Philly Tech Week / Resources / Venture capital

Josh Kopelman to entrepreneurs: choose bigger ideas

The investor dares you to go for the $10-billion market instead of the $100-million one. That and other advice from a Philly Tech Week event with Kopelman, Curalate CEO Apu Gupta and former Mayor Michael Nutter.

Michael Nutter, Josh Kopelman and Apu Gupta discuss how Philly can step up its game during a Philly Tech Week 2016 panel. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

After hearing countless startup pitches from all across the country, First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman has a drop of wisdom for anyone who thinks they have the “next Uber” of something, especially those in the Philadelphia area.
“Choose bigger ideas,” Kopelman said. “Ideas that, in the success case, the scale is massive and the impact can be large. Chances are you won’t succeed but, if you do, the prize is worth playing for.”

The advice came during a Curalate event during Philly Tech Week 2016 presented by Comcast. Kopelman sat with Curalate CEO Apu Gupta in a casual talk moderated by former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Kopelman thought the “think bigger” tip especially applied to the growing community of entrepreneurs in Philly, where the investor is based.
Throughout the dialogue, the duo reviewed the hits and misses along the way since First Round Capital’s first funding of Storably, Gupta’s initial company, which was an Airbnb for storage. “It was literally the worst idea ever,” Gupta quipped.
The team then went back to the drawing board and came up with the concept that is now Curalate. (Nutter joked that he had no idea what Curalate actually did.)

The idea for Curalate, Gupta explained to the dozens of event attendees, came from a shift in consumer behavior at the beginning of the decade: people were engaging with visual marketing much more so than with conventional marketing. Today, the company offers its visual commerce platform to top names in retail like Forever 21J. Crew, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.
For Gupta, Philadelphia has been fertile ground. “This is such a supportive community,” he said. “Everybody is trying to make the community more successful.”
He even gave a shoutout to Brendan Lowry, Curalate’s marketing director, who has achieved local Instagram celeb status.
Curalate currently has two other offices: one in Seattle and one in New York. In spite of the expansion, Philadelphia still rings true as the place from which to lead the organization.
“The number of people who want to build a career here is amazing,” Gupta said. “It’s a really exciting time to be here.”

Companies: Curalate / First Round Capital / Storably

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