cloud, Moul terms Artisan frontend as a service.
It's all about native mobile applications, which are the kind you download to your smartphone, as opposed to mobile web apps, which are websites optimized for phones and tablets. Until now, native mobile apps were static. You download them onto your phone and they pretty much stay as is until an update rolls out. Artisan allows these apps to become dynamic, opening up a whole world of possibilities.
"Today, if all you wanted to do is have the background of your app be green on St. Patty's Day and pink on Valentine's Day, you'd have to get a developer go in, change the code, recompile, and then put out an update in the app store," explains Bob Moul, CEO of appRen. "With Artisan, a publisher, retailer, or ecommerce professional can do it themselves. The change is instantaneous. You can deploy the revised app without putting it back in the app store." 
This is all well and good for background color, but let's do a wide pan and consider the implications for advertising. Suddenly, instead of a static app on your phone, Artisan creates the option of an ever updated experience. A retailer can change advertisements or special offers on a mobile app at will. All this talk about advertising in the mobile space is now a reality with Artisan. And appRen is the first to create this technology.
You may recall that Michael Raber, grad of Dreamit Ventures Fall 2011 and inventor of UXFlip, joined appRen earlier this year . Turns out UXFlip is at the core of the Artisan platform, according to Moul. 
Analytics and flexibility that have been available on websites for some time will now migrate to mobile. Artisan tracks every user interaction and gesture in the application to provide insight into app utilization and user behavior.
Regular people will have the power normally reserved for the geekiest, creating and testing multiple user interface designs and flows. Depending on audience response, Artisan can offer the best performing designs to all users instantaneously without the need to recompile or resubmit the application to app stores. 
The reaction from businesses has been outstanding, says Moul, who plans a subscription model based on company size, number of apps, users and volume, and will run anywhere from $1K to 12K per month. 

Source: Bob Moul, appRenaissance
Writer: Sue Spolan

Computer security startup Carbon Black moving HQ to Philadelphia

"We've broken into countless networks, all for the right purposes," says Mike Viscuso, CEO of computer security startup Carbon Black. The hackers for good are moving headquarters to Philadelphia. "We think we are building a foundation to change the internet." 
Viscuso was born in the Philadelphia area and attended Villanova University, but moved to Virginia and co-founded Kyrus, a computer security company that specializes in discovering vulnerability to attacks. "We never once failed to break a network," says Viscuso, who breached computer systems of both government and commercial clients to discover and fix virtual unlocked doors and windows.
After doing a huge amount of forensics work following an attack, a flash of inspiration struck. "We needed the digital equivalent of a surveillance camera for your computer. We decided to build one. If there is an incident, you can roll back the tape."
Building on the success of Kyrus, which began with $50,000 in funding and reported $3 million in revenue last year, Carbon Black is seeking a Series A round of funding.
Carbon Black partner and CTO Ben Johnson is now based in Chicago. Viscuso cites several reasons for the move to Philadelphia. He's got family in the area, it's convenient to both DC and New York, and unlike Kyrus, which has a focus on government contracts, Carbon Black seeks to target large enterprises.
The white-hat hackers stumble upon untoward stuff all the time, reports Viscuso, but maintains an integrity that clients can trust. "It's been a fun job. It's easy for me to wake up. I'm excited every day. Hacking is so in vogue now. People who hack for fun tend to publicize their crimes," says Viscuso, who prefers to remain silent, but deadly against the black hats of the world.

Source: Mike Viscuso, Carbon Black
Writer: Sue Spolan

Yellow Pages on steroids: Seva Call launches in Philadelphia

Seva Call's Manpreet Singh is a prodigy. After founding a dot com in high school called Desi Vibes, a south Asian social network, he went on to work with Profit Investment Management, a DC based investment management firm, growing assets from $20 million to 2 billion. He got his MBA from Wharton in 2009, and now he and his brother Gurpreet have launched Seva Call, which went live two months ago in the DC area and is expanding to Philadelphia. Singh calls it "a free virtual concierge service for people in need of service assistance.  It’s like the Yellow Pages on steroids."
When Gurpreet Singh came up with the idea a few years ago, Manpreet says he didn't take it seriously. Gurpreet was running a small IT repair business, and spent a lot on advertising. But in about 40% of incoming calls, Gupreet found he could not help the consumer. He was too far away, or already booked. He wondered why there couldn't be a system to address a specific problem at a specific time, and Seva Call was born. 
Say you have a clogged toilet and you want it fixed Wednesday morning. You plug in your request and the Seva Call algorithm connects you to a contractor.
Ranking of contractors has two components: Seva Call scrapes sites like Yelp, Google reviews, Facebook and Twitter to get consumer ratings, and contractors bid on a pay per call basis, which runs anywhere from $8 to 42 per placement. The system is also reactive, and will change the priority based on customer feedback, so a contractor's higher bid is not a guarantee of top placement in the queue. 
"Generating revenue is not our main focus," says Manpreet Singh, who raised a $1.3 million Series A angel and VC funding round last fall.
Seva Call is launching in Philadelphia with more than 12,000 local professionals in 50 different industry categories, including computer repair, plumbing, roofing, maid service, and auto glass repair.  

Seva means service in a number of South Asian languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi and Punjabi.

Source: Manpreet Singh, Seva Call
Writer: Sue Spolan
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