Inc. editor Leigh Buchanan took a tour of the Camden startup scene for a profile of the local tech ecosystem published this week.
In a 2,000-word profile, part of an ongoing series on business ecosystems on the rise, Buchanan highlighted the New Jersey city’s steps in growing a corridor of homegrown tech businesses. Following the journey of Penji, the graphic design startup founded by Khai Tran and Johnathan Grzybowski, the story depicts a town trying to surpass its own shortcomings to exploit a long-term potential.
List the ingredients of a vibrant startup ecosystem — a skilled workforce, elite universities with robust tech transfer programs, pools of available capital, lifestyle amenities — Camden hasn’t got them. Nor does it receive much government support, although that may change if Governor Philip Murphy’s plan for a $500 million state startup fund — proposed in October — comes to fruition. Tran and Grzybowski believe the way to make Camden entrepreneurial is to act entrepreneurially. It’s very early days. But slowly, from Camden’s gritty pavements, something is sprouting.
The story also detailed the next move for incubator/coworking camp Waterfront Labs: an upcoming 20,000 square feet facility on the sixth floor of Camden City Hall. Per the story, Camden is subsidizing the lab’s rent, with Waterfront Ventures is paying for renovations as it aims to establish an accelerator program in the vein of Philly Startup Leaders’ own accelerator.
At the end of last year, New Jersey announced it would be creating the NJ Evergreen Innovation Fund to back Jersey-based startups across the state. In Camden, the news were received with enthusiasm, though no investments from the fund have yet been made public.
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