Roundups / Startups / Awards

What was Philly’s realLIST Class of 2017 up to all year?

Product launches, venture capital, key hires. Ahead of our upcoming 2018 list, which goes live in January, here's what 2017's most promising startups got done.

At Blackfynn's Center City HQ. Here's a recap of what the startup got done in 2017. (Courtesy photo)

Seems like just yesterday we sat down to compile a list of Philly’s most legit startups in 2017.

The convo yielded a crop of 10 startups we thought could have an interesting year. Either the idea behind each venture was strong, the people involved were legit or there was a good chunk of cash backing the company as it built itself out in the cutthroat tech ecosystem.

The snapshot of tech, through time, rang true: the companies we listed went on to shine in the global stage, build out their teams, raise sizable rounds of venture capital or partner with anchor institutions.

So, as we wrap this year up with a bow, let’s take a quick look at what each company was up to in 2017.


10. Lilu

The hardware company, makers of a pumping bra with automated compression, pitched its prototype at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco over the fall. The company expects to start shipping its product in March. Cofounder Adriana Vazquez spent six months in China as part of the HAX, a hardware accelerator in China.

9. FinPay

The King of Prussia, Pa.-based startup emerged from the Village Capital/Ben Franklin Technology Partners fintech accelerator over the summer and went on to raise a $1.9 million seed round. CEO Chris Wolfington said the funding will help the company chart a course toward regional expansion.

8. AnneeLondon

Cofounder Rachel Benyola closed out 2017 by landing a spot among Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Manufacturing & Industry. The startup has finalized the prototype for its London foldable bike helmet and expects to start shipping next spring.

Digital cover of Forbes' 30 under 30 issue featuring Benyola.

Digital cover of Forbes’ 30 under 30 issue featuring Benyola.

7. Orai

The app that helps users beef up their speech is under redevelopment, with a 2.0 version in the works, per a blog post from cofounder Danish Dhamani. Through the year the company received lotsa national press hits.

6. Stitch

CEO Jake Stein and the team at Stitch (a spinout company in the wake of RJMetrics’ acquisition took part of the Stitch platform open source, in a push to get more developers connected with its Singer data integration tool. As part of that playbook — which companies like GitLab and Docker have also adopted — it launched the Stitch Community Integrations tool earlier this month.

5. Oncora Medical

David Lindsay and Chris Berlind’s health IT company picked up an additional $1.3 million in funding from former investors like BioAdvance and San Francisco’s iSeed Ventures. In the spring, Oncora partnered with Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to install its Precision Radiation Oncology Platform.

4. LIA Diagnostics

LIA, makers of a flushable, biodegradable pregnancy test, kept quiet most of 2017. In December, it broke radio silence at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin: it formally launched its product, announced it had received an important clearance Food and Drug Administration and won the competition’s top prize.


The Pennovation-based robotics company, founded by Jonas Cleveland, started off 2017 with a $2.35 million seed round from a mix of local and outside investors. The company moved from the smaller Inventor Garage at Pennovation Center to a bigger, 2,400-square-foot office inside Pennovation Works’ renovated office building.

2. Curren-c  Amino

Big transformation from the Amino camp in 2017: from stealth-mode Curren-c to a venture-backed company with a team of 19 based out of WeWork. With $1.75 million in seed funding from a host of investors like First Round Capital, cofounders Will Luttrell, David Bookspan and Chris Chapman are trying to leverage the blockchain to make online ads more transparent.

1. Blackfynn

In keeping with its heads-down approach, the company kept mostly quiet through 2017. That is, until this November, when it rolled out a slate of updates including a $2.3 million project with the National Institutes of Health, the launch of a version of its data platform for neuroscience for academic researchers and partnerships with a trio of healthcare institutions.


Next up: Editor-in-Chief Zack Seward and I get together to flesh out the 2018 list. There’s already a shortlist (and it includes a couple of names in this roundup) but we’d love to hear from you. Tell us in the comments section if there’s a company we should track through 2018.

Companies: AnneeLondon / Amino / FinPay / Orai / COSY / LIA Diagnostics / Lilu / Stitch, Inc. / Blackfynn / Oncora Medical
Series: RealLIST Startups / RealLIST

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