Delaware Innovation Week 2015 Program & Magazine

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PRESENTED BY

dELAWARE INNOVATION WEEK DELAWAREINNOVATIONWEEK.COM NOVEMBER 13 – 21 #DIW15 ! A WEEKLONG CELEBRATION OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION IN DELAWARE Organized by

The state of Delaware innovation DOES THE FIRST STATE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

FULL CALENDAR INSIDE FEATURING MORE THAN

20

TECH EVENTS

HOW TO JOIN THE DELAWARE TECH COMMUNITY

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5 OPEN DATA PROJECTS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN / P. 8 LOOK INSIDE WILMINGTON’S COOLEST OFFICES / P. 6 #DIW15 HIGHLIGHTS 24-hour DelHack hackathon at UD • Future of Digital Marketing conference • Tech2Gether • Dev workshops for all • Innovation Celebration closing party • and more!


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Start your journey. jpmorganchase.com/techcareers ©2015 JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPMorgan Chase is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer Disability/Veteran.


Welcome

table of contents Page 04 How to join your local tech community

A Letter From The Organizers

Page 06 6 top spots for Wilmington tech work Page 08 An open data wishlist Page 10 Delaware innovation, mapped Page 11 #DIW15 Calendar Page 18 Does Delaware have what it takes?

COVER STORY

Page 21 #DIW15 Sponsors

Back in the summer of 2014 when we launched Technical.ly Delaware, we knew we were laying the groundwork for this.

Page 22 #DIW15 Partners

about delawareinnovationweek.com Delaware Innovation Week 2015 is the inaugural celebration of technology and innovation in the region. The week is organized by local technology news and events organization Technical.ly Delaware, in collaboration with more than a dozen partners. Special thanks must go to our founding advisory committee, including Paul McConnell, Shona Grace, Ryan Harrington and Megan Anthony of 1313 Innovation, Todd Miller and Mona Parikh of the Archer Group and Mike Bowman of Delaware Technology Park.

Sure, daily news coverage of the First State’s innovation ecosystem is validating and important, but there’s nothing quite like a big event series to confirm that your work is having an impact. It goes like this: You convene all the entrepreneurs and technologists and civic leaders and investors; you learn new things and try new techniques and forge new connections; and you see — days down the line, weeks, months — the innovative projects that emerge from one week under a giant figurative tent. Delaware Innovation Week is a gathering of possibilities. As an editor, it’s amazing to see a news site — a collection of updates about Delawareans doing amazing things — come to life. We do this every April in Philly, every September in Baltimore and now, with this inaugural effort in Delaware, we get to see things grow anew all over again. As you use this magazine to navigate the week’s 20+ events, keep in mind that it may be your next project, startup or investment that we at Technical.ly Delaware end up covering. Keep in mind that the possibilities here are yours for the taking. Sincerely, Zack Seward, Editor-in-Chief, and the entire Technical.ly Delaware team

technical.ly/delaware Technical.ly Delaware is a leading local technology news and events organization. It publishes daily content that covers entrepreneurship, access, policy and other ways cities are improving through technology. Its sister publications are in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. DESIGN AND PRINTING Red Flag Media LOGO AND WEBSITE Jarvus Innovations COVER PHOTO Möbius New Media

An attendee of Technical.ly’s NET/WORK Delaware jobs fair speaks with a SevOne rep.

P H OTO BY KAT E L E S H K O

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How To Become Part Of The Delaware Tech Community (Or Any Community) In three simple, yet powerful, steps.

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by JOHN HIMICS

e love the idea of “the genius,” the one person who can change the world. That is an exciting idea, but here’s the problem: That person doesn’t exist. ¶ The truth is, it’s communities that change the world and change lives — not individuals. Most great accomplishments are not the result of a single person. It may be a direct path and easy to see, like a research team collaborating to make the next breakthrough. Or it may be much more subtle, such as the encouragement of a friend that keeps you going during a tough time. ¶ So how do you truly become part of the Delaware tech community?

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Be authentically involved // Finding meetups, events and other people is the easy part. [Editor’s note: Start with Technica.ly Delaware’s daily newsletter.] You’ve arrived at a meetup, perhaps the monthly Delaware Tech Meetup, and you’re met with a sea of people. What’s the next step? Some would say you go up to a person, say hi, introduce yourself, get a business card and lather, rinse, repeat. You leave the night with two dozen business cards and a hazy memory of a few faces. Success! Right?


The coIN Loft is a hub for Wilmington tech events, like Global Startup Battle 2014, pictured here. In the group shot below: John Himics, far right, practicing what he preaches.

Want to hit a fabrication event? Try Makespace 2015, details on Page 12.

Wrong. The better way is to go up to a person, say hi, ask about him or her and be interested in the story you hear. Keep the conversation going, and ask yourself what you can do to help this stranger. Who do you think he or she would like to meet? Then tell your story when asked. If you feel like you’ve made a connection, or can help that person, ask for their card or offer up yours. Maybe you leave with a single business card and one real connection. If you believe the first scenario is the real success, stop reading. You have to be interested in people for them to be interested in you. We can all see through those that aren’t.

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Nurture those new relationships // Follow up with those people who you made connections with. Give them a call or send an email, but there’s one difficult guideline to follow. This isn’t about you. You might really need a job and you’re looking for leads, or maybe you need a new client for your business. Tough. This is the part where many fail. I know I’ve done it. I’ve started talking about myself too much and listened too little, and I’ve seen that dreaded look across the table in the coffee shop that says, “Why am I here? He isn’t interested in me.” Be authentically interested in the other person. People are fascinating, and everyone has their own experiences and knowledge to share. Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to talk soon enough. He or she will ask you because you’ve been interested and made him or her feel important and valuable.

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Keep it up! // It doesn’t stop there. Keep going to the same events. Offer to help out any way you can. Listen to people and help them. You become a familiar face simply through repetition. You must put sincere and repeated effort into building your own little community. Every month I make it a point to go to Delaware Tech Meetup as well as a few different bi-weekly or monthly lunches, including the DE Networking Group Lunch and the Pike Creek Networking Group. There’s also a few cigar enthusiast groups I’m becoming a part of. It’s a time investment, and that repetition matters. “This sounds hard,” you might say. “Why should I bother?” PHOTOS BY AMANDA CURRY

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hen asked to write a post about community, the first post I wrote was about all the reasons why community is awesome. It can help you make connections, be a support system, move you forward in life, etc. Then I realized that post sucked. Everyone knows communities and networks are important. Everyone has heard “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” No one needs to be told why community is important. The reason why people aren’t more involved in local communities is because it requires effort, and it requires trust. You have to put effort in to learn about and support others, and you do this without knowing if you will get anything out of it. But you have to trust that the more you give, the more you will get in return. And believe me, it works. When enough people with this attitude get together and support each other, great things happen.

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6 Of The Coolest Places To Do Tech Work In Wilmington

Many tech leaders in Wilmington are firm believers in the importance of having an interesting office. // by MELISSA DIPENTO

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eing an innovator isn’t just about showing up and getting the job done. ¶ In Wilmington, it’s also about being a mentor to new or young technologists, meeting new people and growing the community of entrepreneurs and tech-savvy individuals. ¶ And, of course, all of this is more fun when there’s a sense of community at work. Oh, and ping-pong and pool tables, afternoon beers and office outings don’t hurt either. ¶ Behold, the six coolest places to work in Wilmington.

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The Archer Group // Company culture is key to working at The Archer Group, whose colorful offices are located at 233 N. King St. Since 2003, the digital design agency has ballooned from six to 60 employees, which is no small feat. But still, Todd Miller — principal and a managing partner of the firm — says company picnics, launch parties and a mini-golf tournament inside the office are what keeps employees feeling invested in the company.

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The Kitchen // Don’t be camera shy about stopping by this video production company, which is located on (yes, on) the Amtrak train station platform. The Kitchen’s warm and unique offices are filled with various old filmmaking pieces from the early 1900s. You could also sit at the counter and watch trains pass by all day. One of founder Zach Phillips’ favorite additions is a wall of specialty storage that houses heavy-duty film equipment and accessories.


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Squatch Creative // What’s cooler than a Sasquatch-themed company? The logo, branding and miniature Sasquatch that is photographed in various places throughout Wilmington say it all. The web design company has also used a drone to capture aerial footage. But what may be coolest about the company is its culture: the team often goes on outings together. Aww, family bonding.

Cultivate // R.J. Townsend relocated his Drupal dev shop from Old City, Philadelphia to 2nd and Market Streets in Wilmington. Bold move. Since he’s the newbie in town and wants to meet and connect with other technologists, he tells us anyone can stop by for a game of pool.

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coIN Loft // Known for its coworking space and a diverse array of members, Start It Up Delaware’s Loft is a fun place to do work while connecting with Wilmington’s burgeoning community of technologists. Coworking members swap skills, ranging from web and mobile development, marketing, creative design, interior design, branding, photography and much more. The Loft also plays host to many events, including its “doughnuts and demos” series.

1313 Innovation // Part coworking space, part event venue, part home to the Digital Vikings, this large office at 1313 N. Market St. has it all. The space also has a 3D printer, a large room with dry-erase walls and oversized beanbag pandas, a ping-pong table and a fridge stocked with adult beverages. 1313 often hosts events in the space, which offers local technologists and community members a fun way to meet, work together and discuss what’s next for Wilmington.

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The Delaware state capitol building, Legislative Hall.

Contribute to Delaware’s budding civic hacking community and launch your own coding project by taking part in Dev Day. Details on Page 17.

It’s a civic tech wish list — including the appointment of a Chief Data Officer, a more efficient 311 service and higher transparency for the state budget. // by TONY ABRAHAM

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n August, the Delaware Department of State’s Deputy Principal Assistant Dana Rohrbough Garber wrote a letter to Delaware urging the state’s technology communities to begin building a civic tech community. “Delaware is currently publishing thousands of reports, and we are getting better at releasing data in raw formats,” Garber wrote. “Fostering a civic tech community is not just about datasets, though.” Ain’t that the truth. Once data is published, it needs to be put to use. So, we asked two civic-minded Delawareans — David Curtis, an urbanist and consultant, and Patrick Callahan, founder of Compass Red and all-around data nut — to come up with a quick wish list of datacentric projects they’d like to see built using state or city data. Curtis has three specific projects in mind:

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311 Service: While Wilmington does have a program called Report It/Resolve It, the app only handles requests and complaints made to the Department of Public Works. Oh, and it has one (1) review on the Google Play Store: Curtis said it needs an upgrade. He wants citizens to be able to track progress on the complaints and reports they’re filing through the app. “Not only does 311 help citizens maintain and improve their communities every day, it makes civic engagement more ac-

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cessible so you don’t need to ‘know a guy’ in order to get something fixed around here.” Plus, he said, it can be a more efficient and effective use of city departments’ time and resources.

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Open Data for Traffic Crashes: New York City has it. It can help pinpoint where traffic accidents are happening, why they’re happening and what parties are involved. “Around the world, cities and states have begun to use data and smart planning tools to make transportation networks safer for all users,” Curtis said, referring to a strategy called Vision Zero. “Vision Zero isn’t possible without good data,” he said. “A good starting point would be weekly open data releases for traffic crashes by date, time, type, and location.”

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More Transparency in the State Budget: “Ever try finding a line-item budget for a state department? Ever try finding one that isn’t in PDF form?” Curtis asked. “For us budget wonks out there, this is a real frustration.” He’s right — just take a look at how budget datasets are organized within the state’s open data portal. Callahan, whose company specializes in analyzing social media data, cofounded The Archer Group in 2003 before moving to the Bay Area — then back again, bringing some of that San Fran civic tech magic home with him. Callahan is on the forefront

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Corporate Index: The Department of State does have an open database for corporations, but the interface is antiquated and the search function renders the site nearly useless. As one of the corporate capitals of the world, Callahan said we need to leverage the use of our unique data points. “A corporate index that makes us the standard globally,” he said. “We are known for our corporations — why can’t we be the standard for various corporate indexes?”

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Chief Data Officer: Callahan wants to see the appointment of a public official whose sole responsibility is managing government data — which he said should be a piece of cake considering the size of the state. (Reminder: Philadelphia has a CDO, and its 1.5 million people far outnumber the 936,000 in the entire state of Delaware.) Right now, Chief Information Officer James Collins’ office is tasked with managing state data. Colorado became the first state to appoint a CDO back in 2010. There are now at least 14 states with CDOs. “We should join those progressive states that see the value of data as part of our state’s future in the global community,” said Callahan. “By having a Chief Data Officer, we’ll be sending a message and catapulting ourselves into a state that is forward thinking in technology and the new role data plays in our day-to-day lives.”

PHOTO BY FLICKR USER MIKE MAHAFFIE, USED UNDER A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE

5 open data projects that should come to Delaware

of Delaware’s fledgling civic tech community, rallying advocates and creatives across sectors. Callahan is even part of the group responsible for resurrecting #dataDE — a hashtag abandoned by Delaware’s Government Information Center after its data duties were absorbed by the Department of Technology and Information. Like Curtis, Callahan also wants to see a better 311 service, improvements made to the open data portal and more transparent budget data. But Callahan wants strong data visualizations for existing datasets like infrastructure investment costs and RFPs to “communicate data from Delaware in a readable way to the masses.” Callahan also wants to see a focus on crime and living data in Wilmington (a mission that is also being pursued by predictive analytics guru Steve Poulin) and “green stats” that publicize how people ride their bikes daily — something that might be enabled if and when Wilmington Bike Share is launched. That’s not all he’d like to see.


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DELAWARE

MARYLAND

DEBORAH L. SPRANGER

500 East Pratt Street, Suite 900, Baltimore, MD. 21202 410.332.8600 MASSACHUSETTS NEW JERSEY NEW YORK PENNSYLVANIA

Undergraduate Major

Entrepreneurship & Technology Innovation

Master of Science

Entrepreneurship & Design

enrichment for all majors

Delaware Innovation Fellows Program

www.udel.edu/horn hornprogram@udel.edu 302-831-4393

DENA B. CALO

RICHARD B. CARROLL

WASHINGTON, DC


We’re excit community Join one of ours.


ted to build y together.


Tracks !

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Thursday, November 12 COCKTAILS & TRENDS 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. @ The Grand Opera House, 818 N Market St - Free (StratiFI)

Mix and mingle for conversation and ideas. Professional futurist Jim Lee of Strategic Foresight Investments (StratFI) will share insights on “megatrends” of the coming decade, so that you can ride the waves of innovation and social change. TRACKS4

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Friday, November 13 SMALL BUSINESS BOOT CAMP Friday, Nov 13 - Saturday, Nov 14 @ New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, 12 Penns Way Free (Emerging Enterprise Center and StateFarm)

A free, 2 day business education program, bringing together 15 experienced experts in a series of panel discussions designed to help small businesses understand what it takes to succeed. TRACKS4

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KICKOFF CELEBRATION FOR #DIW15 & DE TECHHIRE 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. @ JPMorgan Chase Delaware Technology Center, 880 Powder Mill Road - Free (JPMorgan Chase)

Celebrate the first-ever Delaware Innovation Week by learning more about the Delaware TechHire initiative and checking out the new JPMorganChase Delaware Technology Center. Mix and mingle with other members if the Delaware technology community for a happy hour celebration. TRACKS4

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SECURITY BSIDES DELAWARE Friday, Nov 13 - Saturday, Nov 14 @ Wilmington University, New Castle Campus, 320 N. DuPont Highway, New Castle, DE - Free (Wilmington University)

Security BSides Delaware is an annual local information security conference built on some of the best talent the industry has to offer. Get a taste of the big conferences in a more intimate setting with a few hundred of the people that matter most. TRACKS4

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DE PHOTO COURTESY OF BUCCINI/POLLIN GROUP


Saturday, November 14 THY GEEKDOM CON 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. @ Crowne Plaza Wilmington North, 630 Naamans Road - $5 (Game Infirmary)

A celebration of all things geek in pop culture featuring panels, artists, crafters, board games, comics, cosplay, TV/Movies, video games, tabletop games, anime and more. TRACKS4

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DELHACK 2015 Saturday, Nov 14 - Sunday, Nov 15 @ University of Delaware, Daugherty Hall in Trabant, 17 W. Main St. - Students Only (Association for Computer Machinery)

DelHack is a 24 hour hackathon hosted by the University of Delaware’s ACM chapter. TRACKS4

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Monday, November 16 WOMEN INNOVATORS IN DELAWARE: THE NEW TECH ECONOMY AND FITTING IN 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. @ Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Rodney Square, 1000 North King Street - Free (1313 Innovation, Start It Up Delaware, Girl Develop It Wilmington & The Women in Tech Summit)

Join us for Delaware Innovation Week’s event featuring women innovators sharing their journeys on how they established themselves as leaders in the Delaware tech and entrepreneurial community. Learn how they made their way and understood what they believe it takes to acclimate in the new tech economy. Hear how they found and connected with other like-minded women, both locally and regionally, to continue to build their careers. Meet representatives from local organizations and institutions who provide resources and opportunities designed to help these and other Delaware women think expansively about their careers in tech, entrepreneurship and innovation. TRACKS4

MONDAY

NOV 16

BUSINESS C ONFERENC E

Participate in targeted business bootcamps for early stage entrepreneurs, get hands-on advice from experts and learn from local leaders on their biggest mistakes and what they’ve learned.

@ Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Rodney Square, 1000 North King Street

ENTREPRENEUR BOOT CAMP 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. - $25 (Technical.ly)

Geared towards early stage entrepreneurs, this fast paced boot camp will feature experts ready to teach you the basics of starting your business.

#FAILFEST 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. - $10 (Technical.ly)

In this off-the-cuff, unfiltered and unapologetic event, we’ll hear from a variety of speakers about their past failure(s) and what they’ve learned along the way.

BUSINESS CONFERENCE HAPPY HOUR 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. - Free (Technical.ly)

Join us for our Business Conference Happy Hour. Network with current and aspiring entrepreneurs and startups.

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Wednesday, November 18 1 MILLION CUPS 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. @ Delaware Technical Community College, 300 N Orange Street - Free (Delaware Technical Community College)

Every Wednesday morning in more than 60 cities across the country, entrepreneurs, innovators and interested community members gather to engage, educate and connect at a 1 Million Cups event. 1 Million Cups is a national program founded by the Kauffman Foundation in which local start-up owners present their companies to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors and other entrepreneurs. TRACKS4

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TECH IN DELAWARE: WHERE ARE WE GOING? 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. @ World Cafe Live at the Queen, 500 N Market Street - $20-30 (Technology Forum of Delaware)

In our inaugural report on the “State of the Technology Community in Delaware”, Tech Forum will make a frank and honest assessment of the most important

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T U E S D AY

NOV 17

MEDIA CON F E R E NCE

Marketing, media and public relations have changed dramatically in the digital age. Hear from leading experts who are not only responding to the change but helping to shape it.

factors driving Delaware’s tech community. This ambitious review will examine four critical pillars - Talent, Collaboration & Support, Funding, and Reputation and provide a benchmark on the key issues that lead to a vibrant and thriving environment for growth and innovation. At this breakfast panel discussion just prior to the Tech2gether Conference, an expert in each pillar will take a hard look at where we are today, and provide insights, new data, and analysis to make us think about the path forward. TRACKS4

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MARKETING PRODUCTS AND PEOPLE 9:00 - 10:15 a.m. @ Delaware Technical Community College, George (Wilmington) campus conference center, 300 North Orange

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The Future of Digital Marketing Conference 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. @ Theatre N at Nemours, 1007 N Orange St $75 (Technical.ly)

This half-day event will focus on digital trends that marketers, agencies, content producers, and startups need to know. Thought leaders will walk us through marketing challenges— and how to solve them.

St - Free (Delaware Technical Community College Business Technologies Department)

Join Greg Star of Carvertise for innovative strategies to mass market your products as well as yourself! TRACKS4

TECH2GETHER 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. @ World Cafe Live at the Queen, 500 N. Market Street - $20-$80 (1313 Innovation and Digital Vikings)

Tech2gether 2015 is the second annual conference in the area highlighting local entrepreneurs and start up companies, showcasing emerging technology, and creating opportunities for connections. Tech2gether will demonstrate that there is a need

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and forum to recruit valuable talent in Delaware and promote the organizations and individuals on the forefront of innovation in Wilmington and surrounding areas. TRACKS4

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STEMLEARNINGCENTER: IDEA2IMPACT 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. @ Mount Pleasant High School, 5201 Washington Street Extension - Free (Mount Pleasant High School)

To prepare our students to be tomorrow’s problem solvers, we must develop in them a penchant for critical thinking, collaboration, iterative design, social responsibility, and expectations of excellence. TRACKS4

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T H U RS D AY

@ The coIN Loft, 605 N Market St

DEV

DEV INTRO WORKSHOPS

NOV 19

CON F E RE NCE

Whether you’re new to programming or wanting to sharpen your skills, this conference will include intermediate and beginner workshops

DEV TALKS

8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - $60 (Technical.ly)

12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. - $30 (Technical.ly)

Whether you’re new to programming or wanting to sharpen your skills, the Dev Intro Workshops are perfect for you. Workshops will be focused around today’s most used languages and programs.

Join us for an afternoon of highlevel dev talks focused around problem solving and innovative solutions. You’ll hear from over 15 dev experts talking about real world scenarios and the tools they’re using.

DEV CONFERENCE AFTER PARTY 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Free (Technical.ly)

Grab a beer and wind down after a day of dev-focused workshops and presentations.

Friday, November 20 DELAWARE INNOVATION AWARDS CEREMONY 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. @ Hercules Building, 1313 N. Market Street - $10 (Technical.ly)

Kickoff the celebrations early and be there as we announce the winners of the first ever Delaware Innovation Awards.

DELAWARE INNOVATION WEEK INNOVATION CELEBRATION 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. @ Hercules Building, 1313 N. Market Street - $40-50 (Technical.ly)

A cocktail reception meets an interactive local technology expo and demo party. This will be the largest event of #DIW15!

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Does Delaware have what it takes to build a thriving tech ecosystem? We asked around to see if the pieces are in place. The jury is still out. by TONY ABRAHAM

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hat’s keeping startups afloat in major tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Boston? What about smaller hubs in and around the Northeast Corridor — like D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia?

I think there are two components to the antidote: being in a place where startups are the cool thing to do, and chance meetings with people who can help you. And what drives them both is the number of startup people around you. That’s what programmer and venture capitalist Paul Graham wrote in a 2011 essay called “Why Startup Hubs Work.” Delaware — Wilmington in particular — is most definitely a place where startups are the “cool thing to do.” Between startups and freelancers at coIN Loft, the growing number of tenants occupying 1313 Innovation and the steady stream of entrepreneurs being churned out of University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, there’s excitement, for sure.

But these days, that can be said for just about any environment — from midwestern cities like Lincoln, Nebraska and Cedar Rapids, Iowa to northeastern towns like Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine. In 2015 America, launching a startup is a “cool thing to do” no matter where you are. The idea of the “rise of the rest,” as espoused by investor Steve Case and others, means that all these places are in play for innovation, forming a pulsing constellation of tech entrepreneurship. Which brings us to Delaware. Does Delaware have the necessary elements and infrastructure to keep its startups afloat and in place? “In our own way, yes,” said Mike Bowman, whose Delaware Technology Park, in collaboration with UD, is successfully building out a wet lab, called the STAR Campus, in Newark. Bowman alluded to a 2013 Kauffman Foundation study of U.S. entrepreneur-

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For the past four years, Mix has been studying university involvement in economic development. His focus? The role elite universities have played in the development of places like Silicon Valley, Boston and the Carolina Research Triangle — and, importantly, how to mirror that economic impact in areas that don’t have elite universities. “What’s the role of not just the patenting activity and the high-tech research going on at these universities, but the role of centers — like the one I’m

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Pre-recession investment in Delaware was dominated by larger sciences and pharma deals. There are more deals today but they’re smaller.

NUMBER OF DEALS

THE IMPORTANCE OF UNIVERSITIES

Investing in Delaware

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3.5

$30 mil

3

$25 mil

2.5

$20 mil

2

$15 mil

1.5

$10 mil

1

$5 mil

.5

$0 mil 2006

2008

2010 Number of deals

2011

2013

Investment amount ($)

2015

TOTAL INVESTMENT AMOUNT

ship. In the study, Delaware boasted the highest increase in entrepreneurial activity rate over the past decade. “That momentum has continued but what I would call it is organic growth,” said Bowman, citing Incyte and SevOne as examples of startups that grew organically in Delaware. “It’s not ‘lasso ’em and see what we can drag in here’ — that’s not the way it’s ever going to work in Delaware. We do not have the funding or the size to do that.” “Size” is critical, and it’s something Delaware just does not have. “The best thing a state or region can offer is a highly educated workforce with the right skills for employers,” said Troy Mix, a policy scientist at UD’s Institute for Public Administration.


employed at now — outreaching to the community?” said Mix. “There is a key role in terms of building the ecosystem and having these conversations going: having groups in place that are trying to improve their workforce, looking at policies that might be improved upon. All these lessons are in places like Silicon Valley.” Does Mix see that happening in Delaware — particularly with the University of Delaware? “The successful [universities] play a different role than commonly conceived. They’re not just a factory of patents,” said Mix. “That can be part of it, but it’s also that the university is laying out a vision for the region and helping to convene those discussions. I think probably a lot of that is already in place.”

FUNDING PROBLEMS? There is something of that ilk happening in Wilmington, as Paul McConnell continues his campaign to lure the University of Delaware to Wilmington. How is McConnell, a real estate developer whose 1313 Innovation continues to expand, leading the tech charge? More specifically, where is the presence of Delaware angel fund First State Innovation (which McConnell is a part of) and its venture capital firm offshoot, Leading Edge Ventures? “Delaware does not have an environment to do anything other than kill a startup,” said Keith Elliott,

a Delaware resident and former Barclays dev now working as a Senior Application Architect at fintech startup Moven, which is based in New York but has a dev team in the Philly suburbs. “Startups need access to capital, support, and talent. We don’t have real angel investors that actively invest in Delaware companies,” he said. “The perception by entrepreneurs and technologists in the area is that you may want to stay in Delaware to run your company, but we will surely have to leave the area to find investors to provide capital.” Elliott has a point. Wilmington alone has seen that happen to some of its most beloved up-andcomers: Kurbi, USEED and Cnverg have all left the state in recent months. Elliott said the flight of successful startups out of Delaware leaves the state’s early-stage companies, entrepreneurs and ideas in the dust. “Delaware doesn’t have enough local talent to build these companies,” he said. “Those that have relevant skills opt to work at established companies in Delaware or leave altogether to pursue opportunities in Philadelphia.” Finding capital, Elliott adds, is difficult no matter where you are. However, he said, First State Innovation doesn’t have the best track record of investing in local companies. “If they are actively investing, it would help to change the ‘lack of angels’ perception by listing what deals and how much they have invested in each company over the last six months [on their website],” he said. “Actually, even knowing when their last significant investment was could be encouragement to would-be and current entrepreneurs.” Bowman, who’s also a general partner at Delaware’s fledgling VC firm Leading Edge Ventures, said local startups just aren’t ready for venture capital — actually, most local entrepreneurs don’t even understand the process correctly. “They don’t understand the requirements of venture capital investing,” Bowman said. “The No. 1 term is, how and when are you going to exit? Because we want our money back, times 10. That’s not what people want. They just want money without any strings.” According to Bowman, Leading Edge Ventures will have completed about four deals by the time they plan on publicizing their record this coming fall. According to recent investment trend data from the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (with data from Thomson Reuters), Delaware did see a surge in seed and early-stage investment from 2012-2014 in the biotech, financial services, computers, software and IT industries. → → → →

Q4 2011 to Q3 2013: 0 deals made Q4 2013: 1 deal, $814,000 total 2014: 7 deals, $5,415,000 total Q1 2015: 2 deals, $400,000 total

“It’s a misunderstood game,” Bowman said. “[Founders] don’t ever want to give up the CEO role. You take other people’s money? Venture capitalists can put you out on the street, and it happens all the time.”

MAYBE NOT Bowman believes Delaware needs to “pick the spots” it’s good at. Personally, he has faith in both the patenting activity happening in the research park arena and Wilmington’s fintech scene, as well as the services surrounding cybersecurity and big data that support it. He’s not alone. “I am so excited about the future for northern Delaware and Wilmington in particular in the financial technology sector,” said Jeff Flynn, Wilmington’s Director of Economic Development. That future, according to Flynn, includes growing the city’s existing fintech companies, attracting new ones, and the potential for startups founded by experienced fintech devs. Wilmington should be proud of its big banks, said Flynn. “Nothing drives somebody to change their location like a job,” he said, adding that upcoming coding boot camp Zip Code Wilmington will be a big player in getting more mass in Wilmington. “It’s all about making sure the future of Delaware and Wilmington, in my view, is capitalizing on [fintech] and making sure our workforce is top notch in that sector, that we continue to increase the number of workers in that force.”

GOVERNMENT ’S ROLE Elliott, the Moven developer, is a little more skeptical of local government’s support of entrepreneurship and technology. “In the same way that our economic development offices actively pursue large companies with tax incentives to come to Delaware and later to remain in Delaware, the same principles could be used to support startups,” Elliott said. “When the city or state takes an active role in supporting a startup, it provides the needed help to buy the company time to prove business models and keep operating. In the long run, the city and state would still receive tax income from the new jobs created.” The state did support startups through publicprivate partnership Start It Up Delaware, which relaunched coIN Loft just over a year ago with $250,000 in state economic development cash. Nowadays, the coworking space is occupied by more freelancers and remote corporate workers than startup companies. With Cnverg now in Texas, Health for America moving next year’s fellowship to D.C. and Carvertise departing for 1313 Innovation, only a handful of tech or tech-adjacent startups remain. Has Start It Up Delaware — well, started it up? All signs still point to “yes.” But Delaware needs more, and every discussion involves the state’s universities — especially the University of Delaware. According to Mix, university involvement is what led to the success of ecosystems such as Silicon Valley, Boston and the Carolina Research Triangle. “It wasn’t that [those places] were asking the state for money to support their effort,” he said. “It was that they were laying out a vision for what this place will look like in 20-40 years and help us make that a reality.”

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