Philly Startup Leaders’ next accelerators are for food innovation and blockchain
Revamped accelerators, second round.
Rather than inviting startup founders from any industry to its accelerator lineup as it has done in the past earlier this year, Philadelphia Startup Leaders announced that it would organize industry-specific cohorts. The goal would be to maximize connections and progress with like-minded peers.
The first sessions of the local organization promoting entrepreneurship – the Cannabiz Accelerator, for companies working in the cannabis industry, and the Ethical Entrepreneurship Accelerator, for companies with a social, environmental or economic – just ended this spring. (Here’s who was originally named in the cohorts.)
“The goal for us is to be able to serve more entrepreneurs, and there has been some stratification by industry,” the PSL director said. Isabelle Kent Told Technically. “We wanted to be more targeted so we could select the right speakers, resources and partners for each group and create stronger connections between entrepreneurs.”
Now, the organization is looking at its next industries for the fall program: food innovation and blockchain.
Food Innovation in Philadelphia
Food innovation is an industry that already has strong ties in the Philly area, Kent said. Aramark, Campbell, Oatly and Dietz and Watson are some of the region’s top food employers, and local delivery businesses using technology like Misfit Market and gopuff show an example of how to innovate and evolve in the industry.
The accessibility of the industry was another draw, Kent said. Philadelphia’s traditionally thriving industries, higher education and medicine, have high barriers to entry.
“They take expensive education, long career paths and pedigree. Intrinsically, these are not inclusive sectors for most Philadelphians,” Kent said. “Food was more accessible for this career trajectory. We assess early on which sectors have the capacity to be diversified and which have opportunities for change.
Blockchain in Philadelphia
The second accelerator, for blockchain businesses, is a bit simpler for tech entrepreneurs. PSL initially thought of tackling logistics and supply chain for one of this year’s cohorts, but its network needed a bit more development, Kent said. And while cryptocurrency markets have had a rocky year, blockchain technology is being used for so much more, and groups like DeFi Philadelphia and NFT Philadelphia gained bases fast.
There could be more collaboration between blockchain companies and traditional financial institutions, Kent said, and there is room for growth in Philly’s blockchain community. And with its uses in building Web3 and the Metaverse, it’s time for Philadelphia entrepreneurs to get started early.
“We see blockchain as a technology solution that will come out of it strong, on the business and community-based innovation side,” the director said.
How to Participate in Philly Startup Leaders Accelerators
Both of these cohorts of 10 startups will be local, with perhaps one or two exceptions for founders planning to move to Philadelphia, according to Kent. And unlike last cycle’s 10-week schedule, the fall cohorts will operate on a 12-week schedule, from late September through December. The groups will meet weekly on Tuesdays, be connected with mentors, speakers and capital partners, and participate in Factory Founder an event.
Applications are open until August 15.
The new lineup was rolled out as PSL revamped its board and advisors, adding these names: Antoine Doyen of Comcast, Andrew Hoagland of NextMv, michelle berkoben of Wipfli, Andy Salaman of Material, Mercedes-Benz Ballard of heristic, Mounir Pathak of ReadySet, Daniel Gardner of Gardner Capital Group, Nicole Hofman of EVYAP AmericaFractional CTO Nico Westerdale, Trina Jones of Health Syndicate LLC, Rick Genzer of Technical Partners Ben Franklinand Marc Wendaur of Stradley Ronon Stevens and Young, LLP.