The UK firm behind this buzzy Wordpress competitor is opening an office in Philly - Philly


Nov. 11, 2015 12:46 pm

The UK firm behind this buzzy WordPress competitor is opening an office in Philly

Torchbox cofounder Tom Dyson made the call after getting sold on Philadelphia at DjangoCon by Wharton IT director Tim Allen. Landing a major Philly client helped, too.

Torchbox cofounder Tom Dyson on his first day in Philadelphia.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Wharton tech evangelist Tim Allen sold Tom Dyson on Philadelphia in five minutes.

That’s got to be a record, right?

Allen and Dyson met at DjangoCon, the international Django conference, in Austin this September. Dyson, who runs a 50-person, mission-driven web dev firm in the United Kingdom called Torchbox, told Allen he was looking to set up shop on the East Coast. Naturally, Allen jumped into the pitch. (Pay attention so you can make it, too.)

Proximity to New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston, affordability, the cluster of universities and “the strong tech scene,” Allen said.

“The strong, friendly tech scene,” he added.


Tom Dyson and Tim Allen. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Shortly after DjangoCon, Torchbox nabbed a contract with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. That sealed the deal.

(We’re seeing more and more people and organizations make pitches for Philly as a place to headquarter your business. Most recently, Drexel helped lure 3D printing company Orange Maker from Los Angeles.)

We caught up with Allen and Dyson on Tuesday, on Dyson’s first trip to Philadelphia. He was largely here to meet with CHOP, but Allen was also taking him on a tour of sorts. They stopped at our office after visiting coworking space Indy Hall, which Dyson is considering as a potential office space.

“There’s a really nice vibe there,” said Dyson, a youthful 42-year-old, who had expertly layered shades of blue under his navy trench coat when we met him.

For now, it’ll be a one-person shop. Dyson hired Houston-based developer Alex Gleason, who’s moving to Philadelphia for the gig.

Torchbox’s big thing right now is Wagtail, an open source content management system (like WordPress, on which this is being typed) built with Django that’s gotten some big name users, like NASA, NBC and the federal government’s 18F team, which is using it to build the Federal Election Commission’s site.

Allen’s a contributor to Wagtail — he’s currently working on a tool to make the conversion from WordPress to Wagtail painless — and he said Wharton is working on some projects with it, too. As we spoke with Dyson, Allen found a place for a Wagtail sticker on his Macbook Air.

Dyson’s speaking about Wagtail at the Philly Python User Group (PhillyPUG) today at 6 p.m. at Wharton.



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