Working to Keep Entrepreneurs in Philadelphia

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, I was fortunate to attend the opening of First Round Capital’s (FRC) Philadelphia office. As many of you may kno­w, FRC has had offices in Conshohocken, PA, for about 10 years. They subsequently opened up offices in San Francisco and New York, since their investments began focusing in those regions. Josh Kopelman, W’93, managing director of FRC, has made a bold statement in moving into West Philadelphia; he is now is going to take a leading role in the Philly entrepreneurial eco-system—as explained in his video previewed on Wednesday.

I was in attendance at the FRC opening—which was a Who’s Who of the Philadelphia entrepreneurial community. There were remarks by Mayor Michael Nutter, W’79, and Penn President Amy Gutmann, HON’04, who both praised Josh for making this bold move.

It’s no accident that Josh’s office is one block off of Penn’s campus at 4040 Locust Street. It also happens to be around the corner from his fraternity house when he was a student.

Josh Kopelman, W’93

He also mentioned four startups—AdMob, Warby Parker, Invite Media and Milo—and asked what they all had in common. My initial thought was, “That’s simple. They were all founded by Wharton alumni.” But Josh explained that all of these companies were started in Philadelphia, but quickly moved out—AdMob and Milo to Silicon Valley, Warby Parker and Invite Media to New York City. Josh wants to reverse this tide and work to keep these and other entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.

The new FRC space is fabulous! There is lots of community space, as well as dedicated space for startups and student entrepreneurs. It’s obvious that the students are what’s really exciting Josh—and why not, he knows that entrepreneurial-minded students are smart, hardworking, fun and interesting to be around.

As is customary with Josh, his actions speak louder than his words, and he’s starting now. Here’s what is lined up for students:

• The Dorm Room Fund: a $500,000 venture capital fund that will be run by students to invest in student-run startups—initially those located in Philly (at Penn and Drexel). Read Josh’s post here that shares his story and motivation behind the Dorm Room Fund. He’s looking for a total of eight students to run the fund, and application information is available on the Dorm Room Fund website.

• Interns: FRC is looking to hire two to four undergraduate student interns to work in their Philadelphia office. More information is available here.

I am thrilled to have Josh and FRC in Penn’s backyard. Josh has always been very active at Wharton Entrepreneurship and across campus. But now the game has changed and our students and programs will benefit immensely from this—as well as Philadelphia.

Welcome back, Josh!

Editor’s note: This post first appeared on Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Blog on Sept. 24, 2012.

 

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