Accelerators / Events / Partnerships / Startups

What to expect from Philly Startup Leaders and Women in Tech Summit’s new partnership

Plus, a look at their quick succession of spring 2023 events — "the thing everyone in Philadelphia is really good at, bringing old and new community together."

Gloria Bell speaks while Isabelle Kent looks on at their orgs' shared event. (Photo by Shawn Reid)
Sing it with us: Do you hear what we hear? Not a classic holiday tune, but a bit of collab news from the Philly tech scene.

At a year-ed party in Old City’s Science History Institute Wednesday, two longtime tech and entrepreneurship organizations gathered those new and old to Philly’s tech scene in honor of their partnership.

Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) and the Women in Tech Summit (WITS) have officially partnered, leaders Isabelle Kent and Gloria Bell said this week.

Attended by entrepreneurs (Cody Eddings, Brittany Jenkins), ecosystem builders (Mercedes Ballard, Jon Mercer) and angel investors (Marc Kramer, Will Houston) alike, the event on Dec. 7 aimed to celebrate the collaboration, announce an additional partnership with tech recruiting org Tribaja’s DiversiTech Summit and celebrate PSL’s 15th anniversary.

The pair said the partnership came naturally: Bell has sat on PSL’s board in the past, and is a “mainstay” in the Philly tech scene, Kent told The two ran into each other at Collision Conference in Toronto this past June and got to talking about how their respective organizations could support each other.

Bell helped with the promotion and logistics for PSL’s recent Founder Factory event, and both organizations are planning on a quick succession of events in the spring. The 2023 WITS will happen in April, which will roll into DiversiTech, then PSL’s Entrepreneur Expo. (What about Philly Tech Week 2023 presented by Comcast, you may wonder? News about the 13th annual event coming soon, but expect the series’ return in mid-May.)

It’s “the thing everyone in Philadelphia is really good at,” Bell said — “bringing old and new community together, bringing the pieces together and bridging the pathway for everyone.”

Bell took the reins of WITS this past June after three years of operating the event series under Chicago-based Creating IT Futures. In 2023, she’ll run the org’s five regional events, plus a large, multi-day virtual event next summer. She added that the org is slated to launch a podcast in January, and PSL will help bring in women in tech and entrepreneurship as guests.

The org also recently took home a Women in Tech Global Award for Community Initiative of the Year for its work in gender equality in the tech industry.

“It was a huge honor, given some of the global organizations we were up against,” Bell said.

Isabelle Kent speaks onstage at the PSL holiday party. (Photo by Shawn Reid)

Kent took the helm of PSL early in 2021, and began tweaking its accelerators and events over the last year and a half. Rather than focusing solely on the stage of a startup, PSL moved toward hosting more vertical-specific accelerators, like its “cannabiz” and “ethical entrepreneurship” programs. Kent said the group has been partnering with local meetups and organizations to enrich the programming, too; for instance, its blockchain accelerator worked with DeFi Philly.

This specific type of programing will continue, Kent said, with applications for their spring round dropping soon and a focus on “culture tech” (via a sponsorship from Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs) that would focus on businesses in the creative and content fields. The org is also bringing back its blockchain accelerator, which had a waitlist after the last cohort, as well as host another round of its ethical entrepreneurship accelerator.

As they look to fall 2023, Kent said PSL may focus another accelerator on solutions related to literacy, like digital literacy or financial literacy. They’ve also started talking with some partners in the biotech space.

During the event Wednesday, present and past members of PSL’s accelerators shared stories about what they learned and how the startup scene has shaped them. It was a good chance to reflect on where the organization’s been and where it’s going, plus shout out other orgs in Philly that have similar missions, Kent said.

“We’re really excited to come full circle,” the PSL CEO said. “A lot of us have been around a long time and like to see each other succeed, and yesterday was a testament to that.”

Companies: Women in Tech Summit / Tribaja / Comcast / Philly Startup Leaders

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