2014 Proves To Be a Year of Growth and Success for DreamIt Ventures

by David Bookspan, co-founder DreamIt Ventures

2014 was an explosive year of growth and success for DreamIt.  I took some time over the holidays to reflect on where we started and where we have come.

Mike, Steve, and I launched DreamIt in 2008 with a mission to pay-it-forward by building process around startups that stripped away as many obstacles, and put as many resources behind them as possible to enable the most promising founders to build their companies faster.  In the last six years, DreamIt has grown to a team of 14 Partners, 13 world class companies supporting specific vertical tracks, 175-plus 1:1 mentors, over 20 world class service providers, scores of technology providers, and countless supporters.  Together, this community has rallied around the mission of helping to launch companies that can tilt the globe.

Since 2008, DreamIt has launched 179 companies including companies like SeatGeek, LevelUp, Notehall (acquired by Chegg NYSE:CHGG), Parsely, Biomeme, Mindsnacks, and Adaptly.  DreamIt Companies have gone on to raise close to $180M in follow-on funding and at a market value over half-billion dollars.

In 2014, many DreamIt companies surpassed milestones and achieved well-deserved recognition:

– Biomeme (DreamIt Health Philadelphia ‘13) was deployed to West Africa by the U.S. Department of Defense to help the world fight Ebola.

– Elevate Labs (DreamIt Philly ‘10) was named the #1 App in the Apple App Store

– SeatGeek (DreamIt Philly ‘09) closed their Series B round of $35M led by Accel Partners and with star investors such as Peyton Manning, Carmelo Anthony and NAS

– Stylr (DreamIt NY ‘13) was acquired by Walmart

– Seratis (DreamIt Health Philly ‘13) won the Verizon Powerful Answers Award

– Nikhil Sethi and Garrett Ullom the founders of Adaptly (DreamIt Philly ‘10), were named to Forbes 30 under 30

– Senem Guney, Priya Buthani, and Allison Berliner, all DreamIt Female Founders, were named as the three fellows for the 2015 Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs Building Bridges program

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Diversity in Tech: Not just a Silicon Valley Problem, it’s an American Problem

written by William Crowder, Managing Director for DreamIt Access

The topic of diversity in tech continues to make national headlines. In nearly every instance the conversation is about the efforts underway in Silicon Valley. Even the region’s most recognized accelerator, Y Combinator made USA Today headlines last week as its president announced the firm’s push to recruit more diverse founders and said “I wish that all other venture funders thought about this the way we do…In the meantime, we have this incredible competitive advantage because no one else is doing this.”

While that might be true in Silicon Valley, when one steps outside of that region they realize that the revelation is not new wisdom. I am amazed by the amount of attention and energy being expended at attempting to solve such a huge and historic problem on a relatively small scale. In other words, the rest of “us” lives in the rest of the U.S.  Diversity in tech is not a geographic concern; rather it is a mindset that must be changed across the entire country if we expect to see any meaningful progress.  Believe it or not, Silicon Valley is not the cure for what ails us.  The Valley will ultimately be a part of the solution and I am glad to hear that it is finally realizing what many have been aware of for quite some time, that there is underrepresentation across the entire tech landscape and that should and must change.

I am a partner at a highly regarded global startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures, which has helped launch over 179 companies over the last 6 years.  At DreamIt we have taken a proactive approach to addressing the diversity in tech issue.  Specifically, in 2011 we started that work by creating a component within our accelerator cycles that would specifically recruit startups led by founders from underrepresented populations.  In partnership with Comcast we intentionally set about the creation of a program and environment that was open and welcoming to new ideas, perspectives, and problems to solve.  Since creating the DreamIt Access program, we have seen the diversity in each class increase and more importantly we have seen firsthand the power it has in the development of high quality startups and founders.

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DreamIt Philly Demo Day Recap – Struggles, Decisions, and Successes


This past Wednesday, DreamIt Ventures proudly debuted their DreamIt Philly 2014 accelerator companies at World Cafe Live in the heart of Philadelphia’s University City. After an intense twelve-week cycle and weeks of practice, the entrepreneurs presented their companies to a room brimming with VCs, angel investors, partners, and press.

Nikhil Paul, CEO of Nfoshare, kicked off the presentations with an infectious energy and spirit, even ending with his own Oprah moment, which paved the way for a decidedly exciting  day. Where some pitch days can be serious occasions, DreamIt’s Demo Day was light-hearted, with lots of laughs from the speakers and attendees.

The founders were candid about their experiences—struggles, successes, happy times and hard decisions. Allison Berliner, CEO of SpotItBuyIt, spoke about the problems she and her team faced with their original company, PopInShop, and how they made the tough, and correct, decision to pivot.

Many companies touched on the impressive traction they’ve been able to achieve during their time at DreamIt. Parkloco has started pilots with two parking lot operators that have given them access to over 25 percent of the U.S. private parking industry, Ntensify has been working with multiple top-grossing, number one apps in the Apple App Store, and RightHire announced that 25 employers are already leveraging their science-based hiring software to make better hiring decisions. Ishqr, a dating site for first generation Muslim Americans, has even been the catalyst for 10 weddings!
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Applications for DreamIt Health Baltimore are due TONIGHT
December 5, 2014 @ Midnight


DreamIt Health Baltimore is an unrivaled opportunity for healthtech startups to work closely with Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland system to establish clinical champions and achieve key business milestones such as product launch and rollout across industry-leading customers.

DreamIt Ventures is looking for teams working on any significant problem in healthcare where software and/or hardware are central to the solution.  The program offers:

Seed capital (up to $300k in stipend and following funding opportunities per team)
Access (customers, partners, investors, KOLs, SMEs)
Coaching (from exited entrepreneurs custom-fit to each startup)
Free stuff of value (legal, accounting, space, AWS, etc)
Startup chops (best practice/techniques from active practitioners of craft)

Most important is the unparalleled access to clinicians, executives, and industry leaders for designing, testing, launching, and deploying your solution at scale with bellwether organizations around the country including Hopkins and Maryland. Teams also benefit from speakers, office hours and content designed around healthcare-specific challenges such as navigating regulatory and reimbursement hurdles.

Want to know what being a DreamIt Health company means? Check out recent DreamIt Health alums including Biomeme, Seratis, Osmosis, Quantified Care, Tissue Analytics, and Haystack. Our alums are our strongest advocates, so feel free to get their perspective on what we bring to the table.

Don’t miss the deadline, APPY TODAY! Learn more about the program here.

As DreamIt Philly Demo Day Approaches, Companies Focus On Niche Industry Solutions That Are Already Finding Success

Philadelphia, PA, December 2, 2014 – It’s been two years since DreamIt has hosted their flagship DreamIt Philly accelerator in the City of Brotherly Love. This year, DreamIt returned their traditional fall cycle with twelve promising startups who are already moving the needle by gaining strong customer interest. Tomorrow, the participating companies will take the stage at World Cafe Live! and pitch their companies to an audience of several hundred investors, industry leaders and potential customers at DreamIt Philly Demo Day (#DreamItPhilly). Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter is scheduled to give remarks during the event.

This year’s cohort showed exceptional growth across an array of areas including user acquisition, establishing partnerships, and fundraising. More than half of the class built relationships and established partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, including Samsung, Comcast, and Microsoft, as well as one team establishing a partnership with Essence Magazine. Teams have launched their apps in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, and several are working on closing notable seed and bridge rounds. Six of the companies are lead by female founders, which further demonstrates the significance of our recently launched DreamIt Athena program.

“We are excited for this year’s DreamIt Philly participants to get on stage and show this community who they have become over the last three months,” said Patrick FitzGerald, managing partner of DreamIt Philly. “It takes more than funding and access to an investment community for a startup to make it in today’s business world. Entrepreneurs need an ecosystem where failure is embraced and they are encouraged to take on risk without abandon and fail fast, because they have a collaborative trust with the people around them.”

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Here’s what you missed at DreamIt Health Philadelphia Demo Day 2014

Last week, the latest cohort of healthtech startups at DreamIt took the wraps off their products and shared the significant business milestones they’d achieved in their 15 weeks in the DreamIt Health Philadelphia 2014 program.

In attendance were over 300 investors, industry leaders, members of the press and the larger startup and tech community who had the opportunity to see first-hand what can be accomplished when great teams are equipped with the resources they need to target significant problems and develop their ideas into scalable, fundable companies. Check out photos from Demo Day here.

These companies had the opportunity to work closely with Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine, our strategic partners in Philadelphia, to refine their products and launch in some of the most demanding healthcare environments in the world.  Access to clinicians, executives, subject matter experts and been-there-before, done-it-before entrepreneurs-turned-coaches is the hallmark of the DreamIt program.  The DreamIt Health teams also received $50,000 in investment during the program, and they have access to an additional $250,000 in funding from DreamIt Ventures after the completion of the program.

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DreamIt Philadelphia 2015: Applications now open!

Attention all entrepreneurs… applications for DreamIt Philadelphia 2015 are now open! We’re extremely excited to bring back the DreamIt Philadelphia program for another year.

DreamIt’s three-month accelerator program clears the way for the brightest high-potential teams to hone their ideas and focus on developing and executing the strategies that will create long-term business success. With an eye toward building a solid business foundation, DreamIt encourages and supports portfolio companies in looking beyond quickly building their products to eliminating risk from their business models, building important relationships and acquiring paying customers. This proven methodology has helped to launch over 150 companies that have gone on to raise over $185 million in follow-on funding, and combined are now worth more than $525 million. DreamIt will draw applicants from all over the country and the world to Philadelphia for the three-month program. Past DreamIt Philadelphia classes have included companies from Israel, Australia, Taiwan and more!

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DreamIt Ventures Launches DreamIt Athena, the First Comprehensive Accelerator Program for Female Startup Founders Hosted By a Top-tier Accelerator

Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development award $491,930 grant to DreamIt Ventures to start the program in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – November 5, 2014DreamIt Ventures today announces the launch of DreamIt Athena, its accelerator track focused on providing female startup founders hands-on support to hone their ideas, develop strategies, and turn their ideas into scalable, fundable companies. This is the first program run by a top-tier startup accelerator that focuses specifically upon providing women the resources needed to build their companies.

“All the dialogue in the press has been about the problems female entrepreneurs face. We’re not just talking about it – we’re actually implementing a solution. In many cases, access to a valuable network, mentors and early-stage capital are the critical resources that are largely unavailable to aspiring female founders,” says Karen Griffith Gryga, DreamIt managing partner. “We see a huge opportunity for women-founded startups, and we want to change the conversation.”

Gov. Corbett and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development’s Discovered in PA — Developed in PA (D2PA) program have awarded DreamIt a $491,930 grant to fund the program. The DreamIt Athena track will begin running during DreamIt Philadelphia 2015.

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Two ways companies overcame health IT data challenges with better visualization


Data seems to spill out of so many parts of healthcare, but in many cases it is tough to use it to great effect because the data is in a format that doesn’t easily lend itself to highlighting problems or figuring out solutions. Some of the companies that make up DreamIt Health’s third accelerator class took different approaches to surmounting this challenge and they were on display at its demo day this week.

The move to link reimbursement with patient satisfaction scores has meant hospitals are paying more attention to the patient experience in their hospitals. But the downside of these scores, as NarrativeDx  sees it, is that simply ranking various aspects of their care varying levels of good or bad positive or positive or negative only tells part of the story. A poor score on nurses’ listening skills offered no context behind it. So the health IT company developed a way to include that information with natural language processing. The effect, as one case study suggests, is of painting a picture between two dots.

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Philadelphia emerging as a magnet for health care innovation

BY DANIEL J. HILFERTY AND RALPH MULLER via  Philadelphia Business Journal 

The Philadelphia region is well known for its world-class hospitals and doctors. Now, the region is also emerging as a nationally recognized magnet for health care innovation.

This type of transformation requires not only fresh thinking, but also a willingness to move rapidly and partner with others to execute new ideas and develop groundbreaking innovations. Although an insurer and a health system may seem strange bedfellows to some, Independence Blue Cross and Penn Medicine have long taken just such a forward-thinking, collaborative approach to harnessing innovation to improve health care and draw health care start-ups to our region.

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