Update: Corrected the date Jennelle moved to the city.
Philly Startup Leaders has come a long way from eight guys talking shop over beers in September 2007.
“I knew right away it was not going to be a one-time thing,” co-founder Blake Jennelle says.
Jennelle had been living in the city for two years before deciding to start his own company in 2007. As he attended various events, he met those in similar situations, each thinking they were alone. After speaking with one entrepreneur after another, he encouraged them to all come out and talk business.
Since that fateful first meeting, PSL has blossomed into the largest and most active community of startup entrepreneurs in the region.
“You wouldn’t have recognized the city two years ago,” says Jennelle pointing to explosion of technology and startup organizations in 2007, including his own.
Since 2007, PSL has added roughly 400 members and is preparing for what they consider their third major event — a BBQ offering a chance for startup companies to mingle and network with one another.
When: Thursday, July 9, 2009
5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Jamaican Jerk Hut
1436 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19146
$15 for startups
$25 for others
In what PSL hopes is a big summer networking bash, their Summer BBQ will take place next Thursday, July 9th at the Jamaican Jerk Hut on South Street. The plan is to help current PSL members get to know each other while attracting those in the community that have yet to make it out to a PSL event.
“If you believe this city has massive potential … then [you] should absolutely be there. This is a community that’s pushing to make it happen in Philadelphia,” says co-organzier of the event Aaron McLean.
McLean, who is the creative director and an executive vice president at Camden, N.J.-based marketing firm Eight Eleven is a member of PSL’s Board of Directors. McLean is also on of PSL’s six listed co-founders and was involved with the group from its early days.
McLean, along with Tracey Welson-Rossman, organizer of March’s Emerging Technology for the Enterprise Expo, has been put in charge of organizing the event.
To attend, tickets to the BBQ are $15 per person for startup companies and $25 for those not affiliated with a company or for those who belonging to a company that has been operational for longer than three years.
All who are interested may attend, though PSL strongly prefers that you are in someway involved, or interested in, the Philadelphia entrepreneurship community. In other words: don’t come to sell something and don’t just come for the food.
“We don’t want this to become what we call a service provider event where there are two entrepreneurs and 100 service providers,” says McLean who added that if you aren’t sure, check the group’s membership criteria.
“We just want everyone to be relaxed and to get to know each other really well to build a stronger foundation for our community,” says McLean.
Register for the BBQ
THE FUTURE OF PSL
As PSL is buckling down for the BBQ next week, we asked Jennelle what the future holds for Philly Startup Leaders.
With PSL boating roughly 400 members and well on its way to planning its third event, Jennelle acknowledges that the group’s initial goal of establishing a community is likely coming to a close. Now, he says, the group must turn its attention to sustainability.
“We have no dramatic dragons we are going to slay, [we want to] just continue being an inspirational force for entrepreneurship in Philly,” he says.
PSL now has some money in the bank from sponsorships and is now officially a nonprofit, making it a bit of a startup itself with a goal of providing a platform for anyone’s ideas to increase Philadelphia’s profile in the national startup community, all while providing support to newcomers.
“It’s not about sitting around and bitching [about] how hard it is to start a company here. We’re entrepreneurs, let’s do something about it,” Jennelle says.
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