Working to Keep Entrepreneurs in Philadelphia

By Emily Cieri, Managing Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship

Last Wednesday, September 19, I was fortunate to attend the opening of First Round Capital’s Philadelphia office.  As many of you may know, FRC has had offices in Conshohocken, PA for about 10 years.  They subsequently opened up offices in San Francisco and New York, since their investments began focusing in those regions.  Josh Kopelman (W’93), Managing Director of FRC, has made a bold statement in moving into West Philadelphia; he is now is going to take a leading role in the Philly entrepreneurial eco-system – as explained in his video previewed on Wednesday.

I was in attendance at the FRC opening — which was a Who’s Who of the Philadelphia entrepreneurial community.   There were remarks by Mayor Nutter (W’79) and Penn President Amy Gutmann, who both praised Josh for making this bold move.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (W’79) and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann speak at the First Round Capital Event on September 19.

It’s no accident that his office is one block off of Penn’s campus at 4040 Locust Street.  It also happens to be around the corner from Josh’s fraternity house when he was a student, which he mentioned during his comments on Wednesday.

Josh mentioned four startups: AdMob, Warby Parker, Invite Media, and Milo, and asked what they all had in common.  My initial thought was: That’s simple they were all founded by Wharton alumni! But no, that’s not the commonality Josh sees.  What he mentioned is that all of these companies were started in Philadelphia, but quickly moved out – AdMob and Milo to Silicon Valley, Warby Parker and Invite Media to New York City. Josh wants to reverse this tide and work to keep these and other entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.

The new FRC space is fabulous! Lots of community space, dedicated space for start-ups, and dedicated space for student entrepreneurs.  It’s obvious that the students are what’s really exciting him – and why not, he knows the same thing we do –  that entrepreneurial-minded students are smart, hardworking, fun and interesting to be around.

As is customary with Josh his actions speak louder than his words and he’s starting now.  Here’s what is lined up for students:

  • The Dorm Room Fund – a $500K venture capital fund that will be run by students to invest in student-run startups – initially those located in Philly (at Penn and Drexel).  Read Josh’s post here that shares his story and motivation behind the Dorm Room Fund.  He’s looking for a total of eight students to run the fund and application information is available on the Dorm Room Fund website.
  • Interns – FRC is looking to hire 2-4 undergraduate student interns to work in their Philadelphia office.  More information is available here.
  • A plan for the student space mentioned above is scheduled to launch in October or November.  We’ll be sure to share more information once it is available.

I am thrilled to have Josh and FRC in Penn’s backyard – Josh has always been very active at Wharton Entrepreneurship and across campus.  But now the game has changed and our students and programs will benefit immensely from this – as well as Philadelphia.  Welcome back Josh!

One comment on “Working to Keep Entrepreneurs in Philadelphia

  1. The University City Science Center in Philadelphia is a great example of the kind of environment Pennsylvania can provide start ups. There, entrepreneurs can grow and work at a reasonable rate with their peers. This center has had a big economic impact on the region. Current and former companies that developed at the Science Center have created more than 40,000 jobs, generated $64.5 million in tax revenue, and created $9.4 billion in annual regional economic output.

Comments are closed.