Startups / Awards

Mid-year check-in: Are the realLIST startups still real?

Let's take the temperature on the companies we deemed hot at the beginning of the year.

Orai has landed national attention. (Courtesy photo)
Usually, the mid-point of the year is when you check up on your New Year’s Resolutions. Evaluate progress and see if there’s any changes to be made.

For us, at the beginning of the year there were no resolutions other than “make great content”, but we did announce our realLIST across’s five markets. The premise was simple: A list of companies we deemed worthy of checking up on, with potential due to either a bold idea with lots of market, a seasoned founding team or early traction with customers. Sometimes, all of the above.

In Philly, a mid-year look at our cohort of “hottest” startups meant we stumbled upon a mixed bag. A handful of companies have either remained stealth or have quietly been building on their offering. Mind you: that’s not taking away from their realness. It simply means the early stage stretch will be a bit longer, which may mean a more developed final product or service.

For a couple of them, high-impact deals or venture capital support have come to aid them on their journey. Some scored prestigious awards. Some made it to accelerators or mentorship programs while others slid into the media spotlight. It’s been quite a year. Overall, we’re pleased with the temperature check on this initial cohort. What we’re really looking forward to, though? The end-of-year diagnosis of “realness.”

Here are some updates from our inaugural cohort of real Philly startups.

10. Lilu

9. FinPay

  • Only two startups got funded from the Ben Franklin / Village Capital fintech accelerator. Chris Wolfington’s Finpay was the narrow third. The King of Prussia, Pa.-based company is trekking along on its mission to getting financial education to patients before they rack up massive debt.

8. AnneeLondon

  • AWE’s Emerging Entrepreneur Pitch competition yielded $500 and plenty of investor exposure for Rachel Benyola’s startup last November. The company makes a foldable bike helmet with LED lights.

7. Orai

  • Since January, the top news from Danish Dhamani and Paritosh Gupta’s startup is the iOS app going live. Just last month, the “virtual speech coach” had been downloaded 5,000 times. Also, Orai has landed bookoo national press hits.

6. Stitch

  • CEO Jake Stein made a risky bet to start off the year: Making part of the Stitch platform open source and let developers build their own data integration tool. As the company strives to build a community around the data tool, 17 new data sources have been added to Singer’s toolkit.

5. Oncora Medical

4. LIA Diagnostics

  • LIA, the makers of a flushable pregnancy test, have remained mostly quiet even though it just expanded office space. Lia moved out of the 4,500-square-foot office it used to share with Biomeme to its own office down the hall.


  • The Penn spinout cracked the bat loudly just a couple of weeks after the realLIST was announced: Jonas Cleveland’s company raised a $2.35 million seed round. For the robotics field, Cleveland said, it wasn’t a huge amount but it came in handy to further develop COSY’s flagship technology platform Scout.

2. Curren-c

  • Yes, the adtech company cofounded by Will Luttrell is still on stealth mode. Luttrell declined to comment further but said there may be some news coming down the pipeline this year for the startup, which has grown to a staff of 12. We’ll keep you posted.

1. Blackfynn


Series: RealLIST Startups / RealLIST

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

Our services Preferred partners The journalism fund

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Philly is ranked one of the world’s best places to found a startup, climbing to No. 25 globally

Ghost Robotics is landing a $240M exit, dodging months of protests over military uses

Coded by Kids drops ‘kids’ but keeps the focus on young people

As a returning citizen, she experienced tech overload. Now she’s fighting to end the digital divide

Technically Media