Chatter about the need for a post-incubation home for technology startups outside of the life sciences realm in Philadelphia has been a topic of conversation among investors and entrepreneurs since at least the late 1990s.
In the past year, the seriousness of those conversations has grown, with a handful of new initiatives launching in recent months focused on the concept of offering support to build largely fledgling consumer-facing efforts seeking investment.
The long-rumored startup accelerator Seed Philly is aiming to differentiate itself by placing mission over profit and featuring a heavy reliance on data, Technically Philly has learned.
At the helm of Seed Philly, a Center City nonprofit accelerator that has been kept quiet in its pre-launch phase, is Brad Denenberg, a familiar face on the Philadelphia startup circuit and part of the pack that launched Philly Startup Leaders in 2007. Denenberg, who has until now personally financed the effort, has built a small team of other familiar faces in and around PSL.
“This is an invite-only community that is going to build better businesses,” said Denenberg, noting he and his colleagues have done more than 200 interviews with entrepreneurs, investors and service providers to create a resource of best startup practices.
To officially launch the effort, Seed Philly is partnering with Microsoft around a Windows Phone development course, launching Feb. 1.
Seed Philly aims to do two things: (1) house and connect startups with services at the seed stage and (2) offer and maintain a dashboard of deep business analytics tracking decisions by industry specific startups to grow smarter companies.
To start, the accelerator, which is being registered as a nonprofit, will not take equity as part of its relationship.
Instead, Seed Philly will charge what Denenberg describes as ‘break-even’ rent prices, likely featuring one of 11 small offices, seats in the central bullpen and access to conference rooms, host events and, when appropriate, partner around grant funding from government and entrepreneurship efforts. Mentorship opportunities and networking events will be a staple, he adds. An investment arm could be a future output, but Denenberg is careful to make clear in its current incarnation Seed Philly is a mission-orientated nonprofit devoted to education and connection.
Below, watch a quick peek at the inside of the main bullpen room of Seed Philly, as seen Tuesday afternoon before furniture delivery.
In recent months, Philadelphia has seen the launch of the investment-driven, Bucks County Novotorium, which is housing a single company, the Venturef0rth accelerator near Chinatown and Green Village, which is adjacent to Seed Philly on the 19th floor of 1650 Arch Street.-30-