Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

DreamIt Ventures' latest graduates keep on bootstrapping

None of the 10 companies that participated the summerlong incubator program was seeking outside funding at "Demo Day."

DreamIt Ventures' latest graduates keep on bootstrapping

Something amazing happened yesterday. The young entrepreneurs behind 10 technology start-ups gave presentations to a room full of people and none of them asked for money.

The setting was the ballroom of the Independence Visitor Center for “Demo Day,” organized by DreamIt Ventures, a business incubator that is “graduating” its second class of firms.

When the PowerPoints were over I asked Steve Barsh, a partner in DreamIt, why no one said, “If we just had $500,000, we could ….”

“Because,” he said, “they don’t need it.”

That may sound strange when we think about how many start-ups are undercapitalized. But it’s a reflection of how the Internet has lowered the costs of launching a business.

It’s how at least one company could go from an idea to generating revenue in six weeks during the three-month “crucible,” as DreamIt cofounder David Bookspan called the intense program.

In addition to spending their summer indoors at the University City Science Center in West Philadelphia, each DreamIt company received between $20,000 and $30,000 in pre-seed funding, access to legal and accounting advice, and mentoring from successful businesspeople.

In short, it’s all the help, encouragement and friendly rivalry a start-up could want. The program helps these entrepreneurs to find out if their business will succeed quickly, or fail fast.

Talk about fast. Jack Groetzinger and Russell D’Souza began DreamIt with their Scribnia Web site that lets users rate bloggers. When they sold Scribnia in July, the two set up SeatGeek to forecast the ticket prices of concerts and sporting events on the secondary market. They hope to launch it soon.

Also presenting was Trendsta, started by veterans of the locally based social networking site MyYearbook.com. Kidzillions wants to teach kids how to spend and save wisely. And Jobaphiles has a new spin on online job sites.

Of last year’s DreamIt graduates, one that’s going strong is Scvngr Inc., which has grown from 3 employees last summer to 32. Now based in Boston, the game developer has run its mobile phone-based scavenger hunts in 43 states. And it successfully hunted down $825,000 in funding from Highland Capital Partners.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at marmstrong@phillynews.com.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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