If You’re Into Tech, Philly Is Into You

[T]he Fifth Annual Philly Tech Week came to a close over the weekend, wrapping up nine days of events (April 17-25) created to showcase the city’s rising influence in the tech world. Technical.ly Philly planned 300 events that took place around the city, with Comcast being the title sponsor.

OpenAccessPHL revealed how much money Philly is willing to offer startups to locate in the city.

Comcast has a powerful presence in Philadelphia, where the company is headquartered. Comcast is also building a new technology high-rise building that will employ over 1,000 new people. Philly Tech Week organizers broke the week’s events into multiple categories like business, development, and creative, to make it easier to find panels and attractions of interest.

Pipeline Philly, one of the city’s leading shared office spaces hosted OpenAccessPHL. A discussion featured representatives from Microsoft in addition to spokespeople from the current Mayor’s office (Michael Nutter).

Panelists included Archna Sahay, Manager, Entrepreneurial Investment for the City of Philadelphia and Story Bellows, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Each addressed a number of subjects, covering the cities technical infrastructure, and its needs as Mayor Nutter’s current administration prepares for transition after the November 3, Mayoral election.

Tayyib Smith is a partner in Pipeline Philly. He has worked with artists like The Roots, RJD2, Little Brother, Jill Scott, and brands like Vitaminwater, Heineken and others.

“If you think historically about technology, Philadelphia. First waterway in a major city, first zoo, first surgery. I think there’s a 100 firsts,” Pipeline Philly Partner Tayyib Smith told CollegeHipHop.com. “Even a forefather like Ben Franklin, he himself was attached to innovation. Innovation has always been closely aligned with Philadelphia.

Technical.ly Philly rounded up the candidates for the Philly Tech Week Mayoral Forum at the Philadelphia public library. Over the last eight years, the tech community in Philadelphia has grown under Mayor Nutter’s Administration. The candidates explained their plans to a full house, despite the threat of an unusual tornado warning for the area.

“Philadelphia is increasingly on the map as one of America’s great startup cities thanks to our incredibly talented workforce, low-cost of doing business, and a strong entrepreneurial community that supports the growth of early-stage companies,” Mayor Michael Nutter said of the city’s tech community.

Millennials get it

Philadelphia is drawing Millennials at an astounding rate. There are nearly 500,000 people between ages of 20-34. The group makes up approximately 27% of the city’s population. Over the past 15 years, the section of Central Philadelphia to South Philadelphia has grown so much, that it lists only second to Manhattan when it comes to a downtown population.

All told, thousands of students and college graduates made their presence felt during all of the week’s happenings. It makes sense since Universities like Temple, Drexel, Villanova, Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania, to name a few – are in the region.

Women are supporting each other

During Philly Tech Week, an important event took place. The Philly Women in Tech Summit drew over 300 women, who gathered to examine challenges and solutions to a number of issues facing females involved in the technology industry.

Over 30 of the industry’s movers and shakers partook in the summit, which included women from Microsoft, SAP, IBM and Urban Outfitters, to name a few. The summit’s keynote speaker was Kelly Hoey, founder of tech networking agency Cuurio. The day was closed out by veteran journalist Renee Chenault-Fattah.

There are a number of support networks to help women with mentoring and resources, including Ladies in Tech, TechGirlz, Rad-Girls.com, Mogulette, Girl Develop It (GDI) and others. The organizations offer monthly Meetups and mentoring services, making the city an attractive selection for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Friendly Politicians

Politicians are known to say anything in order to get elected. But each of the five candidates during the Philly Tech Week Mayoral Forum seemed genuinely passionate about their plans for the city. Candidates Lynn Abraham, Nelson Diaz, Doug Oliver, Jim Kenney and Anthony Williams laid out their plans and answered questions from the community.

Topics spanned a number of subjects, including Comcast’s presence, STEM released issues and the need for a “colorless” tech town.

Innovators

Companies like NextFab, Packlate.com, SideCar, Yorn, Think Brownstone, BioBots, and TicketLeap are based in the city, which is working hard to lure a new generation of startups. The city is also offering a number of incentives to various businesses who decide to locate in Philly and employ members of the local population.

Thanks to Story Bellows and the Fast FWD program, startups can receive access to the millions in money the city has set aside for new corporations.

Money

The city of Philadelphia has a number of venture-capital firms who are investing in startups. Companies like Genacast Ventures, Catalyst, Next Stage Capital, MentorTech Capital, DreamIt Ventures and First Round Capital are funding new ventures based in the area. Last year, First Round was ranked as one of the top VC firms in the country, alongside powerhouses like Google Ventures and Andreessen-Horowitz.

Growth potential

Companies are flocking to the city in addition to the Millennials. Downtown, the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center high-rise will employ at least 1800 new people by 2018. The Navy Yard, a former military base on the waterfront, is being redeveloped to entice technology businesses too. Over 11,000 people currently work at The Navy Yard.

Thanks in part to the tech companies, Philadelphia added more jobs last year than any year, since 2000.

Shared Knowledge

The city of Philadelphia is home to learning institutions like Drexel, Temple, University of Penn, La Salle, St. Joseph’s and more. The importance of older businesspeople sharing success with younger upstarts was underscored during the Philly Student Startup Summit.

The one day workshop included venture capitalists like Josh Kopelman (First Round Ventures) and Michael Golden, the former Chairman of Complex Network, who sold a startup he co-founded, GSI, to Ebay, for $2.5 billion. The day featured a number of local entrepreneurs who interacted with students as well, answering questions and reviewing products created by the young, budding business men and women.

The tech industry in Philadelphia is fun

Throughout the week, a variety of button-downed events took place. The kick-off for Philly Tech Week was at Dilworth Park. And venues like Rogues Gallery Taproom, Barcade, Dave & Busters, Morris Cafe, World Cafe Live, Johhny Brenda and the Comcast Center hosted techies during the week.