Events / Investing / Philly Tech Week / Startups

11 ways to grow tech entrepreneurship in Philadelphia

During Philly Tech Week, we asked 11 technology community leaders to give their One Big Idea for strengthening entrepreneurship in the Philadelphia region. Here is what we were told.

The crowd at the Philly Tech Week State of Entrepreneurship/Investment event.
Full Disclosure: This event was organized by Technically Philly with Ben Franklin Technology Partners/SEP, which is a sponsor of Philly Tech Week.

It was a chance to get a dozen regional technology entrepreneurship leaders in a room with 200 others to share what their big idea for the future is.

The prompt for those leaders at Friday’s Philly Tech Week Entrepreneurship/Investment event was just that and, in a standing-room only crowd at the EEB Hub at the Navy Yard in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ben Franklin Technology Partners/SEP, here’s what we heard:

  1. “Bring More Entrepreneurs in Public Office” by State Treasurer Rob McCord — If you want to create public policy that truly reflects business interests, those with the experience in what works need to creating legislation.
  2. “Use community to keep us here” by Independents Hall cofounder Alex Hillman — Rather than focusing only on top-down efforts, it’s in the small corners of innovation that build up a sticky density that our economy is changing. Support it.
  3. “Stay True to our Region’s Roots” by RealFoodWorks CEO Lucinda Duncalfe — Philadelphia is not a boom or bust experience. This is a bootstrapping town that focuses on real business with real revenue. Don’t get caught up in what is buzzy because frothy valuations and risk-tolerant capital simply isn’t here. Build a business.
  4. “Welcome new Perspective” by DreamIt Ventures Managing Director William Crowder — We are a city with problems, which presents an opportunity for real solutions and a need to find ways to include more corners of Philadelphia into this conversation.
  5. “Own Technology-enabled Industry” by NextDocs CTO Satwik Seshasai — Think about the region’s Enterprise Hackathon, which Seshasai is helping to lead, and you’ll get his point. The region is a ‘commercialization corridor,’ which means big customers in pharma, manufacturing, healthcare, engineering and the like are here. So the region’s businesses should focus on creating technologies that will change industries. In short, embrace B2B, which can transform consumers more than they realize.
  6. “Import Startup Talent” by¬† Venture for America founder Andrew YangYang unveiled his plans to bring his fellowship program to Philadelphia.
  7. “Match degrees and jobs with students” by Campus Philly Executive Director Deborah Diamond — There is a big mismatch between the type of students universities here are graduating and the jobs that exist. Though self-correction is happening, other training programs need to be embraced.
  8. “Embrace the Mega-Region” by U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho — Philadelphia shouldn’t try to stand on its own. Instead, Philadelphia should see other East Coast cities, from D.C. to Baltimore to New York and Boston, as partners, not competitors, in a mega-region for attracting and retaining talent.
  9. “Build success, spin off talent” by Artisan CEO Bob Moul — The clearest way to make the region better for entrepreneurship is to make successes. Create wealth, spin off talent to create more, stronger companies.
  10. “Create the Philadelphia Patent Partnership Organization” by Volpe & Koenig Senior Patent Agent, Harry Vartanian — A quasi-governmental agency should foster and support a faster, more affordable and accessible way to create patent and other IP protections.
  11. “Create more acquirers” by BFTP’s Alan Kraus — Rather than only focusing on exits, Philadelphia’s IT space needs more big companies that gobble up others to consolidate wealth and decision making here.

The lightning talks were followed by a panel discussion meant to digest these ideas and others, as moderated by BFTP’s Terry Hicks and featuring Chris Fralic of First Round Capital, David Brussin of Monetate, Ellen Weber and Robinhood Ventures and Phil Moyer of Safeguard Scientifics.

The most clever new metric for deciding the state of scalable technology entrepreneurship and investment in Philadelphia came from Brussin.

“Entrepreneurs aren’t having to make enough hard decisions by needing to decide between competing investment offers,” he said.

Newsworks also covered the event here.

Companies: Ben Franklin Technology Partners / Safeguard Scientifics
People: Andrew Yang / Alex Hillman / Bob Moul / Chris Fralic / David Brussin / Deborah Diamond / Ellen Weber / Lucinda Duncalfe / Natalia Olson-Urtecho / Philip Moyer / Rob McCord / Satwik Seshasai / William Crowder
Projects: Philly Tech Week

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.


Amid Fearless Fund lawsuit, organizations supporting Black entrepreneurs are not backing down

StretchDollar, backed by $1.6M, wants to make health insurance easier for small businesses

Shapiro: Strategic plan underway to bolster economic development in Pennsylvania

These 3 hiring companies reveal their tech stacks and business applications

Technically Media