PhillyInc: Tech Week: Something for everyone

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PhillyInc: Tech Week: Something for everyone


By Mike Armstrong, Philadelphia Inquirer

It seems only natural to hold the first Philly Tech Week during the ongoing Philadelphia Science Festival.

Technology and science seem like inseparable twins, after all. But let me disabuse you from thinking that organizers of Philly Tech Week, which starts Monday morning, were inspired by the two-week-long science celebration.

No, the three founders of the two-year-old Technically Philly tech-news blog were thinking about beer – more specifically, Philly Beer Week, which has helped draw attention to the region’s suds scene in its three years.

Rather than taste-testing microbrews, participants in Philly Tech Week are being asked to drink in the technology soup that’s been simmering in the Philadelphia area since Y2K was a known unknown.

Organizers hope the 65 tech events scheduled for the next six days will help build Philadelphia’s reputation as an up-and-coming information-technology region bit by byte by bot.

“Tech isn’t just what iPhone app is cool,” said Christopher Wink, a Technically Philly cofounder. The local tech community creates jobs, works on projects to boost civic engagement, and builds tools to aid nonprofit organizations, he said.

With events scheduled for Monday through Saturday, Philly Tech Week has something for just about everyone, unless your ability to adapt to technology ended with your Close ‘n Play phonograph or rotary-dial telephone.

Here are some that caught my eye:

First Round Capital will hold an “office hours” session for entrepreneurs and wannabees at the Mission Grill, 1835 Arch St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. The West Conshohocken-based venture firm committed to funding startups has done similar Q&A sessions in a dozen cities around the world. This free session will be its first in its backyard.

Hoping to help geeks find new workplaces to employ their talents, the nonprofit Philly Startup Leaders will hold a free Tech Talent Expo at the University City Science Center’s Fuller conference rooms, 3711 Market St., from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Switch Philly, at Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut St. on the University of Pennsylvania campus, at 6 p.m. Tuesday will feature seven-minute demonstrations of products developed by five Philadelphia-area tech firms. Tickets are $10 and reservations are required.

Local game developers will boot up their completed games and some still in development at the free IGDA Philadelphia Game Showcase at the Science Center, 3711 Market St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Robots and their humans will be welcome at the first (and free) Philly Robotics Expo at Drexel University’s Recreation Center, 3301 Market St., from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

In addition, there are sessions on music and technology, cloud computing, education, and social media, and a whole passel of conferences and meetups focused on specific open-source software.

One organizer of a conference being held this week is Michael Rappaport, founder and chief executive of Chariot Solutions L.L.C., an IT services consulting firm in Fort Washington. He said he was happy to see Philadelphia showing off its tech community.

“Our growth is limited only by the supply of talented staff,” Rappaport said, referring to Chariot’s ability to expand. “So the more people that know about the tech community in Philadelphia, the better.”

Chariot’s two-day Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference sounds as if Capt. Kirk and Scotty might offer their thoughts on the stability of dilithium crystals. But this annual event, now in its sixth year, has grown into a big geekfest, attracting software developers, software architects, and IT executives from all over the East Coast and beyond.

ETE, as it is known, focuses on open-source software and languages, such as Java, Ruby and Groovy, that have grown in popularity as corporate clients have migrated away from expensive proprietary software.

All 500 tickets for the conference, being held at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel on Wednesday and Thursday, sold out weeks ago. Rappaport said the event has come a long way since Chariot held the first version at Penn State Great Valley, which was free and drew 50 attendees.

Most events during Philly Tech Week are free if you register, but some do require a ticket purchase or may request a donation. Check out the full list of events at

Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or See his blog at