What Comcast is doing to help local entrepreneurs - Technical.ly Philly

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Apr. 20, 2015 7:34 am

What Comcast is doing to help local entrepreneurs

Investment, mentorship and more.
The Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia.

The Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia.

(Photo by Flickr user Knitting Zeal, used under a Creative Commons license)

Though Comcast is known internationally, it supports entrepreneurs locally by helping fund the tech needs of local businesses and investing in local startups.

The global media and technology company also hosts events such as meetups and hackathons, which give technologists the opportunity to hack solutions, win prizes and receive mentorship.

“The team at Comcast NBCUniversal is looking to innovate everything we do and we welcome new business partners — ranging from the latest customer service solutions to new media technologies that complement the X1 experience,” said Comcast Chief Business Development Officer Sam Schwartz.

Comcast invests in local startups through Genacast Ventures, a partnership between investor Gil Beyda and Comcast Ventures that helps fuel early-stage companies in the area, including LeadID, Invite Media and Packlate.com. One past success is a seed investment in Divide, a bring-your-own-device enterprise security company formerly known as Enterpriod. Divide eventually sold to Google.

“Our passion has always been to turn great ideas into powerful businesses — and that starts with finding talented entrepreneurs,” said Beyda, who leads Genacast Ventures. “Comcast Ventures, with the help of the Genacast and Catalyst funds, has provided unparalleled strategic and financial support for entrepreneurs just getting started. Identifying innovative leaders is the mission of all our partners, and the ability to support them with the assets from Comcast and NBCUniversal provides startups with a distinct advantage.”

Comcast has also collaborated with DreamIt Ventures to invest in minority-owned startups, including Philly outfits ROAR and LIA Diagnostics.

Another initiative from Comcast, Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs, invites entrepreneurs of all kinds — tech or not — to apply to win a grand prize of $30,000 toward tech expenses. The competition, which is in its second year, accepted applications until March 15 and will announce this year’s grand prize winners June 1. Even a sandwich shop needing new computers, smartphones or internet access would qualify, reflecting the need for tech infrastructure across vocations. Last year, Wilmington’s entreDonovan, a women’s boutique that uses 3D scanners to recommend business attire, won a national grand prize for “Improved Customer Experience.”

“Technology plays a vital role when starting a new business and the Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs program is designed to recognize and assist business owners, here in Philadelphia and across the country, who are best using technology to make a difference for their customers and employees,” said Kathy Hickey, executive director of marketing for Comcast Business. “We’ve seen a huge uptick in entries in our second year of the program, especially from here in our hometown, and we’re excited to highlight their great work when the winners are announced later this year.”

Comcast has also upped its commitment to offering mentorship opportunities. The company has partnered with coworking spaces, including Philly’s Benjamin’s Desk, Chicago’s 1871, Washington, D.C.’s 1776, to support local tech ecosystems. Comcast also provides national speakers and experts to help startups with their strategic development.

Then there is actual code itself. Comcast has contributed 36,000 lines of code to an open source project called OpenStack. Last month, the company hosted an OpenStack community meetup, drawing over 150 developers to Rittenhouse Square for a two-day hackathon.

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