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Kevin Fitzpatrick on Philly’s startup scene: ‘There isn’t much of one’

This is Exit Interview, a weekly interview series with someone who has left Philadelphia, perhaps for another country or region or even just out of city limits and often taking talent, business and jobs with them. If you or someone you know left Philly for whatever reason, we want to hear from you. Contact us. […]


This is Exit Interview, a weekly interview series with someone who has left Philadelphia, perhaps for another country or region or even just out of city limits and often taking talent, business and jobs with them. If you or someone you know left Philly for whatever reason, we want to hear from you. Contact us.
Kevin Fitzpatrick had one of those cool white collar tech jobs that actually thrive in Center City.
Born in the Northeast neighborhood of Rhawnhurst, raised in Horsham and a loving resident of Center City, his job with Comcast Interactive Media seemed to suggest he would stick around.
But in June 2010, Fitzpatrick packed up with his girlfriend and moved to San Francisco. It was just time, he says, though his roots may likely bring him back.
“I needed to get out, find mentors and work on new stuff,” he said. Where’s the line between a city that limits and a natural need to try new places. Hear more from Fitzpatrick in his Exit Interview below.

What are the primary reasons you left CIM for San Francisco?
I left CIM because I wanted to pursue the craftsmanship side of software development. While it was a great job, we were working on projects I was personally interested in and I wasn’t getting a chance to grow as a craftsman. I needed to get out, find mentors and work on new stuff.
I ended up in San Francisco because it was a place my girlfriend and I had always wanted to live and I ended up finding a good fit at Pivotal Labs, a consultancy out here.
Was there a specific event or moment that you realized you had to/wanted to leave?
In August of 2009 I went to BizConf, a small conference run by the same people who run Hashrocket. Long story short, I met a lot of people from whom I felt I could learn a lot. I spent a week at Hashrocket learning the way they did things. When I got back to CIM, I started implementing some of them, but I realized there was no way I was going to be able to change things there to suit my desires. Change your company or change your company, right?
I followed the footsteps of a guy I met at BizConf, and I took a leave of absence to go on a journeyman tour to the best Rails shops I could find who would have me for a week or so. I even found one in Sweden that turned out to be a month-long paid gig. I ended up at Pivotal on the tour and the rest was history.
Was there anything that could have been done differently to keep you?
Not really. I was ready for a change and frankly there just aren’t the kind of shops in Philly that I needed in order to grow.
Do you think you would return to Philadelphia under appropriate circumstances?
Absolutely. I love Philly, my family is there and I’m a big supporter of IndyHall and the wider the tech community. Someday I’m sure the circumstances will be right and I might even open up my own shop there.
When someone you meet in San Francisco asks about Philadelphia and its startup community, what do you tell them?
That there isn’t much of one. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t lots of people doing great stuff, but there just isn’t enough. It’s young. People are still figuring out how the whole thing works. From a larger perspective, most of the technology people in Philly metro are connected to big tech, finance or biotech firms or companies that service them as clients.
I also want to make the distinction between the tech community and the startup community. The community of people involved with design and technology is vibrant. It’s driven from grass roots and it’s bad-ass. That doesn’t directly translate to lots of jobs working at start ups or start up clients.
What is the perception you most often find of Philadelphia?
Sad to say, it’s still New York’s little brother with the chip on its shoulder.
What’s the latest you’re up to that we can plug or look forward toward?
Keep an eye on our project management tool Tracker over the next year. We have some really cool stuff cooking.

Companies: Pivotal Labs
People: Kevin Fitzpatrick
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