City to start up start-up fund

Posted: October 26, 2012

COMPUTER WHIZ Khushboo Shah has a financial plan, staffers and customers all lined up for the high-tech business she wants to launch soon.

But the 36-year-old engineer, who lives in Center City with her young family, is missing one key thing:

Start-up money.

Shah hasn't been able to attract start-up funding in Philadelphia for her technology-consulting firm, Cirrimize. But she says she has gotten offers elsewhere.

"I went to New York City and California, where I found people who said, 'We would invest in your company if you can move here,' " said Shah, who would prefer to stay in Philadelphia, which is close to her husband's work and where they want to raise their two children.

On Friday, Mayor Nutter plans to announce a program to help people like Shah develop new technology businesses in Philadelphia. Called Start-up PHL Seed Fund, the program will offer grants to entrepreneurs based in the city.

"We love this place," Shah said. "I feel hopefully, this is the mayor's attempt to make Philly a start-up hub, a tech hub."

Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said the fund would be created using $3 million from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. That money comes from unspent grants, not the city general fund, he said. The city wants to find a private investor to match the $3 million and run the fund.

Greenberger said he hoped the fund would be up and running by early next year. New York City launched a similar fund in 2009 and has given grants to five businesses since then, said Patrick Muncie of the New York City Economic Development Corp.


Contact Catherine Lucey at luceyc@phillynews.com or 215-854-4172.

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