Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA Announces Second Class of Project Liberty Digital Incubator Participants
Interstate General Media welcomes three newly selected companies and Incubator Manager to their headquarters for a six month residency
PHILADELPHIA (July 24, 2012) – Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (www.sep.benfranklin.org) announced today three new startup companies will comprise the second class of participants in the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, now fully operational in the new headquarters of Interstate General Media (previously Philadelphia Media Network) at 801 Market Street in Philadelphia. Rumble, Startup Production and Transout were selected through a competitive application and interview process that started in April. The three startup companies are based in the Philadelphia region and have already entered the incubator, which is located on the third floor of 801 Market nearby the following IGM publications: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia SportsWeek and Philly.com. Cory Donovan, former Executive Director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, will begin serving as Incubator Manager with the second class of participants.
An effort among Interstate General Media (IGM), the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ben Franklin, Dreamit Ventures and Drexel University, the Project Liberty Digital Incubator is designed to stimulate the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Philadelphia region.
“I am excited to join the Project Liberty Digital Incubator,” said Cory Donovan, newly appointed Project Liberty Digital Incubator Manager. “This exciting opportunity will allow me to apply my interest and expertise in technical recruiting, marketing and entrepreneurship to further develop the startup companies participating in this second incubator class.”
Rumble is addressing a $40B industry in transformation of daily news and blogs industry by offering a new content distribution platform over the mobile. Rumble provides complete new engagement points and tools for the media to touch their audience over the mobile. Rumble’s vision is to provide the platform with zero integration, literally an “On/Off” Switch.
For the consumers, Rumble provides the best environment for interacting and engaging with news items. For a long time there has been a need for a mobile platform that would allow consumers to engage with news and blog items without the limitation of Twitter, or the load of content of Facebook. Rumble combined the concept of the YouTube channels, along with the notion of social engagement around news items, and developed a large community of Rumble Channels of news and blog items.
startUP production, based in Center City, was founded by James Sisneros upon his completion of courses in Wharton’s Programs for Working Professionals. While in the program, Sisneros described his frustration organizing his online and offline research. In researching potential solutions, Sisneros recognized an opportunity to make the search experience social by instantly connecting users who are searching on the same topic. Sisneros, fully committed to developing this idea, recruited a Chief Architect and funded the initial development of Zaahah, which instantly connects users, who are interested in the same topic, across search, social networking, content & ecommerce sites. Users are empowered to connect, communicate and build collaborate communities around their common interests
Zaahah’s Beta launch occurred in February, with a number of universities (including Drexel), experiencing a very high conversion rate. Zaahah and Zaahah toolbar will be launched in mid-September.
Transout’s tapCLIQ is a mobile customer engagement platform that offers personalized, moment-space engagement. Its innovative moment-space display technology, coupled with native in-context / in-app / in-ad engagement formats and personalization, offers a holistic approach to engaging customers on mobile. tapCLIQ is reinventing what customer engagement can and should be on mobile devices. tapCLIQ technology enables and engages the right person at right place and right time, via mobile, and offers disruptive ways for empowering advertisers / app-developers to engage their customers.
The second Project Liberty Digital Incubator class follows the successful inaugural class, which included CloudMine, ElectNext and SnipSnap. The Project Liberty partnership is off to a great start. All three companies are Dreamit graduates and received Ben Franklin investment; ElectNext and SnipSnap developed commercial partnerships with PMN; ElectNext received investment and services from Ben Franklin’s Dreamit Plus, and participated in Dreamit’s Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP) track sponsored by Comcast and in partnership with Ben Franklin’s Minority Angel Investor Network…and together, these companies have already raised more than $2M.
Ted Mann, CEO of SnipSnap said “SnipSnap was extremely proud and grateful to be a part of the inaugural Project Liberty class. During our time at the Inquirer, we managed to launch our app, raise nearly $1 million in funding, and see over 160,000 people download SnipSnap in the app store. Thanks to the help from the folks at IGM, we began building a robust program with coupon publishers called “coupon bundles,” which we’re excited to pilot in the weeks to come.”
Keya Dannenbaum, CEO of ElectNext, said “As a media facing startup, the learning and relationships formed during our time with Project Liberty were invaluable. Our inside track and the willingness, of the digital editor in particular, to work with us led to the successful beta test launch on Philly.com of what will be one of our main media products in 2012.”
Brendan McCorkle, CEO of CloudMine, said “Project Liberty was great for a company coming out of Dreamit – we needed office space and some mentoring as we grew the team to five people and raised our angel funding. The involvement of PMN, The Knight Foundation, and BFTP were inexorably linked with our successful raise.”
“We are proud to announce this second stellar class of digital media companies,” said RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, President and CEO of Ben Franklin. “They follow the successful inaugural class of companies, which have raised significant venture funding and grown their customer base. Part of the region’s expanding IT ecosystem, this partnership of PMN, Dreamit, Drexel and Ben Franklin is exceeding our expectations,” she added.
“We are pleased with the success of the inaugural class of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, which will provide momentum for this next class of amazing entrepreneurs,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Philadelphia program director for Knight Foundation. “We are encouraged by the potential of this cross-sector model to nurture start-ups, especially ones that provide communities with the news and information they need.”
“I am very excited that our new multimedia space at 801 Market is furthering our efforts to engage both the entrepreneur and technology community of the Philadelphia region by hosting the Project Liberty Digital Incubator,” said Bob Hall, Publisher and CEO of Interstate General Media. “Our company believes the birth of innovative ideas and products are important, especially when mobile, apps and e-commerce are the starting point for potentially bringing such concepts to market. Interstate General Media applauds Ben Franklin Technology Partners for incubating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking, and we are pleased to have them as a partner.”
“The Project Liberty Digital Incubator provides a unique opportunity for Drexel co-op students to experience the fast-paced world of high-tech startups, entrepreneurship and digital media applications,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “This is complementary to our mission as a leading academic institution for experiential education,” he added.
“Dreamit is pleased to partner with these organizations to keep the entrepreneurial ecosystem thriving in Philadelphia. The Project Liberty Digital Incubator creates a great post-Dreamit path for our alumni to continue to grow their companies here,” said Kerry Rupp, Managing Partner of Dreamit Ventures.
The Project Liberty Digital Incubator is made possible through a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to Ben Franklin, operator of the incubator. Cory Donovan has recently been hired as the Incubator Manager. In his prior role, Mr. Donovan served as the Executive Director of the Roanoke – Blacksburg Technology Council and has a marketing and recruiting background in the technology industry.
Project Liberty Digital Incubator companies receive a range of benefits from the incubator, including mentoring and strategic business counseling from Ben Franklin. Interstate General Media, provides the startups with free office space, utilities, software, and administrative support, as well as provides access to Philly.com – one of the nation’s leading regional news and information portals — as a platform for launching their new products. In addition, Drexel University provides graduate and undergraduate students with the unique opportunity to work with and move freely between the startup companies and IGM’s established media business. Dreamit Ventures, a nationally renowned Philadelphia-based startup accelerator program, provides a source of applicants for the incubator.
About Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is a national, award winning organization for Stimulating Entrepreneurial Potential, through entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. For thirty years, Ben Franklin has provided the Capital, Knowledge and Networks that help innovative enterprises compete in the global marketplace, generating wealth and supporting regional economic growth. Ben Franklin has invested more than $160 million to grow more than 1,750 regional enterprises, across all areas of technology. It has launched university/industry partnerships that accelerate scientific discoveries to commercialization. Ben Franklin is part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Partnership.
About Interstate General Media
Interstate General Media (IGM) is comprised of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia SportsWeek and Philly.com. With its multiple brand platforms and integrated print and digital products, IGM is the region’s largest media network and the industry’s technological leader and innovator. Interstate General Media reaches an average weekly audience of 2.2 million adults – more than the combination of the three evening television news shows or the combination of those radio stations ranked in the top ten during drive-time programming. www.philly.com
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. www.knightfoundation.org
Jaron J. RhodesManager, Marketing and Communications
(215) 972-6700, ext. 3214 email@example.com
Mark BlockVice President, External Relations; Interstate General Media
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Marc FestVice President/Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
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