The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce named my Technical.ly cofounder Brian Kirk and I the ‘Young Entrepreneurs of the Year’ in their 32nd annual small business excellence awards.
We were proud to get on stage, following another dozen winners in different categories, at the Crystal Tea Room in the old Wannamaker Building in front of past attendees, Chamber members and service providers. I will likely share the recognition for years to come, so I wanted to share some initial thoughts here too. (Find pics of or presentation here)
Brian is 30, and I am 28. By many standards, we are rapidly losing the opportunity to be put in a ‘young’ category of any kind, particularly considering that on some scales, our entrepreneurship is modest.
Though a dozen contributors and contractors help make our network of technology news sites and events run, we are a small core team of eight with less than $750,000 in annual revenue. We publish a niche vertical, organize mostly specialized events and spend most of our time in the digital space — unlike the manufacturers that represented elsewhere in the awards.
But for all the reasoned self-skepticism I want to employ, I also want to share a few reasons why I think we deserved the award:
- Technical.ly has been a major part of connecting and accelerating a broader community of entrepreneurs and innovation in Philadelphia.
- Technical.ly has joined and added value to similar communities in a handful of other U.S. Northeast communities — Brooklyn, Baltimore, Delaware and D.C. so far.
- Technical.ly has gotten better with a smarter team — Juliana Reyes, Andrew Zaleski, Corinne Warnshuis, Kate Leshko, Jim Smiley, Brady Dale, Peter Erickson, Catherine Sontag, Zack Seward and Cary Betagole, in addition to a network of other contributors.
- Brian and I have challenged the traditions and patterns in the local media industry we embraced.
- We have used software and the web in new ways to create efficiencies.
- We have done it the right way, a lean, experimental for-profit with a heart for mission.
- We’ve taken on a real challenge: finding a profitable balance for a local niche, while embracing the role of beat reporter as community leader and information discoverer.
- We built Technical.ly in our 20s with a team that has nearly exclusively been in its 20s.
- Particular to Philadelphia, we have taken great pride in working to build a (mostly) consumer internet media company in a city not known for public-facing web startups.
It has been challenging and, like many things that are, also rewarding. The recognition, even from an organization of which we’re a member, means a lot, perhaps even because of the more staid reputation of most chambers of commerce.
I am so fortunate to have a cofounder like Brian Kirk. Thanks to him for his dedication. I also need to thank Sean Blanda, who was with us when we first launched Technically Philly, a Technical.ly precursor, and remains an adviser and close friend.
Thank you for the recognition to the Chamber, its small business committee, including Jesse Kramer who reached out to give advice, and our coworker Catherine, who helped us through the process as a former Chamber staffer.