Philly Startup Leaders founder Blake Jennelle started a great commentary on the startup community and eco-system in Philadelphia on his blog earlier today. Inspired by the Fast Company articles on other startup hubs (Boulder and New York City), Blake provides his thoughts on why Philly is a great city to start a company and wonders if Philly will be featured in one of the remaining articles in the Fast Company series.
I think that the Philly startup community has made some fantastic progress in building a vibrant, tight-knit community for entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my comment, it doesn’t seem that many people know about Philly’s recent growth as a startup hub, outside of the community.
Here is the comment that I left – we will have to search for ways to make sure other entrepreneurs hear about the vibrant startup community here in Philadelphia.
Outside of the Philly startup community, there does seem to be very little understanding of how energetic and tightly integrated the community is here. Last year, around this time, when my team was looking at the various startup accelerator programs, for where we should set down with our venture, we had no idea how vibrant a startup community existed until we really became part of it through DreamIt Ventures – and we were Philly natives…
This is unfortunate for more than one reason, but in particular with regard to the younger entrepreneurs who start playing with ideas in college and then look for what they should do with their entrepreneurial ambitions. Showing these aspiring entrepreneurs that it’s possible to take an idea and grow it from the ground up into a sustainable venture in a city is important, because otherwise, they’re going to run off to other startup hubs or worse, the Fortune 500 and dream about startups from their cubicles. This is also important for the entrepreneurs who look at applying to startup accelerator programs like Y Combinator, TechStars, and DreamIt Ventures. Philly is one of just a handful of cities with a top-4 startup accelerator program (YC, TechStars in 3 cities, DreamIt, LaunchBox Digital) – the fact that we have resources like that need to be a central rallying point for attracting outside entrepreneurs.
Much of the foundation for this is here. Sure, it could be always be better, stronger, more active. But, the groundwork has been laid in organizations like PSL, Indy Hall, Ignite Philly, etc. Now we need to promote the hell out of it!
The more that we can do to show off the tremendous community that is forming here, the more college entrepreneurs will choose to stay in Philly to grow their businesses, the more startups will apply to be part of programs like DreamIt, the more activity there will be for seed-stage investors to fly in and look at.
I don’t think we need to wait around for a decade for today’s entrepreneurs to succeed and turn around and start mentoring/investing. Sure, it will be better then, but it’s easy enough for them to come and fly here (though the reputation of our airport may scare a few away…!). We just need to make sure that there continues to be something interesting for them to look at when they arrive and for them to know that it is here.
Again, the foundation is built. Let’s use it, promote the hell out of it so that people know that it is here, and mentor the next batch when they arrive.
(Thanks, Blake, for making the Fast Company series a rallying point for the community. Regardless of whether Philly is selected, it gives us a checkpoint on where we can be looking as we work to make Philly the best startup hub it can be.)