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6 Things We Learned at #RAIN2015


We ABSOLUTELY loved the#RAIN2015 energy @UCScienceCenter. Chris and I attempted to build a list of 5 things that we learned, but there was too much goodness! So, we added one more to the list.


1. We need more selfless outreach across our entire Ecosystem:



2.  Philly’s competing on a global stage:




3.  People pleasing will get you nowhere:



4.  Collaboration is not limited startups:




5.  Corporations require some serious flexibility:



6. Be mindful of the ‘David and Goliath’ heuristic:




If anyone out there is thinking to themselves: “Hey Ben! You put you’re own tweet in that blog you made.” My response is,”I know, I know.. only because no one else tweeted this quote”. See you next year!


Night Owls Demo w/ myZyp @myZypInfo @HSamant01 What was the problem your app aims to solve? “Communicating and sharing address and location information, on social media via mobile devices or even verbally, involves the creation and exchange of address information (house #, street, city etc.), sometimes along with landmark based directions, and cryptic links to maps. An even bigger issue in the developing world is that there is no structured addressing scheme, making address location extremely difficult.” How does your app solve this problem? “myZyp wants to change this, and make zyptags (that begin with an &) as easy to create, share, and find, as hashtags. However, unlike hashtags, zyptags also store rich location information (geo-coordinates, postal address, landmark based directions etc.) on the back end, which allows the person looking up the tag on the myZyp app, a quick and easy way to find and get directions to the location. Another cool feature is that the creator of the tag can change the address or location behind the tag, which is great for people or events that relocate or move. For example a food truck that moves around need not update its customers about its location every day – just update the location info at & JoesFoodTruck.” What’s next for your app/ goals/ vision for this year? “While the iOS app and website are now live, we will be releasing on Android and Windows soon. We are also working on a bunch of new features to enhance search, and deeper integration with social media. Our ultimate vision is to make the zyptag as ubiquitous as the hashtag, when it comes to locations.”

Ben Franklin Technology Partners and The Importance of Funding


Last Thursday, Mark DeGrantpre travelled to West Chester to speak on behalf of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of South Eastern Pennsylvania. The topic of the briefing was commercialization and investment. As Mark spoke, there appeared to be a hunger in the room. The large crowd that had assembled sat tentatively and eager to devour any information Mark divulged about his company.

Ben Franklin talkAs their website states, “for over 30 years, Ben Franklin Technology Partners has been the leading seed stage capital provider for the region’s technology sectors, investing over $175 million in more than 1,750 regional technology companies, many of which have gone on to become industry leaders.” A partnership with Ben Franklin can make a huge difference for a new or established business. In the last three months Ben Franklin has invested in BioBots and ROAR, both of which had their founders speak at WSL as part of the “Startup Meetup” series.

“Are they doing something new in science, engineering , or technology, and would our money be used to help grow the top line? If those two things are yes, then you’re automatically a company that could be right for us,” Mark DeGrantpre stated when a member of the crowd asked what qualified a company.


Even if an inventor or entrepreneur has a revolutionary idea that doesn’t ensure a fitting monetary reward; the most recent Startup Meetup speaker, Rob Morris, is a perfect example of such an entrepreneur. Rob developed the first multimedia program with his partner. The program was well received and even attracted the attention of Microsoft. However, Mark’s development team consisted of just two people, and because Mark lacked the capital to expand his team he was unable to create a working version of his program, thus destroying a possible connection to Microsoft. Rob’s story serves to highlight the importance of Ben Franklin’s investments and what a huge difference funding can make.

“If you come to us I hope that you understand the process, how to get through the process, and the time it takes.” Mark DeGrantpre said as he finished his presentation. Anyone interested in utilizing Ben Franklin as a source of investment should take a look at the slide presentation below to learn about the fine details of the program. You can also watch Mark’s full presentation here.

3D Printer Bootcamp v1 Wrap-up


We sat down with Dr. Chad Wingrave and interviewed him on his experience of facilitating our first build-your-own 3d printer boot camp. Here’s what he had to say:
Sign up for Boot Camps v2 or v3 (Aug 1 & Aug 29)

Q: Who showed up to v1?

“Five groups of makers showed up today and walked out with five new 3D printers. There were techies and father-son teams, even someone that wanted to do the build with one arm (they have two arms, but had a broken collarbone). Needless to say, we had a blast: built a lot, learned a lot and even had some pizza.”
— Dr. Chad, Chief Tinkerer

Q: What was the rollout like?

“The bootcamp started with a box of parts from PrintrBot and a goodie bag from Printed Solid. The PrintrBot Play was chosen for its quality parts and semi-ease to assemble. While it has a small build area, it is a solid 3D printer that should be able to support a budding 3D printer.”

“We got started with a quick overview of the day and introductions. We talked about why each person wanted to have a 3D printer an let them know about our plans for developing a community of innovative makers in Walnut St Labs. Then, we started to build. We had great support from two interns, Peter Terjanian and Andrew Telepak. Their efforts putting together a printer for Walnut St Labs enabled them help our makers avoid those ‘gotcha!’ moments that waste time and cause confusion.”
— Dr. Chad, Chief Tinkerer


Q: What did they learn about 3d printing?

“At lunch, we paused for a quick bite to eat and some instruction about 3D printing and how to use the printers. It was quick and we dovetailed back in to the build process. The topics covered included workflow, types of 3D printing, materials and other vital concepts. Its important to mention that all the participants for this bootcamp and future bootcamps will be onboarded to opensource software. The opensource component is central to our access-based mission. We’re excited that the opensource community is growing in so many different directions.”
— Dr. Chad, Chief Tinkerer

Q: So, how did we do?

At the end, we had a great photo op with the new printers and the smiling faces. While some had more time to configure and play with their printer, all walked out with full assembled printer (except for the group with one arm that had to finish up at home). Additionally, all joined our new Makerspace community hub and plugged in to the continuing activities here at the labs.”
— Dr. Chad, Chief Tinkerer

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Q: What’s next for the MiniMakerSpace at WSL?

“To support our group, we are rolling out Wednesday meetups, which co-exist with our Night Owls event and are planning two more Bootcamps, this time on Saturdays (August 1st and August 29th). We hope you are able to join in at these events! We also plan to expand on workflow (the process of creating 3D models capable of being printed on a 3D printer) in upcoming iSchool Classes out of Walnut St Labs focusing on the available open source software.”
— Dr. Chad, Chief Tinkerer

Sign up for Boot Camps v2 or v3 (Aug 1 & Aug 29)

Indie Game Night w/ Skyless Game Studios

We asked Chris Bennett from Skyless Game Studios to hang out at Night Owls to play LifeLeap with our community. Skyless Game Studios leverages the power of video games to support and empower social, educational, and philanthropic causes.

What was the problem your game aimed to solve?

“LifeLeap is a casual infinite-runner game aimed at drawing attention to the need for better healthcare in the developing world. A troubling number of young children around the world do not have access to necessary preventative healthcare. As such, many suffer from conditions and illnesses that could easily be prevented.”
–Chris Bennett, Founder @SkylessGames


How did you go about solving it?

“LifeLeap is designed to reflect this issue. The player isn’t only challenged to avoid obstacles, he or she must also battle constantly declining health by picking up medical supplies. The game also ties into the real world; whenever a player makes an in-game purchase, the proceeds will go towards helping children in rural India.”
— Chris Bennett, Founder @SkylessGames


What’s next for LifeLeap?

“Along with Aahana, the non-profit we are developing this game with, we will be launching LifeLeap this summer. From there we hope to expand our network to allow us to provide funds from the game to even more children in developing nations.”
— Chris Bennett, Founder @SkylessGames