PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Department of Commerce and its StartupPHL initiative announced the recipients of the StartupPHL Venture Program, which aims to support startup companies run by entrepreneurs from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The StartupPHL Venture Program provides funding for technology or technology-enabled ventures that may not have access to traditional forms of capital and founder networks.
The program awarded 13 separate grants totaling $170,000, with the goal of creating economic opportunities for underserved populations in the Philadelphia tech community. The program helps to increase access to early stage capital for underserved groups that may not have had an opportunity to get off the ground. Applicants’ businesses were required to be based in Philadelphia and working on a tech-enabled venture. The City received a total of 43 applications; the 13 grants will be disbursed to a total of 21 founders. Twelve of the founders are women and 17 are people of color.
“People of color, women and immigrants disproportionately have limited access to financing and capital to start and sustain a new business, and this presents a major barrier to entrepreneurship for these communities,” said Francisco Garcia, director of business development for innovation and technology at the Department of Commerce. “The StartupPHL Venture Program helps meet the early-stage needs of entrepreneurs, prioritizing those that are underrepresented, and helping to level the playing field during this critical stage for any business.”
The StartupPHL Venture Program was developed as a result of the Project NorthStar Conference in October 2018. There, access to early-stage capital was a major issue cited by tech entrepreneurs of color because of social and economic disadvantages. This program represents one way that the City is cultivating tech-enabled businesses from individuals whose circumstances and networks limit their access to modest amounts of capital at the “friends and family” fundraising stage.
The StartupPHL Venture Program grantees represent a variety of industries including: retail businesses, tech and entrepreneurship education, enterprise technology for procurement, social media, construction technology, accounting, diversity and inclusion, fashion, fintech and mortgage tech, and healthcare.
The grants were awarded by a nine-person review committee based on an organization’s demonstrated ability to increase the number of jobs available in the City of Philadelphia either through business scale or through the development of programs that enhance economic development.
The following list of companies—with accompanying grant amounts—are the first recipients of the StartupPHL Venture Program:
- Ask My Accountant — $10,000
- BuildLAB, Inc. — $15,000
- Capture — $10,000
- Crowds, Inc. — $10,000
- IF Lab — $25,000
- Invure — $5,000
- NeuroFlow, Inc. — $20,000
- Raise the Barr — $10,000
- STEM Lending, Inc. — $10,000
- Stimulus, Inc. — $20,000
- Swirl Technologies, Inc. — $10,000
- TYP Social Media Co. — $15,000
- Wearwell — $10,000
StartupPHL is a collaborative effort between the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). More information about StartupPHL can be found at www.startupphl.com. More information about the Department of Commerce can be found at www.phila.gov/commerce.