Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Three tech firms picked for Philadelphia media innovation incubator

Jan. 5, 2012, 11:20 a.m., Posted by John Bracken and Donna Frisby-Greenwood

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(l to r) Ted Mann, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SnipSnap, William Crowder, Managing Director, Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP), DreamIt Ventures; Greg Osberg, Chief Executive Officer and Publisher, Philadelphia Media Network Inc.; Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Program Director/Philadelphia, Knight Foundation; RoseAnn Rosenthal, Chief Executive Officer and President, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Brendan McCorkle, Co-Founder, CloudMine and Keya Dannenbaum, Founder and Chief Executive Officer; ElectNext. Photograph By: Clem Murray, Philadelphia Media Network Inc.

Starting this week, three Philadelphia tech firms will take part in a new incubator helping to launch digital media startups in the nation’s fourth largest media market.

Here’s a little about the companies and their projects:

- CloudMine, will create an app platform that eliminates the need for mobile app developers to build custom backend solutions for their apps;

- ElectNext, will build an app that helps voters choose candidates that share their values;

- SnipSnap, will launch an app that lets users scan, save and redeem printed coupons via mobile phones.

The projects were selected because of their strong leaders, well developed ideas and an opportunity for impact locally as well as nationally.

They will each begin a six-month residency program at the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, funded by Knight Foundation as a way to strengthen local community news and information sources. Their residency includes free rent, free office equipment and the infrastructure support necessary to operate their businesses while they further develop their products.

The incubator will operate out of the headquarters of the Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

For Knight Foundation, this investment is part of our growing interest in making rapid investments and in delivering mentoring and expertise earlier in the development state. (We learned these lessons during the first rounds of the News Challenge.)

The incubator received 36 applications and selected 10 finalists prior to announcing selecting the three winners. After six months, the incubator will consider a new round of applicants.

Knight Foundation announced its support for the launch of the Philadelphia incubator last July. It is a collaborative effort of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Media Network, Knight Foundation, Dreamit Ventures and Drexel University.

The Philadelphia Inquirer covered both the selection of the three firms and yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. GigaOM.com wrote about the incubator in "Can newspapers also be tech incubators?" and Nieman Journalism Lab covered it in "The Philadelphia Experiment: Why a Media Company Wants to be a Tech Incubator."

- By Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director/Philadelphia at Knight Foundation and John Bracken, director/journalism program at Knight Foundation.