From fin-tech to marijuana finance, data privacy to developer talks with African American women founders, lead developers and Venture Cafeteers – Philly Tech Week is nearly upon us in its seventh annual edition, backed by its largest-ever lineup of big Philly corporate sponsors..
“We are very deliberate in engaging as many community partners as we can,” says Christopher Wink, who co-founded Technical.ly, the tech information-hiring-promotion group that organizes the yearly event. Last week he sent this list of some of this year’s highlight events:
- Cannabis conference (Next Monday-May 2): One of the most popular events every year, as pot inches closer to retail sales in Pennsylvania and especially in New Jersey.
- Fintech lunch (Next Monday): Smaller than last year, and more focused on trends, Wink promises
- Venture Cafe (Next Monday): Theme: “Innovation for Social Change.” A preview of the weekly gatherings planned for the Quorum at the University City Science Center’s tech-social center, 3711 Market St.
- Entrepreneur Expo (May 1): Philly Startup Leaders’ big expo of area tech startups.
- Black female founders (May 2): Hosted by radio station WURD and Wilco Electronic Systems
- Introduced (May 3): Technical.ly’s new day-long conference on innovation and entrepreneurship
May 2 is also the date for “high-level Dev Talks focused on the popular problem-solving tools and innovative solutions,” including leaders from EPAM, the multinational, Bucks County-based engineering and outsourcing company, chief technology officer for digital engagement Pavel Veller emailed. Veller plans a talk on “Natural Language-First Systems – To Be or Not to Be” – to address the question “will software systems start communicating like humans?” Veller will also experiment live with building an app based on natural language interface.
And there’ll be a Data Privacy Roundtable on May 4. With the latest questions raised by Facebook disclosures, there’ll be plenty to argue about, promises Robert Melton, director for digital marketing and the data-privacy group at Center City’s Clarip Inc.
Organized by Technical.ly with PACT and other groups, Philly Tech Week has grown into a mainstream corporate-backed happening: Sponsors this year include what Wink calls “regular, committed partners… including Comcast, Penn, and the University City Science Center” — plus “scrappy folk like Think Co. and Wildbit” — and also, for 2018, these “major new guy” sponsors: SAP SE (the Germany-based business software giant whose U.S. base is in Newtown Square); Vanguard Group, the investment giant based in Malvern; and TD Bank (U.S. co-headquarters in Marlton).
After Tech Week, get ready for the return of Data Jawn – “Coalescing the Data Community of Philadelphia” – June 13, 3 to 7 p.m, Science History Institute, 315 Chestnut St., $25.
“We have more speakers” clamoring for agenda space than hours for them to speak, boasts organizer Patrick Callahan, who sold his partnership in Wilmington-based online ad agency Archer and moved west at the end of the 2000s. He has come home to leafy Centreville, Del., with his kids heading to college. He has based his new agency, CompassRed, here because “you can’t build a business in California anymore — everyone is coming out of school with Ph.D.’s and student loans, and they need $1.5 million to buy a house; the expense is unbearable on the client side.”
CompassRed has offices in Center City and Wilmington, where he’s part of Gov. John Carney’s Delaware Prosperity Partnership, promoting the former chemical capital as a fin-tech center. In his Archer days, Callahan said tech-based brand promotion was simple: “We built websites.” Now, with fat data hoses demanding focused applications, “building the data science community in the Philadelphia region is a priority. At GSK, CHOP, Penn, Drexel, Comcast, Vanguard, there are people doing really interesting things. So we’re bringing back DataJawn.”
The original DataJawn, in 2015, was led by Robert Moore, then of RJMetrics, now of successor Stitch. Moore serves on the new DataJawn committee.
CompassRed itself is “data scientists married up with technologists to do predictive analytics,” Callahan says. Clients include Pabst Blue Ribbon, CertainTeed (Saint-Gobain) and Wawa (an Archer client in Callahan’s day). I congratulated him for not adding that by-now ubiquitous label, Artificial Intelligence. “I can if you want,” he said, laughing.
(Updated, correcting the name CompassRed)