Philadelphia’s vibrant tech scene is bursting with opportunity for mobile, web and IoT startups. At the start of 2016, Philadelphia was ranked as a top city that tech startup founders should consider moving to in 2016, tying with New York. Entrepreneurs building lean startups are flocking to Philadelphia for its low rent prices, cluster of talented developers, thriving coworking ecosystem and most importantly, robust capital options. At the end of the day it’s all about the money. After developing an MVP app, revenue generation, user acquisition and funding should be the top three priorities of any founder who’s serious about growing a multi-million or -billion dollar company.
The below grant opportunities, tax credits, angel and venture capital funds were compiled with Philadelphia-based app technology-driven startups in mind. Consider the 20 resources listed below when evaluating potential funding opportunities.
Grant Opportunities For Philadelphia-Based Startups
From family legacies to small start-up, The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards grants of up to $25,000 to ten small businesses. The grand prize winner receives a $25,000 grant, another $15,000 and eight more receive $7,500. Any for profit small business in good standing that’s been in operation for more than 6 months with 50 or fewer employees is eligible to enter the contest.
Miller Lite Tap the Future is a competition that lets entrepreneurs pitch for a chance to earn more than $200K to fund their business. Six $20K semifinal grants are awarded at live pitch events, and one business is awarded a grand prize $200K grant. The process is a year long one with applications opening in February, semifinalists announced in the Spring, nationwide live pitch semifinal events in the summer and a national finals pitch event in September. Philadelphia is one of the cities where the competition holds its semifinals pitch contest.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) grant program, SBIR, is a highly competitive three-phase award system. Phase I awards are made for periods of up to six months in amounts up to $150,000 for feasibility studies that evaluate the scientific and technical merit of an idea. Phase II awards of up to $1,000,000 are made for periods of up to two years. To be considered for a Phase II, you must have participated in a Phase I award. Phase III awards require the use of private sector or non-SBIR Federal funding for the commercialization of results from Phase II.
STTR is a highly competitive three-phase program that awards federal research and development funding to small businesses in partnership with nonprofit research institutions. Phase I awards are for periods of up to one year in amounts up to $150,000 to focus on the exploration of the scientific, technical, and commercial feasibility of an idea or technology. Phase II awards of up to $1,000,000 are for periods of up to two years, focusing on R&D work and commercialization.
Tax Credits For Philadelphia-Based Startups
KIZs are geographic zones where technology and life science startups that are less than eight years old and located in the zone can apply for up to $100,000 of salable tax credits annually. Philadelphia’s Keystone Innovation Zones are located in the Navy Yard, University City and BioLaunch 611. The focus of the BioLaunch 611 KIZ is Life Sciences, Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing, specifically related to Oncology, Cardiovascular Health, Diabetes and Aging. The focus of the University City KIZ is Life Sciences, Information Technology and Nanotech. The focus of the Navy Yard KIZ is Energy, Nanotech, Advanced Manufacturing, Communications/IT, Homeland Security and Life Sciences.
The City of Philadelphia offers businesses that create jobs in Philadelphia a credit of $5,000 per full-time job created, or 2% of the annual wages paid. The tax credit may be applied against the City’s Business Income and Receipts Tax liability.
Businesses located in the City of Philadelphia can be classified as certified sustainable businesses once they are certified as B Corporations and once certified, become eligible to receive Sustainable Business Tax Credits. For tax years 2012 through 2017, eligible businesses can receive a tax credit of $4,000. No more than twenty-five (25) businesses are certified as sustainable businesses in any one tax year.
The Welfare to Work Tax Credit program provides up to $8,500 per hire of long-term welfare cash recipients. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides 40% of the first $6,000 in wages directed to workers who are short-term welfare cash recipients, veterans, SSI recipients and ex-felons.
Investment Opportunities For Philadelphia-Based Startups
Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) invests in early-stage and established companies in the IT, Health, and Physical Sciences sectors. It’s the most active early stage capital provider for the region’s technology sectors, with an average investment size that has historically ranged from $100,000 to $250,000. BFTP is willing to invest up to $1 million over time.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Independence Blue Cross, and Safeguard Scientifics today announced their intentions for a four year $6 million funding initiative to grow early-stage healthcare technology startups. Startups will receive funds based upon their business model, technical viability, and management team.
Comcast Ventures works with Philadelphia-based entrepreneurs with high impact, disruptive technology companies in the advertising, consumer, enterprise and infrastructure sectors. Initial investments typically range from $2 million to $15 million. CV invests in startups at any point of development from seed to late stage.
Formed by a group of seasoned mobile entrepreneurs and executives, Day2 Ventures provides seed capital and mentorship to inherently mobile startups. They engage with very early stage companies.
First Round Capital is the largest seed stage venture fund in the country, priding itself on moving at startup speed and working side by side with funded entrepreneurs throughout the life of their company. First Round has traditionally focused on the enterprise, consumer, hardware, fintech and healthcare sectors, and is often a startup’s first investor. 300+ companies they’ve invested in came to them at the idea stage. The majority of the rounds First Round has historically participated in have been in the range of $1M to $3M providing an initial investment of $500K to $750K. They reserve 75% of the fund’s capital for follow-on investments.
This early-stage investment group supports Philadelphia-based startups by providing capital for high-potential business opportunities, often in the post-revenue, proof of concept stages, which aim to create at least $25 to $100 million in revenues. Gabriel Investments invests in people and ideas with the perspective of long term ownership. They typically lead or collaborate in fundraising rounds ranging from $500k – $2M, with initial investments ranging from $250k – $500k.
This seed fund invests up to $1 million in technology-centric Internet start-ups based in the northeastern US (East Coast). Their investment focus is on B2B technology companies, as well as marketplaces that facilitate B2B transactions that can scale quickly and are focused on large market opportunities of over $100M. Genacast typically invests the first or second money in seed stage companies and will invest up to $1M, with participation in follow-on rounds.
Karlani Capital is a fund started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. They invest in early stage to Series A startups across a range of industries including fin-tech, hydroponics, eCommerce, mobile and digital advertising. Revenue generation, proof of concept and an active userbase are usually preferred.
OVP invests in early stage enterprise technology and healthcare IT companies in the Mid-Atlantic region from its Greater Philadelphia office. With over $100M under management, OVP focuses its investment on post-revenue, early stage, business-to-business (B2B) software companies headquartered on the East Coast. They often lead or co-lead investment syndicates, and provide an initial investment of $1.0M to $3.0M, with 1x-3x the initial investment reserved for follow-on rounds.
Pipeline Angels is a network of new and seasoned women investors that invest in for-profit social businesses. Via their pitch summit process, they’ve invested $2M in 30+ companies, with two exits in under five years. 200+ female founders have graduated from their angel investing bootcamp.
Robin Hood Ventures invests in early-stage, high-growth startups. Their investments generally range from $250,000 to $1 million. To qualify for investment, businesses must require $750,000 to $1.5 million to reach the “next level,” of which Robin Hood Ventures will invest $250,000 to $500,000 and be within a one-hour drive from Philadelphia.
Startup PHL Funds is a $6 million public/private venture fund for Philadelphia-based early-stage startups. The Startup PHL Angel Fund provides investments from $25,000 to $100,000 to help very early-stage companies build their minimum viable product or validate key assumptions. The StartUp PHL Seed Fund co-invests alongside First Round in Philadelphia-based, seed-stage companies. The typical investment size will be $250,000 to $750,000.