On a warm, sunny day last week, hundreds of founders, investors, technologists and those curious about new Philly startups gathered once again in Rittenhouse’s 23rd Street Armory for Philly Startup Leaders‘ Entrepreneur Expo.
It felt like old times, Executive Director Isabelle Kent said while handing out water bottles to attendees there on May 11. Over the course of the day, the event would see about 700 people who came to see what this year’s growing startups were excited to showcase.
— Sean Sutherland (@SeanJSutherland) May 11, 2022
Many of the founders were there in search of something — clients, talent or advisors — or connection with each other to help navigate the next few steps of growing their businesses. We checked in with a handful of startups and companies who were making moves over the last few years to hear what resource would be most helpful to them these days.
Jessie Garcia, the founder of hardware company Tozuda, which makes a wearable device that notifies athletes when they should be evaluated for a concussion, said her team is looking for talent. The company currently operates out of the Pennovation Center in Grays Ferry, and is looking to double in size – Garcia confirmed she’s looking to add eight to its seven-person team.
“I would love to keep our manufacturing in Philly, in the U.S., and it’s really hard,” she said. “I thought I was well-networked, and knew a lot of people to tap into, but it’s been really tough.”
And after years of mostly bootstrapping, the company is working on a venture capital round. She’d welcome advisors through this next step while looking at closing this summer.
“Tozuda’s been around for a while super scrappy, and we’re excited to have the right resources allocated to us to really grow,” Garcia said.
Sage cofounder Peter Yeargin went through a bit of a pivot with his company last year, moving to an SEO model from an on-demand advice platform. They raised a pre-seed round and had been doing SEO workshops for accelerators, and now at the top of the list is finding someone who understands the marketing landscape really well.
“We don’t have an influencer in the marketing space that has that kind of connection,” Yeargin said.
We are extremely excited to be back in person and highlighting Sage with 62 other brilliant leaders, startups, and tech companies in the #philly area. A big thank you to @startupleaders and @technical_ly for bringing us all together! https://t.co/Up6R0ervD9
— Peter Yeargin (@PeterYeargin) May 11, 2022
Todd McNeal, cofounder of SaaS startup Reflect, said the company recently doubled its headcount from four to eight, now operating with a half local and half remote team. Last year, the startup raised a seed round, after picking up investors at Y Combinator’s Demo Day.
He’d had a few customer-focused conversations — the reason he set up shop at the event — but was mostly feeling like the day was a good opportunity to connect with others in the tech community again.
“New customers are always nice, you can always use that,” he said. “But it’s just nice to talk to other folks and see people.”
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