One of the Philadelphia Region’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies is Acquired

Fast-growing Philadelphia-based digital behavioral health company Tridiuum has been acquired for an undisclosed sum.

Overland Park, Kansas-based New Directions Behavioral Health bought the tech-oriented company to dramatically reduce the time between when patients are screened and when they receive care.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

New Directions and Tridiuum partnered on a program in Florida that launched in December. As of Jan. 14, the partnership screened more than 450 people, with average speed to first appointment of about four days, according to a release. That compares with a current standard of care average of 25 days.

Tridiuum, founded in 1997, automates behavioral health screening, triage, matching and online scheduling. The company ranks No. 41 on the Philadelphia Business Journal’s List of the area’s fastest-growing companies, with a two-year average revenue growth of 20.69%. Tridiuum reported revenue of $7.3 million in 2020. The company is headquartered in Center City and led by CEO Mark Redlus.

Read the full article here.

Coronavirus Test Available Now as COVID-19 Spreads Worldwide

In the time of the virus, it is as important as ever to remain calm and practice preventative measures.

At the time of writing, WHO characterized COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) as a pandemic and has infected over 120,000 people with over 4,000 casualties. With that said, over 66,000 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have recovered. Since SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) has spread worldwide with no indication of slowing down, developing a rapid and reliable test to detect the virus has been our focus at Biomeme. Within 2 weeks, lead biologist at Biomeme, Jesse vanWestrienen, developed a coronavirus test that is available now with no minimum order quantity.

What Makes Biomeme’s SARS-CoV-2 Go-Strips Different?
SARS-CoV-2 Go-Strips detect the RNA of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as “2019-nCoV” or “Wuhan coronavirus.” Two RNA targets for the novel coronavirus are multiplexed together with Biomeme’s process control assay for RNA extraction and RT-PCR (MS2).

Assay Targets:

SARS-CoV-2-Orf1ab gene
SARS-CoV-2-Spike gene
RNA Process Control (RNA extraction and RT-PCR control utilizing MS2 bacteriophage)
Each order contains 10 individually packaged Go-Strips (30 reactions to test 30 samples) and quantified RNA Process Control pellets (quantified MS2). The components are shelf-stable (15-30C).

When used with the full Biomeme qPCR platform, 9 samples can be extracted and tested in less than one hour on our Franklin™ Thermocycler.

Read the full article here.

GO Philly Fund Reveals First Investments

Marketing technology firms Sidecar Interactive and Clutch are the first companies to land an investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ new Global Opportunity Philadelphia, or GO Philly, Fund.

The regional, state-backed seed fund announced the investments Tuesday morning, about six months after it launched the GO Philly Fund in an effort to close a gap in the local investing ecosystem and help its portfolio companies stay and grow in the Philadelphia area.

The fund, which has raised about $25 million out of its $50 million goal, contributed $1 million to Center City’s Sidecar’s recent $7.5 million funding round and $750,000 to Ambler-based Clutch as part of a $2.5 million senior preferred note that is preceding an upcoming Series C.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is an early investor in both companies. The nonprofit, which is also tasked with spurring economic development in the state, worked with Newtown-based enterprise software company EPAM Systems inc. (NYSE: EPAM) to create the fund and designed it to fill an unmet need in the region, said Chief Investment Office Scott Nissenbaum.

Read the full article here

GO Philly Fund is Working on a Serious Problem for Philadelphia’s Startups

Last week Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA and EPAM announced a new $50 million fund. The Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund—aka GO Philly Fund— looks to support early-stage Philadelphia startups by engaging both traditional investment and blockchain-enabled participation.

The GO Philly Fund encourages further growth of early-stage startups in the Philadelphia region while providing a solution to a long-held criticism: that Philadelphia is excellent for early-stage companies but lacks support for enterprises looking to scale. The Philadelphia Business Journal’s Michelle Caffrey reported, “The fund was born out of a problem BFTP faced — capitalizing on its own success. Over the past 35 years, the organization’s built up a deep expertise in seed investing and creating a diverse deal flow with more than 250 active portfolio companies. But it’s backed by state funding and tied to state regulations. BFTP can only fund up to $1 million in a portfolio company, for example, and if a company leaves the state, BFTP has to divest.”

The creation of the GO Philly Fund allows Ben Franklin to invest further into the companies it has helped grow from their earliest phases, while facilitating outside investor participation from the global marketplace. Per, “The fund will invest at least $50,000 in each target firm and promises follow-up investments of up to $3 million… Franklin says KPMG, White and Williams LLP, and Bridge Bank have agreed to “support the fund’s operations,” while Securitize has agreed to set up a blockchain-based system – it will also accept cryptocurrencies — to make it easier for foreign investors to tap into the fund.” While the goal of the fund is to raise $50 million from investors, it has already secured $15 million from its first closing.

“The newly formed GO Philly Fund is well-positioned to attract investors and contribute to the growth of our region,” RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, Ben Franklin’s president, and CEO told Philly, “Last year, we reviewed nearly 1,000 promising young companies before ultimately selecting to invest in 50 of them. This fund allows us to expand our regional impact by inviting a new group of investors to share in the opportunities our region offers.”

For more information on the GO Philly Fund, please sign up for Ben Franklin’s newsletters on the right of your screen.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania Launches the Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund

EPAM is lead investor in blockchain-enabled regional venture investment fund; GO Philly Fund open to individual investors

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (February 7, 2019) –Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Ben Franklin), a leading seed stage capital provider, has formed a regional venture fund that allows private investors to invest in a broad variety of early-stage technology-focused enterprises located in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund (GO Philly Fund), anchored by lead investor EPAM Systems, Inc. (NYSE: EPAM), has raised $15 million in its first close and seeks to provide up to $50 million of capital alongside Ben Franklin’s investments.

The GO Philly Fund will primarily operate as a co-investment fund with Ben Franklin. It will invest alongside Ben Franklin in early-stage investments that complete and satisfy Ben Franklin’s due diligence process. The fund will seek to make initial investments of between $50,000 and $500,000, and follow-on investments up to $3 million.

“Thanks to surging opportunity in Greater Philadelphia, the newly formed GO Philly Fund is well-positioned to attract investors and contribute to the growth of our region,” explained RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, Ben Franklin’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Last year, we reviewed nearly 1,000 promising young companies before ultimately selecting to invest in 50 of them.  This fund allows us to expand our regional impact by inviting a new group of investors to share in the opportunities our region offers.”

The fund was formed in conjunction with EPAM, a leading global product development and digital platform engineering services company headquartered in the Philadelphia area with more than $1.8 billion in revenue. “For over 25 years, EPAM has helped established, technology-driven enterprises and startups build software products and platforms, including many which have become globally recognized leaders in their respective markets. With our participation in the GO Philly Fund, we hope to reach regional startups in their earliest stages, working together with Ben Franklin to help them become the next wave of innovators and disruptors,” explained Arkadiy Dobkin, CEO at EPAM.

Subscription for the GO Philly Fund is now open to domestic and international accredited investors who seek to capitalize on the region’s growth. Many accredited investors have already committed to participation in the fund including Provco Group, Fulton Bank, and SRI Capital, while KPMG, Bridge Bank and Securitize will support the fund’s operations. Pepper Hamilton LLP acts as legal counsel on U.S. legal matters relating to the organization, management, and the offering of interests in the fund, while White and Williams, LLP acts as legal counsel on legal matters relating to international operations and fundraising.

Following its initial close, the GO Philly Fund will seek to leverage blockchain technology as part of its innovative fund raising and capital management strategy. This will facilitate individual investor participation from around the world and allow for the acceptance of cryptocurrency. The fund’s blockchain provider, Securitize, will manage KYC/AML and accredited investor compliance. “The blockchain structure will streamline investor participation and ultimately facilitate the issuance of GO Philly Fund tokens, which represent the GO Philly Fund’s limited partnership interests, on the Ethereum blockchain,” said Scott Nissenbaum, Ben Franklin’s Chief Investment Officer.

An independent report from The Pennsylvania Economy League and KLIOS Consulting recently found that the statewide Ben Franklin program, of which Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is a part, helped create 11,407 high-paying jobs, generated $386 million in tax receipts for the state, and boosted the commonwealth’s overall economy by $4.1 billion between 2012 and 2016.  However, state funding shortfalls are starting to curtail the Ben’s ability to invest in companies appropriately, creating missed opportunities.  The GO Philly Fund will supplement Ben Franklin’s continued efforts to support young enterprises that create a community of innovation and contribute to economic growth in Greater Philadelphia.

“As venture capital investors have shifted their focus to growth-stage investing, a gap in early-stage funding has developed. Philadelphia has not been immune and bolstering Ben Franklin’s good efforts with new funding is critical,” reflected Charles Robins, Managing Director of Fairmount Partners. Robins, a successful technology entrepreneur who founded a company that received funding from Ben Franklin and subsequently became a public company, now also serves as chairman of Ben Franklin’s board of directors.

Interests in the GO Philly Fund are being offered only through the fund’s private placement memorandum, limited partnership agreement and subscription package. A copy of the private placement memorandum containing more detailed information about Ben Franklin and the GO Philly Fund is available by request. For accredited investors and seed and early-stage companies interested in learning more, please visit:


About Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Since its beginning in 1982, Ben Franklin has invested more than $200 million into over 2,000 emerging technology enterprises in the Philadelphia region, 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 the Philadelphia region’s community of technology-based innovation. Ben Franklin is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded in part by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. For more information on Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia region’s most active early-stage investor for more than 35 years, please visit, and follow us on Twitter @bftp_sep.

Since 1993, EPAM Systems, Inc. (NYSE: 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 global teams 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 Forbes 25 Fastest Growing Public Tech Companies list every year of publication since 2013. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @EPAMSYSTEMS and LinkedIn.


Ben’s Founder Friday: Mike Maher

Mike Maher is a serial entrepreneur with a knack for problem solving and collaboration. Mike first emerged as a powerhouse on the scene when he co-founded Benjamin’s Desk, a Philadelphia-based coworking network. Since its first space opened in 2012 at 1701 Walnut Street, it has expanded across the city and recently merged with 1776, a public benefit corporation. Following the success of Benjamin’s Desk, Mike co-founded Bunker Labs the first innovation incubator built by veteran entrepreneurs to provide resources and a community for the 25% of transitioning service members interested in starting a business.

His latest venture Houwzer, a collaboration with developer Kevin Baird, is disrupting an industry that’s remained relatively the same over the years. Houwzer is a Philadelphia based brokerage that’s thrown a wrench in the traditional real estate machine. The company’s rebuilt the real estate brokerage model with technology at the forefront, while taking commission off the table and providing salary and benefits to their agents. Houwzer currently has offices in Philadelphia, Conshohocken, Haddonfield, and West Chester.

I met up with Mike at Benjamin’s Desk to talk about Houwzer’s disruptive model, why Philly’s the perfect backdrop for real estate innovation, and how the company is making an impact.

AVW: You’ve defined Houwzer as a disruptive model. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced going against a traditional model?

MM: Approaching a brokerage model that hasn’t been significantly altered over the years is inherently disruptive and educating our customers on what that means can be challenging.

AVW: There’s multiple ways you can interpret education, right? Being disruptive in an industry doesn’t just mean educating the public, but often those who are a part of the industry that you are disrupting, would you agree?

MM: Yes, there is a myth I’m trying to dispel in the market. No one has done what we have done, which is zero percent, meaning full service for half the cost. Because we are doing that, at first glance, some look at us and say we are taking money off the table. And that’s true, but we are taking money off the table because it is in the best interest of the customer. The annual real estate sales commission is $70 billion, which is a little fat to be quite frank. It’s massive, so it’s in the best interest of the consumer that we find a better solution and it’s in the best interest of the agent that we operate differently as well.

70% of real estate agents will wash out of the industry within 12 months and 90% after 24 months. That’s a systemic problem for any industry. If your primary work force is churning at 90% in 24 months, that’s a problem. We have 92% retention rate with our agents—the inverse of the market. We are taking money off of the table, but we are putting agents on a salary, giving them them benefits, and the opportunity to earn bonuses and raises.

AVW: That retention rate really speaks to the benefit of the Houwzer model to the agents, but is there also a shift in perspective of customer when you make those changes?

MM: Absolutely, today the customer of your typical brokerage is the real estate agent. So if I’m them, my business model is to hire real estate agents, knowing that 90% are going to churn in the next 24 months, and those 10% – 20% who remain are my bread and butter. They are my customers. Houwzer is different because our customer is the end user: the buyer or seller. We create a relationship with an agent who actually cares about the customer, which is unique. At the end of the day, what I think is most compelling about our model is the relationship between a salaried real estate agent and the buyer, or the seller.

When you use a traditional brokerage company, there is no continuity of service. A broker can’t mandate which technology they use, which platform they use, which software they use, how they price homes, pictures and signs, and how they execute open houses. It is whatever the agent wants to do, because they are an independant contractor. In the Houwzer model we mandate every aspect of the process, and we take the successes an agent finds in the field and we implement it across the organization, so we think the continuity experience is a million times better. I like to say we are offering superior services at a superior price.

AVW: We are talking about a fairly unique way of doing real estate, but I’m curious to why Philadelphia is the backdrop for this innovation. Is there anything specific about Philadelphia’s housing market vs. other markets that makes it a great landscape for Houwzer?

MM: It’s our home market, but launching in Philadelphia was a good move because of the transfer tax. If you look at the typical seller she’s paying 6% in commision plus two percent transfer tax. That transfer tax is meaningful enough to sellers that it makes the friction of costs to sell a home a big barrier. For us, that 3% we are saving the seller is very important because the real estate transfer tax is so significant.

Another reason is, Philadelphia actually resembles more of America than Silicon Valley or New York. If you are looking at a competitor of Houwzer, there is a good chance they are building in San Francisco or New York. The problem with that is San Francisco has become an anomaly and New York has always been an anomaly in real estate. Building a real estate model based on New York or San Francisco, when it comes to scalability, does not help you. Philadelphia resembles most of the markets where we want to be. Think about Austin, Denver, Raleigh, and D.C and so we appreciate that.

AVW: Speaking to the Philadelphia market, we’ve seen an increase in impact investors and impact-focused companies, and Houwzer falls into that category. Houwzer is the only real estate brokerage B Corporation in the nation. Being a B Corporation,— a for-profit company certified by the nonprofit B Lab —how is Houwzer impact-focused and why is that a priority?

MM: Young entrepreneurs across America, and specifically in Philadelphia, recognize that if you do right by all of your stakeholders, you will ultimately generate the maximum value of stakeholder wealth. It’s common sense if you treat your employees right, your vendors right, your customers right, that theoretically you should still be able to drive profits. In Europe they’ve been leveraging stakeholder methodology for years. The data B Labs is collecting suggest that B Corporations are outperforming their peers. It’s not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.

We are impact-focused in a few ways and investing in our agents is a big part of that. In addition, 5% of the company will always be employee owned. We also require our employees to do 50 hours of volunteering a year, which they do individually or at a group level, and we donate 2.5% of our profits every year to a non-for-profit.

We will eventually be at a place where we will provide each buyer at closing with a B Corporation gift basket, with discounts from area’s social impact businesses. We can say here’s your B Corp drycleaner, here’s your B Corp cable provider, or whatever! We want to tell that story at the closing table.

AVW: What’s next for you guys?

MM: We just launched a really cool piece of technology thanks to Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Not only did you fund us, but you’re excited about the technology we have. Again, because big brokers can’t tell agents what products to use, and we can, we are building a customized transactional management and communication system that allows our real estate agents to interact with seller and buyers in real time to help in a phase-by-phase approach.

We think it’s going to dramatically enhance our efficiency as a company but also enhance the consumer’s experience while going through the process. I always like to say, that this is an emotional business and so when people get to the closing table they sometimes feel defeated and it should be a fun day.

Clutch Raised $5.25 million and Acquired Chicago Company, Persio

Ambler-based marketing company Clutch has announced its acquisition of Chicago-based company Persio for an undisclosed amount. It also announced a $5.25 million round of funding, bringing the total fundraising to nearly $20 million.

Persio, founded in 2012, is an intelligent mobile promotions platform. It has led hundreds of successful campaigns for retailers with inventive mobile marketing techniques like mobile scratch-and-win offers and promotions for mobile apps. It will add powerful new mobile marketing capabilities to the Clutch platform.

Co-founder Ned Moore will remain CEO of the company, which will retain the Clutch name. Between the company’s Ambler HQ and Persio’s existing offices in Chicago, Clutch will grow to 75 employees.

Per the release, Clutch is now in a position to capture a bigger share of the $32 billion marketing technology industry. Brands are increasingly looking to automate mobile solutions to deliver rewards, coupons, and more. Simultaneously, marketing departments need a technology stack that can do the work of several vendors hired to solve discrete problems.

A strong complement to other channels, SMS marketing has seen increased demand among brands and retailers looking to reach mobile customers in real time. In fact, SMS messages have a 98 percent open rate.

Clutch plans to make the new mobile functionality available to clients in the first quarter of 2017. The transaction closed in December.

In addition to acquiring Persio, the venture-backed company also announced a $5.25 million round of funding. Furthermore, it added a new seat on its board of directors which will be occupied by Philly-based Olivam Partners CEO Larry Stone. Stone is the single investor behind the round. Previous investors in the company include Safeguard Scientifics, which has been consistently investing in the company since 2014.

Read the full article at Technically Philly.