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How a tour of the Philly tech scene changed this undergrad’s life

After meeting local venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, Penn sophomore Cameo Hazlewood knows what she wants to do.

This Wharton crew toured the Philly startup scene with Philly Startup Leaders. (Courtesy photo)
This is a guest post by Penn student Cameo Hazlewood.

Remember freshman year of college when you had no idea what you wanted to do with your life?
That was me just last year at the University of Pennsylvania.
As a young college student, I was eager to seize any and all opportunities as they came my way. During that explorative time, I was fortunate enough to attend countless inspiring speeches from athletes and authors, many workshops about choosing a career and numerous networking conferences, but I still felt uneasy about the direction I wanted to take with my life.
However, most of this uncertainty ended abruptly after I met the Philly tech community.
When it comes to shaping my studies and finding a career, I can honestly say that none of the events I have attended have even remotely compared to the entrepreneurship trip I attended earlier this month.
Along with about twenty of my peers, I traveled on a day-long excursion to explore the Philly startup scene. It was an opportunity presented by The Wharton School to Benjamin Franklin Scholars, a branch of university life that encourages interdisciplinary thinking when solving problems, and the event was organized by Philly Startup Leaders.
The day began at the Innovation Center @ 3401 where we listened to a panel of venture capitalists introduce us to the basics of their jobs. One of the most eye-opening pieces of wisdom I learned from them is that early-stage investing is so much less about money than I thought. They explained that it is almost entirely about the relationships you need to build with investors. It’s about the constant communication that is critical, and they even likened finding an investor to finding a spouse.
The next place we traveled, a few blocks down, was to the offices of startups Curalate and TicketLeap at 2401 Walnut St. They were both inspiring in their own ways and there we learned the three main points that go along with being successful:

  • Have a substantial market size.
  • Have a novel/original idea.
  • Have a solid team that complements the business strategy.

Next we went to WeWork Center City and heard the medical startups’ point of view. I realized that Philly is one of the next big medical markets to take advantage of due to the immense potential for growth and the support network in the city.
The last stop on our entrepreneurship tour was to Benjamin’s Desk, a coworking space in Old City dubbed a collaborative environment for the Philly tech scene members. There, we met with three leaders in the community, and I solidified my opinion that Philadelphia has so many resources to help entrepreneurs succeed.
Overall, it really was a life-changing experience and I plan to continue attending events in the community and generating ideas for the future.


Editor’s note: Find the agenda of speakers for the day below.

10:00 a.m.: Intro to Investment at ic@3401 with Brett Topche (Red and Blue, formerly MentorTech), Jason Bannon (Ben Franklin Technology Partners), Scott Nissenbaum (Ben Franklin Technology Partners), Glen Gaddy (Robin Hood Ventures)
11:30 a.m.: TicketLeap/Curalate offices with Luke Butler (Curalate) and Tim Raybould (Ticketleap)
2:00 p.m.: Healthcare at WeWork with Tom Olenzak (Independence Blue Cross), David Lindsay (Oncora), Rahul Jain (TowerView Health)
3:30 p.m.: Community at Benjamin’s Desk with Anthony Maher (Benjamin’s Desk), Yuval Yarden (Philly Startup Leaders), Roberto Torres (Technically Philly), Rebecca Lopez Kriss (StartUp PHL)


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