One year after moving to Philadelphia from Boston, Kert Heinecke launched Campus Soapbox, a social mobile app for college students. His silent cofounder? The Philly tech scene, he said.
The “virtual university green,” as Heinecke calls his startup, has more than 1,000 users at Drexel University and recently launched at Penn, he said.
A former architect, Heinecke runs the venture out of Center City coworking space CultureWorks with his cofounder, Elizabeth Lee. But his other cofounder was the network of entrepreneurs he met through volunteer organization Philly Startup Leaders (PSL), he said.
Heinecke, who moved to Philly because he wanted a change of pace from his architecture work and because his girlfriend had gotten a fellowship at Penn, said the Philly tech scene welcomed him with open arms, despite his lack of tech experience. Some of these instances include:
- PSL president and Artisan CEO Bob Moul letting him work out of Artisan’s office while Heinecke got off the ground
- DuckDuckGo founder Gabe Weinberg helping Heinecke organize a founders’ club
- connecting with Mark LoSchiavo, director of Drexel University’s Baiada Institute incubator, who helped facilitate Campus Soapbox’s launch at the school this summer
Heinecke, who lives just south of Center City, also got involved with organizing events, like the Lean Startup Machine conference and this summer’s PSL event on “Taking the (Startup) Plunge.”
The community is at your service, Heinecke said, “if people know how to tap into it.” It’s a sentiment echoed by veteran entrepreneur C.H. Low, who said that if you ask the local tech scene for help, chances are you’ll get it.
“People will come to help but you have to earn it as well,” Low said. “Don’t just post something online and hope that someone will respond.”
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