Out of the 12 startups chosen for the 2022 LIFT Labs Accelerator, only one is from the Philly area — Wayne’s LLUNA. The other 11 come from American cities such as New York City and San Francisco, but also international cities such as London and Montréal.
This cohort of the latest accelerator from Comcast NBCUniversal and Techstars gathered on Thursday night at the Comcast Technology Center to celebrate the start of their program, which will run for 12 weeks. The reception was an opportunity for founders in this year’s class to get to know each other, as well as some of the accelerator’s mentors and other stakeholders from Philadelphia, said Luke Butler, Comcast’s executive director of startup engagement.
At the kickoff, Technical.ly asked four of the founders who are new to Philly about their thoughts on and expectations for the local entrepreneurship scene and for the accelerator.
Louis-Philippe Gauthier, CEO of Collectiv.TV, a platform helping creators distribute and monetize their content, came to Philly from Montréal. He said he does not know the city very well yet, but has enjoyed his time in it so far. He joined the accelerator program because of the opportunity to work with Comcast.
“In the business I’m building, having a media partner as Comcast is a huge win and a boost for the credibility of the company,” he said. “The other reason I picked the program is the team at Comcast LIFT Labs has been amazing in the whole process. It feels like a family even though I’ve only been here for like three days, officially.”
Gauthier said Collectiv.TV is the first company he’s founded, so he’s trying to take in as much as possible from his mentors and classmates. During his time in the program, his next big goal is to launch the startup’s platform publicly on Sept. 1. He said he would also like to eventually close a deal with Comcast to syndicate the channels that Collectiv.TV creates. He’s also excited for Demo Day at the end of the program.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to show the product, all that hard work, to the community and raise some funds to grow the vision long term,” he said.
Gabe Zetter, CEO of Parallux, a company trying to simplify the creation of 3D virtual spaces, said this is his first time in Philly. But he know’s there’s a lot to learn and see here.
“I think the Philly startup scene is a lot more vibrant than I had realized that it was,” Zetter said. “I think a lot of things happen in New York, but this is right across the river, or whatever the saying is. So it’s been really cool to get to know the community better, get to know Comcast better, get to know the other founders better.”
Zetter’s company is based in New York and grew out of a research lab at NYU. He said the company started in 2018, but a lot has changed about the Web3 tech since then, and he expects this accelerator will be a great learning opportunity.
“I think that the opportunity to come to Comcast is also an opportunity to understand how enterprises and large organizations that really influence the way that technology is developed in the world and the country,” he said. “[It] gives us an opportunity to understand what they think about metaverse and Web3 technologies, how we can make those kinds of technologies more accessible for a larger demographic of people — not just businesses, but also non-technical brands and creators.”
Adriana Letorney is the CEO of New York-based company Visura, a marketplace for publishers to source and license visual content from freelancers from around the world. She described her experience so far at LIFT Labs and in Philly as “humbling and exciting and inspiring,” thanks to being surrounded by other entrepreneurs and media leaders who are generous with their time and willing to listen and connect with her.
“It’s like KJ [Singh] said, nobody really has to be here,” she said, referring to Techstars’ managing director. “And just the fact that there’s so many people here, looking to learn and support and figure out where there’s synergy, I think is really incredible.”
Letorney said as a female founder of color, she wanted a safe space to learn and identify where she needs help, and then improve those areas. So far, LIFT Labs has been meeting her expectations.
“I wanted that opportunity,” she said. “Because if you tell me how I can do better and be better. I will work my heart and soul to do better and be better.”
During her time in Philly, Letorney is looking for opportunities to grow her team, specifically in operations and sales. She also wants to work on creating strategic partnerships.
Ahmed Nimale is a cofounder of Kyd Labs, a Web3 loyalty live event ticketing platform for venues and customers. He’s from from Toronto, although his company is based in New York, and said he’s looking forward to integrating himself into the Philly startup and tech scenes.
“It’s really the City of Brotherly Love,” he said. “Collaboration is great. The community here, especially the Web3 community — being able to interact with them has been an amazing opportunity for us.”
Nimale said the biggest expectation for him is growth, and for the company to be a leader in live events, with Comcast’s support. The startup is expecting to launch at the end of August and aims to drive $11 million within the first year.
“We are incredibly excited to be a part of this class,” he said. “This class is very special with some unique minds internationally, and some great minds as well from Philly.”
At the reception, each founder had the opportunity to pitch their startup after only a few days of being in the program. LIFT Labs’ 2022 cohort will work together for 12 weeks, all leading up to Demo Day on Nov. 2, when they will present their final pitch of the program to a full audience.Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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