It was the standard scene at last night’s monthly Philly Tech Meetup — networking, demos, open mic announcements, but with a twist.
For the first time in the popular meetup’s less than two years of existence, it dedicated the night to socially-minded entrepreneurs. It was a nod to the growing social entrepreneurship conversation here in Philly. Three companies from GoodCompany Group‘s summer class presented, none of which had Philly ties (unless you count one co-founder attending Wharton) before they began at the Center City social impact accelerator.
None were exactly committed to the prospect of making Philadelphia their permanent homes, but GoodCompany Group brought all three to our shores, as GCG cofounder Garrett Melby said to Technically Philly.
Along with the usual mix of entrepreneurs, developers and funders, Philly Tech Meetup also hosted two visitors from the Mayor’s Office: Jeff Friedman and Story Bellows, much to organizer Rohan Mehta’s pleasure.
Mehta said he’s been trying to get those in city government over to the meetups for a while now. Bellows and Friedman are working on social innovation efforts in City Hall, or as, Friedman quipped: “We’re looking to find what ideas we can rip off.”
Two startups that demoed focus on engaging customers in order to encourage charitable donations, while the other aims to streamline the grant-writing process for nonprofits.
There was New York City-based PSGive, presented by co-founder Sean Steinmarc, which Mashable named “Most Promising New Company” last year, with PSGive beating out the likes of Instagram and Quora.
PSGive aims to engage users with brands and charities by allowing them to compete for prizes. Brands pay PSGive for the consumer interaction. Next up for the startup is a web site redesign, which Steinmarc hopes will launch this month.
The other charity and brand engagement startup was Swedish company Desmo, presented by Stefan Portay, Desmo’s U.S. Director.
Desmo, who aims to increase charitable donations through deals on ecommerce sites, was recently named one of Wired Magazine’s 100 Hottest Startups in Europe. Portay says since Desmo’s beta launch last June, it’s raised over $55,000 for charities. Ecommerce sites pay Desmo for the advertisement the platform provides.
Founder Dahna Goldstein presented Philantrack, a Washington, D.C.-based startup that provides online tools for nonprofits to save time and money on the otherwise costly grant-writing process.
“I realize it isn’t all that sexy,” Goldstein said about grant-writing, “but its important.”
Philantrack offers a free and premium service for nonprofits, as well as an online management system for funders. The company is currently making most of its money from funders, Goldstein says. Her funder user base manages over $25 million in grants.
So what’s the word on Philly for the three out-of-towners?
Steinmarc says he’s open to the possibility of opening an office here. It partly depends on funding, he says, adding that it’s costly for his startup to operate out of New York City right now. Portay says Desmo is considering launching in the U.S. and that it’s possible the office would be in Philly.
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