How'd you find your way into entrepreneurship? 3 stories from Philly industry folks - Philly


Sep. 4, 2019 1:02 pm

How’d you find your way into entrepreneurship? 3 stories from Philly industry folks

A former teen coder, psycholinguistics academic and high school teacher with the School District of Philadelphia dish on their first forays into biz leadership.
Philly Startup Leaders’ Jaclyn Allen with a former student.

Philly Startup Leaders' Jaclyn Allen with a former student.

(Courtesy photo)

Some in Philly’s tech and startup space teach themselves programing languages at night or on the side (or before they even learn to drive). Others launch businesses while still grinding at their day jobs.

It’s these range in experiences that’s made Philly such a cool place to be an entrepreneur. We asked some people about their career trajectory — how exactly did you find your way into the local entrepreneurship space?

Here’s what three industry pros had to say:

Jaclyn Allen, head of programs at Philly Startup Leaders

Allen said her story is a bit unconventional.

She moved to Philly for a job with the Marriott Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission is to help young people with disabilities learn, grow and get employment. She’d spent time teaching in the School District of Philadelphia, placing students with disabilities into full- and part-time jobs.

“Early on I realized that one of the most challenging obstacles my students faced was the lack of a general understanding of technology: creating a gmail, finding job postings, and completing an online application are essential first steps to obtaining any job, and skills my students needed to succeed,” she wrote in an email.

A fellow teacher told her about a local startup that had created a platform specifically to teach students with disabilities work-ready technology skills.

“It was this introduction to the Philly startup community, along with my passion for helping people and community building that naturally led me to Philly Startup Leaders,” she said. “Now as head of programs, I work closely with entrepreneurs of all stages to effectively connect them to the resources they need the most.”

Bob Moore, CEO of Crossbeam

Moore, who graduated from Glassboro High School in 2002, said he started teaching himself HTML as a teen.

“The entire boom/bust cycle of the dotcom era took place during my formative years,” he wrote us. “The excitement of that time was motivating enough that I taught myself HTML in 1999 and started up my first company.”

It was web design and tech support business QUAM Industries (which, by the way, landed Tony Luke’s as a client. More on that here.)

“After QUAM, there was no going back,” he said. “I cut my teeth on a number of small ventures in college, some more random than others, eventually iterating my way up to my first venture-scale idea and teaming up with Jake Stein for RJMetrics. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since I built my first site on GeoCities.”

Most recent for Moore? His third major venture, data analytics firm Crossbeam, just finished a $12.5 million Series A round.

Robert Moore's yearbook photo from junior year of high school. (We are now accepting any and all Philly tech scene yearbook photos. Email them to

Robert Moore’s yearbook photo from junior year of high school. (Courtesy photo)

Neil Bardhan, founder of Bardhan Consulting

Bardhan loves learning about how people communicate. He started his first career in academia, where he researched psycholinguistics, and learned that he’s fascinated by science, language and how people talk about their work.

“I had also learned there that the business of academic research and teaching weren’t the right fit for me,” he  said.

That love of communication, though, is why he moved to Philadelphia, where he “met a number of inspirational people and organizations, and set about creating Bardhan Consulting,” he said.

The firm’s goal is to help technical professionals learn how to talk about their work.

Want to share the story of your first foray into tech or entrepreneurship for a future roundup? Email

People: Robert Moore

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