The city’s two daily papers weren’t the only companies to recently move into their new headquarters at 8th and Market. Three startups, Rumble, Zaahah and tapCLIQ, also just moved in.
The companies will be part of the second class of Interstate General Media’s (formerly Philadelphia Media Network) Project Liberty Digital Incubator, Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) announced yesterday.
Project Liberty, a partnership between BFTP and Interstate General Media and funded by the Knight Foundation, provides startups with free office space, support from Drexel University students and access to Philly.com as a marketing platform.
The startups will work on the same floor as the two newspapers, which will be interesting to watch, as the newspapers’ union didn’t seem especially pleased with the incubator last March.
Project Liberty also hired Former Executive Director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council Cory Donovan as an incubator manager, according to the BFTP release. This is a new development for the project. Interstate General Media used an IT staffer to fill this role during the incbuator’s the first class.
Here’s the scoop on the startups:
Rumble, which demoed at this month’s Philly Tech Meetup, is a social news and media reader that hopes to make it easier for publications to distribute digital content. Led by Israel-native Al Azoulay, the company has nine employees but only two are in Philly. The rest are in the company’s R&D office in Israel. Azoulay, who’s been in Philly for five years now, lives in Northern Liberties.
Zaahah, produced by StartUp Productions and founded by James Sisneros, is a social network and a search engine all tied into one. Zaahah connects users based on what they’re searching for and encourages collaboration between them. The service launched in beta at several universities last February, but Sisneros says he’s working on a major redesign of the site and it’ll be launched September 15.
The Zaahah team consists of two full-time employees and three contractors. The bulk of the team live outside Philly, Sisneros says, though one contractor lives in the city.
Sisneros, 44, is originally from New Mexico but came to Philly in 1996 to work on a medical software startup. He attended Wharton’s Executive Education program and now lives in Rittenhouse Square.
Founded last year, Zaahah has received $350,000 in angel funding, mostly from local investors, the Inquirer reported yesterday.
tapCLIQ, produced by Transout, Inc. and founded by Chirantan Bhatt, according to the Inquirer, is a mobile advertising platform that hopes to make mobile advertising more effective. The service is geared towards app developers who want to personalize advertising, Bhatt told the Inquirer.
Bhatt’s Transout, Inc. was founded in 2003 and based in Malvern, according to state business records. He got his MBA at Drexel University and previously worked at software company SAP, according to Bhatt’s LinkedIn page.
The three startups combined have received more than $2 million in angel and venture capital investment, the Inquirer reported.