Startup cities have plenty in common: a SXSW conversation -


Apr. 19, 2016 8:55 am

Startup cities have plenty in common: a SXSW conversation

Three tech startup leaders, one from Chicago, one from Denver and one from Philadelphia, got together at SXSW, as an extension of the Tomorrow Tour from and Comcast NBCUniversal.
At SXSW from left:’s Christopher Wink, ROAR for Good’s Yasmine Mustafa, ReviewTrackers’s Emily Pamukov, Galvanize’s Lawrence Mendes.

At SXSW from left:'s Christopher Wink, ROAR for Good's Yasmine Mustafa, ReviewTrackers's Emily Pamukov, Galvanize's Lawrence Mendes.


Gather a bunch of founders from emerging entrepreneurship communities to talk about their cities, and they might lose track of who said what.

The goal of the Tomorrow Tour, a multi-city event and reporting series that we at and Comcast NBCUniversal produced last month, was to highlight the distinctions of six startup hubs. But we had a hunch there were going to be more similarities than differences.

So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when three founders described their cities in near perfect unison, as happened during a conversation during SXSW inside the Comcast Lounge, a heavily-branded room of the Austin Convention Center filled with a steady stream of speakers, Comcasters and conference-attendees. (See video from the lounge here.)

This reporter moderated a short conversation among three early-stage tech business leaders — one from Denver, one from Chicago and one from Philadelphia.

Denver had virtually no active startup community seven to 10 years ago, said Lawrence Mandes a cofounder of Galvanize, the tech education and coworking facility. And then a boom of new city residents with entrepreneurial spirit took hold of a national trend in tech culture and revitalized the city’s business community. Urbanism and civic pride are mixing with new business models to develop clusters in some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods.

Or was that what we heard from Emily Pamukov, the VP of marketing for customer service tool ReviewTrackers, in explaining what she’s come to learn about the booming Chicago community?

“I feel like we’re very scrappy,” said Yasmine Mustafa, the cofounder of ROAR for Good, a wearable tech company focused on a personal safety product for women. Mustafa, a familiar face among Philadelphia’s startup set, described her city to an audience of 75 in person and several hundred checking in on Periscope, reflecting often on the similarities to Denver and Chicago.


“We have a lot to learn from and share with each other,” said Mandes.

Companies: Comcast,
Projects: Tomorrow Tour

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