Builders Conference / Philly Tech Week

The Grow track of Introduced by will take your biz to the next level

A mix of science, money and the mayor. You'll leave this #PTW18 conference feeling invigorated.

Iron Born Pizza (Photo credit Taylor Blocksom)

Continuing our speaker introductions for Introduced, our Grow programming will offer lessons on being better founders and growing better businesses.

This track is focused on entrepreneurship and innovations in the sciences (a strength of the Philly region), and includes panels on medical breakthroughs and the changing face of business and investment. It all goes down May 3 at the Science History Institute in Old City, so snag tickets while you still can.


With generous support from the University of Pennsylvania, here’s what this room has in store:

Innovations In Healthcare: Fake Wombs, Cancer Studies And More

If you come to Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast to be blown away by new technology, you’re not going to want to miss this one, featuring cases studies that spotlight medical advances that could change the world.

  • Alan Flake, MD, Attending Pediatric and Fetal Surgeon at Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia: Flake is helping to develop a womb-like environment for extremely premature babies that would give them more time to develop their lungs and other organs in a fluid-filled environment.
  • Gillian Henker, CTO and Cofounder of Sisu Global Health: The Baltimore-based entrepreneur builds medical devices for emerging markets, with an early focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Rahul Jain, Cofounder and CEO of TowerView Health: After his cofounder and college roommate was diagnosed with leukemia, Jain and his partners invented a smart pillbox that helps the nearly 100 million Americans with chronic illnesses better manage complex medication regimens.

Improving Patient Experience: Companies Creating Solutions

With so many innovations in medicine, the actual experiences of patients — and the workers who serve them — is still an important part of any treatment. This panel identifies the major problems and those who are working to solve them, from insurance providers to hospital systems.

  • Matt Gillin, CEO and Cofounder of Relay Network: Gillin has been an active entrepreneur for nearly 20 years, recognized for turning innovative ideas into successful businesses. “The future of healthcare CX won’t be based on the ‘come and get’ approach,” he says. “It’s all about proactively serving patients in their moments of need with relevant, personal, and timely communications. The eventual winners in healthcare will be the companies who can create and deliver an experience that securely but proactively guides patients through the critical moments in the healthcare journey.”
  • Viraj Patwardhan, Director of Digital Consumer Experience for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital:
    Patwardhan works to create “meaningful experiences for consumers by digital-focused human-centered design.”
  • Katrina Rios, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Public Health for Emocha Mobile Health: Rios describes herself as a technologist with a passion for public health.
  • Koleen Cavanaugh, Vice President of Marketing at Independence Blue Cross: As Director of Consumer Marketing and Member Experience for Blue Cross, she braved the deadline crunch of the Affordable Care Act rollout.
  • (Moderator: Sezgin Ayabakan of Temple University’s Fox School of Business.)

University Innovation: Meet the Disruptors

Say goodbye to the status quo with this panel of university educators who aren’t afraid of doing things differently.

  • Vanessa Chan, Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania: Chan, an entrepreneur, angel investor, speaker and educator, is perhaps best know for Loopit, her stylish, tangle-free headphones that turned heads in 2016.
  • Genevieve Dion, Associate Professor at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design: The Quebec-born Dion is a design scientist with extensive background in bespoke clothing and industrial design. At the core of her work, Dion explores novel processes that allow the metamorphosis of planar materials into unique three-dimensional forms.
  • Bon Ku, MD, Assistant Dean for Health and Design and an Associate Professor at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University: The founder and director of JeffDESIGN teaches future physicians to apply human-centered design to healthcare challenges. Ku has spoken widely on the intersection of health and design thinking (TEDx, South by Southwest, Mayo Clinic Transform, etc.) and serves on the Design and Health Leadership Group of the American Institute of Architects.
  • (Moderator: Laurie Actman, Chief Marketing, Communications and Program Officer for the Penn Center for Innovation.)

Mayoral Tech Town Hall

We’re pleased to welcome Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney back to Philly Tech Week for another Fireside Chat, an engaging conversation with the editorial staff. Read this recap from his #PTW17 appearance.

Leveling Up Together: Leveraging Your Network

Who says friendship and business don’t mix? This panel discussion, organized with support from BlackTech Weekend, explores the roles of friends and community in creating a business and making it thrive.

  • Melissa Kimble, Founder of #BLKCREATIVES: Kimble is a New York City–based digital and social media strategist and writer who believes in using social media for good through education and empowerment. She also served as the Senior Social Media Manager for EBONY Magazine.
  • Ariel Lopez, Cofounder and CEO of 2020SHIFT: Lopez is a career coach, entrepreneur and public speaker with an expertise in digital media and technology.
  • Janel Martinez, Cofounder and CCO of 2020SHIFT: In addition to 2020SHIFT, Martinez writes columns and has been featured in media outlets including NBC Latino, Remezcla, Vivala and
  • Michael Tonge, Senior Marketing Manager at the Brooklyn Museum: After beginning his professional career as a corporate analyst for J.P. Morgan, Tonge switched to marketing, advertising and developing grassroots events across Brooklyn, which led him to his current role.
  • (Moderator: Denayja Reese of BlackTech Week and BlackTechWeekend.)

Inside The Deal: A Conversation With Founders & Investors

Should you seek investment from venture capital firms? This panel can help you figure out if this popular road is the one for you, with advice on pitching, pros and cons, and other ways of funding your business. Score insider tips for what VCs look for and what they avoid at all costs.

  • Todd Marks, Founder, CEO and President of Mindgrub Technologies: This teacher-turned-technologist founded a mobile, social and web app consultancy, working with companies and organizations in a variety of industries to bring their brand to digital. “What I hope people take away from the story of Mindgrub is that it’s possible to be on the cutting edge of technology, to innovate and to retain amazing talent as a bootstrapped startup,” he said. “It takes grit, creativity and determination, but where we are today is proof that it’s possible.”
  • Morgan Polotan, Principal of Genacast Ventures: Investment expert who came to Genacast after working for Bloomberg Beta, the venture firm backed by Bloomberg.
  • Aniyia Williams, Executive Director of Black & Brown Founders: Williams is committed to closing the huge wealth gap between Black and Latinx households and their White counterparts.
  • Brett Topche, Cofounder of Red & Blue Ventures: With a decade and a half of venture capital and private equity experience, Brett has spent much of his career focusing on investments in ecommerce, digital media, mobile applications, marketing technologies and B2B software.
  • (Moderator: Market Editor Stephen Babcock.)

Failure To Launch: Lessons On Launching Great Products

You’ve developed a great product — now how on Earth do you launch it successfully? This panel will share specific examples of previous launches and lessons around what worked and didn’t, with specific examples, expert advice and cautionary tales.

  • Beah Burger-Lenehan, Cofounder and President of Port: The former Google product manager, technologist and IT project manager previously worked at Ticketleap.
  • Caresse Duford, Director of Digital at ISL: Duford is a D.C.-based thought leader who invents digital and physical experiences for the world’s biggest brands.
  • Rebecca Etter, Senior Manager Product Innovation at Acelerada, a division of Bimbo Bakeries USA: Etter si currently designing an innovation roadmap in the baked goods space. Her innovation experience extends into the snack and wine categories, where she worked in ideation and commercialization at KRAVE Pure Foods/The Hershey Company and Diageo.
  • Matt Zelesko, Senior Vice President of Technology & Product, Comcast: Leader of the teams that define and deliver Comcast’s video and entertainment products, including the award-winning X1 platform, Xfinity TV applications for third-party devices and strategic partner integrations.
  • (Moderator: Philly Lead Reporter Roberto Torres.)

Beyond The “Startup Bro”: The Future Of Founders

A diverse startup community is a thriving startup community that’s ready for the future. This panel asks how investors and current founders can encourage more people of color and women to start their own ventures and support diversity in the startup world. “Studies show that innovation competitiveness and diversity go hand in hand,” notes moderator Karina Sotnik of the University City Science Center. “Our esteem panel of experts will show how the power of diversity leads to business and personal success.”

  • Shelly Bell, Founder of Black Girl Ventures: Dedicated to finding creative solutions to dissolve the race and gender gap in access to capital, her mission is to expose women of color to economic independence via empowerment and entrepreneurship.
  • R. Narayan Chowdhury, Managing Director of Franklin Park: An investment expert, Chowdhury is responsible for the analysis and evaluation of private equity investment opportunities, monitoring his clients’ portfolios and conducting industry research.
  • Arlan Hamilton, Founding and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital: Built a venture capital fund from the ground up, while homeless, that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women and/or LGBT.
  • Cat McManus, Research Consultant for EdTech, the “unconventional classroom” resource.
  • Archna Sahay, Senior Consultant for J Nowak Strategy: The former Director of Entrepreneurial Investment for the City of Philadelphia is a big-time influencer in the region.

Thank you to all our 2018 Introduced by sponsors:

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