Philadelphia–Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Ben Franklin) announced the fifth startup company class of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator. The program is hosted by Interstate General Media (IGM), operated by Ben Franklin, and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Project Liberty Digital Incubator is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Philadelphia region. Since its launch in January 2011, Project Liberty has graduated 10 companies that have raised over $9 million in financing. A number of those companies’ products and services have been utilized by IGM.
ROAR, ProfessorWord, I’m Sorry to Hear, and SETVI were selected through a competitive application and interview process that began in March. The incubator selection committee is comprised of digital leaders in the Philadelphia region, inclusive of representation by DreamIt Ventures, an inaugural partner of the incubator. The four startup companies are based in the Greater Philadelphia region and have begun their six month incubator residency.
ROAR’s mission is to reduce the incidence of assaults against women worldwide with fashionable safety accessories and a crime awareness mobile application. The company is engineering a safe alternative to traditional personal defense weapons, such as pepper spray and stun guns that disorient an attacker, alert family and friends, call for help, and cannot be used against the wearer. In addition, ROAR is also launching a mobile application that integrates with the accessories to allow users to gain a better sense of their surroundings.
ProfessorWord helps students learn vocabulary as they read online. This is accomplished by curating interesting online content from top-quality sites and pairing that content with tools to help students learn vocabulary words in context as they read.
I’m Sorry to Hear is an online community and review site that provides funeral planning and educational tools to consumers researching funeral establishments and related products and services. Touted as “the TripAdvisor of funeral planning” for efficiency in finding and comparing providers with a custom Review platform, it is also a consumer advocacy tool that breaks down the knowledge barriers between the industry and consumers, empowering consumers to make informed decisions based on their own timeline.
SETVI is the premier mobile sales enablement platform. The SETVI platform creates a more efficient sales process, which enables organizations to close more deals and increase sales revenue. SETVI delivers an ROI to three key groups within the traditional sales organization: Sales Leadership, Sales Representatives, and Marketers. Sales Leadership is enabled to define a sales process that finally gives them visibility and control. Sales Representatives spend significantly less time looking for usable materials, building sales presentations, and effectively sharing those materials with customers and prospects. Marketers no longer need to wonder if their materials are being used or if their many pieces of collateral are effective.
“We’re excited about this next class and are very happy to see this innovative model continue to expand its reach and ability to attract entrepreneurs who are developing solutions with social and business impact,” said RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, President and CEO of Ben Franklin.
“We join Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in welcoming these four new startup companies into the fifth class of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator,” said Stan Wischnowski, Vice President of News Operations at IGM. “We believe that each company, offered residency in the program, provides a unique digital solution to challenges being faced in the media, education, social and lifestyle sectors. We look forward to collaborating with these companies in providing citizens throughout the Philadelphia region with ground-breaking products that further enhance their lives and businesses.”
“Project Liberty continues to foster media entrepreneurs, who are paving a path for more innovation in newsrooms,” said Michael Maness, Vice President of Journalism and Media Innovation at the Knight Foundation. “This new class offers the chance for journalists to address community information needs in unique ways and build stronger relationships with audiences.”
Early stage companies accepted and residing in Project Liberty receive various forms of support, including free office space, advising services, and an opportunity to explore a business relationship with IGM, one of the largest media companies in the country. Clients and alumni include CloudMine, Versa, Fitly, SnipSnap, Rumble, Zaahah, tapCLIQ, TuvaLabs, A View From My Seat, and VUID.
The Project Liberty Digital Incubator is made possible through a grant from Knight Foundation to Ben Franklin, operator of the incubator. Drexel University is the incubator’s academic partner, providing co-op opportunities for their students to work with incubator residents. It is hosted in IGM’s headquarters at 801 Market Street. IGM’s publications, also based at this location, are The Philadelphia Inquirer (Inquirer.com), Philadelphia Daily News (PhillyDailyNews.com), Philadelphia Daily News Weekend and Philly.com.