The Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund —the GO Philly Fund—is a newly formed venture fund seeking growth stage follow-on investments pulled from Ben Franklin SEP’s portfolio.
Formed by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia region’s most active early-stage investor for over 35 years, and EPAM, a leading global product development and digital platform engineering services company, the Fund leverages its deep insights into Ben Franklin’s 250+ active portfolio companies to facilitate investor participation in the burgeoning opportunity within the Philadelphia region’s technology-based ventures.
The Fund provides capital for early-stage technology companies primarily in the Philadelphia region (which includes the City of Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties). The Fund makes follow on investments to the early-stage companies that have passed Ben Franklin’s comprehensive due diligence process, supporting the growth of enterprises that build the community of innovation in Philadelphia.
Set within the surging opportunity of Philadelphia’s growth, the Fund is uniquely positioned to expedite investor participation in the region’s emerging technology ventures, while affecting the growth of the region at large.
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Since its beginning in 1982, Ben Franklin has invested more than $200 million into over 2,000 emerging technology enterprises in Greater Philadelphia, making it the most active seed investor in the Mid-Atlantic region, and ranked top 10 in the United States. An independent 501(c)(3), Ben Franklin has played a role in the creation of many of the region’s leading technology companies and, together with the statewide network of four independent Ben Franklin Partner organizations, has been recognized as significantly increasing the odds for the young companies it champions. Ben Franklin nurtures young companies by actively investing capital and providing an ever-growing repertoire of resources for its portfolio companies, their co-investors, and Greater Philadelphia’s community of technology-based innovation.
Founded in 1993 in Princeton NJ, and headquarters in Newtown PA, EPAM has leveraged its software engineering expertise to become a leading global product development, digital platform engineering, and top digital and product design agency. Through its ‘Engineering DNA’ and innovative strategy, consulting, and design capabilities, EPAM works in collaboration with its customers to deliver next-gen solutions that turn complex business challenges into real business outcomes. EPAM’s 27,000 professionals work in global teams to serve customers in over 25 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. EPAM is a recognized market leader in multiple categories among top global independent research agencies, and was one of only four technology companies to appear on each of the Forbes 25 Fastest Growing Public Technology Companies lists between 2013 and 2017.
Audigent is an audience intelligence platform that provides brands with actionable data, analytics and insights that optimize the targeting, engagement and ROI of online, mobile and social video ads while opening up new revenue streams for artists and other social influencers. Audigent’s platform allows brands to discover, monitor and target audiences that drive media performance.
Biomeme, Inc. empowers anyone, anywhere with the capabilities of a molecular lab in the palm of their hand with the world’s fastest DNA/RNA extraction and the smallest mobile real-time qPCR thermocycler that requires no sepia experience to use.
Cagent Vascular is dedicated to improving the treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of mortality and poor quality of life worldwide. The company’s vision is to be the leader for treating atherosclerotic disease with the first and only serration balloon technology to restore blood flow.
Clutch’s Customer Data and Marketing Platform act like the brains of the customer’s marketing operation. It performs three key functions for their customers that enable personalized marketing at scale: identifies their customers, extracts meaning from their data, and recommends actions that their benefit the brand.
Houwzer is a modern, socially responsible real estate agency for savvy homeowners. They rebuilt the real estate brokerage model around their customers with technology and a team of full service, salaried agents.
Sidecar helps retailers unlock the full potential of today’s fastest growing online discovery and shopping channels. Their approach combines advanced artificial intelligence, a rich, retail-focused dataset, and years of retail performance marketing expertise. The results are holistic cross-channel marketing programs that drive results.
Scott is President and Chief Executive Officer, bringing more than 20 years of venture capital, entrepreneurial, and operational experience to Ben Franklin. He spent 11 years investing in early stage technology companies as managing director at Novitas Capital, a $235 million family of early stage venture funds. In 2008 he founded Finite Carbon which, as president, he led to a position of market leadership for carbon offset in California’s regulated market for forestry. He has held seats on the Boards of more than 14 companies including Traffic.com (NASDAQ:TRFC), USA Technologies (NASDAQ:USAT), EZ Prints, Inc. (acquired by Café Press), Haley Systems (acquired by Ruleburst), ClickEquations (acquired by Channel Intelligence) and ImageTree (acquired by GeoDigital). Nissenbaum is a frequent speaker on the topics of venture capital and entrepreneurship at such industry meetings as The Wharton Energy Conference, The CFA Society of Philadelphia, and the National Science Foundation’s University Startup Conference. Nissenbaum also served as an adjunct faculty member at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school teaching the graduate course on Venture Capital and in the Management Information Systems Department at St. Joseph’s University focusing on business software applications. Mr. Nissenbaum received an MBA in Finance from St. Joseph’s University and a B.S. degree in Finance and a Minor in Economics from the Pennsylvania State University.
Having served as its President, CEO and member of the Board of Directors for 25 years, RoseAnn B. Rosenthal now serves as CEO Emeritus for Ben Franklin. Praised by regional, national and international leaders as a pioneer of public-private partnerships and an invaluable resource for innovation-focused investment and growth in the Philadelphia region, Rosenthal has over forty-five years of experience in economic development, business investment, and regional planning.
Jonathon Beschen is the Go Philly Fund General Partner with responsibilities for day-to-day activities and technology oversight. Jonathon also serves as part of the IT Investment Group at Ben Franklin where he makes early-stage investments and does initial analysis for the Information Technology group. In his three years at Ben Franklin, he has vetted over 300 companies for IT team investment and led ten investments himself. He also participated as a mentor and facilitator in the Village Capital Fintech Accelerator program run by Ben Franklin. He currently sits on the Ideas x Innovation Network (i2n) board for Chester Counties Economic Development Council as well as the board of his own economic empowerment non-profit Liberty Valley Initiative. He has acted as an angel and seed investor in the region since 2009.
Mark deGrandpre, Ph.D. is the Portfolio Executive at Ben Franklin. He is responsible for the Physical Sciences portfolio which includes consumer products, sensors, electronics, energy and clean tech, new materials, and the emerging space of the Internet of Things (IOT). Mark has made nearly 100 investments in regional companies with Ben Franklin capital reaching now about $23 MM. Of the 45 companies, which have exited to date, approximately three out of every four investments (73%) have returned to |Ben Franklin, at minimum, its invested capital. Prior to joining Ben Franklin, Dr. deGrandpre (PhD Organic Chemistry, UCLA, Dr. Donald J. Cram, Nobel Laureate) had a career in the private sector spanning over twenty years primarily at the Rohm and Haas Company , a Philadelphia based, Fortune 200 chemicals firm.
Rick Genzer is the Investment Director of the IT Investment Group at Ben Franklin. For 30 years before joining Ben Franklin in 2017, Rick was an accomplished founding team member, senior executive and management consultant with direct involvement in many entrepreneurial endeavors, and has played many key roles in the commercialization of leading-edge products and services. As part of his prior commercialization experience, Rick has had direct involvement in a variety of private equity transactions, in a wide range of market sectors. Rick has been in investor in a private equity fund and has served/participated on a number of both non-profit and for-profit boards. Since joining Ben Franklin, Rick has worked with over 100 companies and ultimately invested in 16. He has also participated in 2 exits and 3 debt conversions.
Jennifer (“Jenn”) Hartt, MS is the Managing Director of the Healthcare Investment Group at Ben Franklin. Hartt directs all of Ben Franklin’s life sciences related investments in companies with technologies ranging from clinical healthcare IT, medical devices and diagnostics to therapeutics. Hartt has closed 139 investments totaling over $33M in over 70 companies for Ben Franklin since early 2006. Hartt is highly experienced in both convertible notes and equity investment instruments. In addition, she has negotiated dozens of exits and conversions of debt to equity. Hartt holds a Master’s in Biology (with a focus on molecular biology and genetics) and Bachelor’s degree in Biology, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with both degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
Omar Mencin, DBA, is an experienced venture capital and private equity investor, entrepreneur, and business accelerator founder and CEO. In his role with Ben Franklin, Omar is responsible for sourcing deals, managing due diligence, negotiating deal terms, and serving as a board observer and portfolio manager. During his tenure at Ben Franklin and in investment roles prior, he has led over 30 seed to Series A equity and convertible debt investments across the e-commerce, digital media, Ed-Tech, wearable technology, Finetch, Blockchain, and healthcare IT sectors including Practice (acquired by Instructure), Ridekleen (Acquired by COX Automotive), Snip Snap (acquired by Slyce), and Clarity Payment Systems (Acquired by TYSYS). He has also led Ben Franklin fund to fund investments in partner accelerator programs such as the UPENN based EDSI ED-Tech accelerator program, the Philadelphia Media Network (Philadelphia Inquirer) Project Liberty Incubator, and the DreamIT Ventures Accelerator.