With the aim of funding tech startups run by entrepreneurs from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the City of Philadelphia announced that it has chosen 13 companies to receive grant funding through its StartupPHL initiative.
The new initiative, The Venture Program, run by the Department of Commerce, opened applications to Philly-based tech entrepreneurs who may not have access to traditional forms of capital in April.
Last week, the program awarded grants to 13 companies totaling $170,000. The 13 grants will be disbursed to a total of 21 founders, of which 12 of are women and 17 are people of color, the City said.
“People of color, women and immigrants disproportionately have limited access to financing and capital to start and sustain a new business, and this presents a major barrier to entrepreneurship for these communities,” said Francisco Garcia, director of business development for innovation and technology at Philly’s Department of Commerce.
The StartupPHL Venture Program was developed as a result of the NorthStar Conference in October 2018, where folks expressed that access to early-stage capital was a major issue to founders of color. The Venture Program simulates capital usually raised during the “friends and family” fundraising stage, the Department of Commerce said.
The companies range in focus from retail businesses, tech and entrepreneurship education, enterprise technology for procurement, social media, construction technology, accounting, diversity and inclusion, fashion, fintech and mortgage tech, and healthcare.
- Ask My Accountant, a website and chat support for business owners who need help staying compliant in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia ($10,000)
- BuildLAB, Inc., a cloud-based, early design stage collaboration and project management tool for owners, architects, engineers and contractors ($15,000)
- Capture, a service that helps families and individuals connect across generations and preserve cultural history ($10,000)
- Crowds, Inc., a marketing platform for local business ($10,000)
- IF Lab, a multi-use community space for the Philly’s business community ($25,000)
- Invure, an education app to connect students with universities and companies ($5,000)
- NeuroFlow, Inc., a behavioral health-focused tech platform ($20,000)
- Raise the Barr, a corporate diversity inclusion training ($10,000)
- STEM Lending, Inc, a mortgage lending startup ($10,000)
- Stimulus, Inc., a relationship intelligence software provider ($20,000)
- Swirl Technologies, Inc., an inclusion-focused Slack application ($10,000)
- TYP Social Media Co, a social media management and consulting company ($15,000)
- Wearwell, an ecommerce shop offering environmentally friendly items under a subscription model ($10,000)
A panel of nine people decided on the 13 companies out of 43 applications. The committee based the decision on an each company’s “demonstrated ability to increase the number of jobs available in the City of Philadelphia,” the City said.