Back for a second year, Innovation Weekend is 1Philadelphia’s tech and entrepreneurship conference aimed at celebrating diversity and equity in our tech community. This year's theme, Meeting Our Moment, recognizes this critical moment for all individuals looking to engage in tech, as well as a call-to-action for a bold, citywide goal for tech equity in Philadelphia.
The second Innovation Weekend was a remarkable occasion that brought together over 500 attendees, featured 7 exciting events, and showcased 35 inspiring speakers. It was a time to celebrate the diversity within our tech community. Join us as we take a closer look at the unforgettable moments that made this weekend truly extraordinary.
"I think my favorite part of Innovation Weekend was just the feeling that I got at every event that I went to. It really had a very welcoming, open feeling. Everywhere that I went, I really felt like there's an abundance here and lots of opportunity for connections and community building that I really haven't felt at other events in the city. It just made me more excited to keep coming back to things that are run by 1Philadelphia." - Shawntia L.
Innovation Weekend began with the Innovation Summit presented by Philadelphia Department of Commerce. This was a day-long conference where participants learned from thought leaders across the region about emerging themes in tech education, talent development, entrepreneurship, venture capital, workforce development and more!
At the Summit, Executive Director Danae Mobley announced 1Philadelphia‘s milestone goal of raising $20 million by 2026 for tech equity initiatives in the city. This is an exciting and ambitious goal, but it is also a necessary one. Philadelphia prides itself on its diverse and inclusive culture. However, this same city also faces significant racial and economic disparities, especially in the tech industry.
One of the main reasons for these disparities is the lack of access and opportunities. To address these issues, 1Philadelphia aims to raise funds for new and existing programs that bridge this gap and provide resources and support for underrepresented communities looking to break into the tech industry. By investing in these initiatives, 1Philadelphia is not only promoting diversity and equality within the tech industry but also ensuring that Philadelphia remains competitive in the ever-growing digital landscape. “We really want to showcase the work that’s already being done, the people that are contributing great things to tech equity in the city, but then just get more people on board," said Danae Mobley. "So we’re excited to see what partnerships come from this new announcement.”
During the Summit, there were breakout sessions featuring an array of exceptional speakers representing various sectors of the industry. These sessions provided opportunities for insightful discussions and knowledge sharing. Thank you to our speakers for bringing your expertise and experience to the Summit. The day included inspiring workshops, panels and breakout sessions tackling these issues around equity and access to innovation, including:
• Lightning Talk: Creating Momentum
The Summit started with an energetic panel discussion, featuring Sarah Steltz (Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce), Margaret Berger-Bradley (Ben Franklin Technology Partners), and Javier Suarez (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce). Together, they engaged in insightful conversations about the factors driving positive momentum in Philadelphia and how these can fuel our vision.
• Fireside Chat: Meeting Our Moment
The closing plenary, "Meeting Our Moment", was an in-depth conversation between Danae Mobley (1Philadelphia), Dalila Wilson-Scott (Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation), and Donna Frisby-Greenwood (The Pew Charitable Trusts) aimed at informing city leaders about the pressing need for proactive policy-making and strategic investments in technology to propel Philadelphia towards its full potential.
Culture and Community
At 1Philadelphia, we place strong emphasis on the importance of fostering connections to promote growth and prosperity within our ecosystem. Innovation Weekend provided a wealth of enriching experiences, including engaging panels, talks, workshops, and abundant networking opportunities within our vibrant tech community. Attendees enjoyed exciting and celebratory events that facilitated meaningful connections.
Innovators’ Happy Hour
After the Summit, we were thrilled to host almost 100 individuals at the Southside Jazz Kitchen for the Innovators' Happy Hour. It provided a fantastic opportunity to establish new connections and reconnect with old friends. The event was elevated by the presence of delicious food and positive vibes - two crucial elements for any 1PHL occasion!
1PHL Afterparty Concert
After the Innovators’ Happy Hour, the party moved to REC Philly for a VIP reception and concert with Coast Contra! What an unforgettable night showcasing a new generation of hip hop talent.
For music lovers, this was the highlight of the conference. It was a chance to experience the intersection of music and innovation firsthand. Before he took the stage to perform, Philly's own Eric Jamal spoke about his journey to Coast Contra. His inspirational words set the tone for an amazing night ahead.
"The interview with Coast Contra was mind blowing. I loved how he tied his musical journey to the entrepreneurial journey. His words really hit home for me.” - Simone A.
1Philadelphia knows the importance of fostering and supporting entrepreneurs. From providing resources and funding, to creating a strong community, we have been working to help underrepresented entrepreneurs succeed. During Innovation Weekend, we organized several events dedicated to furthering this mission.
Early Validation Academy Demo Day
The Early Validation Academy, a 1Philadelphia initiative, is committed to supporting underrepresented tech founders in validating their core problems and preparing them for the next stage: building a minimum viable product (MVP). During the program's initial phase, founders participated in virtual sessions where they received invaluable mentorship and training from our team of expert facilitators and guest speakers. Take a moment to explore our interview with one of these experts, entrepreneur Rudy J. Ellis.
During Innovation Weekend, the program entered its second phase with an exciting in-person Demo Day. Five companies from the EVA cohort were selected to advance and present their ideas to a room of investors, mentors, and potential partners. This event offered our founders a unique opportunity to showcase their work, gain valuable feedback, and expand their network with individuals who can propel their startup to the next level. Not only did these founders gain experience, they were awarded a $10,000 equity-free grant to further their business.
"Thank you 1Philadelphia for bringing together and supporting this incredible community. Proud to be a part of it, eager to keep showing up, and excited for what's to come." - Madeline H., founder
Congratulations to the EVA finalists
- College Readiness Software
- Ideate Better Consultancy
1Philadelphia is here to create space for founders. During the Innovation Weekend Retreat, diverse founders and investors were equipped with the necessary personal and professional tools to navigate the challenging economic landscape. Hosted by Plain Sight Capital and Comcast Lift Labs, this day-long program aimed to help founders recharge and meet their people.
The Retreat featured a range of engaging activities, including a lightning talk between Tony Wilkins of Standing Oaks Venture Partners and Alex King of Plain Sight Capital. Joey Womack of Goodie Nation led a thought-provoking session on Founders Therapy, while Steven Cohen guided participants through a rejuvenating meditation workshop and Amanda Sabreah of Thought Factory delivered an insightful talk on data. The Retreat fostered an atmosphere of collaboration and resilience as attendees came together to confront shared challenges.
Celebrating Philly Tech
On Saturday night, attendees gathered at the Barnes Foundation for our final event - the Innovation Awards presented by Comcast. This event honored the contributions of passionate individuals and organizations within the Philadelphia community who strive to promote equity in the tech field.
“The 2023 Innovation Awards were a reminder of all the good that is happening in our city and the commitment to making Philadelphia the capital for equitable tech and innovation. Comcast is proud to be a lead partner.” - Gwyneth Gaul, Associate Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Community Impact, Comcast NBCUniversal
Congratulations to the Winners
A huge congratulations and thank you to our winners for making an impact in our city.
- Entrepreneur of the Year: Bruce Marable, Employee Cycle
- Young Leader of the Year: Gianna Grossmann, Philadelphia Department of Commerce
- Advocate for Equity: Michael O'Bryan, Humanature
- Community Cultivator: Senzwa Ntshepe, The Connect
- Catalyst for Change (Individual): Ayanna Lott-Pollard, Resilient Coders
- 215 Award: Amplify Philly
- Catalyst for Change (Organization): Comcast
Making an Impact
1Philadelphia is a coalition of stakeholders working to make our city a model of equitable tech and innovation. Our goal is to bring together public and private partners to strengthen Philadelphia's workforce and build the next generation of innovators. Events like Innovation Weekend are critical to our mission. By bringing the Philly tech community together to discuss our challenges and celebrate our wins, we are moving forward towards our goal.
"What an incredible showcase of creativity, ingenuity, and forward-thinking minds! [The] commitment to fostering innovation is shaping the landscape of our community, and it's an honor to be part of such a dynamic and forward-thinking network." - Amanda A.
Join us as we continue to make a difference in our city by showing up, having the hard conversations, and moving forward as one Philadelphia.
Innovation Weekend was made possible through generous support from the following sponsors dedicated to supporting our work: Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs, PHL Most Diverse Tech Hub, PACT, Seer Interactive, Comic Relief, The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, University City Science Center, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeaster Pennsylvania.