‘Convenient’ Philly lands at No. 8 on Forbes list of top startup cities

The publication partnered with Steve Case's Rise of the Rest and identified America's Top 10 up-and-comers. Philly is just above Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C.

According to data cited by Forbes, Philly was home to 548 venture deals in the past three years.

(Courtesy photo)

It’s been three years since that time AOL founder Steve Case brought his Rise of the Rest bus tour to Philly, and it’s pretty safe to say a lot has changed since then.

Just a few highlights that come to mind: data analytics shop RJMetrics got sold, rising visual shopping startup Curalate swelled to over 160 staffers (to later shrink back down to 110), Philly entered a national race to woo a massive Amazon project (and made it to the final round), the City of Philadelphia took its website out of beta mode and Comcast finally finished that skyscraper it was building at 18th and Arch.

Startups have come and gone, but despite gripes heard among founders (most frequently, the difficulty of accessing capital) Philly is still among the best cities to start a company these days, according to a ranking published this week by Forbes and Case’s Revolution venture firm.


The Top 10 Rising Cities For Startups ranking purposefully leaves out the 10 U.S. cities where the most venture capital flows to and picked a lineup of rising cities based on 13 quantitative markers like education levels, entrepreneurship rates, size of venture deals and working age population growth.

At No. 8, Philly is just above Minneapolis, Minn.. and Charlotte, N.C.

“We recognize that a big part of supporting emerging startup ecosystems is telling their stories and celebrating their successes,” said Case in a blog post. “When our partners at Forbes approached us about releasing a snapshot of startup community success, we thought there was no better opportunity to applaud what’s working to attract innovators to 10 great American cities.”

Columbus, Ohio — bolstered by having the highest number of VC funds per capita in the ranking — took the No. 1 spot in the list, followed by St. Louis and Atlanta.

Philadelphia was celebrated for offering founders “convenient access to the East Coast hubs of Boston, New York and Washington, plus more affordable business costs,” in addition to its high number of universities.

“Being named as one of the top rising cities for startups is the latest in a series of exciting developments for Philadelphia’s tech and innovation community,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in an email. “There is considerable potential lying within our city, and as we’ve seen in recent years, the world is taking notice. This ranking is another opportunity to highlight all that we have to offer startups who are looking for a place to call home — including our central location on the East Coast, access to talent, and relatively low cost of doing business.”

(BTW, Baltimore also got a nod at No. 5. Its proximity to D.C. and the patents coming out of Johns Hopkins University made it stand out.)

“This recognition reinforces what we see and believe on a daily basis,” Philly Startup Leaders executive director Kiera Smalls said in an email. “Philly is without a doubt a top city to consider for investment and we are thrilled to be a resource, connector, and voice for our growing list of impressive startups.”

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