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New tech, community and problem solving: What 5 Philly tech founders are optimistic about right now

From building new teams to tackling climate change through a mission-driven business model, here's what local entrepreneurs say excites them about their work, and this moment.

Clockwise from top left: Hey, Auntie!'s Nicole Kenney, Lumify's Jennifferre Mancillas and Anthony Scarpone-Lambert, Mainfactor's Mike Fiebach, The Rounds' Alex Torrey and Byungwoo Ko, and Common Paper's Ben Garvey. (Image by
When the pandemic, economic uncertainty and global issues like war enter the picture, how do entrepreneurs stay focused on building? What keeps them excited? recently gathered founders from Philly’s 2022 RealLIST Startups for a roundtable discussion hitting everything from resources they need to trends in building their businesses to hopes for the future. Last week, we heard what founders in the group thought about locality — what makes a Philly company a Philly company in a remote world? Now, we’re rounding up what the group told us about the future.

Here’s what they said:

Mike Fiebach, cofounder of venture-backed ecommerce company Mainfactor, said he loves being in the seed stage of a startup. In recent years, more and more resources have become available to serve ecommerce businesses, and the team he’s been putting together over the last two years keeps him excited.

“It’s just great, people coming together to start to form something from scratch,” Fiebach said.

Ben Garvey, CTO of SaaS contracts startup Common Paper, agreed, adding that tech advances make it easier to build something new as time goes on. Garvey’s built before, but during the recent launch of his and cofounder Jake Stein‘s product last month, he said the pair was looking folks who were experts at working with early-stage SaaS companies and were “solid humans we feel great about.” That, with advances in the product space, make it easy to be optimistic about the future for their company, he said.

Byungwoo Ko, cofounder COO of delivery service The Rounds, said his optimism rests in the startup’s mission of challenging ongoing issue of climate change. The company began its life as a small Philly startup, and has since expanded to DC and Miami. The sustainability-minded, reuse-based service’s team is looking to add more markets this year, Ko said.

There's a lot of momentum and things to be grateful for and excited about.

“The closed loop supply chain will have a shot at solving one of the most consequential problems of our generation,” he said. “There’s a lot of momentum and things to be grateful for and excited about.”

Mission is also at the center of Nicole Kenney’s excitement for the future. The founder of the Hey, Auntie! platform, which is in the process of being built, last year won the Well City Challenge, meant to bring health solutions to millennial populations. Hey, Auntie! aims to bring Black women of all ages together for mentorship, advice and community.

Kenney said this exploration into building with technology was also part of her optimism.

“I am excited to be in this space and to bring Black women to the center as I create,” she said. “It’s exciting to hear their stories, and what’s valuable to them, and I’m excited about the inter-generational approach — excited about aunties and young folks who are equally excited to bring this to fruition.”

And Anthony Scarpone-Lambert, founder of Lumify Care, said he’s finding excitement in the stage his company is in. For the first time, he and his cofounder are building a team, and he’s envisioning its success beyond the two of them.

“Being able to delegate is a lovely gift,” he said. “It feels like I’m always behind, and now I am able to offload things and see them thrive and managed, and that is a lovely feeling.”

Companies: Hey, Auntie! / Mainfactor / Lumify Care / Common Paper / The Rounds

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