Pa. Congressman criticized for ‘nepotism’ for Ben Franklin Technology Partners [Startup Roundup]

Congressman Charlie Dent had earmarked $250,000 to state-backed investment firm Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, where he had previously served as a board member.

From the 2014 New Zealand Open Source Awards (NZOSA). (Photo by Flickr user Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, used under a Creative Commons license)
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Updated 5/8/13 4:19 p.m. to add more details about Bart Mroz's departure. Also, an earlier version of this article said that Mroz's company, SUMO Heavy Industries, would be headquartered at New Work City but it is actually headquartered at WeWork Labs.

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Lehigh Valley Republican Congressman Charlie Dent  was one of nine Pennsylvania U.S. House representatives named in a so-called ‘nepotism’ report, the Delaware County Daily Times reported. Dent had earmarked $250,000 to state-backed investment firm Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, where he had previously served as a board member. (BFTP receives state funding as a whole but is divided into multiple geographic divisions. The Northeastern Pennsylvania group is distinct from the Southeastern Pennsylvania team.)

Dent left the BFTP board in 2004, though the independent report [PDF], which alleges impropriety not necessarily illegality, questions whether Dent fully disclosed his previous relationship with BFTP to be involved in the funding. Dent has opposed efforts tied to BFTP in the past.


InstaMed, the Center City healthcare payment company, raised $2.4 million, according to an SEC filing. The round was backed by existing investors, according to one report.

Chaikin Analytics, the stock market analytic company based in Society Hill/Queen Village, raised $845,000, according to an SEC filing.

Vistar Media, the digital out-of-home advertising company led by Invite Media alumni, raised an additional $100,000, making its recent round of funding total $1.3 million, according to an SEC filing, although news coverage reported a $1.5 million round. Vistar Media is headquartered in New York City but has a Center City office.

First Round Capital participated in a $11.1 million round for Poppin, a New York City-based office products and furniture e-retailer, TechCrunch reported. The venture capital firm also expanded its Dorm Room Fund to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, TechCrunch reported.


Bart Mroz, cofounder of Sumo Heavy Industries, is leaving Philadelphia, as per his tweet. He said he was leaving for personal reasons. The eCommerce company was based out of Center City’s Seed Philly and also had a Manhattan presence in coworking space WeWork Labs. Sumo will keep two employees at Seed Philly, Mroz said, and has two in NYC and two in Europe. In years past, Mroz had mentioned plans to someday live and work in New York, where most of his clients were.

Conshohocken’s NextDocs launched NextDocs6, the newest version of their content management system for pharmaceutical companies, according to a release.

Safeguard Scientifics recently named a new Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President: Jeff McGroarty, according to a release. McGroarty’s been with the venture capital firm since 2005.

Callowhill-based social engagement company Stuzo made two new management hires: Richard Friedman as Chief Technology Officer and Yan Rozovsky as Executive Vice President of Client Engagement. Friedman was formerly VP of Engineering at MeetMe and Rozovsky was VP of Social Sales and Strategy at Oracle.

Speaking of MeetMe, the New Hope, Pa. social network added a new member to its board: Spencer Rhodes, COO of Tradewinds Investment Management.

Dwolla, an Artists & Instigators portfolio company that does internet payments, closed an $18 million Series C led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Below, watch a video about TicketLeap‘s partnership with accounting firm Parente Beard.

Companies: Artists & Instigators / Chaikin Stock Research / Dwolla / First Round Capital / InstaMed / MeetMe / Parente Beard / Safeguard Scientifics / Stuzo / SUMO Heavy Industries / Ticketleap / Vistar Media

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